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A Short History of Tanztheatr

 
Maska - Performing Arts Journal, nos. 181–182 (Winter – Spring 2016/2017)


EDITORIAL


In the summer of 1994, I attended through youth organisation , which has long ceased to exist, an international dance and theatre workshop in the village of Tapada de Tojeira, half an hour's drive from the town of Castelo Branco in Portugal. If I remember correctly, the workshop was organised by Forum Dança, a non-governmental organisation from Lisbon active in the fields of education, research, production and development of contemporary dance in Portugal and abroad since 1990.

 

Eight participants from different parts of Europe and Africa, two mentors from Lisbon and an extremely friendly young family that hosted us spent two weeks of that summer in a big old stone country house at the edge of the village and engaged in creativity, mostly in the open, under the scorching sun, in the orchards of countless low olive trees and flocks of sheep that placidly grazed while we danced, spun, jumped, sang, beat tom-toms ... in the dry tufts of grass sticking out of the cracked soil ...

 

After the end of the workshop, which concluded – successfully, as we believed – in a production that we performed two times at the elementary school of Tapada de Tojeira, some of us wanted to make those beautiful sunny days last a little longer ...  So Manuela Pedroso, a dancer and our mentor, a warm and hearty person, kindly invited me to Lisbon where I could explore the steep streets of the city for a few days more. What was more, the fact that Lisbon held the title of the European Capital of Culture that year was a perfect discovery to me! It was a matter of happy coincidence that in this particular August, only a few days after the end of our workshop in Tapada da Tojeira, the newly built Belém Cultural Centre, whose hall held more than 1,400 seats, hosted Viktor, a show created by Pina Bausch in Rome in 1986, for two consecutive nights. As I was told, it was her first residency cooperation with a renowned theatre institution outside Germany; her Wuppertal ensemble had moved to Rome for several months and it had been Rome allegedly that fully inspired Viktor ...

 

Before that, I had seen some of Pina's shows on poor-quality videotapings that had undergone countless pirat re-copyings and that circulated among Ljubljana's theatre and dance enthusiasts of the younger generation in the early 1990s: Café Müller, 1980, Palermo Palermo … In late August of 1994, however, I had a chance to see Pina Bausch live for the first time! Yes, Pina Bausch herself, not only her show ...

 

In the afternoon of the first evening, I and Manuela's friend, our second mentor (unfortunately, I cannot remember her name any more) daringly sneaked up into the balcony of the great hall of the Belém centre and silently watched the rehearsal before the performance. Pina Bausch, all small and thin, sat in the orchestra on her own, chain-smoking and watching her dancers on the stage. And we, from the top, watched her watch her dancers and selected scenes at the rehearsal for Viktor. After a few minutes, Pina stopped the rehearsal, gathered the dancers around her and talked to them in a perfectly quiet and calm voice. She gave instructions and guidance. Her voice did not reach the balcony, not even the orchestra. Then she took her seat again and lit another cigarette. And then all over again. The same scene seen from the balcony. And again. She, holding a cigarette in her left hand. Then we, the voyeurs, left the hall.

 

I remembered that all three of us, Manuela, her friend and myself, had a rather naive, but intense and wide-ranging discussion on whether Pina Bausch created dance or theatre performances. What were the elements of theatre in her dance and what were the elements of dance in her theatre? The discussion was long, passionate and neverending.

 

In the evening, we entered the full hall and took our seats in the orchestra. I remember my excitement in detail – I was ecstatic, anxious and immensely happy to be able to see a great show of Pina's for the first time – live! Viktor began. And I, a 19-year-old theatre enthusiast, was stunned. What happened on the stage was simply beyond my great expectations. The energy of the performers poured into the audience with such intensity that I remained chained to my seat for three and a half hours; even during the intermission I simply sat there motionless, immersed in the experience and my own thoughts.

 

I still remember some scenes from the show, extremely powerful theatrical images: defiles of the numerous ensemble choreographed to the tiniest detail; booming, suggestive music; silence you could hear; striking male dancers in countless parallel or intertwining scenes; hysterical women with long loose hair in high heels and evening gowns; a man wearing red lipstick and a fur coat; another man who – as it seemed – abused his woman; repeating and returning movements of arms, hands and heads in solos, duets and group scenes; a commotion of languages and stage props, flashing choreographies of arms of sitting female dancers ... Explosions of pure surprises on a gigantic stage surrounded on three sides by high walls made of soil strewn slowly down from above ... Like images from a dream or a (mental) underground. A lot of beauty and bitterness and sometimes chaos piled up. And finally – a grandiose flight across the whole stage of two female dancers hanging on rings ... Suggestive scenes with countless allusions, some dark, others sometimes funny – above all, strong, to the extent that I could positively, and physically, feel them: as beauty and pain at the same time.

 

The following evening, I saw the show again. And experienced it with the same intensity. To me, Viktor was the most perfect and powerful (theatrical) thing that I had seen (in the theatre). It has remained one of those very rare shows that radically unfolded my perception of the theatrical space, time and rhythm and the actor within them. I still wonder whether the power of theatre illusion would be any different if I saw Viktor years later, as a person with more experience in theatre.

 

… This is how two weeks plus a few days of intense creative socialising and Pina Bausch's show in Portugal in 1994 forged strong bonds among previously perfect strangers from different parts of Europe ... I stayed in touch with some of them, even though those were the days when nobody used e-mail or mobile phones yet. We would write letters, post them, exchange small parcels with our favourite music taped from CDs ... for friends living 2,500 kilometres away ... I have kept these tapes even though my tape player ceased to work long ago ... Manuela Pedroso, Rui Paulo Teixeira and you others who made the summer of 1994 so unforgettable to me, wherever your are – thank you!

 

Amelia Kraigher

Translated by Polona Glavan

CONTENT

Maska 181–182
WINTER–SPRING
2016/2017 

TWO VENICE BIENNIALS

Mojca Puncer: CRISIS, VIOLENCE AND HOPE IN GLOBAL SPECTACLE 

Thomas Irmer: TRAVERSES OF ART AND AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION 

Patrizia Farinelli: POLITICAL, INTIMATE AND SPECTACULAR 

A SHORT HISTORY OF TANZTHEATER 

Franziska Aigner, Uri Turkenich: INTRODUCTION 

Franziska Aigner, Uri Turkenich: AT WORK WITH PINA BAUSCH: FRIENDSHIP AND LOVE – An Interview with Raimund Hoghe 

Franziska Aigner, Uri Turkenich: NEW BEGINNINGS AFTER THE WAR: PRECISION AND MENTAL FREEDOM IN DANCE AND CHOREOGRAPY – An Interview with Susanne Linke 

Franziska Aigner, Uri Turkenich: BEGINNINGS AT TANZTHEATER WUPPERTAL: ON RELEVANCE, FORM AND LOVE – An Interview with Vivienne Newport 

Franziska Aigner, Uri Turkenich: RE-INVENTING BALLET: MOTION, POLITICS AND WORKING METHODS – An Interview with William Forsythe 

Franziska Aigner, Jasna Layers Vinovrski, Uri Turkenich: DANCING AND CHOREOGRAPHING IN POST-WAR GERMANY – An Interview with Reinhild Hoffmann 

Franziska Aigner, Uri Turkenich: AT WORK WITH PINA BAUSCH – An Interview with Dominique Mercy 

THEATRE OF ANIMATED FORMS II 

Marijana Petrović: ON THE WINGS OF IMAGINATION 

Kalina Stefanova: WHEN DRAMA THEATRE MEETS PUPPETRY 

CRITICISM WITHOUT ADJECTIVES

Kalina Stefanova: A FABLE ABOUT PEOPLE FROM THE EDGE 

Gregor Pompe: THE POSTOPERATIC GAP BETWEEN BODY AND VOICE 

IN MEMORIAM 

Janez Janša, Aldo Milohnić: A SEEKER OF A BREAKTHROUGH, ORIGINAL, UNBENDING STANCE 

Niko Goršič: TO THE LAST BREATH 

Ivo Svetina: DR. HENRIK FAUST: ''BEAUTY IS MY GRAVE.'' 

Primož Jesenko: BALBINA'S ''THEATRE IN THE ROUND''

MASKA
Performing Arts Journal
Since 1920
vol. XXXI, nos. 181–182
(winter–spring 2016/2017)

ISSN 1318-0509

Published by: Maska, Institute for Publishing, Production and Education |
Metelkova 6, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia | Phone: +386 1 4313122 | Fax: +386 1 4313122 | E-mail: info@maska.si | www.maska.si | For the publisher: Janez Janša
Editor-in-chief: Amelia Kraigher | Editorial Board: Nika Arhar, Pia Brezavšček, Janez Janša, dr. Nikolai Jeffs, dr. Nenad Jelesijević, dr. Andreja Kopač, dr. Bojana Kunst, Nika Leskovšek, Gašper Malej, Rok Vevar | International Advisory Board: dr. Daniela Hahn, dr. Stefan Apostolou-Hölscher, dr. Thomas Irmer, Katarina Pejović, mag. Martina Ruhsam, André Schallenberg

Design and Layout: Ajdin Bašić, Iztok Kham | Slovene Language Editors: Tatjana Capuder, Živa Čebulj, Amelia Kraigher, Gašper Malej | English Language Editor: Eric DeanScott | Print: Cicero | Copies: 400

Price of double issue (international): 10 € | Price of triple issue (international): 12 € | Price of quadruple issue (international): 15 € | Annual international subscription for six (6) nos.: Individual rate for Europe 67 €, Individual rate, Rest of World 77 € (distributed by Maska Ljubljana). International institutional rate: print and online subscription 195 € / 136 L / 226 $, online only 136 € / 105 L / 175 $ (distributed by Intellect Ltd. and Turpin Distribution, UK) | Package and postage included. | Business secretary: Polona Calderera | Subscription and distribution for individuals from Europe and Rest of World: polona.calderera@ maska.si | Account number: 02010-00165250861 | Maska is available in both print and electronic formats through Turpin Distribution, Pegasus Drive, Stratton Business Park, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, SG18 8TQ, UK; T: +1 860 350 0031 (North America), +44 (0) 1767 604 951, F: +44 (0)1767 601640 (Institutional EU and Rest of World orders, except Slovenia and North America); E: custserv@turpin-distribution.com, W: www.turpin-distribution.com. Although we have tried our best to track down copyright holders of photos and other visual materials, we have not always succeeded. The authors are kindly asked to contact the editorial board.

Maska was founded in 1920 by the Ljubljana sub-committee of the Association of Theatre Players of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Udruženje gledaliških igralcev Kraljevine SHS). In 1985, the Association of Cultural Organisations of Slovenia (Zveza kulturnih organizacij Slovenije) revived this publication under the title of Maske. In 1991, its original name was restored and its co-founder – Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis – reinstated.

Chief and/or executive editors thus far: Rade Pregarc (1920–21), Peter Božič & Tone Peršak (1985–90), Maja Breznik (1991–93), Irena Štaudohar (1993–98), Janez Janša (1998–2006), Katja Praznik (2007–2009) & Maja Murnik (2011).

According to Article 25, Item 7 of the Value Added Tax Act, newspapers are taxed at the rate of 9.5%.

The journal is supported by the Slovenian Book Agency.

Co-financed by TANZFONDS ERBE – An initiative by the German Federal Cultural Foundation. 

Co-financed by Ljubljana Puppet Theatre. 

Cover illustration: Nina Mršnik.