Schakt: three dancers who never interact on three parallel paths which never touch (Norrdans)




Schakt (“Shaft”) was written in 1983 for the late choreographer Per Jonsson. The name doesn’t really allude to mining or miners, but was chosen for purely poetical reasons, for suggesting depth, isolation, darkness, and work.

The ensemble consists of six accordeons, three double-basses, a percussion section consisting of scrap iron (pipes, brake drums, chains, etc) and a harmonium which is placed behind the stage. Additionally, the three dancers play three gigantic sheets of iron, suspended from the ceiling at the back of the stage. These iron plates are amplified by the use of contact microphones and are played with heavy wooden sledge-hammers.

Schakt was first performed at Cirkus in Stockholm by an ensemble from the Royal Opera Orchestra and three male dancers from the Opera Ballet. Karin Rehnqvist conducted. The ballet made a monumental impact and is regarded as a modern classic in its genre. The Royal Opera has made Schakt a permanent part of its repertoire and the work has been produced there several times. It has also been performed by Stora Teaterns ballet company in Gothenburg and by Chrissie Parrott Dance Company in Australia. The Cullberg Ballet has staged it several times and also toured with it world-wide. After Per Jonsson’s death, there has also been a number of independent Swedish productions, e.g. by Norrdans.


  • 6 accordeons
  • 3 double basses
  • harmonium
  • 1 percussion, playing metal junk and scrap iron
  • 3 iron plates (on stage)


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No further productions permitted

I have decided to not give permission for any further performances of Schakt. The reason for this is the dance community’s complete lack of understanding of the connection between dance and music. This relation was essential and absolutely central to Per and myself when creating the work.

Unfortunately, the dance world only sees movement nowadays, and after a disastrous production by Skånes Dansteater — where I was informed of the existence of the production only by chance, by a composer friend who just happened to overhear the dress rehearsal on the stage of the Malmö Opera; moreover, a production where the music was completely absent from the programme and also from the series of lectures held in connection with the production — I took the decision not to permit any further productions of Schakt. Enough is enough.

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