Relationships in Odysseus and Icarus

Human Landscape Dance's work has always concerned human relationships, whether that between babies in the womb (Leaving Home '07), between parents and children (Coming Unstuck '07, Falling Behind '08), between couples (Closet Dances '09), or between friends (January Night '10). With that in mind, Greek myths are a natural draw. They are archetypal stories, stories that reflect some of our deepest yearnings: The Odyssey, yearning for home; Icarus, the desire to abandon caution in the pursuit of happiness; etc. Yet they each depict powerful relationships: Odysseus and his wife and son, Icarus and his father. They are stories about human emotions, set in superhuman situations. They depict that which we cling to when our worlds have gone mad--each other.

Amanda Abrams and Malcolm Shute in Icarus and Daedalus

My treatments of these myths emphasize the human aspect. In "Icarus and Daedalus," Icarus, played by Amanda Abrams, climbs, with effort, across the shoulders of her father (played by three dancers, Malcolm Shute, Alexander Short, and Mary Szegda). Even though she reaches for the sky, she is tied to the ground. In this case, Abrams grounds upon her father, carried by hand, supported from behind, given wings by the sweat of her parents. Despite his care, Daedalus, like any father, cannot always be there to catch his child as she falls.

"Odysseus Comes Home," takes place after the heroic action of The Odyssey. Having beaten the cyclops and slain all of the suitors, Odysseus, Alexander Short, must relearn how to get along with his estranged wife. Having remained chaste and vigilant for 20 years, Penelope, Amanda Abrams, must get to know her husband all over again. The bedsheet becomes a barrier, stretched between their bodies like a rope, or covering one, but not both. Their bodies align at right angles, so that they continually miss each other's arms.

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 workshop and concert are $20 CAD; for 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 entries 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