photo: Ian Douglas
I have heard about the work of Berlin-New York nomadic dancer Jeremy Wade quite a lot in the last years and never made it to any of his shows. The new dance theater piece he is performing at HAU Theater is an aggressive/sexy/disturbing (choose you adjective) monologue about the different aspects of death. In a dark, American-Horror-Story-like queer setting Wade experiments with vehicles for experiencing different deaths – death of theater, value, sense, and attachment. Jeremy Wade uses death as a metaphor to give the audience a wake-up call projecting his research on the death of our Western society into the future. The dates, pictures and a video after the jump.
Tanztage, now in its 24th edition, is showcasing some of the most creative pieces in contemporary theatre, dance and performance art with a marathon spanning 11 days at Sophiensæle. Shining the spotlight on the up-and-coming choreographic talents of Berlin, the festival is putting their thematic focus on the interdisciplinary nature of many young artists who express themselves not only through dance, but various other mediums as well. Through the use of movement and sound, their performances result in a powerful commentary on issues present in contemporary pop culture. I saw two amazing performances today that challenged my perception of the performing arts—Vincent Riebeek’s Flaming Lamborghini and Noha Ramadan’s Los Angeles—both of which caught me completely off-guard. The former was as sexy as it was shocking while the latter was staggering and transformative. Read on to find out more about these performances and see some photos that are sure to allure you into the world of dance.
photo: Garrett Davis/capture imaging
When you go to the theater most of the time your role will be that of the audience. You sit there and watch a bunch of excentric crazy people running around naked and screaming on stage. Well, that’s my very simplistic description of going to theater in Berlin But what if you have a different role at your next theater visit? What if you become part of the performance? That’s an experience that will certainly change your view on theater.
The piece Western Society by the famous and beloved Berlin-based theater company Gob Squad is basically an ongoing re-enactment of one of the most boring and ordinary youtube videos of a family gathering in front of the TV set and watching something while going on about their business in the background. Of course the piece dives way deeper into the behavior, norms, traditions and conflicts of our modern society, but I would like to leave that up to you to discover it.
When I was watching this piece a few months ago I was pretty puzzled when right in the beginning of the play one of the actors threw a plush animal in my face and asked me to come down to the stage and participate in the performance. Oups, I was not exactly expecting that. I was than charmingly introduced into the clever system of headset-based prompting by none other than Tatiana Saphie, star of our online comedy The Fruit Salad, who was also one of the actors in Western Society. And than I found myself among the actors and other members of the audience right in the middle of the theater set re-enacting the living room scene while the main actors gave me instructions what to do and what to say through my ear piece. It was certainly an unexpected and exciting experience. After the jump there are some photos of the piece and a short extract from the recording of the show with me in it. It looks rather weird, but it was really fun and I had the honor of having the only speaking role of the guests so that was extra cool.
Western Society by Gob Squad is playing again this weekend on Saturday, Sunday and Monday at HAU2 in Kreuzberg. Don’t miss it and reach for those flying plush animals!
photo: Vincent Riebeek
For the Berlin contemporary dance world January is one of the most important months of the year due to the festival Tanztage at the Sophiensaele. This year’s edition has a new artistic director, Anna Müller, and the focus is the interdisciplinary nature of many young artists whose playing field is not just restricted to dance. They set out to discover new worlds or genres and address choreographic issues in pop culture such as: striptease and breakdance, club culture, talk shows and pop music. All things we actually like and want to see on stage more often.
(Side note: Of course I just want to see male strippers on stage because of their effect on my social perception. Male stripping is seen as a social deviance and through its performances creates a sort of equality in relation to the predominantly normative female stripping, giving the women in the audience the feeling of empowerment. And of course I have to take in consideration the visual pleasure I receive as a side-effect from such an important cultural step into gender equality. Therefore I see it as my personal duty to go to any show were hot male stripping is promised on the flyer.)
The eleven day long performance marathon with nine premieres and five revivals invites the audience to discover new choreographic talents and to enjoy contemporary dance in this beautiful theater. Of course we should not forget to mention the fabulous party that will take place there tonight. If you have just a quick look into the program of the 24th edition of the festival you get the feeling as if almost any show has some queer topic. Actually not very surprising since the contemporary dance world consists to 80% of gay men and 20% of feminist women (of course just a superficial assumption based on my subjective experience and not on real statistics) Some recommendations after the jump.
with 100 years you might be a granny (still pretty young in comparison to other theaters in Berlin) but you are still sexy and edgy as hell. We had so much fun, you and I. You were one of my first friends here in Berlin and I spend so many hours in the third floor that I can’t even count them. Not only did you make me enjoy so many great pieces, concerts and parties and fashion shows. With your banners you always get my attention and around you I feel somehow safe. You were my favourite place in Berlin when I came here and you still are ranked pretty high. I hope I will spend so much more time with you and I promise to come visit more often.
Ps: More info about tonights 100 years birthday party after the jump.
Ballet dancing is one of the finest expressions of European culture. It created the creative base for today’s contemporary dance all over the world, and it’s also an art form with the perfect balance between lightness and power. Watching a ballet dancer perform is one of the most visually compelling experiences, and I am so glad that we have one of the most talented ballet companies here in Berlin: Staatsballett Berlin.
Combining their unique beauty with the rough urbanity of Berlin’s architectural landscape, we had a unique vision: shooting a fashion story showcasing a dance rehearsal on the rooftops of Berlin. Bringing new attention to the city’s rich cultural heritage, fashion photographer Olga Khristolyubova portrayed two of the most skilled dancers from Staatsballet: Sarah Mestrovic and Kevin Pouzou. Sarah is a native Berliner who has been enrolled in the company for ten years. She combines her artistic experience with a creative spark, making her move with lightness and passion over the roof of our shoot. Kevin is a french dancer who has been living and dancing in Berlin for 8 years now. His majestic beauty is nothing compared to his bravery and strength. Neither were afraid to move and bend over the abyss of the streets surrounding them; creating incredible images for us.
Since we shot on the last weekend of November, the air was already cold as ice, though the sun was fortunately shining. On top of their rehearsal gear, they wore Goose Feel down jackets and knits from We are Knitters: the perfect combination of warmth to help the dancers extend over the top of Berlin’s skyline, while also staying super-light and incredibly flexible so as to allow them to bend, leap and soar unimpeded while performing their magic. Enjoy the whole shoot after the jump, and stay tuned for the animated pictures soon to come.
The Hungarian Contemporary Dance Festival, that is happening here in Berlin at Dock11 from December 15th – 21st 2014, is bringing a very special dance company to our city. When I reviewed the program of the festival the Pal Frenak Compagnie really stood out as the highlight among all the participants. The Budapest and Paris-based company that has a long-standing history in both cities since 1998 is bringing something to our stages that we get to see quite rarely in contemporary dance here: sensuality. Whenever I see a dance piece here in Berlin I would describe the style as bizarre, destructive, conceptual and sometimes humorous – but never sensual. This seems to be some kind of taboo. With the performances of Pal Frenak this rule does not apply because he brings out the gracefulness and beauty of the human body and its movements in all of its glory and without coyness. His dancers create images full of sensuality bringing together impeccable choreographies with revealing physicalness. Get a taste of their work with some images of their current productions and don’t miss two opportunities to see them here in Berlin on December 12th at .CHB and on December 15th at Dock11. Check out the program of the Hungarian Contemporary Dance Festival here.
photos: Wolfgang Hilse
Constanza Macras is doing theater in the forrest, Prinzip Gonzo is playing a theatrical Game of Life in an abandoned industrial hall and KiezOper is bringing their piece into the Wilde Renate night club. And these are only a few of the examples where theater in Berlin bends the rules and brings their concepts outside of the actual theater houses into the urban wildlife of the city to create new, interdisciplinary experiences.
With the piece Berlin Bound the Thin Skin Theater and Sisyphos, der Flugelefant have created yet another off-stage theater experience. They collaborated with the night clubs Griesmühle and Brunnen70 to stage what they describe as a party performance. Previously performed at Kater Holzig in 2012 it has already earned some praise and therefore was reactivated for new shows in 2014 in new night clubs. The performance is a colorful and crazy recreation of a plane trip to a place called home and the guests are invited to come along. What does it truly feel like to be home? What’s required for one to feel at home? Is it possible to preserve one’s identity or must one leave it behind? In Berlin, many people share the experience of leaving one’s own cultural system behind in a search for something new, ultimately to establish oneself as a member of a foreign culture and society. The arrival lies in your own hands.
The double premiere of the performance will happen this weekend with additional shows the weekend after. More details and a trailer after the jump.
photo: Anna Agliardi
The year 2014 seems to be the year of remembering the past. On the one hand we have 100 years of industrial war, on the other hand we commemorate positive events like the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The last century of European history is very complex. Everything seems connected. Remembering things the right way, is more difficult than we ever imagined. No wonder so many theater makers want to bring real live memories on stage to show the different perspectives.
Our beloved Argentinian choreographer Constanza Macras went to the city of Dresden and talked to eyewitnesses who can remember a city that no longer exists in the same form today. The actions in the piece “The Past” which premiered at Schaubühne this week, refer to the ancient techniques of ars memoriae, whereby in order to recall the thing to be remembered, we first have to find and organise our impressions. The piece explores architectonic places as narrative instruments of our history – in the rewriting of history, for overcoming the wounds of the past, and for understanding contemporary events (personal and global) as part of a constant cycle that we experience as the passing of time. This piece will have a second part that will premiere in Spring 2016. Talented Italian theater photographer Anna Agliardi went for us to the general rehearsal to get some exclusive impressions. Photos and dates after the jump.
Berlin is a restless city. Spätis open 24/7, clubnights going on from Thursday afternoon to Monday morning and the high energy of the club kids on speed makes it sometimes hard to find a place to calm down, outside your own four walls. Israeli theater maker Hila Golan, Niva Dloomy and Ariel Nil Levy just released a new magical piece that’s calling attention to the sleep disorders of an entire society. The tale of the Princess and the Pea forms the framework of this theater performance about a world-known phenomenon that affects all parts of society. In this new version the pile of mattresses grows and grows, craving for dreams and relaxation, but a general restlessness keeps us awake.
In continuous self-optimization on the outer and the inner shell, private concerns, constant availability, and last but not least the feeling of helplessness and passive complicity in the face of current world events, the question arises: How can we get sleep? While the actors have to deal with the causes and consequences of ongoing insomnia, their environment becomes more and more unpredictable due to the sophisticated interplay of Christian Maith’s light design and stage design by media artist Mayan Printz. The bright and dark waking hours are captured by Eli Fabrikant’s composed “low-tech music”. You should not miss this performances in English going on now and in December. More pphotos and the dates after the jump.