Artiklar från 2008 – till idag

Artiklar från 2008 – till idag

Grettir Valsson and Sölvi Viggósson Dýrfjörð in 'Express Yourself' – always a show stopper. Photo Grímur Bjarnason

Grettir Valsson and Sölvi Viggósson Dýrfjörð in 'Express Yourself' – always a show stopper. Photo Grímur Bjarnason

Iceland Billy Elliot: "It’s like Electricity to be on the stage"

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND: In the smallest country in Northern Europe with a population of just over 340 000, they decided to set up the most successful show of this decade: Billy Elliot. With full orchestra, choir, singers and dancers. 

Dansportalen took a trip to this beautiful island and visited the show and met the leading characters – the four boys who play the roles of Billy and Michael. And together with the director Bergur Þór Ingólfsson, we got some inspiring moments with four talented young actors.

Sölvi Viggósson Dýrfjörð and Karl Friðrik Hjaltason in a pas-de-deux with music from Swan Lake. Photo Grímur Bjarnason

Sölvi Viggósson Dýrfjörð and Karl Friðrik Hjaltason in a pas-de-deux with music from Swan Lake. Photo Grímur Bjarnason

Congratulations to you all, to being a part of the Billy Elliot success all over Europe. It must be inspiring for you at your age to go on a stage and meet so many people.

Why do you think, is the show such a megahit in Europe?

“It’s so entertaining but also dramatic and inspiring to people."

How was it to be on stage the first time?

“It was very exciting and fun, because I felt free – yeah I liked it,” they said with one voice.

“I don’t know how to explain it, but being on this big stage is such fun, it’s like electricity to be there”, says Sölvi.

“It’s such a good feeling to be on the stage, to feel the presence of the audience,” says Bjarni.

And, turning to Bjarni, you are playing a very funny character, as Michael?

“Yes, Michael is a very funny character and we made the audiences laugh and that’s what’s makes the role so nice.”

Hjörtur Viðar Sigurðarson meets the riot police. Photo Grímur Bjarnason.

Hjörtur Viðar Sigurðarson meets the riot police. Photo Grímur Bjarnason.

You all have to do a lot of things in the show: you must sing, dance, act, tap dance, do gymnastics and acrobatics, that’s a whole bunch of things just in one show!

“Tap dance is not a tradition here in Iceland, we do have some experience of tap dance from when we did Mary Poppins two years ago,” says Bergur Þór Ingólfsson, director of the show and present at the interview.

“We were very lucky to get Lee Proud, who worked wonders with us in Mary Poppins, to choreograph this show and train the boys for the tap dance scenes.”

“The boys have made a fantastic advancement in tap dance, since it is less than a year since they started training. Even ballet was new to them and they have managed to learn it from scratch and now are feeling comfortable on the stage and doing an amazing job”, says Bergur.

How did you know now there was going to be a show in Iceland?

“I saw it in the paper, and I hadn’t any idea what we were going to do,” says Sölvi. “We know there was a lot of dancing and singing…”

From the beginning six boys were selected for the show. But before the premiere they chose these three boys, but added later a fourth. That’s the reason why we have four here at this interview.

Rehearsals started in the end of May 2014 and the show had its premiere on 6 March 2015.

Bjarni Kristbjörnsson – Sölvi Viggóson Dýrfjörð – Hjörtur Viðar Sigurðarson. Photo Cristian Hillbom

Bjarni Kristbjörnsson – Sölvi Viggóson Dýrfjörð – Hjörtur Viðar Sigurðarson. Photo Cristian Hillbom

How is it to sing it in Icelandic? – I got a surprising answer from them:

“I think it is much more cool to sing the show in English! But you can still sing it in Icelandic and it will also be very cool…”

We all know what happens to Billy – that he joins the Royal Ballet School. But what do you think will be the future for Michael?

“Like in the film! Where he watches Billy on stage and feels a free person and that he can have a boyfriend…”

The answer from these open-minded boys is just as natural as it should be – everywhere.

“The funny thing is that Michael tells Billy not to dance, because it is not cool”, they continue.

It is obviously because the writers of the show – Lee Hall and team – has thought a lot about not making him a standard stereotype of a young male dancer.

“It is really clever to put a twist into the cliché”, says Bergur.

A back flip in 'Electricity' by Sölvi Viggóson Dýrfjörð. Photo Grímur Bjarnason

A back flip in 'Electricity' by Sölvi Viggóson Dýrfjörð. Photo Grímur Bjarnason

There are only 340 000 persons living on this lovely island. Who came up with the idea to set up the show here?

“It is really crazy”, says Bergur and continue “it was not my idea from the beginning, the producers just decided to go all the way and put on a show with a full cast. You have two alternatives: either you do it with full cast and orchestra or you do it with only one actor.”

Since the opening in March they have played the show four to six times a week until mid June, all sold out. After the summer break the show started again on September 4th.

What will stay in your mind after the show closes?

“Everything”, say all the boys in chorus. “The inspiration, the experience, what we learnt and all the people we have met. But also what filled our hearts of emotions and the attitude. And not no to be afraid, to be yourself.”

Hjörtur Viðar Sigurðarson during the daily rehearsal. Photo Cristian Hillbom

Hjörtur Viðar Sigurðarson during the daily rehearsal. Photo Cristian Hillbom

Which is your favourite part in the show!

Sölvi: "I think the feeling of electricity is really fun, also to express yourself – and the ending when everybody is clapping."

Bjarni: "It is also powerful after the ‘Angry dance’ as we just stand there and look at the audience. They watch you doing nothing then you just walk off the stage. And that is really powerful…"

Hjörtur: "It is two scenes: ‘Express yourself ’ and the kissing scene is very funny because it is so tender and fun to do."

“They do real acting those boys in the kissing scene and they are amazing actors, to my surprise they like that scene because they are in a situation which they handle in a professional way,” says Bergur.

Baldvin Alan Thorarensen - Bjarni Kristbjörnsson - Sölvi Viggóson Dýrfjörð. Photo Cristian Hillbom

Baldvin Alan Thorarensen - Bjarni Kristbjörnsson - Sölvi Viggóson Dýrfjörð. Photo Cristian Hillbom

Isn’t it tense to do a scene like that?

“First we have the Christmas scene, then we sit down on a wall and chat, then it just happens…”

"That’s a tough question", says Baldwin. "What I like best: I like the ‘Express yourself ’, everybody is clapping and it is a great feeling…. And the dream ballet, because it is just a dream…"

How often do the supporting characters have to jump in for the evening?

“Well – before the opening night, one boy was injured and couldn’t dance for a month, and one was sick and one had lost his voice. But they managed to perform perfectly on the opening night – They were so professional, all of them,” says Bergur.

"Yesterday we had an awkward moment, when one of the small boys was unhappy because he had forgot his toy puppy at home. So Sölve had to go and give him a hug on stage, when he was supposed to say, 'fuck off'…"

Final scene of the Icelandic Billy. Photo Cristian Hillbom

Final scene of the Icelandic Billy. Photo Cristian Hillbom

The accent of the working class is a part of the show – the Northern England accent. How do you express this in your show?

“We do not have accents here in Iceland, there is a slight difference between people in the North and in the South of the island, but there is no cultural difference in the language,” says Bergur.

“We decided to use swearing and rude words, there is a cultural difference there and also you got a feeling of class difference.”

“We had to make a change in the beginning, to explain to the audience: We are in Northern England, this is the era of Margaret Thatcher, and also to explain the situation for the coal industry and the struggle of the miners which ended with a strike, and that is the red line in the show.”

"This is a story for everyone, the coal miner’s strike is recognized by one group of people – and the story of the little boy and his struggle to do something he wants with all his heart", says Bergur.

A big hand for the show! Photo Cristian Hillbom

A big hand for the show! Photo Cristian Hillbom

Despite the fact the show was in Icelandic I hadn't any difficulty to follow the show. They gave a powerful and entertaining show – again!

Cristian Hillbom
21 Sep 2015

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