photos: Frank R. Schröder.
When I entered the main stage of the Sopiensaele theater on Wednesday evening and saw the three performers of Olympia Bukkakis’ new production “replay” twirling around in a set of silky white and translucent fabrics hanging from the ceiling like clouds I thought to myself: This must be a queer version of heaven.
The piece poses the question: What would happen if a drag queen and two non-binary performers would take charge? It would be a world where women like Breonna Taylor and Mahsa Amini would never be forgotten. A world where people from different backgrounds learn from each other in harmony. Where local drag queens get recognition before international pop stars. Where someone could break out in a Britney performance at any given moment. Where empathy, reflection, humor, and kindness are practiced with grace.
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.
photos: Dieter Hartwig.
When does a dance start and when does it end? What movement is beautiful and what would you describe as disturbing? How can the body language translate into a narrative and what will the audience read in it
These are some of the questions posed by the dance piece Glory by Jeremy Wade. This piece had its premiere 12 years ago at the Tanztage festival and is coming back to Sophiensaele this weekend. The powerful duett by Jeremy Wade himself and Sindri Runudde will show you some aspects of dance you might never have seen before.
Approximately 0.5 % of the Berlin population is infected with HIV. This number ranks Berlin on top of all German cities shortly followed by Hamburg. Due to effective medication nowadays you can live a long and healthy life even with an HIV infection. This has made the disease less frightening among younger generations which results in a rising number of new infections since the early 2000s.
Maybe these statistics are a good reason to take a closer look at the theater piece Aids Follies premiering today at Sophiensaele. This unusual Aids Musical takes you back to the story of Patient Zero, the first patient who was wrongly accused to have brought HIV to North America. With a collage of video documents, conspiracy theories and eclectic sound and dance performances the director Johannes Müller created a dark hybrid of different theater genres.
Art is a form of compensation, while life is a source of continuous trauma. But is performative art like dance enough of a release to be therapeutic to the spectator and the performer alike? Either way, visiting Roderick George’s new piece “Fleshless Beast” at Sophiensaele feels like falling into an active group therapy session with an entire squad of hungry demons.
Movements that represents oppression, formations that create agony, gestures that mimic pressure. Some hidden, some full in your face. This piece brings you to a certain point of anxiety with different elements of dance, music, and words combined. Visually stimulating it feels like a rollercoaster ride for your senses where you are not a hundred percent sure what you experience.
“Eatin’ Asian pussy – all I need was sweet and sour sauce” is the only lyric I remember from ferocious Trap set by Lotic accompanying the performance. Both Roderick George and Lotic are from Texas and seem to tell more than just one story of all kinds of aggression and oppression. The result of all this agony creates an intense dance experience and poses the question how traumas can be dealt with by dancing. The piece is especially worth watching for the unusual combination of different dance styles such as ballet, hip hop, breakdance and voguing with a trippy DJ set. A photographic preview and the dates after the jump.
photo: Anna Agliardi
Being a woman is a constant performance. I know that from my mother, sister, friends and coworkers. Some men enjoy this performance from the distance, others think that this performance is an invitation. Some overstep the boundaries and take advantage of their power. No shock in that, unfortunately.
But what if women would take a position of power all over different pillars of our society? What if women would become the queens they deserve to be? How would our world change then? The new theater dance piece Highness talks about these and some other questions around the role of the woman in our society. The Australian performer Melanie Jame Wolf takes the stage as her kingdom and creates a world of her own. With a powerful solo performance she captures her struggles and intimate feelings all in one intense hour. Her beauty is intimidating and here power seducing. Still, you kind of wish that all these different roles of women, the queen, the whore, the hag – all created by men would stop existing. Check out some beautiful pictures by Anna Agliardi and the dates of the upcoming shows at Sophiensaele after the jump.
photos: Anna Agliardi
Last night I was honored to be part of an evening of celebration, surprises, glamor and a bit of nostalgia. My favorite off-theater in town, the Sophiensaele, celebrated their 20th anniversary. I can’t believe so many years have passed already since the theater located in a former ballroom near Hackerscher Markt was founded by contemporary dance choreographer Sasha Waltz and the theater makers Jochen Sandig, Jo Fabian and Dirk Cieslak.
The festivities were accompanied by the Berlin premiere of The Greatest Show on Earth by Anna Wagner and Eike Wittrock. This particular show is a celebration of dance and performance art in a circus-like setting. 14 artists show in different ways the challenges facing humans in the 21st century and combine the risks of body art with the spectacle of physical performance.
I was absolutely stunned and surprised by a freaky show between Zombie Apocalypse, Cat Content and Shit-Musical. Every performer had a unique style to communicate with the audience. Some were engaging and entertaining others were disturbing and obscene like the zombie artistics by Vincent Riebeek and Florentine Holzinger. What all had in common was authentic passion for their showpiece. The whole show was supported by the amazing music of the Neo-Dadaist 2-person “thing”-orchestra Les Trucs which certainly ranked as the evening’s favorite between the audience, right after the cat.
Photographer Anna Agliardi took some great impressions of the show, which you can discover with the dates right after the jump.
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.
photos: Anna Agliardi
Working as a contemporary dancer is incredibly hard. You need an amazing passion (and talent) to have a real shot at something called a career. But even with all the attributes that might define you as a perfect dancer getting jobs in Berlin is not easy. Fortunately there are places and events that have so much dedication for contemporary dance that I might have some hopes for the future for this discipline here in town.
Once a year the festival Tanztage Berlin at Sophiensaele brings together all the passionate people and the most enthusiastic newcomers the city has to offer. Last night we saw the premiere of the two pieces Vox/Dust that opened the festival. Especially watching the four handsome guys perform the second piece Dust by choreographer and dancer Roderick George was an amazing experience. They had such an amazing energy and an intense vocabulary of movements. Tonight you have another chance to see it. Photos and a trailer of the piece Dust, after the jump. Read on…
Tribal tattoos are kind of an atrocious relict of the 90s that we can’t really get rid of in Berlin. Even if you spared yourself of those tasteless artifacts you will still encounter them on random bodies of friends, lovers and gym-buddies. But if you think about it the most damage has not been done to us Westerners, who have no real connection to those symbols and signs, but to the indigenous tribes who got their sacred tattoos “stolen” and westernized in the context of a body trend.
But that is actually not really what my article should be about, but rather this: Did you know that Samoa (near New Zealand) was once a German colony? And did you know that Germany used to have “Völkerschauen” where they presented indigenous people like Samoans in zoos just to entertain and “educate” the public about the wild people? A century after they were lucratively exhibited in German Zoos, three of them return to Germany in a folk-colonial spectacle by the Berlin choreographer Jochen Roller and the Samoan performance artist Yuki Kihara at the Sophiensaele. The piece Them and us is a mixture of hybrid choreography and film, in an extremely pleasurable way, the protagonists develop a re-writing of the German anthropological viewpoint of their former colony of German Samoa. Check out the dates and some photographic impressions after the jump.