„She´s Constructing the Exit Signs (Hope & Delusion)”, Liina Magnea ©Mayra Wallraff

The Solution for (Almost) Everything

 TANZTAGE BERLIN 2023 >>> On the double bill “Songs of the Dopamine Carousel” by Bully Fae Collins and “She’s Constructing the Exit Signs (Hope & Delusion)” by Liina Magnea at Sophiensaele.

Text: Miriam Taschler

I am confronted with the problems of my generation. We millennials are identified with inseparability from technology, with self-realization, the search for meaning, and dissatisfaction with the systems that surround us. Maybe the latter is more my personal problem, but it seems to concern tonight’s performers, too. These two works present me with different approaches, coping strategies, or perhaps even failing strategies for dealing with the problems of my time. Will I come away from tonight with the big solution?

With the question “Is anyone here for answers?” Bully Fae Collins steps onto the stage. I see a motivational coach dressed all in white, spotless and immaculate, who has the solution ready for all of us. It seems pretty easy to implement, too, even if it will be necessary for me to expand my repertoire a bit. Just name my orgasms after car models. “Songs of the Dopamine Carousel” is funny and grotesque. Costumes in yellow garbage bags fall from the sky, there are makeovers and dance performances. The performer uses different tactics to try to reach an all-powerful box, treasure chest, crate (what is it?) hanging from the sky. This is set to colorful lights, showy music; we hear beauty tips, grunting Republicans, and opinions about the pandemic, war, and the failure of democracy. I feel like I’m scrolling through my Instagram feed, different impressions popping up all around me.

Photo: „Songs Of The Dopamine Carousel“, Bully Fae Collins ©Mayra Wallraff

Up above, a different scene develops: an inconspicuously dressed person tries to cut down a hanging garbage bag so that it falls on the stage, like you would swing at a piñata. Several attempts, and a pointy object attached to a broom, are needed. Whether planned or not, it complements the happenings onstage that cause laughter to ripple through the audience.

In the end, the great goal is achieved, and the almighty box is finally lowered within the performer’s reach. I’m waiting for the big solution that must be inside it. Instead, silence—then the slow recitation of a poem. A final “I can’t come, I’m too nervous tonight” returns me to a state of dissatisfaction. My expectation is unfulfilled, but—collectively—we were so close. To orgasm, to the great solution to all our problems.

The second part of the double bill presents me with a different strategy. Liina Magnea escapes reality by immersing herself in an absurd parallel world where she is Master of All. She holds the keys in her hand. Playfully she creates rhythms; I wonder if a flamenco is about to start. Big blueprints are rolled out across the stage. Is she about to completely rebuild the system? Music sounds: “So sweet it hurts my teeth,” the performer dances to it, reminding me of my youthful self: sitting right in front of the DJ, I feel every sound and lilt of the music. At first I find it funny, then I am embarrassed. These feelings accompany me throughout the piece. But it’s not just me feeling; Liina Magnea sings, dances, plays, and is extremely present, she feels what she is doing—so much so that it almost hurts. An escape from everyday life and into a musical.

A phone call interrupts the mood. Reality knocks. But don’t worry, this is also a solvable problem. Possible solution: masturbation. Even on serious phone calls it’s possible to enjoy yourself. Might as well be right out of a handbook. Or is love perhaps the solution to make reality more enjoyable? Does it give you more power over the seemingly uncontrollable? Maybe she has a chance at the piano with the musician Hjörtur Hjörleifsson, or with us, the audience. In the end, the performer ends up with an old, not particularly handsome doll. Her behavior towards the doll is all at once mothering, seductive, disgusted, cuddly. Is this a happy ending or is it another game, an illusion in this parallel world?

I think about the musical day I started with friends a while back. On this day, all dialogues had to be sung. And I have to admit, it actually freed us, even if only for a short time, from our other problems.

Whether we can use this to change a social system is another question.

English translation by Cory Tamler

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 Miriam Taschler 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 Cilia Herrmann, 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 >>> “fake it till you… …make it, …break it, …break through. Fake it till it breaks you!”, 23.01.2023, tanzschreiber workshop Texte in Bewegung.