When you visit one of the many abandoned places of Berlin you will most likely find traces of previous visits, or even habitation there. Squatters, ravers, sprayers, vandals, urban explorers. They all left their marks on these forgotten buildings of Berlin and contribute to the decay of what these places once were. If you’re lucky you might even find some traces of creativity there.
When I first stepped into the abandoned railroad yard in Pankow last summer I was amazed by the spectacular light inside the circular building that came in through the panoramic windows in the ceiling. The place itself was completely empty and pretty much devastated by vandalism. But within all the debris and decay I found golden confetti and feathers on the floor like a little glimmer of hope and joy. It looked like someone had a good time there not too long ago. Maybe a small party, or an euphoric photo shoot. Either way it was another trace of life in an otherwise dead place.
When I stumbled about the contemporary dance video titled “Ephemeral Rooms” by Ruben Reniers and Nora Vladiguerov that was shot in this location earlier this year I was reminded of my visit. Just like whoever left the golden confetti the two choreographers and dancers breathed some life into this abandoned place with their beautiful performance.
photo: Homard Payette
In Berlin nobody needs to be a princess or prince to feel special. Because once in a while we can all dress up and go to a ball. A ball where you don’t want to feel pretty or cute, but fierce and powerful instead. Showing your best moves to serious judges and maybe become a legend one day.
You have no idea what fairy tale I am talking about? About Berlin Voguing Out and their Incrediball of course!
Last Friday night we entered the halls of HAU2 for the voguing event of the year. Contestants from all over Germany and also from other parts of the world challenged each other in several voguing categories. If you are not familiar with this particular dance style from New York, which is routed in the queer black and latino subculture you should have a look at the documentary Paris is Burning about the original voguing ballroom scene in New York.
Here in Berlin we are pretty lucky to have the amazing House of Melody lead by Georgina Leo Melody, who made voguing so incredibly popular in Berlin. The House of Melody is not only organizing the Berlin Voguing Out Festival but also many other events and workshops around this dance culture. To give you a little taste Alicia Kassebohm took some pictures for you to enjoy all the beauty and fierceness of the Berlin Voguing scene. More after the jump.
photo: Denis Koone Kuhnert
Berlin is dynamic, Berlin loves to dance and Berlin loves to Vogue. So it comes as no surprise that the Voguing scene of Berlin is becoming more and more popular.
Originally from New York’s queer scene, Voguing is inspired by fashion runways. Exaggerated movements are being turned into fierce, strong, overacted self-presentations. The participants of the scene divide themselves into different “houses”, which are more of a family substitute than just a dance crew.
photos: Thai Hoang
Over the weekend I stumbled across an awesome photo series by Thai Hoang that I want to share with you today. Some of you might also know the young photographer from his Instagram account loewe7 that was also part of our #berlin exhibition last year. As part of the monthly Instameet #CamerasAndDancers organized by Jacob Jonas The Company Thai had the opportunity to follow a group of five dancers through Berlin and capture them in stunning formations in various iconic Berlin backgrounds. I love the idea of this Instameet, I love the guys from the group and I love the results of this photo shoot!
photos: Carrie Schneider
Nudity is nothing a Berliner is particularly shocked about. In contrary, I think that Berlin is the city with the most public nakedness in the world if you consider all the nude beaches and public sex parties. It is also a different nakedness than in a tropical or Mediterranean city because the weather is not actually inviting to take off your close. The Berlin nudity is a public statement to the liberation of the human body from all the social, political and gender oppressions. At least that is what I like to read into it, even though I doubt that all of the half naked 19year old kids at the Pornceptual parties would agree.
But I am losing track here. Let’s discuss Berlin’s political intentions on nudity another time… I actually just wanted to recommend a damn sexy contemporary dance festival starting today: Tanz im August. Scrolling through the pics I saw some naked flesh popping up in the press folder and I was wondering if a conservative audience would claim that the dance world needs sex to get more attention from the younger audience. This could not be more wrong. Dance is not automatically sexy when the bodies on stage are naked.
But there is an element of contemporary dance that I find extremely sexy (which is why I also used this alluring headline). It is the intensity and the ability to control, perform and present yourself and your body that intrigues the spectator. A contemporary performer is always in a constant dialogue between his own body and the audience and is within this dialogue able to create tension and persuasion. From my point of view, most of the times the nakedness of a performer is actually not erotic but rather a narration of intimacy and disclosure.
We selected several dance pieces from the festival taking places in some of our favorite theaters including Sophiensaele, Hau and Volksbühne, that we think are promising and worth visiting. Our recommendations after the jump.
photo: Jule Müller
Every big master piece that goes on stage at one of the three opera houses in Berlin should not only be credited to the director, choreographer or main dancers and singers. Behind the scenes of these huge productions numerous people work day and night to create the temporary and therefore precious magic that only performative art on stage can bring to life. Before falling in love with contemporary dance, I was passionate about classical ballet. So being able to experience the process up close behind the creation of a ballet piece by a big company like Staatsballett is something really special on a personal level. Gladly, I can now share this experience with you readers in form of a little photographic journey inside the costume workshops of the Staatsballett and into the rehearsals of the production Jewels which premiered a couple of weeks ago.
Jewels is a three part choreography by one of the biggest Russian masters of choreography who brought neoclassical ballet to the States and made it famous all over the world. According to legend, it must have been a dark winter day in the late 1960s, on which George Balanchine was swept away by sparkling jewelry that he saw in a shop window on New York’s fancy 5th Avenue. And what did the successful choreographer do? Rather than simply buying the beautiful diamonds, rubies, and emeralds he took inspiration from their splendor and created a new ballet piece which he named “Jewels”.
The costumes I could examine up close definitely reflect this very romantic (and a slightly kitschy) story. If you want to see the jewels sparkle under the bright lights of the spotlights check out our raffle for 2×2 tickets and our photo after the jump.
A couple of weeks ago we showed you a fun music video with a guy dancing through the streets of Berlin. What was so special about it, was that the guy was not a young crazy party kid, but a slightly famous older gentleman: Günter Krabbenhöft. Certainly an unexpected sight, but a really enjoyable one as the success of the video shows. It was this feature that prompted yet another video submission that we received that has a related theme: it’s about an adorable couple of elderly dancers in their 70s.
Cities like Berlin are so obsessed with youth culture. It’s always about what’s young, what’s hip, what’s sexy. There seems to be some kind of ageism going on, because when it comes to the older generation things automatically become uncool. Why is that? Why can’t old people be cool, too? And why are we so afraid of aging? I think the answer is that there are not enough role models that prove wrong all the stereotypes of older people that we dread so much. We associate being old with being out of touch, being slow and sick, being opposed to any kind of change, being yesterday’s news. In a fast-paced world that is all about individualism and self-fulfillment, this really sounds like the most horrible thing that could happen to us.
Berlin in the 1950s: A time where dancing schools were omnipresent, skirts were long and women’s empowerment was still in the early stages. Often romanticized as the time with red lipstick, proper hairdo’s and gentlemen, it really was a time of change. The phase right after the war and into the economic miracle was a time of imposition. A time where the fight between prudery and emancipation often culminated in dancing schools that were pretty popular these days. And then Rock ‘n’ Roll came into town. And with it a sort of liberation in dance, that no one could stop.
This is exactly where the three-part series Ku’damm 56 takes place. The TV series from the German public service television ZDF revolves around young Monika Schöllack who, after improper behavior, has been expelled of home economics school (yep, that was a thing back then) back to her family in Berlin. Worried about Monika ever finding a husband her mother Caterina manages the dancing school ‘Galant’ on her own and is shocked when she finds out that Monika discovered Rock’n Roll. From then on, nothing stays the same.
The three-part series is well researched and tackles the subjects of female identity, the uprising wish for equality and the universality of human emotions. You can see the last part of the German series at ZDF this Wednesday at 20.15h or watch the whole series online here.
See a trailer right after the jump.
photos: Anna Rafeeva
Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free. - Rumi
Sometimes, no matter how hard the surroundings – all you can do is dance. There are enough reasons no matter what the situation. Seems odd? But you can move forward lightly even on the hardest grounds. All you need is the right inner rhythm.
The photographs of Anna Rafeeva are dreamy, soft and powerful – what better location to place them then good old, rugged Berlin? In the midst of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, the photographer captured a Ballerina flying through Berlin and dancing away in front of colorful walls. See the beautiful shots right after the jump.
photos: Yan Revazov
Can contemporary ballet express a clear political message? How to express clear opinions of the status quo with such an abstract art form as dance? It might be a crazy challenge, but I am very glad that the new director of the Staatsballet Berlin Nacho Duato is once again going on a creative journey with the dance company to create impact on society and culture with his new piece “Herrumbre”. With it, he tries to elaborate on his own experience of the 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid. Nacho Duato lived only a few hundred meters away from one of the four bombing locations. 2004 was also the year in which photos of tortured prisoners from the US prison camp Guantanamo went around the world.
Under these impressions, Duato decided to create a new work based on his experience with terror. In his choreography he wants to show the pain caused by terrorism and the brutality of war. With disturbing images of brutal humiliation, he wants to make us explore the darkness of our times. At the same time, he also wants his production to be a call for the respect of human dignity. After the jump we show you intimate images of the rehearsals. We are also giving away tickets for the upcoming shows.