Jane Atkins on Goldberg Variations: ternary patterns for insomnia

Violist Jane Atkins discusses her experience performing alongside Andersson Dance in this cross-artform collaboration.

8 February 2023

Jane Atkins performing in Goldberg Variations

You were involved in the first production of Goldberg Variations: ternary patterns for insomnia, what was it like on the first day of rehearsals working with Andersson Dance? 

It was quite daunting. I remember feeling very apprehensive about the whole concept of being part of a dance project. Not knowing what would be expected of us and then taking part in the development days at the Dance Base in Edinburgh, took me far out of my comfort zone! Just trying to do the simplest movements without feeling self-conscious and inhibited was challenging…..I basically wanted to run out of the building on several occasions.

When we met 4 months later in Stockholm and started to work on the project with the dancers I was so enthralled and mesmerised by what they were doing, I felt a bit calmer and so thrilled to be part of such an amazingly innovative collaboration.


You’ve performed this show on and off for 7 years, how do you keep the performance fresh and exciting?  

Each time we come together, whether it be after months or years, the creative energy is still there. The choreographer Örjan is always tweaking his ideas and often there will be changes in the dance personnel.  They are all so individual, so regardless of the fact that the performance structure is pretty constant, every dancer brings their own unique personality to the project, so it feels like it is constantly developing and evolving. As musicians, especially with Bach, we never play anything the same twice, so for me, every performance is electrifying and new.

You’ve toured this show to many countries in Europe, as well as the USA and China, how did audience responses change in different cities and venues? 

The differences in audience responses can feel a bit random sometimes. We can do two performances on the same day in the same venue, one will be full of audience reaction and the other will feel quite hushed and focused.


You have a ‘movement solo’ in the performance; how does it feel doing that now compared with the premieres? 

I can’t say that the thought of it has got any easier. Just seconds beforehand I’m still thinking, “I hope I don’t mess this up”, or, “what must the dancers and audience be making of me stomping about the stage in such an ungraceful and un-dance-like manner.” I just try and embrace it at that moment and react to the music. I’m not that comfortable, to be honest, it’s a bit like having an out-of-body experience! That way, I can pretend it’s not me.


What excites you about bringing this production back to Scotland for the first time since 2015? 

It’s always wonderful to reconnect with and perform for our dedicated audiences who support us around Scotland and hopefully, we will entice newcomers too. Also, I think as a group the ensemble looks and feels more confident when we present this production now, we possibly own it a little more and it will be exciting to see how the Scottish audience reacts this time around and be part of making even more of an impact.

Goldberg Variations

ternary patterns for insomnia

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