Von Serenata zum Totentanz – Bombyx Mori
Round two of our festival report. Today I want to present you two dance performances who represent the festival topic „Excavations“ in two different ways.
We start with the mixed evening “Von Serenata zum Totentanz“ with works of the three choreographers Gret Palucca, Marianne Vogelsang and Mary Wigman. Their works had been reconstructed, rehearsed with young dancers trying to imitate the original as good as possible by using any single document, recording or other source that can be found. Mary Wigman might be the most famous one of them, she shared the “New German Dance” (Ausdruckstanz) with audiences worldwide. Born in 1886 in Hamburg, she studied rhythmic gymnastics in Hellerau with Jaques-Dalcroze and worked with Rudolf Laban at the Monte Verità in Switzerland before she began to share her choreographies with the public. Her work was very innovative and different to what audiences knew these times. At this evening three of her choreographies were shown, her “Witch Dance“, and two different “Dances of Death“. Wigman opened a school for dance where many modern dancers trained just like Gret Palucca.
Her most famous piece “Serenata” was performed, originally it was a solo danced by herself with music from Isaac Albéniz. Students of the “Palucca Hochschule für Tanz” (now one of the leading german dance schools) interpreted this piece in a different way, instead of a solo it is now a trio for three female dancers which offers the possibility to play with different constellations and musicality. The steps of the choreography remain the same thanks to a video recording from 1932 which was also shown at the performance. The Palucca School wants to keep her heritage by teaching their students her main focuses such as improvisation and finding your own “voice” as a dancer. To represent this spirit 7 today’s students of the school shared an improvisation on the topics Isolation, Shadows and Reflections and earned big applause. To complete the evening a choreography by Mariane Vogelsang was shown danced by Nils Freyer, Vogelsang choreographed this piece at the very end of her own life, she reflects her life in it and uses the idea of a life circle which takes shape in the pyramidal symmetry of the dance using the 5 Preludes of Bach as a base, played from 1 to 5 and then backwards until 1. To summarize, you could see 6 different choreographies of 3 different New German Dancers who revolutionized the Dance world in the 1920s. From nowadays perspective it might sometimes seem very old schooled the reconstruct what was innovative and new in the 20’s but it keeps its fascination for the audience until today.
Ola Maciejewska decided to take another way. Instead of reconstructing the past she uses the ideas of Loïe Fuller as an inspiration. Fuller invented many things that enabled theater to go new ways and was fascinated of the potential of electric light to create special effects. For her “Serpentine Dances” she developed a giant veil dress as a costume that, with the help of two sticks, enabled her to form abstract forms like waves or spirals. She worked on the confrontation of the human body and objects and “Bombyx mori“ picks up this idea. The title of this production means silkmoth, maybe an aliteration to the material of Fullers original costume, and describes a dance performance of three artists who use costumes that remind of the ones used in the “Serpentine Dances“. In combination with live music by Alberto Novello who mixes and defamiliarizes the sounds that arise live during the performance a surreal and scary dimension emerges. The light is so dimmed that you lose your connection to reality, your fantasy starts to invent monsters and hybrids build by the floating dancers. Their swinging, rustling black costumes dehumanize them so much that you get stuck in this creepy but astonishing illusion. Bombyx mori was my personal highlight of this festival and I can really recommend it if you get any possibility to watch it.
Foto by Craig Whitehead
Text by Verena