Atunwa

In “Re:INCARNATION”, The QDance Company from Lagos, Nigeria, celebrated their German premiere on 14 May at Potsdamer Tanztage 2022 with a joy so infectious that the audience couldn’t help but giggle, applaud, and, when the dancers returned for an encore, answer their call, “Oggy, oggy, oggy?” with “Oi, oi, oi!”. It was as if the Hans Otto Theater had been turned into a festival stage and a song and dance had been made about the Yorùbá belief system in the cycles of life — of birth, life, death, and rebirth — both literally and figuratively speaking. 

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Coming Full Circle

In “M.O.S.T”, an acronym for “My Ongoing Silent Transcendence”, which ran from the 15 to 30 April 2022 at the Pfefferberg Theater Berlin, dance company Chaim Gebber-Open Scene plots a timeline of events that chart, in the company’s own words, “universal and personal transformations.” As the choreography suggests, such transformations are not always linear, but rather cyclical in nature, where the dancers find themselves ending up much where they left off — with the ongoing silent transformation of the self.

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High Space, Low Space

“We Are Going to Mars: A Choreographic Concert” by Company Christoph Winkler, playing from 7 to 10 April 2022 at Sophiensæle, is a kaleidoscope of music, movement, and image that locates the final frontier within its audience as well as beyond the reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere.

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Performing Decolonisation Is One Thing, Decolonisation Another

In an interview with Jana Lüthje, curator of the participatory dance project Moving the Forum at the Humboldt Forum, the question of if, and how, the institution was implementing change proved inevitable and, ultimately, inconclusive. The third of its four chapters called “Inhabiting” ran from 14 Feb to 26 March 2022, with the final chapter, “Interacting”, set to span 2 May to 11 June 2022.

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Ecstasy in Pose

TANZPLATTFORM 2022 >>> Choy Ka Fai entangles ballroom and Shamanism, bodies and technology in “Yishun is Burning“ (HAU2, 16./17. March 2022). This text was written as part of a two-day tanzschreiber writing workshop during Tanzplattform 2022 and under the direction of Mareike Theile, Johanna Withelm, and Alex Hennig. Inspired by a passion for writing and an exchange about dance and dance critique, the authors had an opportunity to challenge and expand their own writing practice. Text: Alica Minar.


“I leave the theater and realize that the colors of the city appear much more vibrant. My sensitivity is heightened. I hear the beats of Berlin’s turbulent rhythm and feel connected to a different world metropolis. I’ve been transported to Yishun, Singapore. I am proud of what the contemporary scene has to offer and how dance builds bridges, opens the doors to freedom of expression.”

Choy Ka Fai embarked on a journey to Yishun with dancer Sun Phitthaya Phaefuang (Amazon Sun) to participate in multi-religious celebrations. They transport this experience and research for the piece in a contemporary context and interconnect movement material and transcendence with voguing, ballroom, queerness, and multi-media.

By examining the relationship between Shamanism and dance, Choy Ka Fai taps into a colorful world between here and there, between now and then. He offers us a whole series of realities. An elaborate dramaturgy, divided into smaller parts, creates a complex albeit comprehensible composition in which the various worlds may encounter each other.

The viewers can marvel at a whole range of technologies, including live-streaming and pre-recorded videos, combined with the analog dance performance by Amazon Sun and instructions by Choy Ka Fai. Technology does not play the role of fancy tool. Instead, it is a useful and indispensable cornerstone of the performance.

The stage becomes a setting when the scent of incense and the introduction of the members of the live band from Singapore reach the senses. The documentary film on the one-week Shamanism celebration ritual exudes smoke and steam from the screen into the theater.

Interviews with a Shaman and a dancer question the relationship to body, sexuality, and transcendence. Sun sees the connection between Shamanism and ballroom as a gender performance that makes surmounting the body’s own limits and attributes, and even the human condition, a possibility. We are offered the opportunity to experience the role of gods and kings and queens in Shamanism and in the ballroom, without prejudice or interpretation.

As if simultaneously both here and there, we see the main dancer, Amazon Sun, traveling back and forth between documentary film material from a past time and the analog performance of today. Imagination fully unfolds as Sun, dressed in blinking, neon, sensory jewels, engages in a playful, circular dialog with his six-armed god-like avatar on the screen. How far can our being expand? Is there even a limit on possible modulations?

A ritual electric party beat accompanied by shrill text reveals the polyphonic call of Yishun. The show reaches its final climax as three voguers enter the stage and present a ballroom event while dancing to 80s disco songs. The analogy to the film “Paris Is Burning” is now fully appreciated.

“Yishun is Burning” is an ode to the freedom of expression and a prayer for an expanded awareness of ourselves. A diverse, energetic, well cut, and nevertheless respectful journey to the celebratory rituals of our times, where tradition and hyper-reality meet.

English translation by Melissa Maldonado

Photos: “Yishun is Burning” by Choy Ka Fai © Singapore Arts Museum


“Yishun is Burning” by Choy Ka Fai was shown on 16 & 17 March at HAU2, in frame of the Tanzplattform Deutschland 2022.


Concept, Documentation and Direction: Choy Ka Fai / Dramaturgy: Tang Fu-Kuen / Spiritual Presence: Kali and Kuan Yin / Choreography and Dance Performance: Sun Phitthaya Phaefuang / Sound Design and Musical Performance: NADA (Rizman Putra & Safuan Johari) and Cheryl Ong / 3D Visual Design and Technology: Brandon Tay / Visual Artist: Sven Gareis / telematique / Light Design, Installation, Technical Direction: Ray Tseng / Technical Direction Singapore Studio: ARTFACTORY / Stage Management: Sanja Gergorić / Touring Administration: Tammo Walter / Production Manager: Mara Nedelcu / Guest Dancers: Magia Prodigy, Loki, Pavka, Jade Mugisha

Sit-Stay. Re-envisioned.

TANZPLATTFORM 2022 >>> At Radialsystem, Antje Pfundtner in Gesellschaft performed the solo “Sitzen ist eine gute Idee (“Sitting is a good idea”) on 16 and 17 March. These two texts were written as part of a two-day tanzschreiber writing workshop during Tanzplattform 2022 and under the direction of Mareike Theile, Johanna Withelm, and Alex Hennig. Inspired by a passion for writing and an exchange about dance and dance critique, the authors had an opportunity to challenge and expand their own writing practice. Texts: Heike Brunner, Doreen Markert.

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tanzschreiber articles about Tanzplattform Deutschland 2022 in Berlin

All reviews can be read here >>> From 16 to 20 March, the Tanzplattform Deutschland 2022 in Berlin, hosted by HAU Hebbel am Ufer, brings together 13 current and remarkable positions of dance and choreographic creation. Authors and guest authors from the Tanzbuero Berlin’s online review portal tanzschreiber are reviewing the 13 pieces selected for the Tanzplattform 2022 on tanzschreiber.de. Individual texts are written by the participants of the tanzschreiber writing workshop “Texte in Bewegung” under the direction of Mareike Theile, Johanna Withelm and Alex Hennig.

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There Is No Return After War

They say there should be five acts to any tragedy: 1) Exposition, 2) Rising Action, 3) The Climax, 4) Falling Action, and 5) Resolution. But then, this in no Ibsen or Shakespeare. This is Sasha Waltz & Guests, and this is a symphony of four movements. Which is to say, there is no resolution to be found in “SYM-PHONIE MMXX”, which had its world premiere on 13 March 2022 and next shows on 18 and 19 March at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin.

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Dream With Me

TANZPLATTFORM 2022 >>> In “CASCADE” by Meg Stuart / Damaged Goods, running 24-26 February at HAU Hebbel am Ufer, a collective dream of time becomes reality — or was real all along? The show is one of the selected performances of Tanzplattform Deutschland 2022 and will appear again 19 & 20 March at the Volksbühne.

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An Interplay Between Dance and Music

The performance series NAH DRAN (CLOSE TO), which began in 2007, has once again presented three new pieces by young Berlin choreographers. They were performed live on 22 & 23 January 2022 at ada Studio and were subsequently available as a video stream for four days. Wholly different in image and sentiment, all pieces were characterized by a sphere of sound, which functioned as a significant element of the choreographic happening on the stage.

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Walling the Desert

In “Death Valley Junction”, playing 21 and 22 January as part of Tanztage Berlin 2022 at the Sophiensæle, Lulu Obermayer staged a ‘solo duet’ with one of her artistic foremothers that got me wondering where — in this love song to a performer and to performance — the audience fits in.

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Unruly Love

LAS (Light Art Space) is presenting This is Not a Love Show, a series of dance performances at Kraftwerk Berlin by choreographers Sharon Eyal & Gai Behar. The six performances run between December 2021 and January 2022 and include the Berlin-premiere of “Soul Chain” and “Promise” performed by tanzmainz, “Half Life” performed by the Staatsballet Berlin (2018), and L-E-V Dance Company will present the trilogy “LOV3” from its repertoire in their first Berlin appearance. “Soul Chain”, created for and performed by tanzmainz dance company, opened the series last weekend featuring a choreography explicitly engaged with techno and a corporeal understanding of multidirectional bodies. 

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Ode to the Structure

After a digital premiere in March 2021 and a series of live performances with pre-recorded music 24-26 September, Sasha Waltz & Guests’ new work “In C” finally premiered to a live audience with live music performed by New York based ensemble “Bang on a Can All-Stars” at radialsystem from 10 to 12 December. “In C” is set to an eponymous piece by US American minimalist composer Terry Riley, and follows a variable structure of 53 movement patterns that 12 dancers combine and intertwine in a seemingly improvisational fashion. 

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Weaving Wonder

In the performance “Silkworms” (Radialsystem, seen on 3 December 2021) choreographers and dancers Renae Shadler and Mirjam Sögner interweave choreography with poignant visuals in order to highlight the skin as a sensual vessel. Through persistent attention to tactile feedback, they generate a choreographic structure that is able to channel the creation and dismantling of imaginative landscapes and which is marked by the outcomes of a process of sensorial research and movement production.

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We Carry Worlds Inside Us

“BETWEEN” is a spellbinding virtual trip across space, multiple universes, and the indefatigable imagination of Berlin-based choreographer Howool Baek, in cooperation with sound designer Matthias Erian and media artist Jin Lee. Loosely based on Baek’s eponymous live performance that premiered in October 2019, this interactive web experience (running until 5 December 2021) is by turns a first-person video game, an absurdist animated film, and an odd dance suite for hands and feet. Beyond its ambitious multimedia shell, the work also harbours deep reflections on body representation, the subjectivity of the spectator, and the infinity of multiple universes that we carry inside us.

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To the Rhythm of Eternal Return

The “Living Room” project by Public in Private/Clémentine M. Songe (aka Clément Layes) will be shown from 25 to 28 November 2021 at the Sophiensæle. The cooperation between Songe/Layes and artist Jasna L. Vinovrški, architect Morana Mažuran, light designer Ruth Waldeyer, and visual artist Jonas Maria Droste resulted in an acrobatic performance that blurs the boundaries between bodies, objects, animation, and movement.

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Cosmic Solidarity and Radical Softness

T.E.N.T. – A Cosmic Drift Mega Mini Festival took place at DOCK 11 from 11 to 14 November 2021. Of the ‘four evenings of evolving stories that share space and collide on a cosmic drift’, I attended two. I was rewarded with two beautiful and dazzling shows and a performance lottery in which I won a cosy and thought-provoking nap in a lace-made tent. T.E.N.T. Festival did not send me to a supernova or take me on an intergalactic trip (the bold promises made in the festival description), but instead made me reflect on the politics of care and softness, and on the necessity of supporting each other in our precarious and uncertain times. 

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Embodying Classism Through Dance, Identities, and Biography

“Working Class Dance Group” by Josephine Findeisen was created with, and performed by Agnes Bakucz Canário, Stephanie Benze, and Findeisen herself, on 13 November 2021 at Uferstudios Berlin. The piece explores the extent to which class inequality affects those who come from working class or economically disadvantaged backgrounds through an investigation within the frame of the dancing body. Informed by the works of activist groups, such as the Prololesben and the Arbeiter*innentöchter, “Working Class Dance Group” establishes an ongoing relationship between biography and society.

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“sinnestaumel”, an Expanded Dialogue Through the Echoing of the Senses

Laborgras presents “sinnestaumel” at the St. Elisabeth Church from 11 to 14 November 2021, as part of the “Early Music & Contemporary Dance” cycle, which began in 2020 within the Tetra Bach – Four Positions on Bach series initiated by Folkert Uhde Konzertdesign. “sinnestaumel” is an elegant piece that speaks to the senses through a beautiful movement score in empathy with the music. Three dancers — Abraham Iglesias Rodriguez, Tian Gao, and Renate Graziadei together with Midori Seiler on the violin and Christian Rieger on the harpsichord — maintain a continuous one-hour dialogue with Bach’s Six Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord, BMV 1014-1019.

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Body Undone

In “Assembly Instructions” (shown at Uferstudios 3 – 6 November 2021 within the framework of Tanzfabrik Berlin’s autumn season) Nir Vidan daringly disassembles his body into fragments, pieces, contours, and shadows. This black-and-white solo work is graphic, stark, and brilliantly paced. Thanks to his clinically precise performance and thoughtful dramaturgy, Vidan paints compelling and evocative images and avoids simplistic narratives. I quickly succumbed to the magic of his work and lost myself in this intense and meticulous experience. 

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Stories of Bonds and Separations

“Forces of Nature” by Ivana Müller, shown at Uferstudios on 12 and 13 October 2021 in the frame of Tanzfabrik Berlin’s autumn season, is an hour-long exploration of the notion of interdependence and collective effort. Unlike many other works that question the concept of group dynamics, “Forces of Nature” is literal and straight forward and allows for as many interpretations as the spectators’ imagination can produce. Bound by climbing ropes and a common goal, the dancers negotiate each gesture and movement as they slowly weave an odd rope-made shelter just to unlace it again at the end. In this smart and deftly staged show, Müller reflects on common effort, ecologies of togetherness and, quite unexpectedly, makes me reflect on my own stories of bonds and separations.

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A Suite for a Dancer and a Harpsichord

In “Elisabeth Gets Her Way” (shown on 6 and 7 October at Fabrik Potsdam within the framework of Potsdamer Tanztage 2021) Belgian dancer and choreographer Jan Martens pays a vibrant tribute to Elisabeth Chojnacka, who is widely recognised as one of the most prominent harpsichordists of the 20th century. Devised as a string of seven solos masterfully executed by Martens himself, the show ostensibly explores the rhythmic universe of harpsichord music and the vastness of Chojnacka’s repertoire. But Martens also wants the audience to get to know Elisabeth Chojnacka more intimately, and amplifies the work with archive materials to draw a poignant portrait of a strong-willed and influential musician. And the show, initially envisaged as a solo tribute, becomes a dazzling dialogue between two uncompromising performers.

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States of Joy at ICC

As part of 10 days of exhibitions under the title The Sun Machine Is Coming Down at the International Congress Centre (ICC) curated by Berliner Festpiele, choreographer Tino Sehgal presents “This Joy”, an impressive voice-movement piece, where the lightness of the score is brilliantly executed by eight performers.

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A Human Comedy

In “A Divine Comedy” by Florentina Holzinger, which premiered at the Ruhrtrienniale in August and which opens the Volksbühne dance season, Totentanz, orgasms, techno, an obstacle course, bodypainting, the dissection of a rat, a body set on fire, humour, a flying piano, and much more cohabit in a powerful theatrical piece.

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Fall into Dance – Play, Desire, and Walking in a Circle

As part of Tanzfabrik’s four-month fall programme for 2021, “Wilson” by Sophie Guisset and “Invitation to Walk #1 – Kreisläufe” by Katja Münker offer the audience two distinct possibilities to experience movement and choreographic composition. The first sees the audience as a voyeur, and the second sees the audience as the maker of the movement path itself.

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Choreographic Cosmic Axes

As part of Offensive Tanz für junges Publikum Berlin (Offensive Dance for Young Audiences Berlin) and a production of the Theater o.N., Isabelle Schad’s new dance piece “Harvest” premiered at the Tanzhalle Wiesenburg. In a fanciful mise-en-scène, the choreographer, three dancers, and a musician play with shifting landscapes, which unfurl through the interaction of sticks and branches.

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Gosh, it feels like work!

How do you start a show? How do you end it? How do you break the fourth wall? And what does it take to be two onstage in front of the audience of many? Plenty of theatre and performance makers have reflected on these recursive questions to uneven, often hermetic, results — all bets were off for Teresa Vittucci and Melanie Jame Wolf. In “Show Business” (30 August to 2 September 2021 at the Sophiensæle) they deploy a full range of tactics from tongue-in-cheek acting and dance, to compelling visual allusions, spoken word, and even singing. They made me grin and laugh, contemplate in awe, and engage in a long after-show discussion with my friends.

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As if Death Could Shine Like Stardust

How can death be imagined? The performance “TodAncestor — dust till down” is a solo dance performance by choreographer Yuko Kaseki and collaborators based on the combination of media, including video projections and live sound recording, with Butoh dance. Containing elements of ritual, it explores diverse aspects of death, such as fear and poetry. This live performance installation is showing at DOCK11 until Sunday 29 August 2021.

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Dramaturgies of Entanglement

Perth-born and Berlin-based choreographer Emily Ranford premiered her most recent work “Forcefields iii” at DOCK11, 19 to 22 August 2021. This skilfully choreographed piece concludes the “Forcefields” trilogy, that explores, as Ranford describes in her programme notes, ‘a network of interdependencies endlessly morphing and curling on itself into previously unseen shapes.’ I searched for the missing link between the signifier and the signified in this piece, which, although beautifully performed, lacked dramaturgical deftness and emotional power towards the end.

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Tanz im August 2021 Talkabout #2

For the second part of their Tanz im August talkabout, Eli Frasson and Evgeny Borisenko attended the world premiere of Thiago Granato’s “The Sound They Make When No One Listens” at the Sophiensæle on 19 August 2021. After the show they sat together in the Sophiensæle’s brick-walled courtyard to discuss a show that explores the different facets and political connotations of the act of listening. The next day, on 20 August, Eli and Evgeny went to the Lilli-Hennoch-Sportplatz to attend the world premiere of “Breathe” by Milla Koistinen, in which she interacted with two huge brightly-coloured inflatable fabrics and the audience on the football pitch. After the show Eli and Evgeny found a spot near the ruins of Anhalter Bahnhof to sit and discuss the show.

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Tanz im August 2021 Talkabout #1

Tanzschreiber writers Eli Frasson and Evgeny Borisenko decided to go to three Tanz im August 2021 performances together, and then to meet up after each show to talk about what they saw. In this first part of their conversation, Evgeny and Eli discuss “WEG” by Ayelen Parolin / RUDA, the show that opened the festival at HAU1 on 6 August 2021. In the second part of their Tanz im August talkabout, they will discuss Thiago Granato’s world premiere of “The Sound They Make When No One Listens” and Milla Koistinen’s “Breathe”.

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Symbols of Power

Flags ripple, flap, and cut the air. Shrouds wrap motionless bodies. Exotic creatures slip from mediaeval banners. Military snare drums roar. Fierce battles morph into revelry, and sports events transform into funeral processions. Ginevra Panzetti and Enrico Ticconi have always turned to historical events, art movements, and traditions for inspiration. In their new diptych, “AeReA” and “ARA! ARA!”, they explore the symbolism of flags and mediaeval heraldry, as well as their political connotations. The first part of the diptych, “AeReA”, will be shown during Tanznacht Berlin Vertigo (Part 2) on 23 and 24 July 2021, while a digital version of “ARA! ARA!” premiered during Tanzfabrik Berlin’s OPEN SPACES – Making It Happen #2 on 10 June 2021. “Silver Veiled” is a dance film born from the same research process. It was originally commissioned by Dublin Dance Festival in 2021.

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