Writers: A. Presting-Koité, H. Hegenscheidt und J. Hell/D. Baumann
Three texts about “Wiederholung und Differenz. Drei Duette. Ein Tryptichon.”, Dance Company Rubato. Premiere on 30.03.2017, Uferstudios Berlin
Dr Annegret Presting-Koité works as a dentist in Berlin.
I sit in the dark, atmospheric music soothes me. A man and a woman are dancing in the monochrome light. Their movements are simple. Rhythmic. Their heavy breaths set the beat. Even though the first part of the performance has a Chinese name, it makes me think of the dances performed by my daughter’s father, an African dancer. Maybe all traditional dances are similar? They are, after all, all based on the human body and the ways it expresses itself … my thoughts wander … and are then brought back by the intense sound of breathing as the couple dance next to each other, separately. They follow each other, copy each other. They barely touch each other. It reminds me of long relationships: the monotony, the routine, the protesting, the rage, the learning, the changes, the letting go. The movements that I take to express rage and protesting are my favourites. They are humorous in their theatricality; I laugh.
The second part is more passionate, like a flashback. Getting to know each other, being crazy for each other, finding out who is the strong one and who is the soft one. The movements are woven into each other, unconditional attraction interchanging with powerful repulsion. I think about intimacy and fun. I am happy when I meet my partner later and try to show him one of the difficult, interwoven dance movements. At the end, both repeat a gesture from the first part. They point together in the same direction …
In the last part, a colourful wall installation gives the room its character, and the music intensifies. Everything is cheerful. The couple dances playfully, freely, independent of each other. When they approach one another, they are careful and tender. Even when they turn away from each other, they remain in contact. In their uniqueness, playfulness and freedom, they are closer together than ever before. I find this part the most entertaining and the least emotionally taxing.
I think about the couple, about myself, my work, my relationship with my partner. I have been a dentist for 30 years and I’ve been in enduring relationships. If I do something with love for a long time, it gets easier, more detached, freer. At work, my experience of repetition is not monotonous, but rather an opportunity to learn and observe myself. I like seeing how easy things are for me and how unafraid I am to make a mistake. Challenges are no longer threatening but inspiring. I can draw from a wealth of experience and try out new things with curiosity. In fact, I can say the same about my relationships. When I was 20, I never would have thought that 30 years later, I would be even more inquisitive, more inspired and more fearless.
The dancers seem to be a couple that don’t just share their work, but also their lives. The dynamic of the performance reflects my experience in a way that uplifts me, allows me to indulge in a moment of insight, gives me the sense of being at one: at one with the collective experience of life, comforting and calming in its repetition, encouraging in its difference.
I feel free.
Hanna Hegenscheidt is a choreographer and teacher.
Three Imaginary Dialogues Between Recipient ®, Maker 1 (M1) & Maker 2 (M2)
R: Is it bad to say that your age made me feel strangely protected?
M1 & M2: [laughing]
R: Maybe it made me feel less excluded?
M2: How old are you?
M1: [interrupts] Do you mean you felt less excluded because you’re the same
generation as us?
R: No, no, it’s more that I felt let into some kind of intimacy …
M2: … which you, as a recipient, were maybe only able to experience due to your
R: … ?
M2: … experience the intimacy … due to your age.
R: Why did you call this evening a ‘triptych’ and not a ‘trilogy’? The term comes
from painting, right?
M1: Yes. It’s three-fold.
M2: Hinged together.
M1: Three parts integrated into one unit.
R: Aha. So, ‘triptych’ describes the connection between the three duets of this
evening? Hinged together, rather than loosely related ?
R: What is the hinge?
M2: What was it for you?
R: Oh, me? … Well, I was very much aware of the reference in the programme
notes to Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, where he suggests that both difference and repetition have a meaning independent of the idea of sameness … I haven’t read it, but isn’t that what he suggests?
M1: Roughly, yes.
R: So is that the hinge?
M2: Is it for you?
R: Oh, me? … Well, your Repetition and Difference was done before, in 2015, so
there is repetition on that level too, besides the obvious use of repetition as a compositional tool. Personally, I’m more drawn to the act of re-viving an older work.
M1: One could argue that everything we do in life is a
repetition … connecting past and future.
R: Hmm … In your case, I am drawn to a certain quality which I assume comes from your extensive repetition in collaboration.
M2: What kind of quality?
R: It’s hard to describe … I see it especially in you, while you perform.
M1: In me?
R: Yes. It’s there in both of you, but it was very immediate when watching you.
M2: What kind of quality was it?
R: It’s hard to describe … ‘transcendence’ maybe. Something transcends
M2: I think you’ve been told that before.
M1: Yes, maybe.
R: And I saw all these strikingly beautiful photographs of your body of work on
the internet for your 30th anniversary. I had no idea!
M2: Thank you!
R: It explains why those German Ausdruckstanz and Tanztheater icons came to
mind. I only realised it during the third duet, when I thought of Dore Hoyer’s …
M1: Afectos Humanos?
R: Yes! I was impressed by how much your movement vocabulary varied across
the three duets. And how your commitment to use dance as an expressive force, sometimes an expressionistic force, persists.
M1 & M2: [together] Thank you.
R: So, the questions one explores throughout one’s artistic career must relate to
the time one was born and raised, mustn’t they? Isn’t it really just one question? Isn’t that the thing which makes a body of work so …
[gesturing, searching for words]
interesting, if this question
transcends? And doesn’t the maker keep reiterating the question to the
point it seems redundant to the recipient? And even if the maker is
aware of this redundancy, they keep repeating it because they know there
is more to discover. Isn’t there always more to discover?
M2: Is there for you?
R: Oh, me! Yes, I think so, yes!
Jutta Hell and Dieter Baumann are artistic directors of Tanzcompagnie Rubato, and choreographers and dancers of “Wiederholung und Differenz. Drei Duette. Ein Tryptichon.”
That’s right, we work together as a dancer-choreographer couple and we live together – and have done so for more than 30 years! This configuration can only work when the acts of Repetition and Differentiation consistently find themselves in a state of interpenetration, and where change is the only constant … and, both artistically and privately, if daily life and art are two different – but not entirely separate – realms. The question of how artistic processes and life processes, how artistic unity and personal difference can coexist over a long period of time is a topic that Wiederholung und Differenz (Repetition and Difference) deals with.
According to Deleuzian philosophy, something can only be repeated if the thing itself is an original. He also holds that, through repetition of the original, something new comes into being. Given the fact that this text was written in China, and that we’ve had an intensive cultural exchange with China for over 20 years, it is interesting to see things from a totally different perspective and consider the meaning of ‘original’ from a Chinese (linguistic) point of view. When translated back into English, the Chinese term literally means ‘genuine trace’. The philosopher Byung-Chul Han wrote on this subject: “In it (the ‘genuine trace’) there resides no promise. There is nothing linked to it, either in terms of reaching goals or posing mysteries … it allows no existing work of art to have a definitive form”. The original Wiederholung und Differenz, made in 2015, is a bridge between both these ways of thinking. By using material we’ve already used before and adapting it to our ever-changing minds and bodies, and by using existing movement-material from a foreign culture (namely, Chinese folk dance) and transforming the aesthetics of it into our European bodies, what is produced is not a copy of the original. It is, rather, a new original, one possessing no completed form.
The 2017 revival of the piece continues with the repetition of this process of differentiation from the original. This chance to show the work again was, for us, the bringing back to life and the new life of earlier creative processes; diving once more into three distinct making periods, each with their own movement qualities; the recollection, in body and mind, of movements, rhythms, pathways, and timings; the variety of each different body position. In 2017, our memories were overwritten by lived experience. We discovered the piece anew, understood afresh the coming together of the three parts. It was nothing less than a description of life through three examples, or – in keeping with the metaphor of the triptych – in three panels. We, the dancers, were the hinge. Although we are older, it was easier this time. To quote Anne (Writer 2): we’ve continued to learn, things were easier for us, we were less afraid of making mistakes.
Hanna (Writer 2) asked us whether artists keep on asking the same question all through their (artistic) lives. The pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles pointed out that: Things are brought into motion by ‘Love’ and ‘Strife’, at other times, they are at rest. Possibly, this is the theme we repeatedly turn back to, work with, participate in. The fact that we have brought our artistic and private lives together over such a long time intensifies the ‘force-field’ this topic exerts over us. It changes with every repetition, because we ourselves change, as do our life circumstances. Our ongoing practice and life experience, along with the physiological process of ageing, change the way in which we deal with this theme. What has not changed, however, is the investigation of the Body and Movement, and the expression of Process. Even our theoretical research always leads back to the Body.
Many older audience members, with longer life experiences, will be able to access Wiederholung und Differenz. But what about the younger viewers, those who could be our children … What do they see? What do they feel? What do they experience? Are they able to experience Repetition and Difference in the same way as the older spectators do?