Old Children (Gamla Bam)

Mats Ek

Old Children is a work based on the music. Ten short pieces, from the romantic trains to Saint Saëns to the contemporary sounds of the Fläsk Quartet, gave rise to characters with funny names, like "Speedy" and "Dirty Grey", and to scenes such as that with Beauty and the Beast, starring the "Monkey" and the "Self": she is so jealous that, in Karin Ek's ingenious costume with a black bandage over her eyes, she shoots her rival.

  • World premiere by: the Cullberg Ballet at The City Theatre, Stockholm (Sweden), November 29th 1989
  • Premiere by Compañía Nacional de Danza: at Teatro de la Zarzuela, Madrid (Spain), December 9th 1994

In this ballet, Mats Ek does not shrink from the bleak or tragic aspects of the story, although the characters seem to have been taken from a sandpit or a children’s book: here are both a quick version of the ladder of life its various stages, from birth to maturity and old age and a solo with “Bird”, a little girl who suddenly sprouts metre long white hair and dances a last, frenetic dance. Old Children is dedicated to Birgit Cullberg, since when he was deep in work Mats Ek realised that his mother was present in the ballet in various ways, but he insists that it is not a form of illustrated biography. Here, there are not ciphers for the audience to decode, no riddles to solve. The ballet emphasise the often complex relationships of the adult world in a form that is now deliberately naive, now symbolic.


  • Choreography:
    Mats Ek
  • Music:
    Fläskkvartetten, Jules Massenet, Eduard Grieg, de Frumerie, Klami and Saint-Saëns
  • Staging:
    Anna Diehl and Ana Laguna
  • Costume Design:
    Karin Ek
  • Lighting Design:
    Göran Westrup
  • Mask Design:
    Ame Högsander
  • Set made by:
    Enrique López Corella
  • Costumes made by:
    CND wardrobe
  • Running time:
  • Premiere cast CND:
    Thomas Klein (monkey), Mar Baudesson (self), Patrick de Bana (speedy), Rami Levi (boy), Catherine Allard (girl), Catherine Habasque (poorly), Tony Fabre (dirty grey), Cati Arteaga (little girl