Metro Weekly

Fine Dance: Pontus Lidberg

Library of Congress offers Pontus Lidberg's new dance work, set to Irving Fine

Pontus Lidberg
Pontus Lidberg

“My perspective is that of a gay man,” Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg says, “so a lot of my work has male relationships. I don’t create only male-female in duet, or male-male. I do all. I feel it’s more representative of true society.”

Casting is interchangeable in Lidberg’s newest work, a co-commission from the Library of Congress and the Martha Graham Dance Company. “There’s a group and then there’s a soloist,” he says, “In the first cast, the soloist is a lady, and in the second cast, a man. I didn’t make it gender specific.”

The Graham Dance Company will debut Woodland this weekend at the Library of Congress, as part of a program celebrating the company’s 90th anniversary season. It also features three other Graham ballets commissioned by the Library, most notably Graham’s seminal Appalachian Spring, set to Aaron Copland. Lidberg’s new, abstract piece is set to the music of Copland’s contemporary Irving Fine, principally Fine’s Notturno for strings and harp. “My inspiration and impetus for the new work is what I heard in his music,” says Lidberg, from a bird flying tree to tree, to a person walking through the forest below. “The music is beautiful — very intelligent and sophisticated.”

In addition to his debut with the Graham Dance Company, the 38-year-old is in pre-production on a big film project for his company, Pontus Lidberg Dance. Merging the worlds of dance and film is something that Lidberg has been fascinated with since he was a teenager, when he would always carry around an old-school manual camera. “That taught me to see the world through the lens of a camera,” he says. “And once I had a career as a choreographer, it made sense to choreograph for the camera too.”

Martha Graham Dance Company performs this Friday, April 1, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, April 2, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., in the Coolidge Auditorium in the Library of Congress’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. SE. A pre-concert conversation with Lidberg and the Graham Dance Company’s Janet Eilber is Friday, April 1, at 6:30 p.m., in the Whittall Pavilion, First and Independence Avenues SE. Call 202-707-8000 or visit

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