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Notes on PULS Yared Tilahun Cerderlund MDT, Stockholm March 7 - 10, 2024

Yared Tilahun Cerderlund, PULS, MDT. Image courtesy of MDT

If MDT (Moderna Dansteatern) stood for; M for music - D for dance - T for theatre (it doesn’t - the music isn’t a pillar in there), Yared Tilahun Cederlund’s PULS would have draped closely around the M and T. Staged at first glance as a variety show backdrop, PULS is an agile leap away from MDT’s core, traversing into a concert of rhythms and harmonies; or an existential ”musical”, where two cornerstones are A) heartbeats B) birds chirping. The lyrical recital if visually translated, on the account of the pace and delivery, definitely would amount to a trippy yesteryear-feel kaleidoscope of colours and symbols that reek of ”peace and love”. Think of that visual image of th pupils of the eye dilating and extending and then contracting, back and forth. Slow down, and ease into the very moment that is now and tune into whatever frequency your system needs and vibe, if applicable, with the vibrations of the people around you, appears to be a gist throughout the refreshingly short performance run.

It begins with Tilahun Cederlund himself entering the stage. He sports an infectuous charm on his face. Personable, yet assured about his presence and command of the audience. As he begins to take off his shirt to strap on a heart rate monitor across his bare chest some frisky-toned interaction ensues with a certain audience member who in her bold, and in the context of a Stockholm audience; unique approach, had both me and my colleague and friend from the art institution where I work, wondering if she was "in on it" and part of the act. Or perhaps just a friend, and as such "the hyper girl" of the troupe. That nevertheless also had an infectuous and catharthic effect on my head and shoulder bopping. I later learnt from a friend working at MDT that the crowd at the premiere unlike our crowd composition "had gone wild" and that it unfolded into more of a party. And while this is a production almost designed for the troupe itself to have the absolute most fun - and visibly so - I can really see that. PULS is generous that way; it's anything but shallow but it's far from pretentious and much more inviting than some offers at MDT and weld tend to be. I think of how when Beyoncé did her Stockholm leg of the Renaissance tour she was reported to be unhappy with the Stockholm audience's too-cool-and-stuck-to-do-the-bop-ness which she subtly threw shade over at her next stop in Brussels. This is Stockholm in a nutshell, Bey, and I almost wish Tilahun Cederlund and friends had earnt a rare exception from our physical and social inhibitions. They certainly deseved it (I later also heard one from the troupe had danced with Beyoncé so I guess things circle back like they often do in this world). Interestingly, someone had flew in from a venue similar in Edinburgh just to catch PULS, and the night before someone came from LA on a similar mission, so I'm thinking the exceptional situations did one way or another happen here. Good!

Yared Tilahun Cerderlund, PULS, MDT. Image courtesy of MDT

Impressive moments were bodily and choreographic mirror-responsiveness to sound waves ”corporealized” and ”canvased” on glossy silk curtains enclosing the set. Apropos of music; my stretchy and recurring 90s nostalgia brought thought to 90’s Hype Williams videos; direction; Janet J & Busta Rhymes (hihi! ”What’s it gonna be?”). That might be random but that's the beauty of art; it should throw and swing you into more art and open/reopen such doors. I could also spot some voguing in the midst and by a far stretch some allusion to the floor banging of Cardi B's WAP. But a recurring stance was simulating a moment pre-flight, taking off into air and liberating the body from the laws of gravity. Dancing-wise the choreography was consistent that way.

As for heartbeats I thought back on the most romantic thing I've ever done in an unromantic situation, the year of 2008, and taking the person I liked to Magasin III to have their heartbeats recorded on a compact disc (I'm telling you, 90's nostalgia is a real thing) as part of Chrisitan Boltanski's spatial installation Les archives du cour (Heart archive). That recording now should have its domcile on a remote Japanese island in a sound archive accessible to visitors. At least that was part of the concept. I can never really hear heartbeats amplified the way they were in PULS last night without instantly thinking of that. Sometimes being in the moment means revisiting an interconnected moment that may have been precious to you at some point, even if has ceased to be now. That's also something to be grateful for, unleashing memories that latently are buried under layers, waiting to resurface to remind who you were, until you became today's you.

Ashik Zaman

Choreogrpahy: Yared Tilahun Cederlund

Performers and co-authors: Maele Sabuni, Niki Tsappos, Alexander Dam, Ida Holmlund and Natasa Baykal

Costume: Dawda Bergqvist

Scenografi: Yared Tilahun Cederlund

Produer and artistic co-production: Erik Linghede


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