During Tanz im August festival that took part in Berlin from the 11th of August until the 2nd of September, several riveting pieces have been shown in a wide range of languages and interpretations. Here, is a resume of some of the performances, some entertaining, some enthralling, some thought-provoking. Thanks to the universal language of dance many stories have been told in an immense variety enriching visions, perceptions and perspectives.
A double stage, consisting on a blue house facade and the interior used as performance backstage invite movement and surprise in the audience. The piece Caen Amour by Trajal Harrell presents a dollhouse in human dimensions where the four performers, moving unquenchable and smoothly from one side to the other, act as children in vest of playful adults.
Trying out different outfits and showing them playfully and gracefully to the audience, they create an intimate dimension where the audience can enjoy this constant roundabout waiting for the next object trouvée to be shown. There are different reactions to the two ongoing, overlapped happenings, some move, some stay on one side, others stand in between, and some on both sides. Duality is nurtured as reflection of what happens regularly nowadays with so many opportunities as things to do constantly having difficulties to choose. This drive happens there making the visitors uncertain and slightly piqued to stay just on one side and therefore missing the other one.
The piece leads one to wonder about the desire and impossibility to be ubiquitous and consequently about the struggle to choose. Which side should we look at when something happens simultaneously on both sides? The piece seems casual, almost improvised but the quality of the soft movements recreating the hookie-koochie, an orientalist belly-dance like imitation from the USA, the influence of the Jugenstil icon Loie Fuller and the movements by Tatsumi Hijikata, founder of the Butoh, make the scene intriguing and captivating.
Brilliant and humorous Jessica and me by Cristiana Morganti where the talented dancer and choreographer, a long-time soloist in Pina Bausch's company Tanztheater Wuppertal, represents herself as 'human-dancer' with her thoughts, weaknesses, limits and difficulties as dancer-performer dealing with the ageing process. Approaching the stereotypical issues of aging with a light and cheerful attitude, the piece results being positive and delightful. Alternating between dancing and talking, she creates a participative solo generating contact based on sympathy-empathy with the audience. The exquisite dialogue she brings on stage with serious/ironic nuances attempts to speak of her ego in a sort of therapeutical confession about her past, she talks about the beginning of her dance career and her time in Pina Bausch Company. Her authentic and superb presence on stage makes Cristiana Morganti delightful and the piece real and particularly amusing.
In Facing the sea, for tears to turn into laughter by Radhouane El Meddeb, one singer, one pianist and eight performers walk shortly through the stage before standing, looking at each other and staring the audience. Enigmatic faces and movements, gaze crossing from provocation, bewilderment and empathy, create an unclear and enigmatic scenario. The choreographer, a Tunisian who lived in France since 1998, aims at that equivocal and indefinite idea. The movements puzzle the onlookers that try to understand more but the key to open the door of understanding is closed. The Tunisian song and the spoken texts are as fascinating as obscure to those who don't speak Arabic. Political references to the Spring Revolution accompany the whole performance but they want to result cryptic, and therefore unreadable. The piece remains obscure and open to question, as the actual facts happened during the Arabic Spring Revolution, quite unclear, especially to those who haven't directly experience it.
The extraordinary La Ribot brings on stage the three hours performance Panoramix, composed by several and engaging solos sculpting the space and the movements of the visitors. The bizarre behaviour of the performer brings the spectators to feel bewildered as fascinated by the constant coupe de theatre that she is constantly able to put on. The performance is presented in a spatial playful set that has been staged as a sort of playground where the artist will dismantle through the performance time. Many are the items taped to the walls and from one side to another of the room, the performer moves continuously walking, running and jumping over the astounded and amused onlookers. Peculiar, engaging and curious, the performance runs through a nonstop amazement. La Ribot, energetic, vibrant, good-humoured and nicely eccentric, shapes an intimate show where, due to unexpected and unpredictable gigs and to her captivating aura, the three hours flies fast and the amusement in the room seems to increase with the on-going time.
Mathilde Monnier & La Ribot present Gustavia an ironic duo piece that invites to think about women, their feeling, thoughts, movements and bodies getting aged in particular as artists. As a double standard tribute dedicated to women it brings to think about the obstacles to accept a changing body and the difficulty to keep working as a dancer performer getting older. Funny and dark at the same time, the piece exaggerates the clumsiness of these two bodies, still fit and trained, clowning around. Their way to move and treat each other is sometimes cheeky some others detached and it contains a sort of black humour that leaves the spectator wonder if it is supposed to be funny, upsetting or both. Humorous the choice of adjectives and descriptions about women that they choose in an improvised like one to one spoken battle at the end of the show. La Ribot shows once again her excellent scenographic presence accompanied by a great sense of humour and luminous charisma.
The work by ccap A Line_up. Inside, outside or between the line? Is there a line to follow or a line to lose? How to find the proper line and stick to it? It's about diversity and complexity of every being. Ten performers move through the space dancing here and there most of the time on an un-synchronised tempo. Sometimes one follows the step of the other, some others one dancer follows in a delayed copy and paste. It becomes interesting when all the performers are on stage moving with their own time and forms creating a general but attractive chaos. Texts are recited out of read pieces of paper that most probably describe part of their stories but again the enigmatic plot makes the spectator wait for something to happen that it never does as an infinite line, without a beginning nor an end.
Eszter Salamon presents MONUMENT 0.4: Lores & Praxes deconstructing and decolonising the idea of dance. Working with ten international dancers and making them perform through two floors of KINDL, Centre for Contemporary Art. The idea is to make people move and observe physically as well as being emotionally moved in response to the one to one direct interaction between the performer and the audience.
Unexpected sounds, movements, recited texts all over the place create a vibrant atmosphere. Though dancers seems to move casually through rooms, staircases and floors, everything is specific and well-structured. The performers move slowly through the participants at the same time with monster-like faces, getting closer and staring at some onlookers making them feel almost threatened or when they get closer to the spectator and start whispering gripping diction. Many questions rise around the idea what is and what is not dance and how to define a dance performed. The choreographer learned traditional Hungarian dance as a child, bringing attention to the impact of folkloristic dances in every culture but also working on war and tribal dances creating a stratified and fascinating platform of differences and inputs that stimulate to enlarge prospectives.
K&C Kekaelaeinen & Company in Hafed Collage of Differences and Fragility presented a piece dedicated to her dear friend Hafed. Born in Algeria, he now lives in Paris - sans papiers. Trying to establish his corporeality in tangible means, she alludes to sexuality, physicality, a presence here and now moving slowly through the life’s stages accompanied by the sound of a quiet night in a natural environment, with incessant crickets sounds and distant dog barks. The piece, cold and intimate at the same time, lead to a perplexed feeling dispersed in an untouchable, distant dimension. The piece continues with the presence of the performer Maija Karhunen that first moves alone through the stage and then with Sanna Kekaelaeinen leading the audience to wonder about the vulnerability of fragilities and differences that are exposed and then submerged to show a particular force.
Dorothée Munyaneza with Unwanted presents an extraordinary piece that brings the voices of women that were raped during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda on stage. With a captivating set up, the performer moves compulsively while speaking and singing. She tells and personifies the stories of women that were involuntarily impregnanted during the outrageous violences they were subjected to, creating a powerful and moving, heart-rending piece. Fascinating and beautiful sounds were composed by sound designer Alain Mahé and the strong singing and stage presence of Holland Andrews. The sensational and memorable piece engenders sorrow, dismay and compassion leading to be overwhelmed by a sense of tragedy and despair. The exceptional performance by Dorothée Munyaneza is characterised by her magnificent and extraordinary ability to bring on stage such a deplorable and atrocious narrative. Creating a space to feel close, connected, anchored and responsible for the abused and mistreated women worldwide.