A.PART-Festival 2023, Foto: “From the narrators chair”, Aakcha/Lampugnani/Carstens ©Mayra Wallraff

Through the Bodies

A.PART Festival 2023 … macht Radau, taking place at ada Studio from 5-7 and 12-14 May, presents works by Berlin’s dance students and alumni. Each weekend introduces works of a different group of artists. Inky attends the opening night, which consists of five performances and a feedback circle. 

A.PART Festival 2023 – program 2 is available as videostream at ada-studio.jimdofree.com from 16-19 May.

After three hours of performances and exchanges, I leave ada Studio with the feeling of warmth of community support that was manifested in: The organisation and enthusiasm of the festival team in presenting the emerging artists. The passion of the participating artists in sharing their research. The generosity of the audience members who are genuinely interested in each piece. 

When I myself was struggling to get my feet into the performance scene outside of the school context, a friend, who was a well-established artist and a critic, shared with me a wise (or rather, romantic?) perspective. She said that the bravest thing an artist can do is to make works that are not influenced by the trend of the scene, but rather are of their true interests. It is clear to me that each piece I have witnessed this evening represents the artists’ interests, unaffected by the commercial success. A.PART Festival team provides not only practical tools – the video of the performance in a professional quality and a review by the in-house writer – for the artists to further their career opportunities, but also facilitates a place to hold and share the personal dreams of the artists. 

Deviating from the interest of the scene in one’s research, however, can mean less chances of receiving project fundings, which is directly related to one’s survival. I often have conversations with my artist friends about the difficulties of “getting into” the system. How can one receive that first recognition that may help one to gain easier access to jobs and fundings? What does one do in the meantime when it is challenging to survive as an artist in this capitalist society that rarely attributes value on the kinds of research that artists carry out? The struggle is even greater for the immigrant artists who do not have a native level German language skill. 

In the opening piece, “Bitte Aussteigen – Das Musical” by Mateo Argerich, the anxiety of this existential struggle is demonstrated with dramatised humour. The performance, which feels like a pop musical, centres on Argerich’s debut album please leave the train. Opening with the lyrics, “Take your head out of your ass, Mateo,” the energetic song spews out sentences such as, “I’m smart. I’m legal. I’m from Argentina. I got my Anmeldung and a big smile. I pay my taxes on time. Give me a VISA. I need a new apartment. Give me a ZU HAUSE. Give me the FUNDS…” In the feedback round, Argerich describes their work with the following words: “It’s an inner monologue, but if you get to know me, it’s not a monologue. It’s a polyphony.”

The second piece, “shaping pleasure” by Sointu Pere and Oli Fierz, confuses me at first. Unlike the title, the dancers look serious. To a drony music, they move their mouths, eyes, then entire faces. The movement ripples out through the rest of their bodies. Their initially slow-paced motions gradually quickens into jittery pulsing and shaking. At one point, I wonder if the work represents the process of pursuing one’s pleasure, which is the exploration of the self and one’s surroundings through dance, despite the continuous hustles and uncertainties this path can pertain. The piece ends with Pere and Fierz, their bodies in close proximity to one another, travelling a diagonally lit path from the upstage left to the downstage right. They smile and exude a mild degree of joy. The artists, in the feedback circle, share that their research was about joy and pleasure. However, they found other emotions on the way, which they had to process in order to arrive at the final stage of joy.

The third piece, “Ami in the box” by Aminata Reuß, expresses her personal relationship between music and dance. To three different pieces of music, accompanied by three contrasting colours and shades of lights, she moves in varying dynamics and emotions. In the feedback round, some audience members voice how courageous Reuß is to share such a vulnerable aspect of herself.  

The fourth piece, “be alright” by Joanina Suchomel and Andreina Eyman, explores the topic of death. The performers appear in black suits, facing their backs to us, holding hands. As they turn around, I see that their faces are painted in white. I question this decision, for painting of faces in ways that may relate to a certain race is a sensitive matter. Later in the piece, when the red nose of a clown is introduced, I assume that the white paint is referring to the image of a clown. 

The last piece, “From the narrator’s chair” by Samira Aakcha and Giulia Lampugnani (original music by Constantin Carstens) takes place in an insulated world that the dancers create. As they perform the rigorous choreography of movements that are unwaveringly fast-paced for almost the entire piece, they do not look out of their world to acknowledge the audience. They engross themselves in the task of moving precisely in repetitive motions that shift in their orientations, orders, and spacings. “The piece is about energy, shedding our layers of love and socialisation, as well as exploring exhaustion, repetition, and fragmentation,” share the artists in the feedback circle.

The overarching direction I notice in the five pieces is that each work is meticulously choreographed in a close relationship to music. The duets, especially, explore variations of repetitive movements that play with relational and spatial positionings, timings, and musicality. This evening of performances celebrates the commitment of the artists in exploring and expressing their curiosities through their bodies. 

A.PART Festival 2023 … macht Radau presents two programs of diverse perspectives on choreography and dance by alumni and students from Berlin’s dance education programs, curated by Julek Kreutzer and Diethild Meier. Running live at ada Studio from 5-7 May (program 1) resp. 12-14 May 2023 (program 2), ticket reservation via ticket AT ada-studio.de.

Each program is presented as videostream the week after at ada-studio.jimdofree.com free of charge. You are welcome to purchase a .com(munity) ticket to reward the work financially.

A.PART Festival 2023 – program 1 with works from Mateo Argerich, Sointu Pere, Oli Fierz, Aminata Reuß, Joanina Suchomel, Andreina Eymann, Samira Aakcha, Constantin Carstens, Giulia Lampugnani. More information about the artists and the pieces at ada-studio.jimdofree.com/festivals/festival-2023-programm-1-english/.

A.PART Festival 2023 – program 2 will be live performed at ada Studio from 12-14 May 2023 at 7pm (videostream available from 16-19 May 2023) with works from Maia Joseph, Libertad Esmeralda Iocco, Katherine Rojas Contreras, Pimon Lekler, Jessica Ikonen, Nastasja Berezin, Kristen Rulifson, Mei Bao, Cikacé Lestine, Marta Marja Ruszkowska, Hana Stojaković. More information about the artists and the pieces at https://ada-studio.jimdofree.com/festivals/festival-2023-programm-2-english/.