Some dance pieces have such a direct effect on the audience members’ emotional state that they cause a kind of collective rapture, and elicit post-performance comments like “that was a real trip.” The Swedish-German dance nerd Jefta van Dinther knows how to create such choreographies. He can turn space, sound, light and bodies into performative drugs. Van Dinther’s drug of choice is a composition of experiential structures that is not only overwhelmingly spectacular but also captivates and even takes command of the audience’s senses. This was so in his early piece GRIND (made in collaboration with Minna Tiikkainen and David Kiers), created just a few years after IT’S IN THE AIR, a trampoline collaboration with Mette Ingvartsen. In the meantime he developed the THIS IS CONCRETE (in collaboration with Thiago Granato) and the studio pieces The Way Things Go and Kneeding, as well as The Blanket Dance, co-created and performed with Frédéric Gies and DD Dorvillier. This trio conjured an atmosphere, or realm of musical and spatial elements, which not only hinted back at GRIND but also ahead to Dinther’s future development. The dark beauty of The Plateau Effect, with dancers of the Cullberg Ballet, is a striking example. Via the music video Monument for Röyksopp & Robyn, it leads into the hypnotic depths of As It Empties Out. Along the way, his works have illuminated the choreographer’s deep interest in two things: firstly, the technological amplification of the dancing body and, secondly, the potentially intense synaesthesia of the audience-performance relationship.
By Helmut Ploebst
Jefta van Dinther is a choreographer and dancer working between Stockholm and Berlin. His work is characterized by a rigorous physical approach and always implies a staged research of movement itself. The moving body is centerfold in his work but belongs to and interacts with a body of light, sound and materials that constitute an environment of perception and sensation. The dancers work and dance their way through various environments: their processes exhibited live on stage become performances. Jefta’s works deal with notions of illusion, the visible and the invisible, synesthesia, darkness, labour, the uncanny, affect, voice and image. They often play with formats of presentation, and range from traditional dispositifs to installation like settings as well as from smaller intimate performances to large scale productions. His work includes the performances Dark Field Analysis (2017), Protagonist (2016) for Cullbergbaletten, As It Empties Out (2014), Plateau Effect (2013) for Cullbergbaletten, THIS IS CONCRETE (2012), GRIND (2011), The Blanket Dance (2011), Kneeding (2010), The Way Things Go (2009) and IT’S IN THE AIR (2008). Jefta van Dinther has also created the choreography for and dances in the the music-video Monument (2015) by Robyn & Röyksopp and has also organised and curated the festival LIAISON (2015) in Stockholm.
In 2012 van Dinther was awarded with the Birgit Cullberg Grant from the Swedish Arts Grants Committee. Van Dinther received the Swedish Theatercritic’s Danceprize 2013 for Plateau Effect, which was also selected for the Swedish Biennial of Performing Arts 2015. GRIND was awarded the Säde prize in Finland for best lighting design and received three prizes during Favoriten Festival in Dortmund, 2012.
Van Dinther graduated from the Amsterdam School of the Arts (MTD) in 2003 and was thereafter engaged as a dancer and worked with several choreographers such as Mette Ingvartsen, Frederic Gies, Kristine Slettevold, Keren Levi, Ivana Muller, Leine&Roebana and Xavier le Roy. Van Dinther teaches choreography at various international centers and educational programs. He was appointed Senior Lecturer and Artistic Director at the MA program in Choreography at DOCH (University of Dance and Circus in Stockholm) between 2012-2014.