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Kat Válastur

Choreographer Kat Válastur loves the ancient myths and fictional fabrications. In her dance pieces, she combines archaic and contemporary elements while exploring essential questions of human existence.

Having been born in Athens, Greece, Kat Válastur studied dance at the Hellenic School of Dance. As the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship, she moved to New York City where she continued her studies at the Trisha Brown Studio. In 2001, she founded her own company adLibdances. A few years later, in 2007, she resumed her studies at the Inter-University Centre for Dance Berlin (HZT), earning a Masters degree after graduating from the Solo/Dance/Authorship program. The research that Válastur conducts for her work emanates from the question “what can we still dance?” Her pieces are based on her own diagrams, drawings, and texts. With the help of this approach, she creates a force field that guides the dancers’ bodies and determines the piece’s specific movements.

The choreographic cycle “Oh! Deep Sea – Corpus I – IV” (2009 – 2012), whose conception was inspired by Homer’s odyssey, introduced Válastur’s work to a wider audience. She did not choose a narrative approach to the famous epic, but instead interpreted it, in a more abstract way, as the body’s aimless wandering through time and space. The minimalist, expressive choreography, in combination with an amplifying sound and light installation, mesmerizes the audience. Each of the selected episodes is approached with the help of a specific set of questions: in part two, which revolves around the Cyclops, she for instance asks whether the impression of monstrosity does not lie in the eye of the beholder. In the final episode, which is inspired by Ulysses’ journey to the land of the dead, she makes use of the fragmentary quality of both memory and movement, showing bodies that are about to lose their contours.

In 2014, Kat Válastur introduced her trilogy “The marginal Sculptures of NEWtopia.” Here, she added a utopian or science fiction element to her thoughts on societal issues. In the solo piece “GLAND,” real and virtual space are interfused to the extent that Válastur appears to be a super hero with miraculous powers. The group piece “Ah! Oh! A Contemporary Ritual” revolves around the desire for new ritualistic practices. In this piece, Válastur draws on the archaic figure of the circle and conceptualizes a round dance for a post-apocalyptic society. The audience faces a group of people who, sitting on ruins in the wake of a 1catastrophe, has to rebuild their lives from scratch. Her most recent choreographic work, “OILinity,” completes Kat Válastur’s trilogy. She here creates the image of a post-apocalyptic society whose existence depends on oil. Válastur engages her three dancers in a game that confronts them with surreal obstacles. Their actions culminate in a ritual involving three bizarre sculptures that constitute a circulating system. Válastur wants to descend into the depth of the human soul. It is not for nothing that her work is based on the assumption that: “a civilization that depends on oil must per definition be a melancholic one.” Each of her very visual works draws on a specific philosophical context. This is why Kat Válastur enters unknown territory with every new piece that she creates.

Written by Sandra Luzina
Photo: Dorothea Tuch