Edward Clug. Choreographer's word

Peer Gynt

Peer Gynt is undoubtedly one of the most complex drama characters that has pointed out Ibsen as one of the leading playwrights of the 19th century. Grieg is, on the other hand, one of the key representatives of the subtle Nordic music idioms and romanticism in general.

As it is known, both artists entered a successful joint collaboration to stage Ibsen’s verse play Peer Gynt in Christiania (today’s Oslo) in 1876. For this occasion, Grieg wrote some of his incidental music, from which he later extrapolated some movements and rearranged them into two orchestral suites that are still very popular today.

During my research of Ibsen’s text and Grieg’s music, I have had to overcome a series of problems, in order to merge both of the worlds into a contemporary ballet novelty Peer Gynt. Ibsen’s verse drama inherently anticipates its own universality through hermetic depictions of the real world and Peer’s fantasy, while Grieg’s music, independently from Ibsen’s drama universe, evokes impressionist landscapes in its own right.

In other words, Ibsen and Grieg have both invented their own version of Peer Gynt. My aim was to resolve certain obstacles, i.e. limitations of both versions and their supposed incongruence, in order to invent my own interpretation. The ballet performance you are about to see, is in chronological sense closely linked to Ibsen’s narrative.

However, when creating a new libretto, I closely examined not just Grieg’s incidental music Peer Gynt, but also some of his most acknowledged concert, chamber and solo pieces, which are an integral part of my music selection. The main reason for such a decision was to stimulate a dynamic and coherent development of the ballet narrative.

Ibsen’s and Grieg’s artistic worlds are thus merged into a new whole, into a landscape with many doors. I have picked mine, which are widely open for you, dear viewers, and I invite you to step through them into a new ballet experience.

In every new version the image of Peer Gynt gets some new meaning. I wanted to combine all the past versions in a kind of a dance union and present my vision of this character. It was difficult.

Some things are difficult to transfer in the language of dance. One brilliant phrase of Ibsen - and you understand everything, but the meaning that one puts into the movements and gestures is not so evident. I needed to get to the bottom line of every statement, to feel it, pass it through my mind and then through my body. It required a lot of effort, but at the same time I enjoyed this metamorphose tremendously.

It is the first time that I am working on the story with the plot that excites the director’s side of me. As the nature of dance is more abstract than of the drama theatre it requires more precision in every mise-en-scène, exact timing and fragmentation.