Contemporary dance Reviews. Click the titles below to display the corresponding review.

Berichte über zeitgenössischen Tanz. Klick auf einen Titel stellt den jeweiligen Bericht in englischer Sprache dar.

Piotr Tomczyk · Shaked Dagan · R.S.V.P. R.S.V.P. - Piotr Tomczyk - Shaked Dagan R.S.V.P. - Piotr Tomczyk - Shaked Dagan R.S.V.P. - Piotr Tomczyk - Shaked Dagan R.S.V.P. - Piotr Tomczyk - Shaked Dagan

Piotr Tomczyk and Shaked Dagan pioneer dance at Karlsruhe Salonfestival March 10, 2018

Author and photographer: Jochen Krölls

If you were lucky you got hold of a ticket for an extra­ordinary con­temporary dance perfor­mance on March 10, 2018. At the moment you are reading this, there are no more tickets available. For a good reason. Yesterday's 'dress rehearsal' gave us an impressive preview to the premiere. Here are my fragmental impressions.


The reception of the audience, unnoticed, organically fades into the performance. Self-determined couple therapy in action. Shaked and Piotr in a non-verbal discourse that progresses into a more and more physical, even violent, interaction. At, on, over, and under the kitchen table. Extending into space. Meaningful gesture as an aesthetic agent that renders verbalization pointless. Culminating into a physical, and proverbial, headstand. Intensified by electronically produced, interfering sound scapes.

Another Fragment

Stage and auditorium are united, or non-existing. The audience is dispersed in the central area of the architect's design home that hosts the Salon. The couple, arm in arm, promenades through the audience, engaging in a small talk where Piotr instructs Shaked in English what to say and what to ask. This scene reminds me of various Pina Bausch dance theatre productions with their repetitive, insisting addresses to fellow dancers and the audience. The innovation here is the direct interaction with the audience who playfully cooperate in this no-stage environment.

Yet Another Fragment

Piotr and Shaked animate the audience to join them in a Latin dance formation. Hip swivel, twisting, pure groove, great fun! Late-50's Latin dance music as the best choice to get us in motion. Not a single, idle knee.

At Last

A verbal address to the audience bemoaning victims of war and terror, longing, appealing, urging, and touching in itself and danced simultaneously.


No intention to fully renarrate the event, which is impossible anyway. This has been a performance that reminds me of many aspects of humanity. A whole-hearted devotion to us humans. Innovative integration of the audience as well as the individual architecture which already stands for itself.

And the perfect antipode to prove that there is hope for contemporary dance to enter Karlsruhe's dance habitat after all.

Claire Hurpeau and Claudia Catarzi at the Young Choreographers Session

ZKM Medientheater Karlsruhe, 23 January 2014

Author: Jochen Krölls

Sasha Waltz’ Karlsruhe presence since September 2013 has been boosting the perception of high quality, real contemporary, dance in Karlsruhe a great deal. Continuous performances during and as part of the installations, objects and performances exhibition of Sasha Waltz’ work until present have been lifting contemporary dance to a level of awareness unique to Karlsruhe.

An absolute highlight within this ‘golden dance period’ was yesterday’s Young Choreographers Session at ZKM Medientheater. Young, international dancers that Sasha Waltz recruited for her current project presented their own choreographies. A wide variety of dance in one evening. Young, fresh, autonomous, sometimes neoclassical, some Wuppertal.

Two of these performances were outstanding: Claire Hurpeau’s Vibrant Landscapes and Claudia Catarzi’s Sul Punto. Each presenting an absolutely autonomous dance vocabulary —

Vibrant Landscapes by Claire Hurpeau

The original intent was to question alternative dance aesthetics, with the result of developing, again alternative, dance aesthetics. Movements that create induction within the audience.

Five dancers carrying each other on stage, drawn to the floor by the physical law of gravitation. Forming constellations, disperging again, dissolving territories, quivering individuals and shaking planet. Gliding, rocking, creeping, rolling.

Claire Hurpeau’s co-operation with composer José Rafael Subía Valdez revealed the superior quality a performance can achieve if sound and choreography emerge simultaneously. I have hardly ever seen, and listened to, a performance that achieved an organic equivalence between sound and dance such as Vibrant Landscapes did. A fine example of electroacoustic avant garde composition at a location where pioneer Ludger Brümmer teaches and does research on electronic avant garde music.

Sul Punto by Claudia Catarzi

observes the layer between conscious and unconscious, the land between awake and asleep, where we hand over control over our body — and our mind? Claudia Catarzi develops an enormous variety of movements, postures, and gestures that establish a dialog towards the audience. There is a wonderful equivalent between stillness and motion. The stillness allows the audience to syncronize. Some clicking noise samples, every now and then, minimalistically interrupt the stillness acoustically.

Claudia Catarzi explains her topic in this very particular and authentic language and gives the audience an insight impossible to express in words. Consequently, whilst most movements and postures exclude verbal description — that is why this is dance, not poetry! — some are really striking. Left arm stretched horizontally, head bent sideways below left arm, right arm held below head. One impulse of lifting the head above the stretched left arm, as if this was to signal the boundary between the states of being awake vs. being asleep on the way through nowhereland. This of course is very pictorial, but there are so many sublime, sensitive, profoundly touching moments. Stunningly, even the most extreme postures still appear organic.

I am certain that we will see more of these two — and the other — choreographers of this Young Choreograpers Session soon. And let us assume that — amongst other places in the world — we will do so in Karlsruhe. In the sense of merging contemporary arts and increasingly adding dance to the other medial arts, such as electronic avant garde music, ZKM with its high profile should be pivotal to Karlsruhe.

Arman Aslizadyan/Reginaldo Oliveira · TWO 4 ONE Two 4 One - Aslizadyan-Oliveira Two 4 One - Aslizadyan-Oliveira

Ballett des Badischen Staatstheaters, Karlsruhe/Germany 9 June 2012

Author: Jochen Krölls

This year's Karlsruhe Ballet choreographers' presentation yielded a very prominent accomplishment of contemporary dance.

Two humans (or humanoids?), one bar code. A red scanning beam across the scene reading and recognizing the code. The corresponding cash register beep activates the subsequent motion. From now on the audience is confronted with a continuum of ideas, figures, movements, combinations of the two dancers. Fan shaped structures formed by legs and feet, hands and fingers. Fast, precise, and yet organic — human(oid), that is.

Humorous gestures as faint reminders of danced story ballet do not disturb but support Two 4 One's contemporary nature. No time for the audience to ponder whether the story behind reflects humanity's closing sale with its subsequent abolishment or the digitalisation of humanity. In the end it is the audience's belly feeling during the performance that matters. It is like aircrafts in the belly.

Two 4 One's refreshing absence of aesthetizing phrases and embellishments open the perception to the essence of dance. Clear, plain, fragile, and simultaneously swift dance vocabulary forms a perfect match to Starkey's Street Rockers.

Aslizadyan and Oliveira have proven the excellence and the competence to blast the limitations of classical dance. Frenetic, rhythmic applause suggests that the Karlsruhe audience be ready for it. Karlsruhe's next dance generation?

Montpellier Dance Festival 2007

24 June to 8  July 2007

Overall Appreciation

Author: Jochen Krölls

Once more Montpellier and the festival were a wonderful experience to me. Contemporary dance, like almost any serious contemporary art, is a point of discussion, exchange, and last but not least creativity. This means we often disagree. We do not know what to expect because it is new. Rather than consuming what we all know, e.g. classical dance, we enter into something that can make us reflect and perceive and realise emotions and sides in or of ourselves that were less exploited before. Sometimes we are moved strongly - I believe more than classical art can achieve. This is what makes it worth attending performances that are not smooth or harmonic or beautiful but confrontative. From my echoes you can derive what I liked much, and what less. Moreover, I believe it is important that we progress further and enter into an active perception and participation of contemporary art and its contribution to self and social reflection.

The choreographic centre of Montpellier have sold about thirty-six thousand tickets for this year’s festival - congratulations. The city of Montpellier has provided a framework that makes this reflection possible, or easy. A charming old city centre, beautiful spots between old houses and trees, a number of overwhelming historical spots. An open population. Le charme du Midi.

Thank you for hosting the festival, the artists and the visitors.

Christian Rizzo: B.c. Janvier 1545, Fontainebleau

Chai du Terral, 2007-06-25

Author: Jochen Krölls

The hare is waiting in front of the curtain until it reveals the white stage. Total silence. Lighted candles spread all over the floor. Black sculptures in various shapes made out of tissue and cushions hang down from above. Both the candles and the sculptures reduce the space available for dance movements. A woman in black clothes lies on a long table in front of the back wall.

She moves slowly, remains on the table for a while. Then, slowly, she leaves the table and I recognise her ultra-pointed ultra-high heels. A few slow and a few abrupt movements, many of them with a pointing finger. What does it point to? The stage light dims down slowly so that it no longer dominates the candle light. The hare (in fact an actor with a hare mask) walks to one of the candles, takes it away and positions it on the table.This puts a slight end to the silence as he wears kind of a wooden chain that produces a weak noise as he is moving.

While this procedure repeats itself seemingly endlessly in slightly varying constellations of candles and dancing positions, we notice upcoming sound environment: Mixtures and combinations of natural instrument loops and electronic noise that culminates in mega noise not ever seeming to want to end. Not much of a difference to techno music of the most intense kind. Although, there are a few instances when I can follow and appreciate the soundtrack during which the rest of the procedure on stage continues with little variation.

When finally all the candles are tidyly arranged on the table I find myself wishing the performance had reached its end, after two or three ten-second-instances of fading attention during which my spirit glides into other spheres outside the Chai du Terral... But I will have to patient myself for another 15 minutes or so, during which the hare walks to a board at the front left corner of the stage where we find a board from which he draws the threads of the sculptures to make them disappear in stage heaven. The magic ends with her blowing off the candles. Heaven.

Robyn Orlin, We Must Eat our Suckers with our Wrappers on

Corum/Opéra Berlioz, 2007-06-26

Author: Jochen Krölls

Vibrant, sexually explicit dance theatre with African spirit, fresh, aggressive and at the same time friendly energy.

We get red suckers at the entrance to Montpellier’s largest theatre. We grab them out of red plastic bins. Four female and nine male African dancers/singers tell and sing the story of AIDS and its victims. They all carry the same type of red plastic bins which they use as drums and seats. And they all wear colourful skirts - unisex? Permanently followed by a man with a small camera the images of which we see on the screen at the rear stage wall. Excellent voices sing African acapella. They move from stage into the audience.

One lady, represented by a male dancer, tells us the story of her husband who has just died. The doctors forecast that she herself has only 3 weeks left to live. She tells us that from now on she will fully enjoy life, go out and watch beautiful sexy dancers at nightclubs. Simultaneously she gives suckers to several spectators in the first row, takes them back, sucks them herself very lusciously, puts them under her armpits and glues them to various other areas of her body.

Many songs to follow. Intelligent, simple and surprising camera and light effects - a single light bulb from the ceiling as the single light source, a red plastic bin moved up so the bulb disappears inside the bin like in a lantern and suddenly all there is is red light all over the stage..

In the last sequence they all wear costumes whith hidden heads. Inflated condoms fixed at the top of their heads with faces painted on them.

Frenetic applause. Deserved.

Mathilde Monnier, Tempo 76

Théâtre de Grammont, 2007-06-27

Author: Jochen Krölls

Silence. The stage is covered with real lawn. A black wall in the middle of the rear stage parallel to the rear wall. Consonance is the overall motto that nine dancers explore in numerous formations of Mathilde Monnier’s Tempo 76. Brilliant translation of various extracts of Györy Ligeti’s oeuvre into dance language. Amongst others, the famous metronome piece where Ligeti simultaneously sets off numerous metronomes which then get out of sync and produce interesting interferences. Anne-Theresa de Keersmaeker has also brilliantly put this into dance already. Monnier’s version is different, draws less on repetition and continuity, she involves all nine dancers and thus offers a different spectrum of experience. We can litterally observe the interferences visually in steps and pendulum movements.

Intelligently used space - formations of dancers in motion partially disappear behind the black stage wall and reappear in a different setting. Vivid sports instructions (at least this is how I perceived it) to (imaginary) children. First by a single dancer, then in unison (as consonance is the motto).  

Dance theatre at its best. Intense emotions uttered loud and impressively. Laughter, crying. All in unison. Breathtaking. Limit breaking; several times my limit between sadness and laughter is touched, perforated, and finally trespassed.

Rarely have I seen a performance that serves intellect, spirit and heart at the same time so intensely, sensitively and consequently. Rhythmic applause for minutes. Bravo.

Raimund Hoghe, MEINWÄRTS

Théâtre de Grammont, 2007-06-29

Author: Jochen Krölls

Images and emotions developped in the slowness and patience that they require, no matter how long it may take. Objects of memory, pictures, candles spread over the stage and taken away again in numerous constellations. (Candle) light as a key to optical silence, sentiments, memory. During this, we hear recordings of operas and popular songs of Joseph Schmidt’s from the 1930s.

Nudity that does not stop when physical weakness becomes visible or even audible during quotations in the form of heavy breathing. Identification of the artist’s physical weakness with those of the honoured jewish tenor Joseph Schmidt who died in the attempt to flee from the Nazis. Physical weakness of millions of AIDS victims also. These seem to be the ones that occupy Hoghe and that he digests in MEINWÄRTS. A quiet and very personal work.

Trisha Brown, THREE WORKS

Corum/Opéra Berlioz, 2007-06-30

Author: Jochen Krölls

How long does the subject linger...

Clusters of dancers in red and blue form vivid moving sculptures. The movements of the individual dancers seem simple but the living sculpture is highly complex, filigrane and most beautiful. In front of the screen there is a transparent tissue on which a projector draws graphical sculptures that mirror the human sculptures, similarly complex and filigrane. The transcription is so excellent that, although straight lines, I feel I recognise the human sculptures of the dancers. Curtis Bahn’s sound creation, consisting of instrument samples and electronically manipulated sounds, has no such direct correlation with the dance figures but provides a minimalist sound environment instead that appears very appropriate to me. Considering how excellently the three arts go hand in hand still I have to say that the graphics, as beautiful as they are, steal more of my attention than I am willing to give because they distract me from the dance to a degree. I deliberately have to remind myself several times that I want to focus more on the dance because otherwise I will not perceive it at the degree it deserves.

Present tense - John Cage’s pieces for manipulated piano translated into something that reminds me of some Asian temple dance of the most beautifully bizarre kind.

I love my robots

Laurie Anderson’s music goes into my heart. At the same time, suppressing a burst out with laughter about the two broom-like robots with long sticks between the dancers I force myself again not to get distracted by the technical aspect. I feel reminded of animated cartoons of the 1970s where bewitched brooms play the key role. But seriously - Kenjiro Okazaki’s two remote controlled comrades form great counterpieces to the dancers. The last sequence really moves me. Trisha Brown herself goes into a vivid and playful physical dialog with the machines, full of fun and screams.

Another festival highlight.

Régine Chopinot, O.C.C.C

Théâtre de Grammont, 2007-07-05

Author: Jochen Krölls

O.C.C.C deals with what happens when time disappears and all that consequently remains is the present. A spiritually not at all uncommon idea. Here are my impressions:

Apart from a very short introduction scenery all light comes from an almost dazzling light back stage wall, very evenly rear-illuminated by fluorescent tubes, with a very cold tint. A number of objects on stage - trolley suitcases, wooden bricks, spears. All back, same as the stage itself. Consequently we perceive any action like in a shadow theatre. Chopinot cultivates this in the way the dancers position themselves and also, interestingly, in their hand signs - mudras?

Strict black and white as a reduction of colours and shades and almost two-dimenssionality as an equivalent to the loss of past and future? Cold, black and white also the sound (and most of the time noise) environment. Nothing really new from that part (not saying that I expect spectacular innovation here) - noise samples at various playback speeds to produce strange sounds, at times some common rhythm patterns, plus some synthesizer tunes, put into a big pot, stirred and sent to the loudspeakers. Some of the arrangements do touch me however.

Very intelligent use of the objects. Used as masks, matraces, gliding shoes, thrown and caught. Unique dancing figures. Surprisingly arranged clusters of dancers, acrobatic and sensitive at the same time. The present makes itself aware (and the absence of past and future) in the continuity. As there are no past and no future we do not have to think about what will be next. It just happens. O.C.C.C. just happens. And that can be the overall message to us. Let it happen.

Saburo Teshigawara, VACANT

Opéra Comédie, 2007-07-06

Author: Jochen Krölls

In DIU VALLENDE SUHT Henrietta Horn worked on the medieval phenomenon of falling sickness in an impressive way. Interestingly, the festival programme booklet mentions Susanne Linke as an example of styles that are not Teshigawara’s provenance, together with Bhuto - Linke was the head of Folkwang Tanzstudio a while before Henrietta Horn.

And still - Teshigawara’s movements to György Ligeti’s concerto similarly seem to deal with disorders - psychotic or schizoide - the piece does remind me of Diu vallende Suht. Teshigawara seems to interpret Ligeti’s contemporary music throughout as expression of sickness, strangeness, or pain. That disturbs me on the one hand but I have to admit that I know too little about the intentions of the composer which could very well be exactly this.

First the whole group of dancers perform distorted shaking bizarre postures and movements. Later, some freeze and stand still while others continue. Light and sound develop further, the movements become something more dance-like and go back to the distorted style.

Dominique Bagouet · JOURS ETRANGES and SO SCHNELL

Corum/Opéra Berlioz, 2007-07-07

Author: Jochen Krölls

Fifteen years after their creation the Grand Théatre de Genève have put into their programme two pieces by Dominique Bagouet.

JOURS ETRANGES to me is a wonderful 1970s-revival. Extracts of The Doors’ Strange Days, various disco dance styles from the early 1970s, lights in all rainbow colours. Social Interaction between the performers. Genuine and without exageration. (Although I know the early 1970s only as a child I know what I am saying.) A good amount of humour makes it a warm and in the best sense entertaining piece.

SO SCHNELL. really moves me a great deal. BWV26, Bach’s Cantate converted into dance in all its polyphony and emotion. The only other dance interpretation of Bach that I know and that has had similar quality was by Hans van Manen (I guess created in the 1970s, seen in Amsterdam in 2000). In Montpelier I felt I could litterally see the musical motives, sounds, and strucures. Various simultaneous dance patterns in groups, lines, diagonal, circling, each in its way representing lines of the music in a very genuine way and consisting of simple movements. Overwhelming. The complexity comes from the combination and still makes an overall spirit visible.

And there is more than Bach music. There are segments without music and such where we listen to noises of textile manufacturing machines. Bagouets family business was (is?) in the textile industry - not only in this respect a very personal work. In the machine noises there are polyphonies and parallel strings too. And I feel I detect manufacturing stages and procedures in the particular movements of the dancers, intelligently and emotionally combined. Spectacular.

Christian Spuck, The Children

Aalto Ballett Theater, Essen/Germany 10 April 2004

Author: Jochen Krölls

Team Play

"The Children" fades in by presenting a schoolyard full of children to the audience. A woman wearing a pink dress, the protagonist Joe's mother, utters a few sentences that give us an impression of the environment that Joe has been growing up in.

This is not a pure dance production. To get the story across Christian Spuck fills the roles of Joe's mother, and her ex-lover, with actors. They are the only adults, and it is their rep­re­sen­ta­tion by actors that makes the dis­tinc­tion of the adults. There are other examples of in­te­gra­tion of actors; Pina Bausch has taken in Mecht­hild Groß­mann in the 1970s, although, mostly not in this genre of story ballet that "The Children" stands for. This dance production is based on the stage play of Edward Bond.

Five video screens at the top left hand side of the stage wall. A woman's face on all screens seems to be su­per­vis­ing the scene. Other than a few rocking horses the scenery only consists of a rocky landscape in the right hand stage corner. During later scenes, a growing number of portraît photographs appear from the stage ceiling. The children wear school uniforms.

Joe's mother per­fidiously lures him into setting a house on fire in which her ex-lover lives with his family. She first claims that he promise doing some­thing for her without knowing what. She black­mails him with his bad conscience of having wasted the money from which he was supposed to buy cigarettes. After all Joe sets the house on fire - in which one boy dies. Joe and his gang flee. The children's long journey ends up in death. It is a journey through a whole range of emotions.

Why convert a stage play into a dance production? Dance offers a different range of expressive methods. Rather than just telling the story we are offered a view into emotions via different channels of perception. While Joe's mother obtrusively talks at Joe, the corps de ballet's (e)motions drag the audience into Joe's world of sensations, using a set of gestures, facial expressions, bizarre, unique movements.

Other than that, "The Children"'s dance language is a beautiful customized classical one. As a consequence the Aalto audience, with a few exceptions, does not experience many surprises in that respect. As for the sound, it might well do so because Martin Donner's sound scenery is probably nontypical for Aalto productions, though not uncommon in the world of con­tem­po­rar­y dance: alternating slender string arrangements, aggressive rock music adaptations as well as distorted or pitch shifted sound and noise, complemented by some film music style quotations.

As a protagonist of pure contemporary art in any area I would have loved to see a more courageous use of con­tem­po­rar­y means. However, Martin Puttke, head of the Aalto dance division, assumably has to keep in view the rather conservative expectations of the typical Aalto dance audience. On the scale between the extreme poles of classical and strictly con­tem­po­rar­y dance Puttke and Spuck act as a counterbalance to institutions like Pact Zollverein or tanzhausNRW who, amongst many others (also see other echos on this page) represent this region's con­tem­po­rar­y dance. Aalto's merit with this production is to offer to its audience a gentle introduction to con­tem­po­rar­y dance, an acclimatisation in a way.

Moreover, the temptation to make use of the miraculous and charming capabilities of classical dancers must be over­whelming. This became obvious when Puttke and Spuck, together with the creative team, introduced their new production to an interested audience a week ago. They demonstrate pro­fes­sion­al­ism in the integration of actors, rather than troubling dancers with verbal performances - I have seen too many embarassing counter-examples.

Christian Spuck's style is evident, a clear mark of quality. His merit is the seamless organic integration of the various crafts, dance, theatre, sound, costumes and stage design that have to be just like this.

| vera | sander | art | connects · TRES­PASSING

tanzhaus nrw, Düsseldorf/Germany, 5 March 2004

Author: Jochen Krölls

The Whole Evolution in One

Mythic elements in a cave, nymphs, angels, embodied aspects. Sounds of pebbles scrunching and knocking against each other. Sharp edged light beams from the stage back corners. Two vertically stretched white canvases at the rear stage boundary. Sound symbolising the cave and the hollow. Cold, hard, mystic.

Chalk powder strewed onto stage in the pattern of ruler marks, representing limitations, trespassed and dispersed over the whole stage, raised by wild dance movements. Over and over again they wallow in the dust. Down to earth. Wallow in the substance that had symbolised the boundaries.

Dimensions transcended. Danced societal interactions and collective constellations as development within evolutionary stages. Physical dust disperses on stage - once an evolutionary stage reaches completion, the creatures disperse, away from their structure and (back) into space, tranquility, the neutral, or nothingness.

Agony. Jeder trägt sein Päckchen. Every individual bears a burden, symbolised by small parcels, attached to a breast, an arm, or a leg, sometimes to the shoulder blades like wings of angels or butterflies. A parcel can be a burden but also uplifting… if it symbolises wings.

Trespassed limitations on the stage floor, but verbal and symbolic limitations on occasion. The referee or arbitrator commands characters from one place to another, orders to disassemble or to separate into two groups.

Tribal interaction. Dances in groups, circles, wide or narrow, pivoting, twisting. Organic and curved, but bizarre, with edges and tines. Couples in any permutation of male and/or female, Capoeira at times. Affection and rejection. Confidence and scepticism. The whole spectrum of existence in a continuum that speeds up for interaction and slows down into relaxation alternately.

Sound mutating from reverbing stream into crackling dynamic, bumpy groove. Rare quotations of traditional classical music. Thoroughly designed sound scenery. Achievement of the final stage when the continuous forward movement of the upper end of the canvases reaches the front stage, the bottom edge remaining fixed at the rear stage floor.

Canvas - sails - transcen-dance. Groove - grave? - grove? - cave?

Sound: Dirk Specht. Decoration: Peter van de Logt.

Laureates of the 5th Choreographic Contest of Africa and the Indian Ocean

Pact Zollverein, Essen/Germany, 28 February 2004

Author: Jochen Krölls

Heart Bounces


A corrugated iron sheet fence around the stage. She turns up alone. Quarreling with herself. Abrupt and harsh movements, powerful yet vulnerable. He appears in the background, initially with little movement.

A corrugated iron sheet fence around the stage. She turns up alone. Quarreling with herself. Abrupt and harsh movements, powerful yet vulnerable. He appears in the background, initially with little movement.

Climaxing in her catching him in a headlock. The headlock and his attempts to escape bring about a total harmony of their movements. Their bodies are so strongly hooked into each other that finally, unexpectedly, and paradoxically they are in a unison. Coupled, almost like one being. Inescapably, this moment of maximum violence provokes and yields ultimate closeness.

Very interesting: the correlation of movement and sound. Kettly Noël has brought her choreography in line with the multitalented Patrick and Louise Marty who produce sounds and music using a harp, drums, trumpet, and electric guitar, that they perform with admirable virtuosity. Mamadou Diabaté represents Kettly's strong partner in this strong piece of art.


The excited audience was unsuspecting that Adedayo Muslim Liadi and the Ijodee Company would energize them even more with Ori.

Ori creates moods, tempers, sentiments rather than telling a story. A flow of motions in formations of 5, 4 + 1, or 3 + 2 dancers, grouped in a multitude of arrangements. Very unique motion design of organic, sometimes tribally appearing actions. The inner truth of humanity in one piece.

You cannot escape the pulsation that Adelaja Saidi Iielaboye's drums and flute are part of. Ceaseless momentum. Thoroughly endorphinizing.


Pierrot Men's photographic exhibition completes, and prepares, the ensemble d'art. If you see his photographs before the performance and thus dive into Madagascan ambience this will deepen the two southern hemisphere experiences you are about to make. Don't miss them.

Eun Me Ahn, Please hold my hand

Folkwang-Hochschule, Werden/Germany, 3 November 2003

Author: Jochen Krölls

Colourful à l’Asiatique

Squeaky-green egg cup shaped stools, squeaky-colourful custumes, lighting, and make-up.

The pattern of movement, the music and the costumes (little colourful caps) make the dancers look as if they represented elements of a telephone network, dial tones for example. The mechanical appearance of the music supports the dial tone kind of impression that emerges within me during this first scene.

Please hold my hand is a set of scenes in which Eun Me Ahn develops and maintains a variety of patterns of movement. Young Gyu Jang´s sound collage supports Eun Me Ahn perfectly in her repetetiveness, iterative development, and maintenance of patterns, emotions, colours, structures.

The music is a simultaneous representative of the piece´s ideas in most of the sets. One beautiful scene occurs within a framework of swinging and rhythmically pulsating bells, triangles, and cymbals. Accordingly, the movements are swinging, rocking, circling. My whole body is going into resonance.

The duration even of this very meditative scene (and all of them have quite a degree of spirituality) goes slightly beyond my point of fatigue. Each time compensated by a new scene that lets us discover a new microcosm of kiss-attracting mechanisms and patterns - the kiss representing one of the repetetive elements of Please hold my hand. Wonderful episodes where dancers drag other dancers sitting on one of the green stools, as if they sat on little boats or blossoms on a pond - long pieces of textile under the stools serving as ropes.

Almost any action terminates in kisses, both direct ones and ones that appear to fly through the stage area, exciting their recipient. Lipstick in abundance makes the kisses visible.

Lara Martelli: Solo mit Sahne

Pact Zollverein, Essen/Germany, 10 July 2003

Author: Jochen Krölls

for sale

In the June Atelier at Pact Zollverein Lara Martelli had already presented an extract of "Solo mit Sahne" - Solo with Whipped Cream. Then it was without the cream and torn out of the context. Not sure whether I have understood it this time but the picture is a lot clearer now.

The audience enters the auditorium via the stage. Lara is caught in a glass cage in the right middle of the stage. Bizarre, grotesque movements, interrupted by immobility. Leaning against the glass of the cage, falling, stretching, sometimes like a jumping jack, sometimes like a marionette. Although there is a glass lid on the cage, someone seems to pull the strings. Reminds me of those small plastic dolls whose limbs are held together by threads - if you press the spring button then the doll collapses, but it stands up again if you release the button. Acoustically accompanied by Massimo Carozzi's sound design at the extasy of which Lara leaves the glass cage.

She performs a number of (very Folkwangish) dance figures whilst blowing up balloons which she then releases, with a clenched smile. "Next player please" (or so) she repeats, accompanied by sexually provoking movements. Is this some kind of peep show with a doll moved by 'players', selling herself? - that is my naïve imagination, I apologise in advance if this is a complete misinterpretation…

Behind the cage, on the floor, she puts on a red gym-dress, red flashing devil's horns, and a pair of high heeled shoes. She takes a piece of cake, sprays whipped cream on it and starts eating it. She sprays more and more whipped cream onto the cake, the cream sticks to her face. She sprays the cream further onto her arms and legs, her breast, and belly. The cream, of course, falls to the floor and she starts a grotesque dance of stepping, walking and slipping movements on the slippery floor that is probably not meant to be funny at all but to show the agony that the figure feels. I am mentally wavering between impulses of laughter and irritation. Her twisting foot makes the decision for me because I physically feel the pain for a couple of minutes until the painful, grotesque twisting agony is over and Lara continues the prostitution by presenting 'Cabaret - Money Makes the World Go Round' to an imagined audition. Several times. At several points on stage. And finally in the cage again. Then another bizarre game on the slippery floor that provokes laughter.

I am impressed by the desparate grotesqueness and agony of a doll selling her body to a peep show audience. The laughters get stuck in the audience's throats. That's how I have perceived it. Would be interesting to hear what Lara's intentions are.

Akram Khan: Kaash

Tanzhaus NRW, Düsseldorf/Germany, 14 March 2003

Author: Jochen Krölls

The danced universe

Preciseness of spinning elements following patterns in space. Thus defining the space within matter. We cannot touch it, but even so, what we cannot touch has a particular value. "Is it not true that the empty space inside the cup is what renders it useful?" This mystery, the stillness between steps, the (time) spaces between musical phrases and the (empty) space between the dancers - they all pull the same string and make Kaash an all-inclusive, consistent work of art, and even more, it is practised prayer.

Vibration and pulsation from the first second - eternal resonance. Asymmetric rhythms (7/4/3) in total naturalness provoking elementary order of movement and rest. The universe becoming evident as dance. Experienced unfolding of oneness. All aspects of being. Deep worship of Creation.

During the Montpellier Dance festival 2002, Akram Khan has presented his traditional Kathak solo programme with live music. The Cour des Ursulines a(r)trium presented a warm summer ambience. A brilliant introduction into traditional Indian Kathak that gave much more than intellectual understanding but a sensation of the deepness of Indian divinity as it reveals itself in Indian Kathak Dance. That as a preparation, as an implanted mind set, has certainly increased my appreciation of Kaash, which his compagnie presented few days later in the Opéra Comédie and on 14 March in Düsseldorf.

Junge Choreographen

Folkwang Hochschule, Essen-Werden/Germany, 8 March 2003

Author: Jochen Krölls

This year’s world dance event, as I call it, has fascinated me so much that I regard the expression more than justified. Folkwang students have presented a broad spectrum of creativity.

Freiflug (limitless flight) has presented impressive synchronicity of spoken word and dance. On stage: two dancers (Laura Quarg, Lisa Quarg) with two actors (Kinga Prytula, Fabian Sattler), all four dancing and reciting from Conrad Ferdinand Meyer’s Mövenflug (Flight of the Seagull). Language patterns and dance patterns were uniquely correlated. Almost unnecessary to mention that the dance movements raised associations of flight…

ER TRAGE, is it a misprint of the performance booklet or a deliberate game-of-words? There is a space between ER and TRAGE – read as one word, the meaning is to bear, to endure, to suffer; as two terms it could mean may he support. In the end, one can be an expression of the other. Leyla Postalcioglu strikingly demonstrates agony and hopelessness and makes me feel a burden that she is carrying both physically and in a figurative sense. Like on her way of the Cross, on a path of light, quivering, moving convulsively, diagonally across the stage. Leyla mirrors J. S. Bach’s musical repetetiveness (BWV 106) when she starts her diagonal staccato path all over again.

In GANZ KLEIN, Wilfredo Cohen has demonstrated a fundamentally autonomous dance language. Plain and strong, non-ornamental and still full of emotion. Wonderfully brought to life by Andrea Méndez, to Arvo Pärt’s music. To me, a highlight of the evening. Wilfredo seems to have the makings of a distinctive choreographer of a new generation – pretentious but gifted to move audiences.

CAFÉ: Hiccups of laughter, Zucker Kaba Limonade Tee Rum Bumm. Lenka Bartunková’s recipe for a killing Rum cocktail? Bizarre and unique dance language around the cup. Wonderful.

ABSEITS, Andrea Catania’s playful piece, full of complex and bizarre motion, autonomous in style. Pilots me along the border between eruptive laughter and reflection.

CUANDO VINISTE, CUANDO TE VAS with a background video of a blurred (rain?) forest, the focus moving towards rain drops on a glass plate in front of the camera lens. Eileen Bohórquez sits on a chair. Pure and modest. Her hands and fingers draw invisible patterns on her nude chest. When the video refocuses to the forest and rotates, so does the dance motion. Another synchronicity that touches me very much as it reminds me of the synchronicity of humanity and the earth, who are inseparable.

In DISTANCE Fa-Hsuan Chen reveals to me the polarity of human relationships. Distance and intimacy, support and the cycle of life. Andrea Méndez and Carlos María rotate, shift, and tilt a long bench. Although the physical distance is kept there is great intimacy because any motion of the bench occurs in a co-ordinated way and seems to serve a common benefit. Again, synchronicity of motion and sound - rotating movements to the sound of a musical clock.

DE-DOS, Valentina Marenco’s choreography, performed together with Jorge Leandro, prove to me that very little movement can be enough to express hot-blooded south-American rhythm and eroticism. Suspended motion increases the sparkling tension of the slow latin rhythms. Blood-boiling.

OCULUS is part one of a project to be complemented during the winter term 2003/2004. In his œuvre for nine dancers Kuo-Chu Wu combines vibration, heart-breaking (e)motion, a unique and complex structure of combined and separated individual movements. The dancers seem to impersonate questions of Jaacov Shapiro’s (yiddish?) song. At the beginning, OCULUS reminds me of Henrietta Horn’s Veitstanz but then moves beyond that and further develops an uncompromising dance language. Another highlight. I am eager to see part two next year.

Theater der Klänge, modul|a|t|o|r|

Düsseldorf/Germany, 24 January 2003

Author: Jochen Krölls

Once more a modern stage production that integrates human action on stage with video in a unique way. This is more than dance and technology. It is a creative integration of dance, sound, music, and speech. A unique interaction of the individuals on stage with, to some degree pre-composed, sound and music. Dancers and actors on stage trigger the computer through a microphone attached to the stage floor and, I assume, cameras mounted in front and above stage. The piece is logically aligned to the designer LeCorbusier’s ideas and philosophy of proportion, the modulator, largely inspired by DaVinci’s Golden Ratio. Clemente Fernandez leads us through the evening in a charming and humourous way and deserves particular applause, accompanied by his colleague Jacqueline Fischer.

The opening dance could be Bauhaus inspired. No music or background sound. Only the steps and movements are audible that the dancers’ movments and steps create on the (wooden?) stage floor. Slowly the stage loudspeakers start amplifying these sounds. And similarly slowly the amplified sound is replaced with sound samples of musical instruments, partly electronically edited. Still more to come, these sounds now follow a rhythmic pattern that reversely triggers the dance on stage. Could not be more interactive and synchronous. In other scenes, the dancers’ intensity of movement conduct the intensity of musical movement. Could not be more organic.

The video screen which forms the hind stage limit shows us a 1:1 live moving picture of Carlos Martinez Paz’ dance movements. Increasingly, the computer slows down the speed of the screen display so that Carlos’ movements on screen compile more and more into white shadows and finally completely freeze in clouds. Very fascinating the way the screen display increasingly freezes until it is totally fixed.

Still more creative screen usage to come – the 1:1 live moving picture starts to multiply into a vertical stack of the same repeated image. Starting with two, the number of stacked images increases constantly. The further down in the stack, the more delayed becomes the display of the image. The more images in the stack the more intense becomes this effect. Until the images in the stack are so narrow horizontal stripes that the image itself can no longer be recognised. And, amazingly, in one mo(ve)ment, the composed image that the stack of stripes produce looks like the shade of the dancer again!

Less dramatically innovative, yet no less beautiful, a caleidoscope-like four-part point-symmetric image of the movements on stage completes the row of marvellous screen interactions.

What has moved me most is a scene close to the end. Clemente Fernandez takes off his socks and stands bare-footed next to the floor microphone. He starts moving his toes, which causes a squeaking, screeching noise, again with increasing audio amplification. It causes hiccups of laughter within me because Clemente accompanies this with incredible grimaces, as if he were playing an instrument (‘squeaker-screecher’?). Like in the beginning of Modul|a|t|o|r| the original, amplified sound starts moving slowly into organically triggering a harmonic sound environment. In this respect, indeed, Clemente is playing an instrument with his feet. The instrument, however, was created by ICEM member Thomas Neuhaus, who created the great spectrum of sound structures that enables the uncommon Modul|a|t|o|r| concept. (ICEM: Institute for Computer Music and Electronic Media which is a section of the Folkwang University of contemporary arts in Essen/Germany.)

What has moved me most is a scene close to the end. Clemente Fernandez takes off his socks and stands bare-footed next to the floor microphone. He starts moving his toes, which causes a squeaking, screeching noise, again with increasing audio amplification. It causes hiccups of laughter within me because Clemente accompanies this with incredible grimaces, as if he were playing an instrument (‘squeaker-screecher’?). Like in the beginning of Modul|a|t|o|r| the original, amplified sound starts moving slowly into organically triggering a harmonic sound environment. In this respect, indeed, Clemente is playing an instrument with his feet. The instrument, however, was created by ICEM member Thomas Neuhaus, who created the great spectrum of sound structures that enables the uncommon Modul|a|t|o|r| concept. (ICEM: Institute for Computer Music and Electronic Media which is a section of the Folkwang University of contemporary arts in Essen/Germany.)

An intelligent and logical, yet intutive and heart-intruding soul-mover, Modul|a|t|o|r| should not disappear after the performance of 2nd February 2003. Even if a small company like Theater der Klänge is incredibly productive and creative and must focus on new performances, I do hope there will be further Modul|a|t|o|r| performances. Anyway, if you can, go and experience one of the performances until 23rd February! Again, Jörg Lensing has proven how innovative, intelligent and modern, yet entertaining and popular stage play can be.

Ultimavez Wim Vandekeybus, Blush

Pact Zollverein, Essen/Germany, 30 November 2002

Author: Jochen Krölls

The stage background cloth of the introductory scene shows a lake surface surrounded by trees. The cloth is then drawn off-stage in a bizarre way, through a slit in a screen that it has been covering.

Literally out of the blue the screen becomes a vertical inlet to the lake, a view under its surface. The turbid water’s colours, sunshine yellow-red and plankton green absorb the whole stage. Equally the scene is plunged into David Eugene Edwards’ rhythmic, yet meditative, music. We are amidst of it, with the dancers. Some of them now visible behind the inlet, in the lake.

Suddenly the first dancer dives horizontally into the lake, through the inlet, through the screen!, and it becomes obvious that the whole screen consists of white elastic, vertically tightened, tapes. Any instance a dancer plunges through the opening there is a turbulence of water bubbles on the video screen that makes the dive even more realistic. Later, and even more spectacularly, they dive from behind the screen onto stage.

A danseuse throws fodder to other dancers who greedily snap at it like pigs and start uttering pig sounds. Correspondingly the screen starts showing us a crowd of wild boars jostling for fodder.

The dancers build up a pile of travelling bags just covering the screen, which they later toss down from behind, opening the on-screen view onto muddling humans, moving like in mud, like frogs do. Later the scene moves to, similarly muddling, frogs. Another scene, reeds in the wind, again ideal for plunging into, emerging from, and dancing and dreaming and meditating. Again the dancer pulls the frog out of his mouth.

The frog is an element of repetition. Here, under water, it slips away from the mouth of a dancer and swims away.

In the introductory scene a woman gratifies her sexual desires on a sleeping man, followed by her French spoken statement that it is never as good as when he sleeps. Heart-stirring screams, a frog, alive, pulled out of a mouth and later stuffed into a mixer (not really, but the impression is created). Recited poems, words declaimed by dancers who have not received articulation training, in a language not their mother tongue, simultaneously concentrating on movement and respiration (an enormous performance!), make it hard for me, if not impossible, to comprehend and appreciate the framework into which the dance is embedded.

Never have I seen a coherent use and integration of video and dance such as Wim Vandekeybus and his compagnie have demonstrated in Blush. The extensive dance scenes let me immerse in abundant light, rhythm and dream. A beautiful, bizarre but clear, unique dance language, intelligent yet intuitive patterns of movement, repetetive scenes long enough to take in but never dull, and great performers.

You must Blush. Plunge into it.