Creation for Morphoses, five dancers
First performance: June 27, 2012
Music: David Lang
Light Design: Pontus Lidberg, Carolyn Wong
Costume Design: Karen Young
Cinematography: Martin Nisser FSF

"The hourlong program featured the premiere of the dance “Within (Labyrinth Within),” paired with the film “Labyrinth Within” (2010). Both are by the Swedish choreographer and filmmaker Pontus Lidberg, the current resident artistic director of Morphoses, who also performs in each work. Together, film and dance create a subdued yet dreamlike portrait. They are knitted into a piece by David Lang’s fine, lilting music — which evokes both fairy-tale-like adventuring and darker, more adult complexities — and the passages of film woven into the live work. (A tacked-on addition of dance at the end of the film does not work so well.). Another through-line is Mr. Lidberg’s interest in finding his way through a contemporary idea of a story ballet, told without mime and driven by emotional and psychological textures. Nature and architecture are both players here. (The film footage includes lonely shots of a manicured forest and stony ocean shore, as well as scenes in a castle outside of Stockholm; dark red poppies appear throughout.) I thought at times of the Antony Tudor classic “Lilac Garden” and of Mr. Wheeldon’s bewitching ballet from 2007, "The Nightingale and the Rose.". As in these earlier dances, Mr. Lidberg is seeking in “Within” to tell grown-up stories of tangled, compromised relationships and dizzying interior dramas. (I imagine that the Swedish choreographer Mats Ek, a celebrated storyteller, is an influence.) Mr. Lidberg is aided here by his collaborators, including Carolyn Wong, who with the choreographer designed the starkly subtle lighting, and Karen Young, whose costumes are formal and sexy. And, of course, the marvelously sophisticated dancers. In the live work these are Frances Chiaverini, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Gabrielle Lamb, Jens Weber and Mr. Lidberg, moving through ever-shifting pairings. In the film Mr. Lidberg and Giovanni Bucchieri create a hothouse, suspenseful triangle with the inimitable Wendy Whelan. These are dancers to savor. Mr. Lidberg is strongest onstage when most pared down (his group passages can feel rather muddy) and on screen when going for charged, suggestive close-ups. Often he sublimates the academic language of ballet, dissolving it into knotty partnering that manages, by and large, to avoid the churning clichés of much contemporary movement in the form. It is refreshing to see a ballet embracing the virtues of restraint. At other times a crystalline arabesque appears, a fragment of an exalted language expressing an intense desire. In Mr. Lidberg’s world, as in life, these moments of clarity among people seem fleeting. Though these two works explore relationships, something in both of them has more to do with the hushed, isolated stillness that exists within individuals. There is not one labyrinth here, but many."

"Lidberg shows a canny aptitude for blending live dance with film"

"Lidberg’s seamless movement quality is deployed here, too: Duets, trios, quartets, and quintets form and dissipate like soft clouds on a breezy day."