photo: Anna Agliardi.
One of the artistic genres that we as iHeartBerlin have been most excited about in recent years is that of dance and performance theater. We love theater in general, of course, but dance has a special place in our hearts. Maybe because it’s the one thing that creates a bridge between what was historically once our main focus, clubbing, and the world of theater: expression through movement. In fact, a lot of the dance pieces that we cover are heavily influenced by the music and style of the nightlife, which also includes traditional staples such as the ballet.
As iHeartBerlin likes to jump between genres and interests we are of course far from being renowned theater critics. But this is not an important label we thrive for. Our aim is to give a platform to productions, choreographers and dancers that stand out to us and that is worthy of your attention. We also believe that our selection of pieces that we feature are great entry points or casual theatergoers or complete novices who are looking to expand their cultural horizon in Berlin.
With this new guide, we want to bring some kind of basic structure into our theater coverage giving you a roadmap to finding interesting pieces in Berlin. Of course, you can always rely on our events listing which we will enrich with more theater, dance, and performance recommendations than ever this year.
The Best Dance Ensembles in Berlin
No matter if you want to see a classical ballet with tutus and flying ribbons or a cutting-edge modern ballet with half-naked dancers and techno beats, the Staatsballett Berlin and their fantastic ensemble of dancers have you covered. Our preference here at iHeartBerlin clearly gravitates towards the modern pieces which we can’t get enough of! Keep your eyes peeled to the event calendar for the upcoming pieces you need to see.
Sasha Waltz & Guests
I’m not exaggerating when I say that Sasha Waltz is the most significant choreographer of Germany right now. With far over two decades of work, she has built an impressive repertoire of productions that she shows either on her main stage at Radialsystem, or other Berlin theaters such as Volksbühne or the Operas. She does not only lead her own company, Sasha Waltz & Guests, that she founded with Jochen Sandig back in 1993 but is also co-director of the above mentioned Staatsballett Berlin.
Constanza Macras’ Dorkypark
For me personally, it was the work of Argentinian choreographer and theater maker Constanza Macras that made interested in theater and dance. Her big productions bring a multitude of international performers onto the stage and her pieces are usually a wild mix of dance, performance, live music, and spoken word theater, often with significant social and cultural issues at heart. Even though the topics of her pieces are quite serious, you will see a lot of fun and humor on stage.
Cie. Toula Limnaios
Founded in 1996, the company of choreographer Toula Limnaios and composer Ralf R. Ollertz is one of the oldest independent contemporary dance ensembles based in Berlin. Their productions have not only found a loyal fanbase here in Berlin but also on countless international stages. Keep an eye out for their shows at Halle Tanzbühne, or various other stages in the city.
photo: Cie. Toula Limnaios
Meg Steward / Damaged Goods
Originally formed in Brussels in the mid-90s, the company Damaged Goods by American choreographer Meg Stuart has found its way to Berlin where you can see their productions at HAU theater in Kreuzberg. Heavily based on improvisation Stuart’s pieces often exist on the threshold of dance and theater.
photo: Iris Janke
Nico & The Navigators
Another Berlin group that has formed already in the 90s is Nico & The Navigators. It was founded by Nicola Hümpel and Oliver Proske at the Bauhaus in Dessau – its Berlin history is closely connected with the Sophiensaele theater in Mitte. They describe their own production as music theater, so it’s not strictly dancing, but has always a strong performance aspect in every show. In February 2020 their new show Faith to Face premieres at the Philharmonie Berlin.
photo: Dirk Bleicker
Siciliano Contemporary Ballet
The Siciliano Contemporary Ballet is a fairly new company from Berlin founded by choreographer Salvatore Siciliano in 2015. As the name suggests, their productions are based on the intersection of contemporary dance and classical ballet. You can see their pieces in Berlin at the Pfefferberg Theater, or in unusual spaces, such as the fashion show of Berlin-based label DSTM that happened just a few days ago at Kraftwerk.
KDV Dance Ensemble
The KDV Dance Ensemble is a brand new company founded by the director, dancer, and choreographer Kiani del Valle. Their first production “Las Casas Invisibles” will premiere on February 1st, 2020, at the beautiful hall 1 at Funkhaus Nalepastraße. Bringing in talents from the music world, such as Lotic, Floating Points and Raven, as well as fashion, it’s shaping up to be a compelling debut.
photo: Kitty Schumacher
The Best Theaters for Dance and Performance
Berlin has a sheer endless amount of theaters and stages and it seems quite impossible to get an overview if you haven’t spent years going to pieces in many of them. Well, don’t worry – we did this job for you in the last couple of decades! There’s a lot of places we can warmly recommend to get your dose of dance. We’ll start with those that are dedicated specifically to dance and performance, and continue with the ones that have a mixed program that includes a significant amount of dance.
Theaters with a dance and performance program:
This wonderful theater in the Hackescher Markt area of Mitte in a beautiful red brick backyard has a special place in our heart thanks to multiple collaborations they did with iHeartBerlin in the past. It was founded in the mid90s and one of the co-founders is the famous Sasha Waltz and her company. Their program is specifically focussed on dance and presents a lot of independent productions of up-and-coming local and international choreographers. Also, look out for numerous festivals like Tanztage in January that happen there.
Sophiensaele, Sophienstr. 8, 10178 Berlin-Mitte
photo: Joe Goergen
Dock11 & Eden
Hidden in an old backyard on Kastanienallee in Prenzlauer Berg Dock11 is a small but well-established stage and school for contemporary dance in Berlin. It gives room for a lot of independent productions and experiments. With EDEN Studios the Dock11 extended their space with another location in Pankow that hosts several rehearsals and training stages, that are also used for public shows and workshops, as well as Gaga sessions.
Dock11, Kastanienallee 79, 10435 Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg
EDEN Studios, Breite Str. 43, 13187 Berlin-Pankow
photo: Anna Agliardi
Located in the former tram depot of the BVG at the shore of the river Panke in the district Gesundbrunnen, the Uferstudios combine public stages and rehearsal spaces completely dedicated to contemporary dance. The independent dance scene found a home here where they can develop and showcase their productions to a devoted audience. Amongst their program of performances and workshops, they also host festivals such as the POOL Festival for Young Audiences that happens at the end of January.
Uferstudios, Uferstraße 23, 13357 Berlin-Gesundbrunnen
photo: Bodo Kubrak / CC-BY-SA
The Tanzfabrik is looking back at a long history of over 40 years offering a platform and space for the contemporary dance scene in Berlin to develop. The offer stages and rehearsal spaces for all kinds of productions, but also have a strong focus on the education of dance that exceeds the normal workshops of other dance schools as they offer longer educational programs as well. They also have their own dance Biennale called “Tanznacht Berlin” that happens every second summer, the next one being in August 2020.
Tanzfabrik, Möckernstraße 68, 10965 Berlin-Kreuzberg
Halle Tanzbühne Berlin
The Halle Tanzbühne (not to be confused with Halle am Berghain) is the production stage and public theater of the dance company of Toula Limnaoise. Located in a quaint backyard in Prenzlauer Berg on Eberswalder Straße, the small theater is not only host to the company itself, but also to many international choreographers and dancers.
Halle Tanzbühne, Eberswalder Str. 10, 10437 Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg
photo: Halle Tanzbühne
Theaters with a mixed program that includes dance and performance pieces:
The Operas of Berlin
The three operas of the city: Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Deutsche Oper, and Komische Oper, are all three not exclusively focused on Operas, as their names might suggest. They also have classical music shows in their programs, and, most importantly, ballet pieces. So, if you are looking for some world-class ballet productions, no matter if they are classical or modern, these three houses will be your best bet. The Staatsballett Berlin is mainly using the stages of those three Operas for their shows.
Staatsoper, Unter den Linden 7, 10117 Berlin-Mitte
Komische Oper, Behrenstraße 55-57, 10117 Berlin-Mitte
Deutsche Oper, Bismarckstraße 35, 10627 Berlin-Charlottenburg
Staatsoper, photo: Gordon Welters
Of all the bigger independent theaters of Berlin the Hebbel am Ufer with its 3 stages in Kreuzberg, simply called HAU1, HAU2 and HAU3, must have the biggest amount of dance and performance-based shows in their otherwise mixed program. It’s probably the theater that we have been to the most, as you will be able to see productions from famous local theater makers, as well as international stars and small indie projects. The dance curator of Hau Ricardo Carmona brought a lot of international groups to Berlin, but also gave many talents of the local scene of Berlin the possibility to show their ideas and projects. They also gave their stage to multiple productions from the iconic musician Peaches.
HAU1, Stresemannstr. 29, 10963 Berlin-Kreuzberg
HAU2, Hallesches Ufer 32, 10963 Berlin-Kreuzberg
HAU3, Tempelhofer Ufer 10, 10963 Berlin-Kreuzberg
The Radialsystem is a quite curious place in the theater landscape of Berlin. Located right next to Holzmarkt it is mostly become recognized as the main production space and show stage for the dance company Sasha Waltz & Guests. Their program goes beyond that, with other dance productions and other types of music and cultural events.
Radialsystem, Holzmarktstr. 33, 10243 Berlin-Friedrichshain
Traditionally, I would not list Volksbühne in a dance guide, but in recent years their program has featured shows of renowned choreographers and dance companies, so I must include the famous big theater of East Berlin in our list. Their main stage is just gorgeous, but their small stages in the salons are also noteworthy.
Volksbühne, Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz 2, 10115 Berlin-Mitte
Haus der Berliner Festspiele
One of the few addresses in our list in the West of Berlin, the Haus der Berliner Festspiele is most interesting for the big international productions from all around the world that take place here.
Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Schaperstraße 24, 10719 Berlin-Wilmersdorf
photo: Burkhard Peter
This small theater in Prenzlauer Berg in a former ballroom has a really interesting program with a lot of experimental productions and unusual approaches to theater. Their performance and dance pieces have been featured here quite regularly, so it’s always worth to check out their program for more.
Ballhaus Ost, Pappelallee 15, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg
Not exactly a theater, but who wants to think in boxes, right? The TRAUMABARUNDKINO certainly does not, which is why this place can’t be defined by regular categories. It’s a multidisciplinary playground that combines nightlife, music, film, art, performance, and dance. It sounds like a real mixed bag, but when you see their program and the creatives who do the events there it all really makes sense. For this guide, our focus is clearly on their performance and dance events which they have had quite a couple really amazing one since they opened not too long ago. These shows often overlap with other creative disciplines such as fashion or digital art.
TRAUMABARUNDKINO, Heidestraße 50, 10557 Berlin-Mitte
The Most Important Dance Festivals in Berlin
The Tanztage is the big festival for contemporary dance at Sophiensaele that takes place every year in January. It’s a mix of international guest pieces and production by local choreographers from the independent scene. You will see a lot of experimental formats and performances outside of the frame of contemporary dance.
design: © Jan Grygoriew
Tanz im August
Tanz im August might be the most important dance event of the year as it brings together the most celebrated dance productions from all over the world to the stages of Berlin. The program is often so extensive that we normally create a guide for you each year with our selection of the most interesting pieces.
Pool International Dance Film Festival
Pool is a festival that celebrates dance captured by the media of film. It happens at Dock11 in September and compiles a program of the best dance films and videos from around the world from the last year. There is also an award given out for the best dance film.
Dance News & Platforms
The Tanzraum Berlin is a website by the initiative Tanzbüro Berlin that gives a great overview of all dance productions on Berlin stages in their Tanzkalender. They also offer the Tanzcard which is a bonus card that gives you a 20% rebate at 29 theaters in Berlin and Potsdam.
Concept & Design: © Büro Otto Sauhaus
Tanzforum Berlin is a video platform for contemporary dance pieces in Berlin. If you missed a piece, or want to research new choreographers this a great resource.