Choreographer Jefta van Dinther is back with a new big stage production for 14 dancers in Cullbergbaletten. Elias, last year's major breakthrough artist in Swedish music, whose debut single 'Revolution' was a big hit last spring, provides recorded singing and voice-over, accompanied by sound design and music from David Kiers, set design by artist duo SIMKA and lighting design by Minna Tiikkainen. The new production, entitled 'Protagonist', will have its world premiere at Julidans in Amsterdam 7 July, and be performed for the first time in Sweden at Dansens Hus in Stockholm in November.

Protagonist is a contemplation on mankind. Songs of revolution and dances of evolution tell a tale of how people congregate, take on and are given roles. All the while instinct, resistance and compulsion become evidence of the battle each and every individual is fighting. Struggling to belong, in search for a common meaning or belief, a community takes shape. Protagonist is a parable about care, kinship and alliance as well as isolation, control and estrangement.

'Protagonist' is Jefta van Dinther's second creation for Cullbergbaletten. His first, the successful production 'Plateau Effect', premiered in 2013 and went on to tour throughout Europe. Van Dinther received the Swedish Theatre Critics' dance award in 2013 for the production, which was also chosen to be performed at the Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts in 2015. Jefta van Dinther's work is characterised by a vigorous physical approach and nearly always implies a staged research of movement itself. The moving body is centrefold in his work, interacting with light, sound and different materials to come together as a whole. His works deal with notions of the visible and the invisible, light and darkness, illusion, affect voice and image.

Protagonist (2016)
Choreography, direction Jefta van Dinther
Created together with and performed by Adam Schütt, Alexandra Campbell (guest), Anand Bolder, Daniel Sjökvist, Eleanor Campbell, Eszter Czédulás, Eva Mohn, Gesine Moog, Jac Carlsson, Katie Jacobson, Linda Adami (guest), Samuel Draper, Unn Faleide, Vincent Van der Plas, Tiran Willemse

Music and sound design David Kiers
Vocals ELIAS
Lighting design Minna Tiikkainen
Set design SIMKA
Costume assistant Marita Tjärnström
Text Jefta van Dinther
Assistant choreographer Thiago Granato
Rehearsal director Thomas Zamolo
Artistic advice Cecilia Roos, Felix Bethge and Robert Steijn
Photo Urban Jörén

Duration approximately 60 minutes.
World premiere 7 July 2016 at Julidans, at Stadsschouwburg, Amsterdam.
Sweden premiere 23 November at Dansens Hus, Stockholm.

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Jefta van Dinther. Photo: Nina Andersson

Jefta van Dinther (SE/NL) is a choreographer and dancer working between Stockholm and Berlin. He grew up in Sweden, after which he moved to the Netherlands and graduated from the Amsterdam School of the Arts (MTD) in 2003. Jefta makes performances, both alone and in collaboration with other artists. Van Dinther's productions of note include the aforementioned Plateau Effect (2013) created for Cullbergbaletten, As It Empties Out (2014), THIS IS CONCRETE (2012) made in collaboration with Thiago Granato, GRIND (2011), in collaboration with lighting designer Minna Tiikkainen and sound designer Davis Kiers, The Blanket Dance (2011), made in collaboration with Frederic Gies and DD Dorvillier, Kneeding (2010), The Way Things Go (2009), also presented by Cullbergbaletten at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern in 2012, and IT’S IN THE AIR (2008) in collaboration with Mette Ingvartsen.

Jefta has been engaged as a performer with various choreographers including Mette Ingvartsen, Xavier Le Roy, Ivana Muller, Frédéric Gies, Kristine Slettevold, Keren Levi and Leine&Roebana. Jefta teaches in choreography, sharing his methods of work and practices. He has also worked as Senior Lecturer and Artistic Director of the Master programme in Choreography at DOCH (University of of Dance and Circus in Stockholm).

In 2012 Jefta van Dinther was awarded The Birgit Cullberg Grant by Konstnärsnämnden, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee, and in spring 2013 he received a three year production support from The Swedish Arts Council and The City of Stockholm.

Composer/Sound designer

David Kiers

David Kiers (NL) graduated from the Sonology degree program at the Royal Conservatory in Den Haag, the Netherlands. In the recent years his main focus as an image and sound artist has been on the collaboration with Gideon Kiers and Lucas van der Velden under the Telcosystems moniker. Their search for a personal language in the world of abstract computer generated image and sound has produced a string of performances, installations and short films, which have been shown and nominated for awards all over the world. Sonar/Barcelona, de Appel/Amsterdam, International Short Film Festival/Oberhausen, Boijmans van Beuningen/Rotterdam, ArsElectronica/Linz, Cyberarts Festival/Boston, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Transmediale/Berlin and Wood Street Galleries/Pittsburgh USA, to metion a few. In 2009 Telcosystems received the Gus Van Sant award for best experimental film for their short film Loudthings. Besides this David Kiers has composed music for various theatre and video productions, among them like Jefta van Dinther's last three productions Kneeding, GRIND and THIS IS CONCRETE.

Lighting designer

Award-winning lighting designer Minna Tiikkainen (born 1969 in Helsinki) began experimenting with light while studying fine arts. Her fascination with its immaterial quality led her to enroll at Theater Academy of Finland to study Lighting Design, where she received her MA in 2002. She then moved to Amsterdam, forging an international career in performing arts. Her work is described as strong in its minimal approach, especially appreciated for its significance for totality of the performance. She has worked with, i.a. Nicole Beutler, Jefta van Dinther, Mette Ingvartsen, Keren Levi, and Kate McIntosh.


SIMKA Foto: Micha Pedan

SIMKA is the project name for the visual artists Simon Häggblom’s and Karin Lind’s shared artistic activities. Through SIMKA they combine their knowledge and skill from visual art, set design and landscape architecture.

The core of their work is the investigation and formation of different spaces and sites for human interaction. Informed by the tensions between urbanity and nature, as well as the fictional and the habitual world. The pieces are more or less permanent, located in the gaps, the solitary or disintegrated spaces of the public or private sphere.

SIMKA was formed 12 years ago and has produced a number of large public commissions, in the last years; O-wall, Henriksdalshöjden's pre school (Nacka Kultur), Wonderland, at the penitentiary institution Hall in Södertälje (Statens Konstråd), The song of the forest, Igelstaverket, Södertälje (Söderenergi Kraftvärme AB), Les Trois Mages, outside Notre dame in Reims for the festival Reims Scénes d’Europe, France. Set design & costumes for Tusen år hos Gud –Choreography Margaretha Åsberg at The Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm.

Their current work includes Leonora Carrington, set design and art installation for theater Unga Klara, project for Orgeval / Foyer Remois & La Friché Artistique and Reims Scénés d’Europe in Reims, France, exhibitions at Körsbärsgården konsthall, 2 – 21 juli, 2013, Gotland. Luleå Konsthall och Baltic Sea, for European Capital of Culture in Umeå in cooperation with Norrlandsoperan, Sweden, at Gallery Noass in Riga, Latvia and Pori Art Museum in Pori, Finland, 2014.

Karin Lind has also a career as set designer for theater and dance with over 100 productions the past 20 years.


Elias. Foto: Per Kristiansen
Elias (SE) came to the public's attention last spring with his song 'Revolution', which became a major success. He followed this up with another single, 'Green Eyes', and the EP 'Warcry'. As a thirteen-year-old, Elias started singing with the Tensta Gospel Choir, where he began to develop his unique singing voice – which has since drawn comparisons with Sam Cooke, Anthony Hamilton and Sam Smith. One of Spotify's 'Spotlight Artists' for 2016, he is set to release his debut album this spring, which includes collaborations with producers such as Paul Epworth (Adele, Coldplay), HYENA, John Hill (Florence + The Machine, Christina Perri) and Fraser T. Smith (Adele, Ellie Goulding). Elias names Otis Redding, Spooky Black, Patti Smith and Jeff Buckley as his major influences and sources of inspiration. Last year, his performances included an appearance on Norwegian-Swedish TV show 'Skavlan' together with a string section and a gospel choir, plus appearances at Way Out West and the Roskilde and Reeperbahn festivals. 

"Revolution' is about breaking up with something you don't believe in and instead doing things the way you like. It's not an angry song – more about how fantastic it can be to start over again," says Elias about the song, which is included in 'Protagonist'.

Images: Protagonist