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Susan Kempster & Charlotta Öfverholm Mother + In A Cage of Light

Freesheet   /   Part of Elixir Festival

Image: Charlotta Öfverholm – In A Cage of Light | © Fabian Kriese

Two performers are sitting on a chair, one is raising a sword high and the other is leaning back, surrendering to the sword.


Conceived and directed by Susan Kempster MOTHER is a new dance work that places focus on the narratives that emerge from two differently gendered people dressed alike being placed on a stage together. Titled MOTHER, it might seem natural to assume that, in this intergenerational duet between and older female identifying and a younger male identifying dancer, the woman is the mother. What do we really know about them? Or are they simply shining a light on our own experiences, memories, and relationships?

MOTHER is a visual piece that ebbs and flows, full of fluid ambiguity, vulnerability, moments of joy, and that invites the viewer to explore and question the assumptions we make about who people are based on the superficial. It is an intimate work, with an undercurrent of grief over paths not taken, that explores a range of creative questions and examines human relationships regardless of usually identified roles. Who are they to each other? Are they facets of the same person? How are they the same, how are they different? How can the dynamic of a mature woman and a young man avoid the mother-son single narrative and is that even possible? What happens to our perception of these different bodies sharing space if the roles are swapped and perception is altered? Who is allowed to do what and who supports who?

About Susan Kempster

Susan Kempster is an award-winning choreographer, teacher, and performer. Her work aims to understand what it means to be human and grapples with the paradoxes and complexities of existence. At the heart of her work there is a burning need for human connection, to uncover the essential, and to find that which can move people.

From Australia, her career has taken her to Japan, the USA, and Spain where she spent two decades. Since living in the UK, she has completed an MA and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy while continuing her practice as an independent dance artist. Her teaching work includes contemporary dance and somatic practices for vocational training institutions and professional dance company classes, along with workshops in improvisation, composition, and choreography. She is also a movement coach for actors and musicians.

Her current movement research is centred around a practice of contemporary dance partnering called “threading” as a vehicle for creation and improvisation. She is fascinated by and in love with the intimate physical connection that dancers slide into so quickly and with such ease.

Her work ranges from highly technical dance through to performance and theatre.

About In A Cage of Light

Charlotta Öfverholm celebrates the mature dancer in her new expressive piece on trust and how we reappraise the relationship with ourselves gradually as we change. With strong characters and live music she invites both humor and darkness.

We tend to trust the predictable – but how much trust is needed to be unpredictable? A stage performer who has been in the spotlight her whole life is forced to reevaluate the trust to the body’s own ability and to reappraise the relationship to herself. If your self image was built in a cage of stagelight, do you dare to trust that it is still intact when the lights switch off?

I want to be close to you. Don´t get too close! Stay away! Please come closer… Please, let me hold you. One day we are gone forever. Trust me! Who does even deserve your trust?

In A Cage of Light shapes to a beautiful, slightly amusing black and associative contemplation over both the performing arts as well as the terms of existing – a dance around the poles of loneliness and addiction.Anna Ångström, Svenska Dagbladet

In A Cage of Light is with it’s framed pre film is in full honesty, some of the most refreshing I have seen performed on stage in a long timePernilla Wiechel, kulturbloggen

About Charlotta Öfverholm

Charlotta Öfverholm has been creating her own work since 1995, with a base in Stockholm, touring throughout Europe and South America. She started the project Age on Stage 2015 to celebrate the mature dancers. Questioning the old norms in the dance field through productions and films with phenomenal dancers, workshops 65+ and festivals. Member of the Creative Europe project Dance on Pass on Dream on.

Charlotta has a long international career as a dancer with companies and choreographers such as DV8/Lloyd Newson, Bill T. Jones, Dwight Rhoden, Viliam Docolomansky, Roberto Galván, Joseph Tmim, Ramon Oller, Robert Poole, Cie 25, Corinne Lanselle, Dorte Olesen, Björn Elisson and Alexander Ekman among others

She has had lead roles as The Death in Ingmar Bergmans The Seventh Seal/ Uppsala Stadsteater, Shakespeare’s Hamlet/Landestheatre Linz, Anna 2 in Kurt Weills the Seven Deadly Sins directed by Sam Brown with Nina Stemme and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Lola in Lola and Mr Talk by Jan Kodet for which she was nominated a Thalia Prize at the National Theatre in Prague CZ.

Charlotta choreographs commissioned works for dance companies all over Europe and recently the newly written opera Melancholia by Mikael Karlsson at the Royal Swedish Opera.

Jordi Cortes who was a long time member of DV8 met Charlotta 1999 in London. They have since then collaborated in several production. In a Cage of Light is though the first creation they dance together on stage in.

Artistic Team & Credits / MOTHER

Direction and Choreography Susan Kempster
Composer Dirk P. Haubrich
Dancers and Creative Collaborators Charlotte Broom and Harry Wilson
Assistant to the Choreographer Chris Akrill
Costume Design Jessica Cabassa
Costume Maker Mattieu Nunes
Lighting Design Ros Chase
Photography and Video Jack Thomson
Rehearsal Assistant Anna Smith
Dramaturg Donald Hutera
Creative Producer Lia Prentaki | Third Version Creative

Commissioned by Sadler’s Wells
Financially supported by Arts Council England
Supported by Central School of Ballet
Susan Kempster is supported by Studio Wayne McGregor through the FreeSpace programme.

Thanks to Gretel Kempster, Christopher Haddow, Eckhard Thiemann, Jocelyn Cunningham, Miranda Stearn, Hannah Robertshaw, Simona Scotto, Michelle Man, Pip Duke, Anita Hamilton, Mark Osterfield, Carolyn Braby, H Lewis, Hayley Ovens | Three Score Dance Co., Jeannette Siddal | Encore East, William (JJ) James

Dedicated to Gretel Kempster

Composer – Dirk Haubrich
Dirk P. Haubrich is a world-renowned composer for dance. His love for dance and stage developed while working with the Frankfurt Ballet and Billy Forsythe in Eidos-Telos. In the field of dance Haubrich composed many pieces in collaboration with Jirí Kylián, Krisztina de Châtel, Bruno Listopad, Yoko Seyama, Wang Yuanyuan, Megumi Nakamura, Jitti Chompee and Shen Wei. He has premiered his works in various theatres around the world. Currently he lives in Berlin, Germany.

Dancer and Creative Collaborator – Charlotte Broom
Charlotte Broom is a dancer, choreographer, and movement director. Trained at Elmhurst, she was principal dancer at Northern Ballet Theatre and Cullberg Ballet (Sweden) and has appeared in numerous productions at Sadlers Wells, the Royal Opera House and in the West End.

Dancer and Creative Collaborator – Harry Wilson
Harry Wilson is a recent graduate from Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. At Rambert School he had the opportunity to work with choreographers such as Sir Richard Alston, Christopher Bruce CBE, and Richard Chappell. He is currently working with Yorke Dance Project.

Elixir on Digital Stage

Continue your journey online. Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage presents Elixir Festival – Longevity in Dance, an eclectic mix of bold, playful and poignant films that challenge perceptions of dance and age.

Free to access via this link.

Susan Kempster_Mother_ Photo credit: Trey McIntyre
Susan Kempster – Mother | © Trey McIntyre