»King Kristina« was marketed as a courageous show for grade school children. To Malin Hellkvist Sellén this was an accurate description of the piece and her intentions with it. However, the organizer ended up wanting to cancel the premiere, some financial contributors were very stressed and the atmosphere was uproarious at the opening night of Malin Hellkvist Sellén’s first work for a child audience (2005). What caused this?
King Kristina might have been Sweden’s first queer feminist work of dance for children and some people had a very difficult time handling this questioning of the heterosexual norm.
The work deals with themes of love, identity and respect.
The work poses questions such as:
”How does one become a girl?”
“Why is it always assumed by everybody that boys fall in love with girls and girls with boys? Who decided that anyway? I want to decide for myself, and maybe I’ll decide not to decide?”
It talks about experiences, like for example:
When Marcella took my hand I almost started to cry. It felt so much, even though I didn’t know what it was. I wanted to give her a kiss and I wanted her to hold me. I never wanted to be alone ever again.
“My friend Emma would always stand up when she peed. She was awesome! She said she wanted to be a boy. She said she would become one.”
What then about the response of those who raised their voice against the piece? Was King Kristina about the concern of an adult minority group? Or was it about human rights – regardless of age? Were the upset emotions demonstrating ignorance or homophobia? While the more conservative circles of the Swedish dance scene expressed their dislike of the work, Malin Hellkvist Sellén’s King Kristina received praise by critics and audiences alike.
King Kristina has since the premiere been performed for audiences of all ages in both schools and theaters. Urgent theme aside the work has strong formal qualities topped of with fencing, line dancing, wrestling, singing, grade school slow-dance, an amazing crinoline, megaphones and lots of joy and showiness.
CONCEPT/CHOREOGRAPHY: Malin Hellkvist Sellén DANCE: Emelie Jonsson, Björn Säfsten, Magdalena Eriksson COSTUME: Lena Lindgren SET/LIGHTDESIGN: Erik Westerlund PRODUCTION: Magnus Nordberg, Vischan Danskonst
Length 40 min
Premiere Skarpnäcks Kulturhus Stockholm, Sweden 2005
King Kristina was produced with support from the Swedish Arts Council and Stockholm Cultural Committee.