The Book of Dances
There is no story, but there are many characters: dwarfs, warriors, tall ladies on stilts, a dancing town crier who is taken prisoner. The performance is born out of the individual training of the actors, transformed through costumes, masks, music, banners and songs, and fixed in precise scores of actions, reactions and relationships. Rudimentary music: drums and a xylophone made out of bottles filled with differing amounts of water.
For the final scene, Eugenio Barba and Torgeir Wethal worked on the acrobatic exercises in the training to reach a crescendo of solitary aggressivity. A dance of leaps and falls which apparently leaves the actor exhausted. The music becomes more impelling and the actor begins again. This grotesque acrobatic number is transformed into the final act of a bullfight, a killing, a cockfight. With ferocious spectacularity the actor flies through the air once more, falls, loses his mask, hides his face, flies into the air yet again and crashes to the ground on his back after a final somersault.
One of the paradoxes of the actor is that his "violence" is also his "vulnerability". Dance as virtuosity and virtue; vitality, colour, vehemence; soliloquy: "I'm afraid/ The earth is grey/ And the sky's sadness gapes open/ Like the mouth of a skull.
Sometimes performed indoors but more often in the open air, in theatres and in squares; in the centres of big cities and in their suburbs; in psychiatric hospitals and prisons; at home (in Holstebro) and - its antipode - in Venezuelan Amazonia, in a shabono belonging to the Yanomami tribe of Karohi with whom the French anthropologist, Jacques Lizot, was living when he helped the Odin to penetrate into the "heart of darkness". It was with this performance that the Odin carried out all of its first theatre barters.
Created in a courtyard in Carpignano, in southern Italy, during the summer of 1974 when the Odin has completed its first ten years of life and radically changes direction.
(During the first few months Elsa Kvamme and Odd Strøm were also in the performance.)
Eugenio Barba's mise-en-scène consisted of a montage of numbers.
Number of spectators per performance: No limit
350 performances from July 1974 to January 1980 (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Peru, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Venezuela, Wales, Yugoslavia)