“What will be the roar of the 2020s?” asks Pontus Lidberg, the Swedish director of Danish Dance Theatre, the largest contemporary-dance troupe in Denmark. Roaring Twenties, Lidberg’s final work for the company after five years at its helm, premieres tonight in Copenhagen. “We have seen a few roars this decade—Black Lives Matter, the coronavirus and all that came with it. There were a lot of roars in the 1920s, and look how that turned out.”

Despite cursory nods to the original 20s—a sparse set punctuated by bistro chairs, costumes with the hint of a flapper’s hem—audiences won’t be subjected to banal historical comparisons between the decades. “I like to leave question marks rather than give trite conclusions,” says Lidberg. “The one parallel is that both the 1920s and the 2020s are times of immense change and great uncertainty.”

Roaring Twenties features a lead character—the Loner—and an amorphous Group, danced by the wider corps. The dynamics between the two stitch the composition together. Social polarization was “a basis for the choreography,” explains Lidberg. “Polarization is built into our DNA. It is something we all do, especially when groups become strong.” Expect to see somatic motifs of persistent falling and catching, complex manipulation of the corps, and textured phrasing that draws on Lidberg’s classical training. The tensions between the Loner and the Group play out against the esoteric tones of Den Sorte Skole (the Black School), a Danish electronica duo widely known in Berghain-esque circles.

Social polarization was “a basis for the choreography,” explains Lidberg.

Like much of Lidberg’s oeuvre—and the man himself—Roaring Twenties is intense with a hint of urgency. His acclaimed film “The Rain” (2007) features Alicia Vikander, who is ballet-trained, performing in the pouring rain. Another work, Centaur (2020), incorporates an A.I. machine that’s both the choreographer and a participant, rendering each performance unique. Lidberg’s creative process is intellectual, drawing on his diverse formative experiences: training at the prestigious Royal Swedish Ballet School, dancing for multiple European companies, an M.F.A. in contemporary performing arts from the University of Gothenburg, a rogue four years of medical school, parents who are psychiatrists. Adorned with awards and well known in European dance circles, Lidberg has also created works for New York City Ballet and the Martha Graham Dance Company. A new commission for Miami City Ballet, set to Philip Glass’s Violin Concerto No. 1, premieres in February.

What has emerged from this artist, now 46, is a movement vocabulary with real sticking power. Lidberg’s choreography is perhaps most recognizable for two features: the persistent use of poetic and probing touch between the dancers, and his interrogation of the subconscious. He cites Herman Hesse as an inspiration, and we can sense a shadow of Hesse’s eponymous pair, Narcissus and Goldmund—spirit and flesh—in Lidberg’s Roaring Twenties. He also acknowledges the influence of Pina Bausch, her relentlessness, and the durational pedagogy of Ohad Naharin, designed to unlock one’s authentic movement—the Gaga.

Indeed, during his years leading Danish Dance Theatre, Lidberg has evolved into a multi-hyphenated creative—at the time of this writing, he was finishing a screenplay and touching up a series of graphite drawings. “I paint, I draw, I write, I make films, I work with A.I., and I choreograph. People love clear labels of what things are. I don’t fit into that.” —Genevieve Curtis

Roaring Twenties will be on at the Royal Danish Theatre, in Copenhagen, through January 28

Genevieve Curtis is a London-based dance critic, feature writer, and choreographer. She is also a recovering former ballet dancer