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Pamela Moberg

Swedish choreographer passed away

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The Swedish dancer and choreographer Birgit Åkesson (1908-2001) has passed away.

Born in the south of Sweden and daughter of a building contractor, she took up modern dance and studied in Germany with Mary Wigman, much to the consternation of her parents.

She made her debut in Paris in 1934 with a solo she had choreographed herself.

In Sweden, she always lived in the shadow of that other great choreographer, Birgit Cullberg. Nevertheless, Åkesson had great success in the fifties and sixties with works performed at the Stockholm Opera: "Sisyphos", "The Minotaur", "Rites", "Nausikaa" and "Icaros". For Swedish television she created a solo for Erik Bruhn "The hours of the day".

I must confess that I have never seen any of her works live as I am not particularly interested in that kind of dance. But I have read her books. In later years she devoted herself to writing and researching African tribal dance, which she claimed was the origin of all dance forms.

She was not fond of classical ballet, which the following quotes will show:

"The rhythm gave life to the movement. And the movement gave life to the rhythm. The choreographic form is a flow - not some metric counting of beats" -

"Moving is like breathing - it can never end in a full stretch - there must always be a return - there must be an even flow".

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