Sisyphus‘ Wife

Sisyphus‘ Wife
Robin Howard Theatre, The Place (London)

We can proudly say that Sisyphus‘ Wife was one of a few pieces highlighted and recommended by Sanjay Roy of DanceTimes Magazine.


Adrian Look’s Sisyphus’ Wife is flushed with symbolism and emotion. With the mien of a romantic poet, Look mopes at his desk, rolling a shiny steel ball – the impossible object of unattainable perfection – up a ramp; and watching it roll back down. Maria Ines Sousa, as his wife, has her own object: a brown lump, misshapen, imperfect. She lets it stay put, on a stand. Their duet of crossed paths sees Look reaching and swooning, as restless as the Mahler melody that accompanies him; Sousa clings to and rebuts him, all earthly need and conflicted desire. Fine performances save the piece from becoming overblown.

Sanjoy Roy (Official Resolution Critic)


Tanztheater Adrian Look  „made over a myth to make it so modern and believable that many of us could relate to the characters (ouch!).”
Erin Brown, Dance UK

“Adrian Look’s Sisyphus’ Wife is flushed with symbolism and emotion.”
Sanjoy Roy, The Guardian

“Their dance is lyrical, gestural and in flow with the musical accompaniment. Actions shared cascade in a dynamic interchange of sweeping transitions across space, springing lifts and curving gestures with arms and torsos…Yet, the sense of pervading despond lingers. The isolation experienced and expressed by both characters sustains.”
Timothy Taylor, Head of Dance, Morley College

“With the movement very well intergrated with the feel and emotion of the music I was immediately drawn in…Good to see the traditions, love and respect of German Tanz well developed to the next generation.”
Brian Bertscher, former Royal Ballet soloist and ballet tutor at Folkwang University

„Beautifully crafted and thought through.”

Audience Member

“Beautiful and emotional dance of two souls…one forgets how much emotion is in the body.”

Audience Member






Sisyphus’ Wife premiered on 29.01.2016 at The Place as part of Resolution 2016.

Maria Ines Sousa and Adrian Look perform a duet telling a story of despair, purpose, choice and acceptance of fate; inspired by the 19th century Rückert poems about ‘Weltschmerz’ and ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ by Albert Camus.

In the myth Sisyphus is punished for his self-aggrandisement by being forced to roll a boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, repeating this action for eternity. Despite Sisyphus’ eternal labour, Camus concluded: “One must imagine Sisyphus happy. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world.  All Sisyphus’ silent joy is contained therein. His fate belongs to him. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.”
Adrian Look, director and choreographer, has set the piece in 2016, developing the eternal nature of the myth with the idea that Sisyphus is still engaged in his labour somewhere today. Using Gustav Mahler’s “Rückert songs” and Max Richter’s “Vivaldi recomposed”, the piece explores Sisyphus’ inner conflict – the seemingly futile nature of a task, which also provides him with a sense of purpose – along with his unknowing wife’s battle for his burdened soul.

Following the premiere at Resolution 2016, the piece will be developed into a short film, to be directed by Cristobal Catalan. By being set in the North of England, the film will make comparisons between the myth and the industrial parts of this region, referencing the relationship between labour, identity and gender in a changing world.

First pictures are available here.
Photos by Carmen Klammer.