TanzTage Berlin – The Dance Studies Project

Yesterday was the final day of the dance festival TanzTage Berlin which was held at Sophiensaele and basically features works of young choreographers/dancers.

Since (we all know) I’m studying dance studies right now I have a class about writing about dance, it’s kind of a performance analysis class, but at the same time, not really. So we had this project in which everyone in this class needed to cover one performance in this festival, write a text for the next day and have it hung in the lobby of the venue. For the last night – which was yesterday – a kind of talk-back was scheduled: Us writers meeting the dancers/choreographers and talking about our texts. (and the performances, but mostly: our texts)

I was to write about a performance titled If it’s Fun by Lee Meir and Maya Weinberg. (you can find the full text I wrote about their performance below and I think the text even work in case you haven’t seen) – It was a nice performance, very unlike any ‘dance performance’ clearly marked as such and so was the talk. When we prepared for the talks our teacher told us that we should guide them more towards talking about the texts since they ALWAYS want to talk about their performances.
But we had a very nice talk about the text. And about the performance, of course – because that’s after all what I am and what I do, writing and talking about performances. I can do the text-thing, but a) I’m not entirely comfortable talking about my OWN text (as long as it’s someelse’s I’m totally fine) and b) if there is a performance to talk about, I prefer the performance to talk about. But I did it, yay, and it was nice – and yet not ground-breaking or anything.

Anyways….here we go, my text.

I’M BUSY!

It’s a little bit like entering my room at home.
It’s chaos in a very precise way, something that looks like chaos but in a very specific area of the room. And if you spend enough time looking at what you see, you’ll find a woman sitting at one end of the chaos-area.
Sewing pieces of a pizza together.
With a needle.
The chaos kind of looks like a garage sale. Or that thing children do: Spreading out a blanket wherever they think it would be good and putting some of their older toys for sale. It’s like an army of toys, dolls, puppets, some things looking like tools and right in front of the woman sewing the pizza there is a pile of books.
Old books.
Used books.

The other woman, not sewing the pizza, suddenly destroys the pile and the light on the audience-site of the room fades. There’s music playing – or maybe it was before, now there is a voice coming from one of these 90ies ghetto blasters, a male voice, telling us something, the sound is too low to understand properly.
They start to play with these books, they hold them close to their faces, the pages touching their ears, temples, foreheads, they shake the books as if they wanted to shake the words into their heads, onto the floor – out of the books. They wear them on top of their tops, on top of their shorts and leggings, on top of other books, the spine facing upwards, roof tiles on top of each other. They turn them around, the spines pressing against the women’s chests, the pages facing us, they stand up and press the books together in between their bodies. Books must touch books, pages must touch pages.
They start a conversation while flipping through the books, quoting from them from time to time, giving a discussion a new turn.

They don’t read.
They flip.
They play.

I am thinking about love as citizenship.
Have you ever thought about breaking a heart?
In a physical sense?

They stand up, carrying books, more books than actually could fit into a pair of arms, books fall and generate a soundtrack playing to the conversation they still have, louder, softer, we zoom in and zoom out of the discussion.
Again.
And again.
And again.

And they turn to the toys chaotically lined up. They talk about the objects, to the objects while moving with them, spinning them around.

This is a snake. It comes from a shoe. A shoe-snake!
This is bread. I could physically eat it.
But I won’t do that because I’m talking about it.

My ears decide who they want to listen to, whose voice will be much clearer than the backing vocals of murmuring and talking and shouting. Do they want to sell these things? The bread, the snake, the doll?
They start to pick up more things, more, more, more. Gloves, a rubber crocodile, a cardboard Christmas tree, a drying rack – they, everything, everyone, fall onto the floor on their way to where all these things are set to pile up.
And they pile up. They pile up in order to become a fortress.

The one who sewed together the pizza gets all dressed up by her colleague, decorated in a portrait painting kind of style. A beaded necklace, books as a pillow and as decoration in her hands, pink fabric to cover parts of her body over her already worn clothes.

As a child I used to stand there like this and tried to jump, one of them later tells us. She stands there, knees bended, her arms in front of her, head thrown back.

And somehow it becomes clear – they can’t sell their stuff at the garage sale or on blankets in driveways.
They can’t even leave it put up in that kind of chaotic manner.

They need their stuff.
To build their fortress.

In a physical sense.

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