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Obituary: Anna Krzystek

Anna Krzystek at Oblivia in 2010. Photo: Eija Makivuoti Anna Krzystek at Oblivia in 2010. Photo: Eija Makivuoti

As a performer and choreographer, Anna Krzystek was a leading figure in independent dance and performance art in Scotland, co-founding the Glasgow-based, artist-led organisation the Work Room and more recently playing a key role in Creative Scotland.

Born in London, Krzystek moved to Glasgow in 1994 to work with Dudendance Theatre and put down substantial roots in the city as a dancer, choreographer and vocal advocate for the social role of art. Her own work was noted for its sense of rigour, fastidious attention to detail, fierce intellect and clarity, qualities that served her well when she was appointed Creative Scotland’s interdisciplinary performance officer in 2016.

She came to dance by accident, experiencing a Damascene moment at the age of 16 when she happened to see an abstract dance performance in a gym hall. With no formal training, she was largely self-taught although she later spent three years in New York taking classes with Merce Cunningham.

By 1997 she had broadened her own performance practice into choreography. Her solo shows were usually structured as a series of interconnected performances marked by an interpretative openness often bordering on the enigmatic. After the five-part The Wait (2004-2013) she embarked on the Zen-influenced The Untitled, which she described as “exploring nothing”. The latest instalment, Untitled #0.5, Who What and Where Is Anna?, an installation-cum-performance exploring what she called “speculative realism”, was premiered at the Tramway, Glasgow earlier this year as part of Dance International.

In 2000, she became a core member of the Helsinki performance company Oblivia, with whom she continued to work until her death after being hit by a tram in Brussels where she was attending a meeting of the International Network for Contemporary Performing Artists.

Anna Krzystek was born on September 18, 1968 and died on November 24, aged 49.