NuReal Dust, Nasheeka Nedsreal ©Mayra Wallraff

Something other than your face

Nasheeka Nedsreal opens the 33rd edition of Tanztage on the 5th January, 2024 with the dance performance NuReal Dust (5th – 20th January, 2024). 

The Sophiensæle’s Hochzeitssaal appears dark and dingy covered in UV-lit fog (lighting, Raquel Rosildete). The audience sits on three sides of the narrow stage. A white screen covers the fourth side in front of which is a microphone stand and a small pile of coloured, glittering fabrics. The relaxed elevator music playing as the audience enters gradually becomes more powerful (sound, Ari Robey Lawrence) and heralds the appearance of performer Nasheeka Nedsreal. She emerges from the stairwell with a red scarf over her face. The trail of the long red cloth follows her as she moves across the stage with slow-motion-like steps. Minimal, jerky movements occur as if individual joints are stumbling over the very slowness. With her face covered, she comes very close to the audience and literally lies at their feet, resting her head for a moment on the knee of someone in the front row. Nevertheless, her body seems aloof and distant. She seems to have her eye on the audience without us being able to see or interpret her facial expression. The red cloth continues to drag across the floor. Its shape is a vague reminder of where this body comes from, what paths it has taken.

The sudden silence is broken by her instructions into the microphone: “Make a face, something other than your face. Hold it, don’t lose it. Get up and move. Say something. See what the body does.” She repeats this call several times. Removing the cloth from her face, she still does not show herself. Instead, she pulls a face, examples of grimaces that make the audience giggle. Finally, she stuffs the red cloth into her mouth and the instructions are drowned by the increasingly loud atmospheric sounds. The performer crawls under the colourful lengths of fabric and rolls with them in a heap across the stage until she covers her face with a piece and wraps the rest around her head and neck again and again. The huge shrouded, glittering, colourful head floats above the now tiny, black-clad body. This body is alienated again and again. Different kinds of masks allow me as a spectator to both distance myself at times and feel very close at other moments.

Nasheeka Nedsreal tells of the power of clothes, make-up and style that helps some people find themselves. She talks about the experience of performers who can present another but no less true self on stage. She describes it as the feeling of being possessed. An obsession that crosses the boundaries of one’s own self and can open doors to close proximity as well as a distance beyond. 

NuReal Dust ends with this state of ecstatic obsession in a powerful interplay between expressive dance and a multi-layered world of noise and sound.

English translation by Isabel Robson

NuReal Dust by Nasheeka Nedsreal was shown at Sophiensæle as part of Tanztage Berlin. Tanztage Berlin 2024 will take place from January 5-7, 2024.