Artistic Director/Choreography: Karola Lüttringhaus with Alayna Stroud
Hydra: Naomi Greenberg
The Chorus: Andrea Lieske, Breanne Shaw, Helena Reynolds, Dawn Shropshire Webster, Kjerstin Lysne, Amanda K. Smith, Karola Lüttringhaus
Music Composition and recording: Karola Lüttringhaus
Costumes: Andrea Lieske, Karola Lüttringhaus
alban elved dance company created a new outdoor work entitled “HYDRA” (the original working title was ANIMATE II) which was premiered at the North Carolina Museum of Art June 22-24, 2006. The piece was inspired by the Hydra of Lerna from Greek Mythology.
Accompanied by an original composition by Karola Lüttringhaus, 8 dancers traveled 300 feet in a straight line across the grass of the museum grounds using the architecture and landscape as a set. Special pools holding water and sand were set up along the path for the dancers to use.
Looking up ‘Hydra’ in a dictionary one will find many meanings, all of which refer back to the Hydra from Greek mythology, a many-headed water serpent, which lived in the swamps near the ancient city of Lerna in Argolis. The Hydra had the body of a serpent and many heads, of which one could never be harmed by any weapon, and if any of the other heads were severed another two would grow in its place. She is said to have had an acidic and deadly breath and skin. Hydra terrorized the surrounding villages for many years and was finally, after a long and agonizing struggle, killed by Heracles. From this the word hydra served as inspiration to describe problems which cannot be solved with one measure alone.
We depict Hydra as a woman of interminable strength, with a heart of stone and an iron will; a victim of her own personality and incapable of loving. Hydra’s predicament is her monstrosity and loneliness.
A chorus of 7 dancers accompanies Hydra, representing her heads, her thoughts, doubts and temptations. Hydra is forced to confront herself, and fight to keep up the image and the views she has constructed of and for herself. But she cannot look at herself anymore. She fights a spark of uncertainty, a spark that might catch all of her on fire and change her. She fears to give in to this hint of a desire to be human and share emotional feelings. A dancer stands blindfolded in a patch of sand, representing her ultimate first doubt. Hydra compromises herself by going in on this temptation. But she can’t risk these thoughts to go haywire; she must confront them and fight them.
A 300 foot cord is wrapped around Hydra’s waist from which she slowly unwinds over the course of the journey until she reaches it’s maximum stretch. Securely fastened to a point in space by her rope; her destination is set. She allows the thoughts to come up as she tries to win them one by one and to bring them to her lake which is represented by 4 pools of water. Hydra goes on this journey to measure her capability for love and compassion, to see how far she can risk giving in to her temptations. She wants to see how much there truly is to these feelings. Will they argue well against her? But, she enters to win this battle at all costs. Hydra moves with a fluidity and control of a martial artist, in slow motion and in opposition to the dancers made of flesh and blood that surround her and threaten her. They get stronger and stronger, less manageable, incontrollable. Where at first they seem like the Hydra’s soldiers they become emotional, they become individuals and even attempt to kill her. They dent the Hydra’s shell, they pull her into their world and touch her, they nearly kill her and die themselves; all for nothing. They succumb to Hydra’s will, blindfolded she leads them to her lake, where they undergo an immense struggle and end up standing united against her but the Hydra kills them all.
Having reached the end of her rope, Hydra cuts herself lose and, turning her back on the scene, she walks away and out of sight. Hydra will move on to the next lake where her struggle is likely to repeat itself in an endless cycle of denial.
The blindfolded dancer in the beginning brings us full circle, suggesting that she is that little leftover flame that remains within Hydra. "HYDRA" is a beautiful, melancholic and moving work whose surreal character is underlined by a whimsical and ritually melodic sound-score by Karola Lüttringhaus. The music is multifaceted and layered, comprised of nested tracks of speaking and singing, rhythmic patterns and melodies. The music is Hydra’s voice. To follow Hydra's path is like getting lost in another time period. “HYDRA” speaks of how we shape our world, how we must follow its flow and of our need to oppose it with all that we have available to us. It speaks of a struggle within us between life’s harshness and it’s ungraspable beauty. Hydra is a testament to our inevitable surrender to the person we have constructed for ourselves, as opposed to the person we could become if we gave in to our doubts and desires. It is a testament to the denial of a temptation and a constant inner struggle that keeps us from losing control of our precariously balanced reality.
The North Carolina Arts Council, The Winston-Salem Foundation, the Academy of Dance Arts, O’Kelly Design Studios, Madduck Productions Graphic Design Company www.albanelved.com/madduck.html, alban elved dance company, the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, Clayton Kane and many others, volunteers, donors and friends. Thank you for your support!
Premiere: June 21, 2006
North Carolina Museum of Modern Art, Raleigh, NC
Duration: 25 minutes