“Songs Of The Dopamine Carousel”, Bully Fae Collins ©Bully Fae Collins

fake it till you… …make it, …break it, …break through. Fake it till it breaks you!

TANZTAGE BERLIN 2023 >>> Bully Fae Collins’ “Songs of the Dopamine Carousel” and Liina Magneas’ “She’s constructing the exit” present true orgasms and fake excess (and vice versa) at the close of the festival and deal with the performance struggles of our time.

Text: Cilia Herrmann

It starts with a BAM! The show begins at the push of a button. The mood’s set. And then he takes the stage: the man in white, the showmaster. The spectators cheer. He spurs us on: “Did anybody come here for answers?” Screams of YEEES! peppered with NO! “With our cars we can make love to our cities”—was that the answer? A passing car sprayed me as I was on my way here, and I’m still wet. “I always come!” Things get personal; the performer tells us he names his orgasms after car brands, and the sex follows this traffic pattern: pull in, pull out, then finally—park. I’m thinking of the CDU election poster I saw en route to the theatre: 25% fewer parking spaces? Not with us!

Then it gets even hotter. “Say it together: WE CAN MAKE LOVE TO OUR CITIES!” We?! That would be those of us who happen to be sitting here today. The social body. He, in any case, is our coach, this guy who’s now stretching his arms to the sky, repeating a mantra. And voilà, from the rigging a yellow garbage bag soars onto the stage, then a second is tossed behind it. And the third? It’s stuck. We’re distracted by a glittering box, which is lowered (accompanied by a computer game sound effect) on a rope. The piece then unfolds out of the garbage bags: I hear how a blurry kingdom becomes a blurry kink and how wars are lost in an incomprehensible mass of words, I watch as a strap-on with laser pointer penetrates the system and a cowboy with his finger-gun, staggering, inhabits his liberty. I hear gunshots and a desperate voice so exaggeratedly dramatic that I sit back and relax: “Pay attention, we are losing our democracy!” Election rerun in Berlin or the Trump phenomenon? We might as well talk about the weather. I hear footsteps above me. This time a broom appears, its handle extended with gaffe tape, to cut loose that garbage bag that’s still stuck. The thought that the chaos up there couldn’t have been choreographed excites me. Does coincidence exist in our digital world? Suddenly the scraps of garbage tumble down. Loud cheers for Balancing Person with Broom. It all feels meta. Truman Show. And then we do talk about the weather after all: The political climate of the USA is printed on an oversized coat—woke left wing activist, conservative, male, white, veteran, republican. He’s the devil’s advocate in a blue wig. The glitterbox dazzles me and is finally lowered. Nothing inside, but we do get a poetic speech at the end and the confession: “I can’t come, I’m too nervous tonight.” “We need to clean up the internet” before the next piece can begin. So we’ll need to take a 30-minute break.

A ringing sound. Lights up: Woman in black, fucking high heels, business outfit, gelled-back hair. What at first sounded like money raining down now turns out to be a key in her hand. She plays with it. And controls our attention with precision: lures us with rhythm, throws up the key to catch it with her black leather-encased hand, and dances to the heartbeat caused by pounding on her chest. She does what I’ve always secretly suspected of people in leadership positions: she makes a phone call while masturbating and masks her climax with singing. In between, a raw voice: “I can do whatever he did, I’m just finishing what he started.” Big blueprints covered in children’s scrawls are spread across the stage; with self-assured strides she impales them with her heels. She looks like a power-obsessed Charlie Chaplin, like a manipulative wizard or a manic lion-tamer: all filled with the ability to turn every scrap of background noise into bad-ass catchy music. Together with her spontaneous lover, the musician Hjörtur Hjörleifsson, she creates a duet that resembles City of Stars in Lalaland.

The announcement that the government is bound to turn to dust returns here in part two of the evening. No state, but “free capitalism.” Lights out, a shadow play begins: The invisible hand of the market is spreading across big cities. Crazy transitional music gives me the feeling that plans for a conspiracy are underway. She appears and re-emerges from the darkness, with a wrinkled, yellowed, crumbling, male-presenting doll. She lets him touch her, lets his hand slide over her thighs, legs flutter around each other, loose body parts interlock in a game of Tetris. She shows her lifeless lover her plans, but even her long-distance lap dance seems to leave him unimpressed. Is he the “he” she’s been talking about this whole time? She performs for him. That much is certainly true. Then she animates him, sticking her hand in his back, and together they dance happily over an imaginary meadow in the sunshine. And sit down relaxed for a chat: between lovers or between mother and son, something in between. He bites her hand. “Bite the hand that feeds you” goes through my head. She bites his hand. A shudder of disgust (which has accumulated until now) passes through my body. As the light goes out, I’m amazed at how, through dramatically composed musical-style music—obviously coupled with a society that sells toxically patriarchal power dynamics as sexy—I’ve arrived at the conclusion that I think this bizarre couple is actually kind of cute.

English translation by Cory Tamler

Photo: „She’s Constructing the Exit Signs (Hope & Delusion), Liina Magnea ©Mayra Wallraff

The performances “Songs of the Dopamine Carousel” by Bully Fae Collins and “She’s Constructing the Exit Signs (Hope & Delusion)” by Liina Magnea took place on January 20 and 21, 2023 at the Sophiensæle as part of Tanztage Berlin 2023. The festival program can be found at tanztage-berlin.sophiensaele.com.

This text by Cilia Herrmann was written as part of the two-day tanzschreiber writing workshop for Tanztage Berlin 2023 under the direction of Agnes Kern and Johanna Withelm, in collaboration with dramaturg Mareike Theile. Click here for the tanzschreiber article by Miriam Taschler who also attended the double bill of “Songs of the Dopamine Carousel” by Bully Fae Collins and “She’s Constructing the Exit Signs (Hope & Delusion)” by Liina Magnea >>> The solution for (almost) everything, 23.01.2023, by tanzschreiber-Werkstatt Texte in Bewegung.