Mother Melancholia

Mother Melancholia by Samantha Shay is a multi-layered portrait of four women and a eulogy for the planet set to, and inspired by Sóley’s album of the same title, a self-proclaimed soundtrack for the end of the world as we know it. Co-commissioned by Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, the dance film approaches patriarchal politics and ecofeminism through an unguarded, unsettlingly beautiful meditation on the difficulty, and immediacy of being fully present in the world. Filmed in the surreal and eroding Icelandic landscape, Mother Melancholia is a quiet, yet urgent conduit between the internal world of the human experience, and the planet we inhabit.


Director Biography – Samantha Shay

Samantha Shay is a multidisciplinary artist, performer, director of theatre and film, and movement artist. As a creative instigator, catalyzer and master collaborator, her acclaimed body of work challenges traditional boundaries, creates new connections, and dances across the fault lines between disciplines.

She is currently a Fulbright Scholar working with Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch. She is also the artistic director of Source Material – a production company formed in 2014, where she carries a deep interest in cross-cultural pedagogy, often collaborating with diverse artistic lineages.

Samantha often works with American and international artists, performers and musicians, including as well as former and current members of such companies at Teatr ZAR, Batsheva Dance Company, and Gardzienice. Her theatrical work has been produced at The Grotowski Institute, the Theatre Olympics, RedCat, HERE Arts (New York), Tjarnarbio (Iceland), LungA (Iceland), and the Edinburgh International Fringe.

As a filmmaker, she has made ambitious music videos for KÁRYYN, JFDR, Sóley, and Katie Gately, among others. Her films have screened at San Francisco Dance Film Festival, Portland Dance Film Festival, CAPITOL Dance & Cinema Festival, Thessaloniki Cinedance International, and BAFTA and Academy Award qualifying festivals such as Flickers Rhode Island International Film Festival, HollyShorts, and CineQuest.

In 2016 her original piece, ‘of Light’, gained international attention when it was developed under the mentorship of Marina Abramović , endorsed by Abramović and praised by Björk in The Guardian. Two songs from the original score were released by Mute Records via composer KÁRYYN, with ‘Moving Masses’ named as Best New Track on Pitchfork.

From 2017-2019 Samantha’s original piece made in collaboration with The Grotowski Institute and Nini Julia Bang, ‘A Thousand Tongues’ toured Europe and the US, receiving two nominations for Gríman – The Icelandic Theatre Awards – including Most Innovative Performance. She recently completed her first short film ‘Homesick’, in collaboration with Danielle Agami, and directed the digitally-devised Zoom play ‘In These Uncertain Times’, in response to how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the arts. The New York Times described the performance as “like a lyrical essay, poetic, emotive and fluid,” and it has been used as a resource by numerous academic and critical researchers as a pivotal theatrical work during the pandemic. She recently completed her next dance film “Mother Melancholia” co-commissioned by Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, which premieres in the Spring of 2022.






Director + Choreographer

Samantha Shay


Hallfridur Thora Tryggvadottir



Collaborators + Performers

Samantha Shay
Barbara Kaufmann
Chalia La Tour
Breanna O'Mara