Interview with choreographer Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir

04. Apr 2013

Msportrett2 iceland

Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir was born in Reykjavík in 1978. She studied at the dance department of the Art Academies in Arnhem and Amsterdam, and graduated in 2002.Margrét Sara co-founded the performance production company Panic Productions in Iceland in 2004 along side Sveinbjörg Þórhallsdóttir. Since then she has created three performances and two performance installations for gallery spaces, in addition to two collaborative works with invited artists under the name of Panic Productions. She lives and works between Berlin, Rotterdam and Reykjavik.

Currently she is making a performance for the Showroom festival of the Folkoperan in Stockholm. As well as creating a piece with the graduating class of the dance department of the DOCH dance and circus academia of Stockholm

Margrét Sara will be the Associated artist and curator of the 2014 edition of Les Grandes Traversees festival in Bordeaux.

She has worked as a performer and collaborated with amongst others: Gisele Viènne and Dennis Cooper, Erna Ómarsdóttir and Jóhann Jóhannsson, Jared Gradinger, Constanza Macras/Dorky Park, Esther Salamon, Jan Fabre, Anne Tismer and Rahel Salvoldelli/Gutes Tun, Nir De Volff/Total Brutal.

More info can be found on Margrét Sara on her website <>

We were curious to ask Margrét Sara about her career so far, and get a glimpse into her life as both a dancer and a choreographer...

Since graduating 11 years ago you have equally worked on your own work as well as danced with and for various prominent choreographers. We have not seen your dance for some time, have you stopped dancing?

First and foremost, I find it quite difficult to produce a piece, direct it, coordinate every performer in the piece and also stand on the stage performing after all this work and be totally and completely internalized with a single role in the whole performance. Therefore I think that being a choreographer and a dancer are two completely different jobs. When I dance I am absolutely focused on that role, because it is a very personal inner creation as well as very physically demanding and I have to think very differently about dancing then on choreographing. I have no profound need to be on stage in my on productions therefore I choose to separate these two roles completely to be able to perfect the. I have been performing in the works of Gisele Vienna during the last 6 years. Her performances include incredibly large-scale decors and heavy technical requirements so Icelandic theaters have not been able to invite the work to Iceland. I guess that is why the Icelandic audience has not sees me dance for a while. At this moment in my carrier I have also now chosen to put my work as a choreographer in the foreground.

Your two latest works Soft Target and Variations on Closer show a very puristic, minimalistic but yet an emotionally very strong approach to dance. Have you found your choreographic language?

I am continuously searching and I try to challenge myself on all different levels when I start a new creation but I have a strong need to brake things down and try to search for and work solely on the essence of what I am dealing with each time. I stopped dancing in my own productions so that I could focus more deeply on my choreographic language. When I am choreographing I am constantly tuning and refining the results.

Where do you stand in your career? Are you able to pick and choose and make long-term plans?

Yes i´m able to pick and choose and make long term plans. Recently I have had some great offers as a choreographer but in general I think being picky and choosing what works best for you as a maker and not just taking what is offered if it goes in anyway against your personal or artistic principles is the best thing to do even when you do not have so many offers. During my career as a dancer I have been fortunate enough to be able to only take on projects of my own desire. I am rather uncompromising and determent character and these characteristics have really narrowed down my choices and created a certain line in my carrier.

Do you work with an agent?

For booking my shows I work along side Ragnheiður Skúladóttir general manager of the LÓKAL international theater festival in Reykjavík.

You live in Berlin and Rotterdam, spend time in Reykjavik and work all over Europe. Is it important for you that you are an Icelander? If so, why?

I am Icelandic. If that fact is important to me or other people is hard to say. But I think it is important and a part of my obligation as an Icelandic choreographer to have my work shown in Iceland for Icelandic colleagues and audience.

Do you apply for funding from Iceland?

Yes, because I have been serving the Icelandic dance scene since doing my first dance film along side Sveinbjörg Þórhallsdóttir and Ragna Sara Jónsdóttir in 2000. I have collaborated with Icelandic artists in the dance scene and produced my work in Iceland every year for 13 years, both as a performer and as a maker.

What do you think of the ideas “fans” have about Icelandic artists? This whole thing about them being “sprung” from the wild and crazy nature?

I have witnessed that phenomena but I think people viewing other people as stereotypes is a flammable subject. What matters is doing your job well and be true to your self, nationality should never be an issue nor a reason for praise.

More information on Margrét Sara and Panic Production here

More news