Małgorzata Iwaniuk

author biographical note degree piece

Design of space and costumes for a dance theatre production inspired by Igor Stravinsky’s Orpheus

Looking for the subject for my degree piece, I was sure from the beginning that I wanted to make a project related to the dance stage. The decision resulted from my admiration for this type of theatre. The experience I gained when developing stage sets and costumes for a dance production allowed me to realize that the body language combined with music is extremely moving and can be read on many levels. Also contact with dancers and watching their work filled with sensitivity and carnality was an exploratory experience for me, and it made me realize that by using the movement one can convey emotions stronger than those that can be expressed using words.

Looking for a piece, I decided quite early on the work of Igor Stravinsky – a musical interpretation of the Greek myth of Orpheus.

The artistic form of my stage design was directly inspired by my painting and graphic design experiments. In the project I wanted to express emotions and internal states of the characters, correlated with the stage landscape through the use of abstract forms.

The key to choosing my palette to design the mythological world, was to read the translations of Orphic tablets containing descriptions of the underworld and instructions for the soul on navigating the afterlife. The image of the nether world that emerges from the reading of the Orphic tablets has nothing to do with the image of a gloomy and dark realm. It is rather a reflection of the living world, with plants, roads and meadows. In the underworld landscape there is white cypress. Cypress is a well-known symbol of mourning and an attribute of underground deities. Orphic tablets, however, evoke an image of the white and shiny cypress, that deludes dead souls with an idea of false life. The colour of the cypress seems to confirm that the vision of Hades is a photographic negation of the living world. The tablets also mention the whiteness of the rocks in Hades. The whiteness that appears in my nether world design may be surprising, but it is not my arbitrary choice, rather one resulting from the vision of Hades that appears in literary sources.

(born 1990)
Studies: Faculty of Stage Design of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (2011–2017). Works in costume, stage and set design for theatre productions, films, music videos and commercials, painting and performance. Designer of stage design and costumes for productions: Wir sind Lockvogel, Baby!, Teatr Ósmego Dnia in Poznań; April 31, Rozbark Bytom Theatre of Dance and Movement; Void building, Polski Theatre in Bielsko-Biała. She has collaborated with the Academy of Theatre and the Documentary and Feature Film Studios in Warsaw, and the Łódź Film School. Honourable mention in the competition for the 2017 Jerzy Moskal Stage Design Prize for a stage design degree piece.