Quote of the Day: The Birka female Viking warrior was a woman buried with the accoutrements of an elite professional Viking warrior in a 10th century chamber-grave in Birka, Sweden. Although the remains were thought to be of a male warrior since the grave’s excavation in 1878, both osteological analysis and a 2017 DNA study proved that the remains were of a female. source WikipediaThis information sparked the creative minds at Collide Theatrical Dance to produce a new musical called Skol! And, it’s fantastic!!

I enjoy dance performances, and I’ve been to several by the wonderful Collide Theatrical Dance Company. When I got the invite from Artistic Director Regina Peluso, I put this show on my must-see list for the spring. In previous productions that I’ve seen, they’ve taken a familiar story: The Great Gatsby, A Picture of Dorian Grey, and Alice in Wonderland, and combined it with modern music to accent the story and choreography. In this production, the creative team of Mike Michel, Katie Gearty, and Rush Benson wrote original music. Rush Benson is the main lyricist. I didn’t expect as much singing, but what a pleasant surprise. There are program notes about the plot, but if you listen to the lyrics, they are also telling the story through song – as well as movement. It was fascinating to watch. I wished I had a recording of the music as I’d love to listen to it again. All of this is performed with a live band at the back of the stage: Mike Michel (composer/guitar/music director), Nate Babbs (drums) and Ben Kelly (Bass). Rush and Katie sing from elevated scaffolding and sometimes on the floor, near the dancers. 

Skol! by Collide Theatrical Dance Company. Through 4/9/23.

We are brought back many years into Viking lore for this story of a woman warrior Lagertha (Renee Guittar). Her father, Harald (Ben Siglin) and uncle Ragnar (Jarod Boltjes) quarreled and split. Lagertha was raised by her uncle Ragnar. Harald left Scandinavia for England where he converted to Christianity and became their king. A mysterious respiratory illness devastates Scandinavia, so Ragnar, Lagertha, and their warriors travel to England for a cure. Harald sees their approaching ship as a threat, and they battle. 

The creators call this a modern pop, rock, funk score. It has a strong beat with many rock style battle songs, but also some quieter moments and a sad piece when people are getting sick, sung in Swedish (I think). I loved that one. The singers Rush Benson and Katie Gearty play the characters of Odin and Freya. Their singing is excellent and the lyrics explain what’s happening. All the while the tremendous dancers are using their bodies to convey the message. I had no problem following what was happening. Ben Siglin also sings a few songs as King Harald.

This is a fascinating production of a new dance musical, world premiere. Gorgeous costumes by Regina Peluso really enhance the characterization and give the dancers freedom of movement. Choreography by Regina Peluso, Rush Benson, Renee Guittar, Kyle Weiler and Heather Brockman. If I lived in the cities, I’d go again. I also want a cast recording of the music. Luckily, we can watch the show streamed starting April 10. I’ll be watching! You can attend a live performance (highly recommended) at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis, MN through April 9, 2023. Go to Collide Theatrical website for tickets and showtimes and for access to the streaming. Use code SKOL10 for 10% off your ticket price. Or, pay the full amount and/or donate to this wonderful, innovative theatrical dance company. Also, visit their website for a terrific trailer for the show to get a glimpse at the dynamic dancing and music. 

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Do you have any Scandinavian heritage? What is your heritage? What women in history have influenced you?