Navigating the ocean of humankind

In 2011, renowned Danish choreographer and dancer Kitt Johnson treated local audiences to the extraordinary and mysterious performance Drift (Drive) – an impressive and highly acclaimed one-woman show that explored how basic biological instincts subtly and inevitably take over our lives, despite our conscious attempts to resist them. Johnson succeeded in creating a deeply-moving raw universe of imagery and bodily transformations that won nominations for the prestigious Danish awards Reumert and Teaterpokalen.


Kitt Johnson is chiefly known as an expressive solo artiste with a wide-ranging portfolio of hugely creative and minimalistic productions over a remarkable 25-year career. Through her unique use of both space and stage effects, together with her sublime body control, she is known for expressing her distinctive choreographed visions in a highly personal and courageous artistic universe. This has placed her as one of the most respected Danish choreographers, both in Denmark and internationally. 


Drift was intended as a foretaste of deeper things to come − the first in a two-part study of human instincts where we hapless humans find ourselves caught between the forces of biology and culture. The performance told the tale of a solitary individual, wrestling desperately with her urges. Johnson herself put in a memorable display of dance and choreography, using her natural talent to depict both the lighter and darker sides of life.


Fast forward two years later and the long-awaited second part, Forum Humanum, is ready to unleash itself on Danish audiences. The performance premières on June 8 in Dansehallerne, the vibrant converted warehouse located slap-bang in the middle of the imposing Carlsberg brewery complex. Forum Humanum takes these urges so clearly evoked in Drive, and takes them a logical step further by exploring the role of the individual as part of a greater group. 


“We live out our lives in crowds and among the masses, alone and separately,” explains Johnson. “We step in and out of this ocean of humankind. We are swallowed up and whirled around. We manoeuvre ourselves back into the friction between them, us and I. We group ourselves into clans and clubs, nations and networks, only to be swallowed up all over again. And all the while we continue to pursue our instinctive needs − needs dictated by our drives. Should this satisfaction be in any way obstructed, the choice lies between aggression, sublimation or repression. The stage is set for the conflict between the codes of the group against our biological needs.”


This promises to be no ordinary performance. Back in June 2012, rigorous auditions were held over a three-day workshop in Copenhagen to find 40 extras of quality to supplement the 12 professional dancers on stage. An incredible 52 dancers in all will be attempting to recreate this “ocean of humankind” with all its nuances, aggressions and complexities. Sneak previews of the striking choreography treat us to tantalising glimpses of synchronised, sprawling masses moving in unison to the haunting soundtrack of Sture Ericson. They are seen acting out their shared instincts both playfully and aggressively, while displaying merciless behaviour towards those who dare to challenge the norms and values of the dominant culture. 


Back in 2011, Drive moved the audience as witnesses to Kitt Johnson’s portrayal of an individual struggle − a vulnerable human being unable to resist her primal urges. Forum Humanum invites us into a rather more disturbing landscape where primitive urges are put under the spotlights − where the dictates of mass behaviour and the consequences of “stepping outside” are ruthlessly exposed. Transforming these challenging and thought-provoking themes onto the stage and into Johnson’s choreographic visions and fluid artistic universe can only have one outcome: a passionate, fascinating and uncompromising 90-minute rollercoaster that will entertain and provoke. 


The instantly recognisable themes combined with world-class choreography and dancing make this an altogether excellent and unmissable opportunity to follow your own urges and see yourself in the  staged visions and universe of Kitt Johnson and Forum Humanum. 


Forum Humanum

Store Carl, Dansehallerne, Pasteursvej 20, Cph V; starts Sat, ends June 21, performances Tue-Fri 20:00, Sat & Sun 17:00; tickets 130kr, under-25s 60kr;;