photo: Mathieu Doyon.
August is the month of dance in Berlin. We would love to show you our selection of highlights for the upcoming festival Tanz im August celebrating contemporary dance from all over the world.
Heat becomes movement and movement becomes a dance. While spoken word theaters are traditionally closed during summer for almost 6 to 8 weeks, the dance scene celebrates this period with all kinds of intense programs. While most dance schools, like Tanzfabrik or Marameo, offer intense workshops, for the people who rather watch than dance themselves there is a big festival celebrating the variety of contemporary dance: Tanz im August.
This year’s program has several highlights to offer. Most of the pieces will have their German or even worldwide premiere. This means that the following highlights are more of an intuitive choice than an exclusive selection since we had no chance to see any of these in person. Feel free to check out the whole program yourself and see if something else might spark your interest.
Company Wayne McGregor
The Tanz im August Festival is back showcasing the immensely diverse world of contemporary dance on the stages of Berlin! From the August 10 to September 2 you’ll be able to enjoy and experience a wide range of dances throughout the city. From international productions by established creators to newcomers and world premieres. On top of that, the program also includes talks and workshops so the public can engage by participating and learn through action. And now, without further ado, we present you our selection of the 10 most exciting pieces from this edition of Tanz im August. Enjoy!
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.
Now it’s finally here: the new creative leadership of Berlin choreographer Sasha Waltz at the Staatsballett – anticipated by some and criticized by others. And the season premiere of Plateau Effect by Jefta van Dinther could not have been a more daring choice for the first piece of this new era.
The Swedish choreographer van Dinther is well known in the contemporary dance scene and has been often invited to Tanz im August and to HAU theater. His pieces are known for an emotional radicalness and for not caring about the needs and expectations of the audience. Even if his work is acclaimed by critics and the dance and art world, it is not something you would take your granny or even your parents to watch. Many of his pieces are raw, sexual, rough and often accompanied by a soundtrack you would rather hear at Berghain than in an opera house.
Can you imagine a neighborhood in Berlin with only one ethnic background? This is the case of Chatsworth, a part of Durban in South Africa. During Apartheid all the inhabitants with Indian roots had to move to one common neighborhood. There they got only small houses to live in. Through this measures, the government hoped that the community of Indians would not grow larger.
Enfant terrible of the dance theater scene – Constanza Macras – choose Chatsworth as the title and frame of her newest piece. Her particular style of documentary dance theater takes the audience through fragments of unique stories, local music, romantic songs and her signature group dance scenes.
Berlin Biennale 2016, photo: Timo Ohler *
This summer seems to be the perfect time to discover new art and cultural exhibitions in Berlin. It’s not Gallery Weekend, it’s not Art Week either, yet there are still so many interesting exhibitions going on worth checking out. Of course the biggest one of all of them is the current edition of the Berlin Biennale that takes place at multiple venues all over central Berlin. This year’s concept of the acclaimed exhibition is quite controversial, the more reason for us to go and check it out! But we also have a brand new private art collection in town that follows in the footsteps of the me Collectors Room and the Collection Boros at the former Bunker. This one found a new home in the former Konzulat, a place that will be dearly missed but is now filled with new life. For a less high-concept, more down-to-earth kind of exhibition we recommend the #LiveThere Haus, an exhibition by visual artist collective 44flavours from Berlin who took over the Hallesches Haus for a few days next week. This and much more in our new Berlin exhibition highlights guide for the summer of 2016. Enjoy!
Spiegelsaal, Clärchens Ballhaus
We love Clärchens Ballhaus! It’s one of the only remaining old houses on Auguststraße in Mitte and it radiates history like very few other buildings.
Here you can enjoy easy-going and yummy traditional German food and pizza along with a beer in the garden in a charming atmosphere between the old walls and you can feel the many years that this place has already existed. In the nights you can dine or listen to concerts in the famous “Spiegelsaal” ball room, a beautiful old hall of over 100 years – decorated, as the name suggests, with many mirrors. But the heart of Clärchens is its main ball room – day by day there are dancing events and you can also be active in courses like standard, salsa or tango.
Established in 1913 by the family Bühler the house is one of the last ball houses of Berlin. We wanted to learn more about it and found a wonderful book: Berlin tanzt in Clärchens Ballhaus: 100 Jahre Vergnügen – eine Kulturgeschichte. Learn more about it after the jump.
One of my favorite places in Wedding are the Uferstudios. They have become an amazing creative factory for dance and performance in the last couple of years and I had the chance to see a bunch of interesting experimental pieces there that I would have missed in more conventional theaters. As often with off-theater spaces the choreographers and directors working there are young and unknown so far and most of the productions just play a few times only. That is why even for us it is sometimes hard to decide which pieces might be worth the trip and which are not.
Fortunately, the Tanznacht happening over the next couple of days might be the right thing for you to discover this beautiful creative space. From the 28th to the 31st of August 2014 several shows of all kinds are going to take place in the different studios. From a variety of choreographers and dancers performing during the 4-day program we can already recommend the piece by Jared Gradinger and Angela Schubot which we had the chance to see before. Aside from contemporary dance, this year’s edition has a special focus on video performances screened all over the place. Also the courtyard of the location will get a design intervention by Club Real. Discover the whole program here and also check out their magazine. More photos of the performances after the jump.
I have a really distinct memory from my first night at Cookies. I was 19, fresh in Berlin and doing some crazy art projects for the gender class of my university. We were a small group of three people on the project. One of them was my best friend and the other one was my secret crush. We were working on the concept of our project until late in the night and got really drunk while doing so. It was a Tuesday night and we had nowhere to be on the next day, so we decided to go out. Venturing out for clubbing on a Tuesday night was something quite spectacular for me being a new Berlin citizen. So we went to the much talked about Cookies for the first time and I remember being really impressed by the dark chandeliers, the music, the people, the unisex toilets and everything going on in there. Unfortunately, my best friend and my crush were really drunk and out of control. At one point they even started kissing each other, which maybe is the reason why the night is still very present in my memories. Of course I was a good friend and stayed there and helped them to get into a cab (they were so drunk that they had trouble standing). Actually, I was a more sad that the night was ruined and abruptly ended by the alcohol than about the kissing itself (I really don`t know why I was so Zen that night, I was not even doing Yoga or anything).
Anyway, Cookies remained in my memories as great place to be. Now, nearly 10 years after this story, the Cookies club closes for good (while the restaurant Cookies Cream will remain open). Therefore we asked them to look into their archives to find pictures from the first parties happening there. After the jump, we would love to present to you a short retrospective from Cookies best places and nights of its 20 year old history.
photo: Thomas Aurin
You all know, Frak and I are big admirers of Costanza Macras and her theater company Dorkypark. Also, I am big fan of theater and dance outside the setting of a stage. Outside Berlin, inside a dark teutonic forest called Müggelwald our Argentinean choreographer is doing a unique show for Schaubühne. The performance of Forest: The Nature of Crisis asks if during an era of crisis, there can be a return to nature and explores the associated desires and the significance of the regional in times of a global economic crisis. Macras will be working on cultural patterns attached to the forest and relates them to its myths, fairy tales and images. A piece of Berlin forest is turned into a contemporary artificial landscape where we will encounter environmentalists, forest campaigners, economists and freaks. I am really looking forward to it and I hope you do, too. More pictures and information after the jump.