Three questions for Bente Alice Westgård

After working on several projects involving many performers, choreographer and dancer Bente Alice Westgård decided to work on a solo - Eruptive Stars. How has it been for her to work with this format?

Bente Alice Westgård (b. 1983) from Straumen in Nordland has worked as a dancer and choreographer since she graduated from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts in 2017. Her works are dynamic in their expression and driven by the idea of a continuum of always new movements. She last visited Black Box teater spring 2019 with the performance Dødsprosjektet (“the Death Project”) – and on November 26 she would have premiered the solo performance Eruptive Stars, if it had not been for the coronavirus.

Bente, you have previously worked on several collective projects involving many performers. This time, you decided to work on a solo. Why is a solo necessary at this stage in your artistic development?

After working with many dancers as a choreographer working from the outside through two projects, I felt a need to go into my own body and my own dance again. My artistic praxis always goes through my body in one way or another, this is where I find information that I transform into an artistic work. Over the past five years, I have developed and worked with a performing practice that largely consists of specific strategies for being in the situation of dancing.

For me, the practice has been a way of navigating between needs, desires and interests that also apply outside the studio. And as long as I am changing, the practice will also develop and change. This project is a way to start a redefinition and extension of my own performing praxis.

In what way is Eruptive Stars a self-portrait? Is the solo a representation of yourself or what concerns you at the moment?

In Eruptive Stars as a project, I have made a critical assessment of the strategies I lean on when I dance. Why do I make the choices I make, what comes easily to me, what gives me resistance, and how should I deal with this? This is very personal to me; it has to do with how I navigate for the rest of my life. The performance is the result of this study, but it does not thematize it

A solo work is often the result of a collaboration. How do you work with your artistic partners?

The collaboration in this project has been so incredibly nice! And challenging in a good way!

Although the project started as a solo work initiated by me, the piece through the process has become a trio between Rakel (Nystabakk, who has made the music, Editor's Note), Martin (Myrvold, who has worked with light and space, Editor's Note) and myself. We have been so lucky to have a lot of time together in a production room, and it has given us the opportunity to work with all the tools at the same time. This has meant that the dance has largely been developed in relation to the other instruments. In the past, I have worked more separately with all the instruments and worked to create a distance between them, but this more collective collaboration has contributed to the instruments being closer to each other. I think the result reflects how we have worked together, and this is very fun, I think!

In addition, I have had Rikke (Baewert, inner eye, Editor's Note) with me as an initiator of the work with the dance material, and as a conversation partner regarding the performer role. We worked a lot together in the first phase of the project, so that I had sketches I could work with in meeting the other tools. In the very last phase, Janne-Camilla (Luster, Editor's Note) has come in as the outside eye and conversation partner on the performance in its entirety. And last but not least, I have had Karen (Eide Bøen, Editor's Note) as producer. She has helped me with, among other things, planning the production, been a conversation partner and made sure that I have done things I have to do at the right time and so on.

This fall, we are showing several solo performances at Black Box teater - and Bente Alice Westgård's Eruptive Stars is among the solos on the program. Eruptive Stars should have been shown 26-28 November on Lille scene, but was unfortunately canceled due to the coronavirus and the social shutdown in Oslo. We are working on showing the performance at a later time.