Learning the Ropes

Human Landscape Dance's 2011 premieres, "Icarus and Daedalus" and "Odysseus Comes Home," depict families learning the ropes. "Odysseus Comes home" represents an estranged couple relearning how to share a bed, but also reflects the struggle of a younger couple learning to live together for the first time. Both Icarus and Daedalus have much to learn: Icarus is a child learning to fly on his own, Daedalus is a parent learning how to let go even though the world can be dangerous.

Malcolm Shute, Amanda Abrams, Alexander Short, and Mary Szegda in Icarus

"Odysseus Comes Home" speaks to couples everywhere who have to learn or relearn how to live together. It takes place in a bedroom; the sheet is their weapon. They yank it away from each other, stretch it out in a tug-of-war, create a wall with it. Penelope, played by Amanda Abrams, curls the sheet tightly around herself to knock Odysseus, played by Alexander Short, onto his back. Short coils the sheet in his arms to unroll Abrams along the floor. Older couples, even those not separated by circumstance, need to relearn, as they grow and change, how to get along with their partners. When this happens, we become new couples all over again.

Icarus would become a bird, but remains human. He wants to fly free, but has limitations of wax and cord. In this, he reflects a child testing his boundaries. Falling is a big part of learning to walk. So, too, "Icarus and Daedalus" depicts a grounded flyer. Icarus, played by Amanda Abrams, does not fly above the Earth, so much as climb or jump from shoulder to shoulder. Daedalus, played by Alexander Short, Malcolm Shute, and Mary Szegda, wants to protect his child, catching her before she falls. Abrams clambers up to sit on Short's shoulder, slides down his back to land upon Shute, jumps forward onto Szegda, who spins Abrams around and passes her, upside down, to Short, who runs her over to Shute. In this dance, Daedalus is a team of parents who scramble to keep Icarus safe. He learns, of course, that he cannot always be in the right place at the right time.

Watch "Odysseus Comes Home" and "Icarus and Daedalus" on Saturday July 30 at 7pm in Blind Date, an evening of contemporary dance by Human Landscape Dance and dance artist Susan Heather Cook at DANSpace-on-Grafton, 1531 Grafton St, Hallifax NS. This event is preceded by a workshop for movers and shakers of all kinds from 10am-1pm. Participants in the workshop are invited to perform in the evening concert in an improvised score developed by Malcolm Shute. Tickets for concert plus workshop are $20 CAD; concert alone, $10. Pay at the door.

Human Landscape Dance is a contemporary dance company based in Washington DC. Our work is about relationships. We make dances that explore ways that people connect, disconnect, make nice, be cruel, make love, or make space for themselves. Touch is our medium. Bodies mold together in unexpected ways: a leg stretched across a shoulder, a thumb pressing under a chin, or two bodies so entwined that one covers the other completely. The human dance of love, hate, parting, and supporting are played out in different degrees of touch.Founded in 2006, Human Landscape Dance has since performed in cities along the east coast of the US, and in London UK.

Malcolm Shute

Artistic Director


Blog entry about Greek myth: Odysseus

Blog entry about development of Icarus and Daedalus: Stepping Stones

Photo Gallery High resolution photos available upon request.

Odysseus Comes Home--world premiere July 9, 2011

Icarus and Daedalus--world premiere March 23, 2011