“Gänsehaut”, Modjgan Hashemian & Ensemble Theater an der Parkaue ©Sinje Hasheider

The Little Mountains on my Arms

In “Goosebumps”, choreographer Modjgan Hashemian explores the skin as archive of story and touch. The piece for ages twelve and up premiered on 11 March 2023 at Theater an der Parkaue.

A pink, multilayered, cratered landscape covers the center of the stage (scenic design: Shahrzad Rahmani). Arms or legs protrude from a few places like erect hairs on reddened skin. “That’s all those tiny dots on the skin. From close up they look like little mountains.” Youthful voices sound from the loudspeakers. They describe what goosebumps are and what they mean to them. The research phase for this piece of dance theater involved three school classes from Berlin-Lichtenberg. Citations from the classes appear multiple times in the piece and are also highlighted in the playbill.

Seven performers run in a circle to electro-pop, wearing colorful overalls (costumes: Cristina Lelli, composition: Oliver Doerell). Now and then, one of them stops and stretches out their arms — yearning for touch. Sometimes this wish is granted, sometimes refused. “When something bad happens, a lot of the time a hug from your best friend is enough, and then you feel safer.” It is a search for contact and belonging. There is a dialogue between two people who do not speak the same language, a collective inhalation of the smell of fresh-mowed grass. Moments are shown that immediately conjure memories for me.

So, too, does a moving monologue delivered by Salome Kießling. Holding a lemon in her hand, she tells a story that compellingly includes themes like sexuality, intimacy, and body. “Those who don’t take the seeds out of their lemons don’t love themselves.” “Acidity is a means of self-preservation.” She describes a mother who gives a child asking for sweets a slice of lemon to eat. The ensemble, arranged around her in a circle, reproduces sentences that many hear over and over, especially in adolescence: “You’re too fat, too skinny, too loud, too much…” Then Salome bites into the lemon. My mouth puckers up. For a moment I actually have goosebumps all over my arms.

The dancers begin to count off things that touch them. What they name is specific and yet universal, hitting close to home because it is so relatable. They tell of tender or painful everyday moments, of current sociopolitical themes. “It touches me that I spend my down time alone.” “It touches me that so many girls aren’t allowed to go to school.” With sincerity, problems that concern many young people every day are addressed. Playing computer games is part of this. A moment that begins as a dancing duel quickly reveals itself to be a war game.

Three dancers roll through the stage craters, hide behind mounds, move their arms as if they are firing weapons: “…I don’t want to deal with reality, that’s why I play.”

“Goosebumps” is an approximately 50-minute string of moments that explore sense and touch of all varieties. The production is textually powerful; the dance, however, often takes a back seat. The inclusion of the quotes from the school classes makes it seem as if they provided the impetus for the individual scenes. The piece follows the experiences of young people that are wide-ranging and nonlinear. This is probably precisely the reason that there are so many touching moments that make the title of the piece a reality.

English translation by Cory Tamler

„Goosebumps (12+)“ – Dance piece by Modjgan Hashemian and the ensemble of Theater an der Parkaue, Premiere: 11 March 2023. The next performance will take place on 18 April 2023. Further information, dates and tickets under parkaue.de

choreography and direction: Modjgan Hashemian stage: Shahrzad Rahmani costumes: Cristina Lelli composition and music: Oliver Doerell dramaturgy: Luise Würth artistic mediation: Trang Trần Thị Thu with: Anna Athanasiou, Adamou Bance, Jessica CunaKaveh GhaemiElisabeth HeckelSalome KießlingTenzin Chöney KolschClaudia Korneev.