Dancers: Paulette Bibeau, Alison Crawford, Jay Hirabayashi, Karen Jamieson Lynne Lanthier, Aaron Shields, Tom Stroud
Music Composition: David MacIntyre
Musicians: David MacIntyre, Sal Ferraras
Costume: Susan Berganzi
Sisyphus was first created in 1983 as part of Vancouver Dance Week with score by David MacIntyre and later was included in the official premiere of the Karen Jamieson Dance Company in February 1984. Dance Collection Danse has named Sisyphus one of the ten Canadian Choreographic Masterpieces of the twentieth century.
In 1983, the year of this work's creation, I had undertaken to try to build a dance company, something I experienced as pitting myself against impossible odds. I was interested also in the idea of dance itself as hard labour and the dancers forming the working class of the arts. As part of the research process, the company of dancers built our floor, the same floor that we then created Sisyphus upon.
During the creation and rehearsal of Sisyphus I did not know that it was Sisyphus that was coming into being. I was interested in the path of most resistance, I was interested in giving a physical, spatial and temporal form to the act of undertaking a monumental task, and I was looking for the rhythm and energy of effort, of building. I wanted to create an image of pitting the human spirit against the impossible. Neither did I start out with Jay Hirabayashi in the solo protagonist role. That also emerged to surprise me, as did the recognition, close to the completion of the work, that it was Sisyphus, the figure from Greek mythology that has come into being in this choreography.
Through the Greek myth of Sisyphus this dance gives a “…unique, pared-down language that synthesizes form and idea…giving visible shape to the idea of human indomitability in the face of impossible odds. We are touched, saddened, thrilled”. Max Wyman
"[Jamieson's] material here is as old as all myth-making - the familiar tale of the man who was condemned to roll a rock up a hill for eternity. But her treatment of her material is at the absolute forefront of modernity, rendered in a superabundant rush of expended energy for seven dancers, (some of the most interesting dancers, incidentally, of the rising generation). There is a sense of shock at her force and daring, and of exultancy at the immediacy of her movement language... It's a major new artwork that speaks in the movement language of the moment about a timeless and universal issue. In itself, Sisyphus justifies the marathon experiment that was Vancouver Dance Week." - The Vancouver Province 1983