Stardust of my jungle adventure

Sitting on taxi, I say to driver, take me to the temple. Driver seems kind of scared. After all, its dark outside. Jump off the car, a little track right beside it, two other men also walk toward it. We start talking. A good feeling comes up. As long as I’m alone, this dark track with streaming river sound makes me feel settle. As long as getting closer, music and people talking noise coming along, some people walk down the aisle, everyone smilingly say hi. I smile. Conversations keep coming up with all different type of people. Purely open mind. Carry a red wine with me, I barely drink anything else, the music right on point, makes me nonstop dance through the night. Still, my legs ask me to rest, so I sit down in a djembe mixing rapping circle. I begin to rap. This is the first time and also the end of my night. I leave the party pretty early, nevertheless, imagine these wonderful people I encounter here, would deeply influence my life.

Wonder night in Organik, you guys walk toward me on the beach, with all the shining toys on hands, I feel like escaping into a gig, only in our mind, trip world who share the same frequency. One of you sit down beside me during a cigarette break on the beach, you say,  ‘you are different.’ I dive into the beauty of mother earth so deep, so I smile and simply pass the smoke to your hand. My head says, ‘everyone is different, you are different. And it’s once in a blue moon to share a moment like this with you all.’ I couldn’t ask for more.

Back in the city, almost one year after, I accidentally do the organic Jungle Party with most of the core people out of this big family. Walk through Taipei city, trip in the park and share most intimate thoughts. At some point, some of your faces melt in my head. In the park, I sit down to enter different world, Everyone of you seems like a giant to me. We sing along for a while. That’s my last night in Taipei before going to airport. On the way home, I start to see things clear, I meant to meet you. Maybe we are like wolves, when one wanna be part of group, will find a clan and feel belonged. But most of the time, we are alone. Long after we awake from awareness, we finally realize, maybe there’s no you and me, its space, unlimited.  

The reason I start to write these stories, is for exchange n share with T, and the title of this blog, is when I mention my new name with M, he randomly reply to me. All these stories are from here to start.

{feature}How do we perceive, he asks – Niels Weijer

Niels Weijer was born in 1988, Netherlands; a choreographer who began his path on artistic research.  We had our dialogue nearby the cafe across the entrance of User studios. At that point in time, there were a lot of air planes flying by. His presence was warm and inviting, a sense of curiosity arises naturally within me. In his recent work of choreography, there were space in between of objects and human beings – a relation to be addressed and redefined. The performers interacted, and pointed out a space for us to look at. Continue reading, you would hear about his background story, philosophy, passion, and more.

This dialogue was recorded in August 2018, Berlin.

Part I: Choreography

What’s your story? 

I start ballet dancing for many years in Amsterdam, then I start doing contemporary dance in Rotterdam. After that I had my first job in Osnabrück. It is very good experience first in the company. In school, I already wanted to make my own work. So I quit the company and starting freelancing as a dancer. In the same time I start to create my own thing. It was very small thing at first. It is a development. From the beginning on, I was working a lot with visual artists. Immediately the visual arts triggered me a lot.  It is still like a big inspiration for my work, much more than dance, performance arts. My start point was a lot more of visual art work.

I have been dancing, creating as a freelancer. I did a lot of children performances. It is a very interesting audience. They are really direct. There is no contemplation of the concept. It just has to catch right away their attention. They take it or they don’t take it. It is still something that I would like to do in my own work. How do you get the attention right away? And take them along.

At some point, I think after five years of freelancing, I decided I would like to really do the creations. That is why I moved here to Berlin to be able to make fresh start. A new start to do it intensively. Because if you dance a lot, and you make money with that, you are distracted consistently. You can’t really focus. It is also hard in Netherlands, it is hard to get into choreographer scene when you haven’t gone through what I had just done the choreographer education. It is same here in Berlin. It is hard to get your head around if you haven’t done any education. Being here, it fits really well with what I am pursuing as a choreographer. It is really nice with an open door. Now being seemed as choreographer, it is a nice switch.

THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES © Roberto Duarte

I consider there is oneness, but with object there are barriers. Are you willing to engage with the objects? It almost feels like tripping. 

Exactly. For instance, we can identify ourselves better with animals which looks very much like us. We can see the emotions from the dogs, cats, monkeys or horses. It is easy to identify with us. We can consider it as an object as well. It is another entity but it is very close. And with plants, we can see its growth. We can relate to it well. But with this cup in my hand, it is still alive but with different aliveness. It is harder to engage with it. But then on a philosophical level you can. That’s something I found it interesting to question – why do we like to identify ourselves more with something that we can see there are emotions. It is a lot to do with ourselves and how we look at our worlds. From a human perspective, maybe we can look at the world with a more all-inclusive perspective which is difficult.

It is about spirituality. Do you meditate?

I do actually. I am very interested in Buddhism. It talks a lot about the consciousness, being one, being here.  

Would you consider yourself religious?

Yes, I do. I grow up as a very active Christian. Then I kind of put my back onto the system which the church is. I don’t agree with how they structure and organize. I open up to Buddhism in a more philosophical way, but it has its religious aspect as well. It is very beautiful to see the origin and the tradition of Islam. It is different. Again, there is this system and also the art comes out of that which is very beautiful. I find the word ‘religious’ has a lot of heaviness.

Let’s say you have a believing system. 

Yes, I like that. 

THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES © Roberto Duarte

In this artistic research, you put a lot of geometric shapes and items. How did you relate these elements into your work? 

I am very interested in mathematic and geometry. Plato start with that. He has all these crystals in the shape of hexagon. He kind of puts the shapes into the elements which let them all relate to the same shape. I am trying to say that everything is coming out of the five elements – water, fire, air, earth, and energy. It is a driving force for me, because it is a big research for long time. Out of the study of geometry and shapes, there is all these interesting space as well. Especially in the city, there is all these geometric shapes and structures around, and we interact with that consistently. Like I come to this meeting, I walk through buildings, pass streets. I have to go around to sit here with you. I consistently interact with space and geometry. In the performance, the only different is that I take certain shapes and I interact with those shapes with the surroundings, which is an interesting equation.

There is all these layers of consciousness that I put in the work that you have to visit with. Like ‘THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES’, there are mirrors and people.You can move the mirror like this, and you have to respond to each others. You can copy and mirror each others. You play each other’s time. There is the whole consciousness. How can you reflect and play with your surroundings. There is all these mathematical conscious of how to deal with the shapes and space.  It creates patterns, showing patterns. For example, you see in the historical Islamic part, there is a lot of structures and patterns. They are very symmetrical, and I like that. In ‘THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES’ it became much more complex, it was asymmetrical, still interacting. Like an interesting flow pattern came out of that.

His choreography “The life of Fine Lines”

Mirror is a human invention, it gets so emotional and poetic. All of a sudden, it looks like you are looking into a different universe with the sky background and greenish. It looks like a parallel universe that more than itself. The pictures just capture it sometimes.

What first attracted you to 《THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES》 and how long have you been working on it? 

My instinct would be since I was in Berlin. It is never just that. It is like there is a bunch of ideas, and they manifest themselves. Because just as a habit, I also like to photograph. In that photography research, there has been a play with reflections. How the reflection I see from the window stands the line? There has been that research going on just visually, not yet as a sense of performance. And then, when I moved to Berlin. In order to make the money for study, I made a crowd funding within my friends and family. I collected some money. One of my friend gave me twenty euro folded in a crane of traditional origami. I always want to know how to do that, so when I arrived in Berlin, I start to look at how to fold a bird. And then, I figured the bird is actually moving because you pull the tail and it moves. It is amazing. You have moving origami. I did a lot of folding in the first three months when I was here. And I had this one origami which I was playing with. I was thinking “what can I do with this?” It really got my interests but I didn’t know how to work that out. I thought maybe I can make a really large origami, and move with them. I start researching but it is really hard. The cool thing of paper is it has this kind of stiffness and looseness, and you can fold it. It is very nice structure. But if you start to make it with bigger paper, it doesn’t work, because it can falls apart, or paper got so stiff that you can’t fold it anymore. 

Then I was thinking “what was it so interested me?” I have this origami which when you pull it, it has this fish zigzag line. If you pull it, it shrinks. I realized it is a play with lines. Because I am able to see the lines, the shapes appear because of the lines falling onto it. It is like a play of my perspectives. How do I perceive the lines and the shadows? You can draw lines, but if you fold it, you can see the shapes because there are lines, shapes and shadows of others. I got into this whole research on perspectives.

From that I came to what is the original perspective, to get into Renaissance. That is the first time in Western society where this idea of perspective comes into question. It comes into question in relation to painted landscapes. If you have a landscape, you have always a point of view. It gives its perspective. From the perspective, you draw lines. I was busy with perspectives, landscape and horizon. There is this French philosopher Francois Jullien who wrote a book ‘Living Off Landscape’ about landscape. He put the western idea next to eastern idea. He studied the symbols of Chinese. In western, we have a word for it called landscape which we related to certain surrounding, and then, there is like in Chinese in which the word for landscape is combined with two symbols ‘mountain’ and ‘water’. Landscape is a combination between the stable and fluent. It is kind of like in any continue. It is not just that. The weather inside is like the tension created there. In between the tension, there is why the landscape start to appear. It is not something we look upon, but something that we are in. From the whole origami, I came to this perspective which is how I got to the ‘THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES’; for me, I had this church which was the stable mountain, and with mirrors which is what I wanted to create as the fluent water. Because it was outside, and there is whole interfere of the weather. It was simple, step by step. It is really beautiful when I see the big mirror on the floor in the second performance, it looked like a river. They were lying there like still water which you can see reflections. When you move it, it looks like a blowing wind in slow motions – a still image which is a new idea of a landscape.

THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES © Roberto Duarte

How do you create – do you go into the studio with a firm idea of the movement you want? Or is it more free-form and organic?

‘THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES’ was a different working process for me. Generally I went in to the rehearsal with very strong clear ideas. “This is what is going to happen,” and my last performance was on a triangle. I came in with a very clear and simple numerical structure. We want to welcome the walking patterns. We just have to put the composition together but it was quite clear what is gonna happened; This one, I realized quite late what would work with dancers. Although the project was in June, I did the audition in April which is really late. This is because I wanted to make a performance with just objects. Then, I realized I am not interested in just objects moving. I am interested in relation between human and objects. So when we came in to the studio, I didn’t have much time to research on my own before. I was a lot like “okay, here is the mirror, can you move with it?” After I saw they move with it, it might be “I really like what you did,” and then we remade it, named it. Then, we teach each other. Bit by bit, constructing it. Still, create some kind of system. I wanted to make a score for the performance, but I ended up providing the structure; where they have a beginning image and an ending image, and in between they had to take from each other which is a very complex approach. It was something kind of develop on its own. My plan was to make the score but I realized it doesn’t work for this piece. They have to interact with each other. Also, because of the materials was complex objects. You can not say I want you to hold the mirror or the tube like that, because they can not see what they are doing. It was very imaginative. They were interacting with the space, with each other, and with the mirrors. There was these three layers. It was beautiful to see how it evolves day by day until the performance. I have a basic understanding of what I was looking for, for how to move with an object. I just have to work with them to see until they did it, and I take that out.

The basic start is how to connect, connect with your objects, connect with your space around, connect with other people, other objects, other spaces. It is a big ball of complex connections. And yet still be able to make clear decisions. 

Niels Weijer

What is your fondest memories of all that creative process?

That would be like taking one thing out. If I look at the whole thing, I just look at what is the common, what is the core, what is the essence. I realized there is all these different aspects of myself being in there. I am curious if there is an answer.

Which part of you resonating in yourself at this moment?

I feel that what is the core thing in most work that I created, is that there is always this system. Our society is a system. These kinds of performance and installation is also like a system of interactionist. When the performer are performing, I also realized there is not just about doing it for you. That would be like “I show you what we learned in the studio.” We were actually showing the system, a reduced reflection of a different society.

One memory I had is a performance I did with a visual artist Evelien Jansen in Netherlands. We were in a residency in Turkey for a while, and I came to visit her. We wanted to take the inspirations for a piece – we realized being there on the streets you hear people talking, and you have no clue what they are talked about, because we don’t speak the language. There is this different language which you don’t understand, and you observe that. I start trying to make some kind of sign language with movement which is not necessary with meanings. Random movements which is not loaded with meanings. I created sounds to that. We use that as a platform to look at people with different cultural system. You don’t understand them but you start to grab, seek and hook onto something.

The other show I did are ‘The Question of Broken Triangles’. There was this mathematical structure of three. They walk in triangle, a repetitive numbers which keeps on changing. It is kind of simple – two, one two one, and one two three. But it consistently changes so you never able to get the system.You just have to let go. In there, they also have a small system to communicate with each others. This one is counting, and the others know where they are. It is a system of interactions. If I take a core, it is not necessary about the memories but the system of connectedness – how they are connected through a performative theme, and reach the audience. To see how do we perceive and what can we get out of it. I like abstract arts because it doesn’t tell me how to look at it. I like how it gets me start thinking. For me, it is the gold of artist that how to make people rethink the things which they already have opinions about. Try to open it up again. 

You are still digesting the piece you just made.

Thinking about digesting, I actually don’t refer to the creation of a piece as creation. Because that means I know what is gonna happen, and I don’t know. I just had an idea. But I am slowly discovering it what this idea want to be. I really believe that the idea is already there, and I am just discovering it. Of course, I made an interpretation of that. If you ask five choreographers to make a piece on a same idea, there would be five different work. But they have different discoveries because of their personal connection they made through their minds. The way I realized the ‘THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES’  is not me creating it, it is discovering, and making decisions.

THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES © Elliot Hughes

What would be useful tools to practice regarding creating and expressing one’s imaginations? Any secrets?

The tool I need to give myself is not to start researching or reading, but just try to keep it open. How to leave it open as long as possible. The more open you are, the more you are fluid. It is like how to get intuitive, how to get back to my belly. For example, the key moment really pull things together, I made it on my belly. How to make these connections between the rational and intuitive. That is one of tool I am discovering.

What does being a male in your profession means to you?

I feel like in my profession it is not just being a male, it is also about being a straight. I am a male and straight – it questions me as well. How did you deal with that? It is a struggle as a person. What can I do, and what can I not do? As a dancer, I understand it better because I have danced for long time. When you enter the audition, there would be five males and forty-five females. For me, my competition was always with the female in that position. I needed to step out of my gate. It is not about being a male or female, but it is about trying to be successful.

His work “reframing La Tourette”

Part II: Philosophy

What’s your favorite meal of the day?

Breakfast. I love eating pancakes with maple syrup and a good cup of coffee.

What other hobbies do you indulge in?

I like doing photography.  I love making coffee. I love walking and biking. 

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

It is very cheesy but follow your heart. Do one wants to do, do not hold yourself back, even when you are in bad situations. Listen to yourself. 

What’s the best gift you’ve received?

I got a really nice knitted earwarmer from my ex-girlfriend. I think it was very beautiful and practical. 

If you were an animal which would you be and why?

A fox, because they are curious, nutty, and funny. 

Which city do you love the most and why?

I don’t know. I really like Berlin but it has been too short for me to say I love it. I really like Amsterdam but as a tourist. To really live there, it is not enough. I have an interest to be in New York but I haven’t been there. 

THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES © Elliot Hughes

What’s daily ritual for you?

Making a coffee. 

Can you describe how would you make it?

That would be very precisely because I am a barista as a side job as well. Basically what I do is – I take out my scale and my coffee. At the moment I really like Colombian. I weight my sixteen grand of beans, and I dry them. I boil my water, prepare my air press, put in the coffee, put in the water, and prepare the coffee. And then, I put the coffee into my cup, and I drink it. That is the summery version of it. That is my daily ritual. 

Who or what inspires you the most?

It is visual arts. It is not like just one thing. It is several artists. When I don’t feel good, I like to go to museum. It charges me, gives me a lot of inspiration and new ideas. It opens up my respective. That would be my biggest inspiration.  

Any word you would like to share with our audience?

To be open. To be willing to stay open, to see what an artist want to tell you, to not judge from your experiences. That is a very special place for the artist and the audiences. 

The meeting point.

Exactly. The conscious exchange.  

If you are intrigued, you can find him on his website.

You can find the Mandarin version contributed to Red Bull Taiwan here.

Thank you for your openness and curiosity in our communication, Niels. This dialogue was important part of my transformation. You are a very wonderful human being.

{feature} Connect to your heart, she says – Dorotea Saykaly

Dorotea Saykaly’s voice is very bright and full of joyful energy. She has a short black hair, beautiful smile and an open-heart — an authentic human being, talented choreographer and dancer who lives in Sweden and works with GöteborgsOperans Danskompani. Let us get to know her more with her background story – The dialogue was surrounding by motivation, creativity and curiosity. She shared a lot of warmth and inspirations with her presence, even through Skype. I was very excited and honored to be in the dialogue with her. Here is the moment. I tried to keep it as close to original as possible. Please note it that some part has been edited for the flow of whole article.

This conversation had been recorded through Skype in 2018 summer, Berlin.

Part I: Dance

How did you start dancing?

I started when I was eleven years old. I was a bit introverted my mother suggested that I try a ballet class But it was not appealing to me at all. I was a bit of a tomboy, not enthusiastic about the idea but my mother said “just try it”. So I went to a first class with some younger girls, which I didn’t connect to at all, and I was so eager to tell my mother that she was wrong. But the second class was with girls my age and seeing that I was able to keep up, I got inspired by the others around me. I was just really enjoying looking and learning. From that day on, I basically never stopped doing it. I started it in ballet and some jazz and did classes when I could. Contemporary came much later. The more I was training, the more I realized people can make a career out of dance. That opened up a door for my mind to have something to work toward.

They say love is blind and I think I was really blinded in finding my love for dance, and I went for it. I kept doing whatever came up — workshops, summer program, loads of auditions to get extra training. Doing whatever projects came along. It was a turning point. I remember realizing how much I wanted to dance when I was watching something my father had recorded a TV program for me. It was a duet in slow motion, something like Neo classical/contemporary from the art channel. I remember watching it and crying realizing how sad and unfulfilled I would be if I didn’t get the chance to dance. It was really important that as long as there is opportunity to perform, I would do it. At some point when I was around age twenty, I saw a performance of Compagnie Marie Chouinard. That inspired me so much to just see how those dancers were moving, the atmosphere of the show and the movement quality. It was the direction that I could finally see myself. “Like now, I know what I am striving for”. I ended up working with Marie Chouinard for seven years since I was twenty-two.

How did you get into this company?

Lots of people from across Canada, the States and even Mexico came to the audition. It was a two-day audition, long and thrilling. I made it to the end. It had gone really well, and I was really inspired by being there. A couple months later, I was out with some friends downtown and my phone rang. A voice answered and said ‘’Hello, this is Marie Chouinard.’’ I thought ‘’oh my god!’’ and she offered me short contract to start working with her. My first day in the company, she came up to me and said ‘’I want to offer you a one-year contract. Are you happy with that?’’ which I thought ‘’yeah, I am!’’ She said ‘’okay, great.’’ And that was it. It was pretty natural and reminded me of the audition process, meaning being present and open. I’ve found that the most successful auditions that I’ve gone to are a combination of ‘’yes I want this job’’ and also staying open. Auditions are such a matter of timing, luck, dedication and presence. It just shows how precious being present can actually be, how precious it is that you have an intuition to do something and you just do it. Sometimes it works out sometimes it doesn’t. I was really just thrilled. It was like an exploration.

The production ‘bODY_rEMIX’ of Marie Chouinard

You have danced in Göteborgs Danskompani since 2014. What are your fondest memories of it?

I was really excited about this change. In the beginning I think my naivety and excitement kind of saved me for this new challenges. It made my initial transition smooth. I remembered feeling very challenged by the projects we were doing and having very little time to work on them. I felt rushed at times and out of my element. It was really a big growing point for me, also realizing how I reacted to stress. I think this company has offered deep experiences that has helped me. Like seeing who I am in creation for example. I have to say dance in some way is something that saves me. Even though it creates insecurity or stress, or it always ends up giving me more inspiration and breath. Recently I started to create a little myself. I am not sure if I really would have done that if I stayed in Montreal. I think being in this environment with so many creative colleagues has pushed me. It has opened me up in many ways. There have been many incredible creative processes that have been very forming.
The stage memories are the ones that pop up the most. Being on stage in certain contexts, and working with certain choreographers that are just really beautiful human beings. People who have been so brilliant, kind, patient and humble. It is so nice to know these people exist. In some way I am settling in

Now in Sweden. It’s opening yourself to the funny experience of relocation. Deciding where to put your roots down. It is difficult because once you put some roots down it becomes more permanent. So it’s something I have been thinking a lot lately — What makes a home? Can your home change often depending on where your heart and mind is?

performance of “KODAK” by Alan Lucien Oyen, performed at the Goteborg Opera ©Mats Backer

Would you say that would be your answer if I ask you what’s the question has been shaping your life lately?

My question has always been always ‘’what’s next? What’s my next step? What’s the next stone I am gonna jump onto? Where is that other side that I would like to make through?’’ I would say that is something that has shaped me, pushed me. Although recently I realized I am at the point where I want to focus more on ‘’what’s now?’’. To just take in the moments that are at hands right now, and not think about what is for the future. The piece I just made recently has to do a lot with questions of how do you deal with memories? I was looking at ‘’cognitive biases’’, which are shortcuts in the mind that distort information. It turns out re not programmed to live in the present. So even when the mind is working on a mathematic equation, where there is a break of concentration, the mind immediately starts to think of the future or it start to retouch the past. We adjust the details of the past. So other questions that I have now — where is my balance? What is my balance? The balance is between spiritual and physical, relationships and myself, my work and my rest time, indoors and outdoors. Taking in life in a different way. That is something that I think I need a bit more.

Her solo ‘’UNraveling’’

Part II: Choreography

When did you start choreography? What interested you in the beginning?

I started by doing choreography for some screedance films when I was in my mid-twenties. I also dabbled in an interest for installation, and I was received by a small festival in New York for a work I made for myself and a dear friend. However, I never gave myself any credit from those projects. A couple of years later I decided I want to make a solo myself because I felt that I didn’t want to wait anymore for choreographer to give me what I thought I wanted to explore or what I wanted to do physically – not to say that what I created was satisfying to my body all the time. So I just got myself into the studio, and I worked with one of the independent theatres in Göteborg. I just started making a solo. What came out I realized was an interest in speech and words. What I had there as the soundscape was a series of speeches from people who have initiated change. It started with a clip of Gandhi’s voice and I just liked the rhythm. I was also interested in looking at myths and came across Prometheus who gave blind hope to humans. The solo revolves around messages of hope, and what it is to have it as a motivator for change. I think that’s actually in my career — hope has driven me a lot. The hope to get a contract, the hope to be able to dance every day. The hope to move my body the way I never thought I could three years ago. Creating is not always logical. I just created a new piece this year, a trio. I was juggling between full-time dancing in the company and this parallel project. I was completely tired afterward and needed time to recover but my mind was still there. It’s like an engine that you need to fuel— I thought ‘’oh take this note down. You know you might want to write a script about it.’’ There is just something in there that makes me curious. You just have to try it out.

Her solo UNraveling © Zawirowania festival

How long you had been working on ‘’Rosy Retrospection’’- the solo piece we are talking about right now? What were you using in “Rosy Retrospection”?

My creation period officially for this project was twenty-two days spread out over three months. It was a wonderful project my artist director initiated. It brought together our company and two other Swedish companies. It was a three ways exchange. One dancer from each company went to go create on other company. You walk into the room and you don’t know the dancer. You inherited three or four dancers that you have never work with before. And you are not always creating in your home base. This is also interesting since we were talking about home. Like what it is to create in another house?

The idea came a year before when I was applying for the project. I made working progress on two of my friends/colleagues who I love and respect. I started off with looking at “cognitive bias” and the idea of distorting information. What is perception? But more and more it got down to how we distort an idea personally and in regard to a memory. It also came from my personal experience of how to let go of memory? Do you try to shape the memory? By doing that does it shapes you? Rosy Retrospection is a cognitive bias associated to nostalgia. It makes you retouch the details of the memory to make it better than it was. It is like putting on pink glasses on and getting stuck in a moment. I went through a lot of trials when it came to physicality. I am still trying to develop what it is that interests me physically. I really do enjoy a type of stutter — a movement that gets interrupted. It has to do a lot with communication, getting interrupted, the connection between the hands and the body. Sometime it is very awkward. This idea of bones slipping out of you and you are trying to manage, and still pretending everything is fine, or getting caught in something and trying to work with that. I didn’t actually manage to put the element of groove in this piece. There was a lot of things I was putting in there. Flow is something I like. Knowing when to use flow and knowing when to break it. There is something I like to call it an inflatable man — basically you are just skin floating in the air, inflation and deflation. Gaga has helped me a lot actually, sparking curiosity, empowerment and the use of imagery fuelled me quite a bit. I work very well with images. I realized early on that I need images and sensations to access the body.

Her recent piece ‘’Rosy Retrospection’’

How did you make your choices in ‘’Rosy Retrospection’’ ?

I went in pretty prepared because I knew I had a short amount of time. I had some scenes that I knew I wanted to do. The piece had a narrative, characters. I had given myself a list of what I wanted to explore. What I think I forgot along the way, and that I only re-discovered toward the end was the element of a play time. I made my choices based on instinct and filmed improvisations — like the way I built the final trio in the piece. It came from improvisation with tasks. Maybe that’s not the best way to do it. It took a lot of time for me to figure it out, but everything there flows really well. That one was structured on instinct.

Her solo UNraveling © Zawirowania festival

You mentioned you like to work with scripts. Could you share a bit more of what is a script for you?

Last year when I was making that duet on my friends, I was looking at this acting technique called Meisner that I had done in Montreal which is based on improvised repetition between two people. I love acting. I always feel like it is such a joy. It is such a gift when choreographers come in with texts. I would think “oh please, give it to me.” Acting has always been instinctual and natural to me. I had done some classes which gave me some tools and I want to bring that work that I had done to the pieces that I’m making.

The idea of having scripted scenes in Rosy Retrospection came up last Fall when my colleagues and I were creating and collaborating together. We were talking about what challenges we would all like to explore and I said I would really like to work with script. So basically I started scripting out the dialogues between two or three people the atmosphere and intentions. What is that subject matter to talk about? For example, in Rosy Retrospection, I knew I want a scene that would be quite difference from the rest of the piece. There was a failing relationship between a male and female character and a third character who is kind of not helping the situation. You don’t really know who he is. He is a bit of a shit disturber. He is kind of the floating, satellite character. So, within this frame, I wanted a scene which would be very different. Dark, somber, a bit out of context. So I thought of a psychologist scene, which I have heard from people is one of their favourite scenes in the piece. Sometimes, what I do is to write down my wishlist of what I would want in the piece. Then I ponder on which ones could work, which ones maybe too ambitious, what’s not gonna fit. For the psychologist scene I just started to write based on instincts, quotes and the research I done on cognitive biases. I just pulled from my research and what I know about therapy sessions. I just started writing this dialogue based on nostalgia and how we distort information. I was doing it instinctually and consciously, and choosing my words very carefully, reworking the scripts. Usually the scripts were too long, so I cut them down trying to get down to the essence on a scene. I don’t think that more words is better. I like concise meaningful scripts. I like the gaps in between the words, between the two characters — that silence, the space in between that people can feel. I would like to do more of it and I think I will hopefully. I haven’t had a formal education, but I used to date a director/writer for seven years. I also worked with some choreographers/writers and saw how they write scripts. It is trough experiences basically.

A lot of people ask why I think script is necessary. They ask why are you inserting scripts into your piece. Sometimes, something can only be said through words, and others it can only be said through the body. What I like is that there is a game of tennis between the two medium, dance and text. Sometimes the script would push the scene forward or give it another filter to look at the movement happening.

An example of a technique Meisner invented to train actors’ responses is called the Repetition Exercise:

“In this exercise, two actors sit across from each other and respond to each other through a repeated phrase. The phrase is about each other’s behaviour, and reflects what is going on between them in the moment, such as “You look unhappy with me right now.” The way this phrase is said as it is repeated changes in meaning, tone and intensity to correspond with the behaviour that each actor produces towards the other. Through this device, the actor stops thinking of what to say and do, and responds more freely and spontaneously, both physically and vocally.The exercise also eliminates line readings, since the way the actor speaks becomes coordinated with his behavioural response.”

video introduction of Doro

Part III: philosophy

What other hobbies do you indulge in besides dance?

I do meditation. It is something that I have been inviting more into my life. Reading and laughing. I am trying to invite more love into my life. Love for the moment, love for the nature, love for people in my life, love for myself, love for my thought. Something to harvest.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

I think just be yourself. We hear that so often. In the last 4 years of living Sweden, cliches that I have heard my whole life have started so much sense. Also, this idea of loving yourself. I think I really understood what that mean only recently— to love yourself enough to be yourself, to speak your mind, to speak your thoughts, not to be apologetic about them.

What’s the best gift you’ve received?

Having a functional body. On an other level, there are so many beautiful gifts I have been given by so many friends and family. Sometimes, words or cards can be the softest and most personal gift.

If you were an animal which would you be and why?

A wild cat. I think it is something I’ve wanted to be since I was a kid. I was just thinking about it recently. I was always a bit of an outsider when I was a kid because of language purposes. Whenever we played a game like transformers or cops and robbers, I always want to be an animal. I thought that animals are the most amazing things on earth, and I always kind of imagine I was like a black wild cat. Why? For the freedom of running fast, being so agile and wild.

investigating female body ©Melanie Garcia

What’s daily ritual for you?

Flossing. If I do it in the end of the day, it means I am taking care of myself. Also, just taking time to breath usually in the morning. You just need to give five minutes, put the timer on and meditate breath.

Who or what inspires you the most?

Thinkers. Unexpected people and inspiring people. I think about my mother. You see her and expect one thing, and she would say something that you would never expect. Just people who are not afraid to say what is against the grain. They are people inspire me the most.

What does be a female in your profession means to you?

Being strong and having the strength to vulnerable as well. Being comfortable with your vulnerability. There is something I want to get back to and that is communication. I think it is so important to be unapologetic and know how to communicate in our profession. Once again, a cliche — as a woman you have to work twice as hard than men. It’s true and that’s the imperfection. It means having to speak up a little louder. It also means being comfortable with your identity, your body and your femininity. When I say femininity, by no means I am putting it into a box — I mean whatever versions of feminine power is to you. To embrace it fully, it is important for our profession. To really just listen to your internal voice, your internal organs.

Her solo UNraveling © Zawirowania festival

What would be useful tools to practice regarding acting and expressing one’s imaginations more freely? Any secrets?

Connect with the heart. You have to just be there, you have to be willing to connect, and be brave. Really connect to the heart and not making it about what you’re going to look like or sound like. When I was doing these Meisner classes with a really fantastic teacher in Montreal, they always say “the most important person in the room is the person in front of you.” In a way what that does is to take away the egoistical side of looking at yourself. There are something I have been curious about and fascinated with is how the face changes on stage. There is something about not putting on performance’s gaze. To just be present, just being there. A practice in being present is very important and very fascinating to me. How a face can be so open. If I am in situation where I am watching someone, a performer, and I feel open, I want to remember these feelings, those moments, those sensations that I feel in my face and eyes. This is how my face is supposed to be. This is how I want my soul to come out through my skin. Up through a natural face. I try to connect to that by breathing, by softening the tongue. These are tools when I try to use in moment of pressure, when it comes to acting or dancing. The tongue is a very good barometer for how stressed you are. If it’s tight, then you are holding it. That’s ok but nice to recognize it, let it go and keep going.

Any word you would like to share with our audience?

I just want to say thank you for reaching out, giving the opportunity between me and you, and also between me and your audience, an audience that maybe I am not able to reach otherwise. Also, something I have been thinking about recently is trying to invite the opportunity to connect with your body, whether it is trough yoga classes, breathing, kundalini or a dance class. I find so many of us can go through the most of our lives without connecting to their bodies. It is such a blessing to do so. The best gift really is to come back to the body.

If you are intrigued, you can find her on her Instagram @Dorosay.

You can find the Mandarin version contributed to Red Bull Taiwan here.

Thank you for your openness and generosity in our communication, Doro. This dialogue meant a lot to me. You are a very wonderful human being.

{feature} Conscious body system – Chaim Gebber & Roberta Pupotto

Chaim and Roberta created the company which is named ”Chaim Gebber-Open Scene” in 2015. They introduced a dazzling combination of movements including a technique called Conscious Body System which is started in 2005 by Chaim Gebber himself. It makes me curios of their work, so we speak on a dinner table after I had a taste of intensive training of it— It was wonderful and fun to dance with a group of compassionate dancers/movers. Following up, you would read more about them. 

This interview has been recorded in the spring of Berlin, 2018.

Complex Simplicity EMERGENCIA ©Chumpan

PART I: conscious body system

How did Chaim Gebber open scene start?

Roberta:  It started around the end of 2014. When me and Chaim were already working together in performances. I met him when I arrived in Berlin. I have been working with different artists in performances. When we met, we produced two to three performances together. There was a moment we thought about to make a fixed group, create a company together. We were five in the beginning. Now we are two organizing the company, and we invite guest dancers to work with us.

You mentioned ‘’consciousness’’ many times during this training, how do you apply consciousness into your body movement?

Chaim: Firstly, every single movement or action that we play on the classes are based on the personal decision. You should know where you are and where you want to go before starts the “journey”. That means to have a clear intention and aim. Even on the combinations we guide the participants in not  copying the steps but focusing on the way they are doing it on their personal speed/timing.  – What I try to create in my work (Classes, workshops or choreography) is an environment in which each single person has it own space to grow as an individual, as an artist  and as a part of a community, even if an ephemeral community.  So the positive quality I try to develop/ to work on, is the constant collaboration. The capacity of one’s being able to take full responsibility of his/hers actions and consequences  related to his/hers body, space, time and timing and the same in relation to all others involved on the process. So it is always an exchange. When we go for the space, we should be conscious about the space, timing to be able to share. 

Roberta: It is about train the body and the mind with awareness and then bring it into every situation. For example, if you are aware of the space and the surrounding people, you will have the ability to react if something change. For me, it is a lot about being more free on the stage as well. Because I have more control of myself and I can decide consciously to take risk during improvisation for example without hurting myself or the others. This kind of workout gives you the instruments and tools that you can apply it into your daily life, on the stage or in the classes. Do we know our bodies, but sometimes we are not completely aware of our posture or bad habits. If you bring this consciousness into your daily life and training, it helps to prevent injuries and improve your body condition. 

Body Play Shanghai 2016 ©Yao Yao

How about the most challenging situation at the outset of the process in production?

Chaim: In my case is it to bring my ideas to the stage dealing with the financial difficulties. When I have the need to talk about something, to create a performance or choreography, I create a vision with music, costume, light, stage design, number of performers and so on, but to bring it to live I have to deal with the financial situation and start cutting things. It often gets to a point I start to measure the money or take the risk and try to get funding and keep on going. I don’t create an art work to get rich, instead, I create the idea to fulfill the needs of expressing something. So we invest a lot of time, energy and money to create our work with the hope to get this money back later. That brings lots of stress for an artist to create something. 

Roberta: We have already ten works done in complete different formats. They are all important. There are performances for theater, big theater, alternative spaces, art galleries and so on. Chaim is very creative, and he can keep doing new pieces. But we need to focus on what we have already, that is a lot, and we are struggling to find the best way and conditions to show them in the proper way. We have a lot to offer, and we keep going, for showing more in Berlin, Europe and abroad. 

M.O.S.T ©Henryk Weiffenbach

PART II : Choreography

Their newest production《M.O.S.T》was performed on April 20th & 21st 2018 in ACUD Theatre. I was there in the audience. A group of beautiful dancers mixed their personal stories on the stage. A generous offer to the audience toward their personal reflections of lives. We are here now sitting on a table of restaurant after sweating with a group of beautiful dancers who was involved in the practice of conscious body system.

What first attracted you to 《M.O.S.T》 and how long have you been working on it?

Roberta:《M.O.S.T》it is born from a working process in November. It was a way to research. Now we are working with the full version of the piece which is mostly improvisation but combined with some choreography.

Chaim: The place is a space we can experiment with idea. The idea is to see how the idea work visually. It is so strong, and we got invitation and emails that requesting to see the performance. The idea is to talk about how human beings get back to oneself. The situation right now is we escape from not knowing who we are by losing ourselves in entertainment. Mostly, we confront with the question with ourselves – Who am I? What is my core? We try to get back to this core and find what is in there.

I start to think about M.O.S.T by observing how we the “modern” people are always trying to escape from the reality. I believe that soon we will get to a point in which we will lose the borders between the “Real me” and the “desired me”. In fact, it is already happening in some ways through social medias, where we never know if what we see is what is real or produced. This goes many times back to the person that is producing him/her self on the social images and looses the perception of what they are and what they are promoting about themselves.

The main idea in M.O.S.T. is to talk about how human beings could and wish to get back to themselves. M.O.S.T (My Ongoing Silent Transcendence) It is a trip to the inner “ME”, to our core. It is a diving trough the layers of “ME”.

How do you make your choices in 《M.O.S.T》?

Chaim: Mostly by observing and analyzing my surroundings. I like to collect ideas observing real and virtual daily life of people. How we deal (in this case for M.O.S.T) with our possibilities of communication. Then I pick what stays stronger in my memory ROM what I saw and start my individual trip on my memories based on those inputs. 

M.O.S.T ©Henryk Weiffenbach

How do you create – do you go into the studio with a firm idea of the movement you want? Or is it more free-form and organic?

Chaim: When I have the need to say something , to talk about an important topic for me, I already know what kid of energy I will need to express my ideas.

 If you want to talk about protest, you already know what the energy you want to bring in. If you want to talk about meditation, you know what attitude to bring in to. When I go to studio, I already have a clear idea of the texture of the movement that I want to propose for the dancers/performer to improvise. 

What comes out of improvisation is how each one of them/ us turn one idea into physicality. I work on this feelings and physicality to develop situations or scenes. 

How do you choose the performer in this piece?

Chaim: I allow myself to have this freedom to have single decision in each piece. The dancers we work with are from twenty to sixty-two years old. For each single work, I see what kind of people are more suitable deliver the message I am proposing. Then we me and Roberta talk a lot about it before the final decision. Normally we invite people we already knew. Last February was our first audition because we would like to know people. There we got more than four hundred inscriptions. From them we invited 40 dancers for the audition, and we had to choose only 2 of them. 

Roberta: In this case, it was much specific because it was a piece we already showed a lot (Body Play) and we were looking for specific roles. There were beautiful dancers in the audition. But we were looking for specific skills for this particular performance. For other works, we have more freedom because Chaim is working on people. I seldom saw him marking steps by steps without improvisation. He always tries to use what the dancers have. He has an idea or an image, and he tries things. Of course, we are looking always for strong, flexible performers. And he is creating the choreography on these bodies, this person who can express the character, the topic and the messages he wants to give. That is already done. We tried to find roles who are fitting in it. He likes to work on personal skills and direct the piece in this way — open to try things with this group of people at this moment. 

What’s the potential of improvisation?

Roberta: For me, it is important to have clear tasks to research a concrete idea or message that I want to express. Improvisation is about the “moment” — is good for both performer and audience.  Of course, what you are going to deliver is always the same. How you are going to deliver is new. I really like improvisation in this way because it is also challenging. You have to be present and aware all the time. For performance based totally in improvisation, I think it is a harder work but it is more alive. It is real, it is there, it is an experience more than just showing something.

Chaim: It is just like Roberta was saying, you should be there. You are transparent. People can see who you are. That’s beautiful. It is a strong tool to deliver a message.

M.O.S.T ©Henrik Weiffenbach

How do you look at Berlin scene?

Roberta: I like Berlin is giving the freedom to show any kind of arts and cultures. You have chance to experiment and try things. You can find complete different audience who is not necessary connected to the artist and/or intellectual scene. Every kind of people are interested in art and are curious to discover new things. Personally, I love that there is possibility to show. Of course, it is not so easy. Berlin’s performing art scene is so full. But it is very active. Things are always moving and people support each other. I feel less competition and more collaboration between artists. 

Chaim: The art scene in Berlin is like a lost child. An experiment needs a clear aim from starting point to the point we want to reach. A try out in other hand in only a test of the potential of someone or something, not necessarily going somewhere. In many cases it  just becomes a scream and then it’s gone. Of course, there is a lot of things are good. I just would like to see as much artistic research as I see physical researches. 

How do you see unfinished piece?

Chaim: I think if it’s clear it is not finished, it is good because then you have a chance to try out your ideas into something physical. Because you put your idea out there to see — Is my idea / message going through? If it is going well, then I can finish. If it’s not, then I can start over again. But it should be clear it is work in progress that is not finished. 

Roberta: Like what I said before, the freedom to show is nice, but sometimes, it’s also confusing for the audience. Can be disappointing because you expect to see something else. There are a lot of situations in which people perform just to research an idea, an image or a feeling. Sometime is the beginning of something bigger that will come later, but I think it is always good to be honest with the audience and tell them when is about a work in progress or research process.

CBSW in Rabat © Chaim Gebber Open Scene

PART II: To know more

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

Chaim: As my mom used to say that the best way to give advice is to be an example.

Roberta: The advice I give myself is, if you believe in something and you give in it one hundred percent, it is impossible you would not get it. This is something I always advise —Do your best. It will come back. 

If you were an animal which would you be and why?

Chaim: I would be a dragon for two reason. Firstly, it doesn’t exist. It is a collection of ideas and wishes that people created in a shape of a dragon. Secondly, because my son is a dragon in Chinese lunar calendar.

Roberta: I like cats. Cats are independent, smart, good energy and mysterious in positive ways. Or horse. It is intelligent, sensitive, wild and free. 

Chaim Gebber in workshop © Katya Pomelova

What’s the questions in your head this week?

Chaim: How would I get an apartment in Berlin?

Roberta: What is going to happen in summer? More or less, this question comes to me when things are very open.

What’s daily ritual for you?

Roberta: Coffee. The breakfast coffee for me is very important. I normally take my time and looking to nothing through the window of my kitchen.

Chaim: For me, it is to talk with my son in the morning and in the evening.

Roberta Pupotto in workshop ©Chaim Gebber Open Scene

Any word you would like to share with our audience?

Chaim: First of all i would like to say a big THANKS for all the support our audience has giving us so far. On our workshops, classes and performances. And as well that I hope we can keep their interest in our work. 

With many thanks to Chaim Gebber & Roberta Pupotto
Chaim Gebber Open Scene website here
Photo credits/ as description below each photos
Original article in Mandarin contributing to Red Bull please see the link

Mind the Fungi walk and talk #1

I went for the first public workshop ”mind the fungi walk and talk #1” which I connected through Art labatory Berlin. Whereas I met a wonderful group of artists who showed curiosity. It was a pure play and exploration for my artist. We had been guided through forests of Berlin and Brandenburg by Artist Theresa Schubert and Institute of Biotechnology | TU Berlin, in search of tree mushrooms and lichens.

The walk begins…


{Fomes Fomentarius} is a tree mushroom which can be found growing on a dead trunk or a healthy tree.


It layout like a staircase on top of trunk. {Fomes Fomentarius} is a parasite, a decomposer and a helper.


Take a photo like this. This is the first step to create data for further exploration in the lab. Fill in the names, area and description of surrounding.


Cut off the size of three fingers. Leave some part for them to grow back.


Fascinating beetles with radian blue colours live in the trunk.


There was a city of giant dead trunk full of variety of fungi.


The wonder of forest at Birkenwerder area. Seventy percent of forest in Germany is belonged to private property. This one seems quite and nearly untouched.


Beaver had builded this amazing water bed and left to somewhere else.


{psilocybe semilanceata} known as liberty cap, is a psilocybin or “magic” mushroom that contains the psychoactive compounds psilocybin which the body breaks down to psilocin, and the alkaloid baeocystin.


These are edible mushroom which tasted great after cooking with simple butter. Another grandma dishes to share. The name of it is unidentified.


Poison {Amanita muscaria} is not recommend to eat.


This can be collected and cook with beeswax and coconut oil as a treatment of bruising.


These dishes is pre-prepared by TU lab. In these dishes sited antibacterial agent ”aga” and cut pieces of fungi. Aga is an agent that interferes with the growth and reproduction of bacteria. These agents kill or prevent bacteria by fighting against bacterial.


Experiment to form the shapes of dried mycelium and straw.


Protective inserts made of dried mycelium by ecovative, a US company specialised in harnessing the potential of fungi for packaging.


Step one – Cut eight pieces for placing in the dish.


Wash them with thirty times stronger antibacterial agent.


Place them into dish with ”aga” underneath. Close it for further steps to be continued.

Questions & Answers


What is mycelium? Fungi mycelium is often buried in the soil where it can stretches out multiple meters.


The mycelium grow in between the bark of tree and the trunk, forming a whitish network.


{Fomes Fomentarius} is what fascinated me the most among all. It produces very large polypore fruit bodies which are shaped like shells or horse’s hoof and vary in colours. The fibers of the mushroom were originally used as “tinder” for firing.

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 16.08.42

The soft materials of {Fomes Fomentarius} for textile, wound dressing and instrument making intrigue my artist’s eyes. There is a berlin-based start up zvnder manufacturing fashion items.  In Transylvania, part of Romania, fungi are traditionally used in the human medicine, handicraft, and several customs for a long time past.


{eichenwirrling} has the most beautiful pattern under the cap named Gills.

schiefer schillerporling

{schiefer schillerporling} is the materials for making chaga mushroom tea. Anja learned this from her upbringing.  Find more

Mind the Fungi is a research project of Prof. Vera Meyer and Prof. Peter Neubauer of the Institute for Biotechnology, Technische Universität Berlin and Art Laboratory Berlin.

{feature} Artist, where do we meet? – Sasha Waltz Open Studio with Rosabel Huguet and Steffen Döring

The act of listening – We sit down and listen to each other. It was after I simply wrote a letter to somewhere unknown and see what happens.

Part I

Quoted Sasha Waltz open studio, ‘’It’s all about listening to each others.‘’ Imagine you wrote a letter to a person you admired the most, and she/he wrote you back. Sasha Waltz open studio open arms to me while I requested for a interview. It is my favourite improvisation space in Berlin. Why? The diverse of movers, artists and musicians gather every month in this breathable architecture, it is a celebration. The event is free and no particular purpose at all—purely for sharing and learning from each other. This kind of meeting point is rare and precious.

My first time there was a coincidence. I was very young in exploring the body practices, a Greek Choreographer invited me to join after a day long of training in studio. Such a blast! There were more than fifty artists through out the whole night, moving in a synchro rhythm. That night was still so deep under my skin. I could feel the lift of improvisation and those gifts I received.

And we met again. For this interview, we came across the room and sat around a white round table. Her name is Rosabel Huguet and his name is Steffen Döring. They are the organisers of the open studio. The dialogue we had was regarding education, open source, network and rituals. Following up, please read the conversation we had for knowing more.

© Lena Kern | Open Studio Berlin #1
© Lena Kern | Open Studio Berlin #1

How did open studio start?

Steffen: In a way the company is in a good position with regular funding and studios that we can afford. Sasha is well known artistically. It’s always been part of her profile to open these resources she had to broader people who are not necessarily connected to the company. It’s always been very important to her. From the education side, there are workshops we are doing. The open studios is part of that philosophy somehow, to give something to the community of the dancers and artists in Berlin who are the audience as well.

Rosabel: That’s one of the core thing which is important for Sasha that the open studios is a free event. The people who comes to participate and improvise don’t have to pay for the entrance, because it puts immediately someone in position of expecting something or exclude people who are not able to afford it. The core of the open studios is based on the extreme generous philosophy of trying to open the space because it’s there and make it free for everybody.

Steffen: That’s basically the resources we had which is the studios belonged to the company that we rent through the whole year which is available 24/7. That’s our access somehow that we put into idea into the project. I have contract with the company so I am also doing other thing in the production. Rosabel are also getting paid for it. So we organise it together as part of the company. We use our resources to publish it.

Rosabel: And expand the idea. Because something that it is happening here has been almost three years. It had happened in Budapest and Amsterdam. We also have request from Israel asking if we would also do it there. This is sort of work because there is no place that people can actually just meet and share without any purpose. It is like you come and just meet and do it; ‘’You are a musician. I am a dancer. You play. I play with you.’’ This basic of doing, I think, shows us through the three years that I work in. That’s why actually we keep on doing it. That’s also reflecting a need of the social meet from the city. There is many many artists, but where are these artists meet and exchange? Well, you can meet in the premiere or classes, but where can you exchange? That’s fundamental big question. I think Sasha is also super concerned with how we exchange, how in a way we keep on sharing the knowledge and information, and keep on talking and listening with each others.

© Lena Kern | Open Studio Berlin #2.jpg
© Lena Kern | Open Studio Berlin #2

On 31st January 2015, the open studios start. It has been three years already. It seems like yesterday. It’s so important to actively create and exchange. The open studio makes itself happen. The room has sort of moving feeling. It’s amazing that it’s always something moving in this room. The light changes very much. It keeps you as well that something is going on in the room. It’s part of the concept of the architecture to keep the space open.

Steffen: That was quite crazy that we didn’t really advertise it so much. We just invented the mailing list.

Rosabel: I told a lot of people that I already knew they would be interested, asking them to invite someone would also be interested to come. That was the first way of doing it.

Steffen: We didn’t post it on Facebook or anything. But then, the first day was super crowd. Last time was again full of people.

Rosabel:We don’t have a fixed date because we keep it flexible. It allows us to have different atmosphere. Sometimes there’s more kids coming because it’s Friday and they don’t have the school the next day. So they can be. There’s all these interesting constitution of people depending on the day.

Steffen: The average ages is really wide. For example, it’s really beautiful aspect of the open studio to see the teenager dance company between 12-15 years old. They comes every time and looking forward to it. They are such good improviser because of they are doing this physical work for at least 5-6 years.

Rosabel: I think it’s really good example of what we are talking about the education. How we get our youngest to move, but not to move in doing something formal? These kids when they go on the street, they move completely differently. They are aware of the space differently. When they are in a station full of people, they know exactly what to do because they are used to confront of people, in the meanwhile feeling the space. It’s also very much feeling the philosophy of how art or movements in this sense can actually bring forward generations of new visioneers. Young people has everything to learn yet, everything to do yet. So that’s of course in the open studio when you have a fifteen years old kid, a baby on the floor, and you confront someone who has been dancing all its life, people to people together, and you face them with no words, it doesn’t matter if you know German or you are Korean. When you meet a child, you just try to listen. It’s the relation and how you communicate. For me, it’s the basis way of constructing. This happens a lot in the open studio, because it has this long way of agents. So we can feed each other and we can learn from each other, the youngest to the oldest and the oldest to the youngest. Of course, as old you get, there’s more experiences of how you move. But there’s someone completely free that you have to see. That’s also interesting to see what happens. The age ranges is very important for me.

Is there a certain ritual or guild to start the session of open studio?


Rosabel: We try to keep it simple because we don’t pretend to teach no body or to give any example of anything. Our job to host them, to make them feel comfortable, welcome, and to know if anything happen we are there. That’s why in the beginning we always do a short talk to welcome everybody. For the one who’s the first time, we just go very fast to these basis rules—we listen to each other. We respect with everybody. We start from the side and free the center. And we start. We try to do so because it’s not about us talking, it’s about ‘’us’’ talking.

Steffen: We sometimes try experiments of a structure, format or proposal. We don’t give any rules or framework. Let’s see what happens, if we filtering something to start as a proposal. Sometimes we looks for connection to what’s happening in the studio or workshop during the week.

Rosabel: For example. we would invite that artist of the workshop to define one set of structure or a score. Let’s start improvising by that and see where it lease. For instance, we cover all over the space with papers, and inviting some graffiti artists and painters to come. We invited them and everybody was on the floor. In a normal sense, you move the movement and it’s gone after a second.

© Mark – r | Open Studio Berlin #13.jpg
© Mark – r | Open Studio Berlin #13

For example, there’s another day called the cooking day. We asked an artist Pei Pei who was working a lot with the leftovers. Then, we asked every participant to bring one leftover from its fridge. So everybody brought something.  And then, he was improvising in dish as a cooker during the time we were improvising on the space with the product each one brought. Of course, this meal and the sound of pods sounds like a soundtrack. In the end, we all shared the dish. That’s also a way of improvisation. We also improvised a dish. To Steffen’s saying, to put something and to see how people react to it.

© Jefferson Sofarelli | Open Studio Berlin #6
© Jefferson Sofarelli | Open Studio Berlin #6

The first session we did in Budapest, we were improving together through skype. We put a huge TV in the studio. We went into skype, opened studio Berlin and studio Budapest, said hi to each other.Then, for two hours improving together. In the meanwhile we could see what’s happening from the other city. At certain point, it was chaos. Because here and there are different. Technically issue for example like sound quality were horrible. It was sometimes challenge. So we said goodbye at certain point. But there is an aim to really try to exchange and share. Not trying to put too much imitation, but some inputs. It’s sort of part of our time that we had to start to get used to technology. I am also not from Berlin, so I do talk a lot with my family through Skype. It’s a way of keeping in touch. So we thought why we don’t improvise with someone? It was really fun.

© Jefferson Sofarelli | Open Studio Berlin #8.jpg
© Jefferson Sofarelli | Open Studio Berlin #8

How is going with open studio in Budapest and Amsterdam?

Rosabel: Well, this year is not happening anymore. Because it’s something quite experimental. Berlin can host something like this quite easily, because the city invites these sort of exchanges with many people. People are maybe more open to it. In Amsterdam and Budapest, you need to work like some sessions, but then, the space also needed to reconsider if it’s something worth it. But the time it happened, it was indeed interesting, to realise how different the scene format can be influence by cities and other elements. That’s why it’s also great to see if we do it in Tel aviv.

There’s also another dancer and choreographer from the company for many years who is now based in Madrid, asking that he would like to do it near the canal. We sent him some info and pictures. I have a feeling it expends. I see us more like a revolver point, it’s like every time you come to Berlin you would have the open studios. The other place is more a pop-up which is happening for a while. It’s interesting and understructure.

© Silvia Boschiero | Open Studio Amsterdam #1

© Silvia Boschiero | Open Studio Amsterdam #1
© Silvia Boschiero | Open Studio Amsterdam #1

© Silvia Boschiero | Open Studio Amsterdam #2
© Silvia Boschiero | Open Studio Amsterdam #2

Steffen: It’s not an amazing invention that we created. Things like this also happened in 70’s and 80’s of New York. In the same time, when people ask us if they can also do it, I am always surprised. Of course you can do it. Anybody can do it. How can we even help you? We don’t own the idea.

Rosabel: I have a feeling that Berlin has the spirit of…after the wall fall down, a lot of places were occupied, becoming a cultural center in the end. All these places actually allow this crazy mix of people with completely different idea but still wanna share something. I think Berlin has a little bit of this essence from the history. That’s why also the open studio here works like that.

In Amsterdam, there is a huge community of improvisation. But they would never think of improvising with someone from different disciplines. How and why? This is like part of dialoguing and listening to each other, sharing and constructing something, instead of keeping ourselves in our own perception. The city invites us to open it up. It’s inspiring and happening.

I know that through the open studios many artists got to know each other. They met afterwards and did projects together. It shows how interesting to meet by doing. For example, someone is looking for a dancer. How I know there is connection or no connection? Of course, you go to place like that you do immediately feel if or not. I know a lot also happen there because of this openness. It works because of people are coming and feeling welcome.

A long collaborator of the company, Yoshiko Chuma who is specialist in improvisation. She is one the figure who start in 80’s New York. She opened one open studio with one score. After awhile the session was going on, it got wild. It almost seems like sort of a group therapy. So I approached her saying, ‘what do you think? It’s chaos that nobody is listening to nobody.’ She said, ‘first, don’t say nobody is listening to nobody. Because it’s not true. Nobody is hurt here and nobody is rushing against the wall or each other. So they are listening to each other but just not the way you are expected. They are listing to each other. Second, it get wild because it is what is needed to go through for finding something else.’ She was very much into don’t judge it.  That was a very nice thing to do.

© Roger Rossell | Open Studio Berlin #5.jpg
© Roger Rossell | Open Studio Berlin #5

A three years old has different way of listening than a eighty years old.

Steffen: To see people are independent the whole evening without any interaction, yet if you think about this person, surely there’s interaction which is what happened on this person depended on the group surrounding.  The other people who are constantly with others, always be involved from one person to the other is the same as the person who are independent.

Rosabel: We try to offer bouncing and reflecting who is needed. This is also something which is important to create the online archive where all the things are generated arrive here somehow. It is something we are all doing together. Everybody can go there to look at the drawing or recording to reflect on it, and keep the conversation alive. It is very generous that the photographers and painters would pass and scan the pictures. It all takes time to do so. We don’t force them to do it, they only do it out of spirit of sharing.

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Is there challenging situation during the open studio happening?

Steffen: Sometimes I am worried about the people who is going really crazy, but there is nothing you can do. Nobody really got kicked or hurt. It’s really incredible. I think it is going really smooth. I sometimes worry that there’s no musicians come, because it’s important that the music is there. I think it only happened one time. Somehow the room created its own rhythm. With the music there’s a clear framework. It is so open but somehow everyone is respectful.

Rosabel: When it gets late, the place get dark. But no one steal things on the back sneaky.

Any word you would like to share with our audience?

Steffen: Message has to be meaningful…?

Rosabel: Share and listen. It’s sort of the motto of the open studios which is to keep on open channel instead of closing them.

Part II

Now comes in some personal story telling. It’s not necessary directly relating to the open studio itself but more personal aspect of how things happened. I am always curious about how different characters get involved into a certain degree, and they are having fun with what they do everyday. Here are some questions I request as follows.

How did you become a part of open studio and Sasha Waltz & Guests?

Steffen: I was still a student in Berlin in the 90’s. The year was 1998. I saw one piece from Sasha Waltz which was called ‘’Na Zemlje’’. It was sort of the last performance in Sophiensæle. She did it with a group of Russians actors/performers who is kind of grampy, musical and humorous. I was sitting in the audience thinking ‘‘oh my god I have never seen any like this.’’ I love it. I wrote her saying, ‘’I want to know how she do it and what’s going on. I would love to be part of process sometimes.’’ Somehow it was a good timing. We met and talk. She said yes it would be nice to have you. I was there assisting her in that transformative period, moving from Sophiensæle to Schaubühne. I wonder how this kind of letter turned out successful which is writing a letter into nowhere. I feel like I was really lucky with right time, right place and right kind of thing.

This was one of the first thing. Then, I moved to England for studying dance. I worked as choreographer that I did my own work. In 2004, I wanted to come back to Berlin. Again, the situation was good. Sasha Waltz’s company expended a little bit. So she said, ‘’yes, come back. I need an assistant again. It would be good if you do this.’’

Rosabel: He does it amazingly. It is not a easy job.

Steffen: Sasha is great. I think in term of artist she is one of the most sane and ground people I can imagine. This makes work with her very easy in a way. It is the peak of organisation, there is a lot of people so it’s the challenge of it. We tour a lot and I am always traveling. I only have one time having sushi in Japan. But there is so much stuff to experience. As a dancer and performer, it’s part of the past. So in the open studio I am not in the improvisation anymore.

Rosabel: I moved to Berlin in 2012 from Barcelona, Spain. I was just finished my study in the university there. I knew the work of Sasha because I was studying it in the university. We had the great respect of European theater artists. That’s why I choose Berlin, not because of Sasha but it’s great to be in the incubator of the amazing artists. When I moved here. I have been working with several people in the different projects. Then, I got to work in Schaubühne. There I got to work with a choreographer who is actually working in the company years ago. He told me sometimes they do workshops there. You can write Steffen for this. Then, I asked him for the workshops. It was a workshop about improvisation. I did it. Sasha was there some days as well. It was all about improvisation. The group and atmosphere was so great. That was so nice and a lot of things happened. In the end of the session, there was a small showing. At the showing I remembered we including Sasha were saying it would be so great that we have an improvisation session here in the house. We are full and we are busy, so when and where and how? I remembered that it happened to me as same as Steffen’s letter. I purpose a concrete plan for the company. I remembered Sasha said this is the dream I always had since I had been in New York and doing it myself. So it was not a completely new idea for her to be requested. It was sort of out of contact although she has been inviting someone and group of people to improvise.

Steffen: I think it probably trigger something to hear from the dance community expressing the real need and wish for it. I think that triggered something.

Rosabel: It was a wish already there. It was maybe the right moment to try it. It’s somehow how I got to do it with Steffen. It’s been wonderful. Personally, I need this exchange as well as a person. This is what I wish for myself to be able to be in a space and improvise with people. That’s ideal.

What’s a daily ritual for you?

Steffen: It’s really an interesting question because I do not have rituals. As soon as I need to do something, part of I brush my teeth and have breakfast everyday. Because often times it’s proposing my characters somehow. My life has no routines; two weeks I would be in the office, and another two weeks I would be on tour. Then, I have two months of being in this building everyday. So somehow, if I have rituals, I could not do my job. I would be really unhappy.

Rosabel: It’s exactly the same for me. I am two weeks in Berlin, this Saturday I am going to Australia, five days ago I was in France. I change completely space-wise throughout the year. I learn to be flexible enough to not have too extreme routines which it would be distracting if I don’t do that. Of course, hygiene and coffee in the morning. But I try to not attach too much with those things. Because our life is not for that. It’s actually being flexible.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

Rosabel: I have a lot of good advices from many people in many moments of my life. It sounds a little bit of romantic, but I guess it is ‘’follow what you believe and what you want to do. Don’t limitation with what you think.You can do it.’’ It came from the fact that nobody in my family is into arts, and I wanted to do arts. I left and it works.

Steffen: What I like is some kind of philosophy which is ‘’pretending to be stupid would save you fifteen minutes of work.’ It means don’t jump. Just digest, observe and try to understand. Maybe by then, the problem had been solved. If not, you go for it. Often it happens surely in arts when you are working with people are very close to their emotions and feelings. It comes out very quickly. You need to filter it somehow and try to stay calm and try.

What’s the questions in your head this week?

Steffen: It’s regard the projects which we want to do for next half year. There’s a lot of think about what’s the final thing.

Rosabel: I am doing this workshop. My question this week is about gathering and expanding. We are doing this all day long. So the big question for me is how to get into the floor and out of the floor. Because I am going into the floor and out of the floor at least five hundred times a day.

Yin: The dialogue between three of us ended for now. The openness and encouragement are still echoing inside of me. I feel incredibly grateful for how it went. Thank you Rosabel, thank you Steffen. It was a great pleasure.

With many thanks to Rosabel Huguet and Steffen Döring
Please see open studio’s online archive here
Photos credits/ Please see the descriptions of each photo. Cover photo by Roger Rossell photographed Open Studio Berlin #4
Original article in Mandarin contributing to Red Bull please see the link

Christina Boixiere-The story behind the born of La Voyageusethe


This is a story about a woman and many others. I would begin my thoughts with my encounter with Christina Boixiere who is the founder of ‘La Voyageuse’—the first trusted platform that connects solo female travelers with local women hosts from around the world. She’s my family which is not blood. I see her as an extremely wise woman and someone who dares to dream and do.

I used to stay in my grandmother’s house during the summer with my little sister. This women, my mother’s mother, was a generation of experiencing the colonization and living their life through post-colonization in Taiwan. She spoke and talked as a person who had no space to question authority. Everything is about punishment and reward in her behaviors. Those childhood memories were rather hard to revisit, as it is not a simple setting for a child to understand the dynamic in their complex relationships; I was paralyzed in the face of no self-love, confidence, and innocence of being a child.

Despite all these factors from the environment which is haunted by the ghosts of our past—family, culture, education, and society, I was lucky enough to have met my neighbour—a figure who has influenced and inspired me from any kind of aspect until now. I had inquired her many times about friendship, responsibilities, love, emotions, and one’s abilities to live a happy, meaningful life. Of course, I remember one of the messages she had shared, right before she moved to Bordeaux, saying ‘if not now, when?’ Our lives are so brief, yet we have all the potential to discover, explore and live it as a tree blossom in Spring. I believe there’s always a choice for a better life through listening to each other, accepting, sharing and loving who we are. It’s true to me that we are blissful to be part of our time.

Although Christina and I have been apart for many years, she is so alive in my heart that I kept remembering her encouragement and love. During a psychedelic trip with my partner, I suddenly realized a puzzle in the past; she inspired me to immerse myself into foreign languages, travel solely, while her current husband intrigued me to tell stories. Both of them showed me the essence and unexpected nature of love through their love story. They are free birds to me at that moment.

It was truly powerful to see people with open minds and loving energy. I start to act. I couldn’t hold myself sitting on a haunted island anymore. At this point, I moved to Tokyo out of short notice to my family. I just need to go—This action reshaped everything from the core. I forgot about the past, future and all the perception I had perceived. It doesn’t matter. I am now. I need to feel alive. I need to listen to my heart, dancing, singing and expressing myself honestly as I wish.

Finally, I arrived Berlin two years ago. It’s like home. I reunion with my true self and twin flame. I have never felt so grateful, loved, accepted and free as who I was, who I am, and who I would be. Life is grace as it is.

I feel a sense of gratitude toward her—my childhood hero, Christina. I feel it’s time to share her story because I believe there might be someone out there who would get influenced by this amazing women.

Human being’s nature—adventurous

Christina moved to Bordeaux, France in 2015, two years after her MBA student life in London when she met her current husband in Marseille. I met both of them briefly during my short stay in Taiwan. They just decided to settle in Bordeaux—a safe, clean and vibrant city which is close to the ocean with perfect size. What could one ask more? Next time I heard about her, she is doing ‘La Voyageuse’ for a while. The moment we reconnected online was overwhelming.

Inspired by her first solo travel to Thailand when she was eighteen, she has been traveled to over thirty countries solo. You can call her a ‘solo female traveler’. Of course, everyone needs some courage to take the first step and try. But it is worth it— ‘traveling solo is the best way to meet people. It is exciting and fun as you never know what will happen to you whilst you travel alone,’ Christina said. All of these experience open your heart. It was tremendous transformation if I recalled mine.

As I am aware of, from our cultural and educational background, we do not encourage our youths, especially for girls to go far. Why and how? How do we break out from this?… I say, ‘The only way to do it is to do it.’ We no longer need to wait for the perfect moment, enough saving or proper plans for study or work.

Homepage of La voyageuse

Safety network—meet the local guardian angels

La Voyageuse shares a similar dream a lot of us have—traveling around the world and meeting local hosts from around the world. I interpreted as a global community which networking traveler who do not identify themselves with one single tribe. It takes effort, practice, and trust. Speaking of actions, she offers the crucial solution for the most challenging part of all which is safety.

Christina has been traveling solo since the age of eighteen. She loves staying with locals as she believes this is the best way to experience local culture and to understand local customs, therefore she was using Couchsurfing to find hosts for most of her travels. However, as many of other women have faced, she encountered some really bad experiences while staying with local hosts, in some cases, she was harassed by some of the male hosts. She felt injustice within her, she wishes that all women could be able to travel to places where men could, without feeling scared.

She had the idea to create a safe platform between women with a strict process of profile verifications. From the market research she has done, to her surprise, there hasn’t been yet any solution like that which focuses on safety. Unlike the existing home-sharing platforms which are like AirBnB for women only, she proposes ‘La Voyageuse’—Their hosts don’t make money from hosting their travelers, they do it because they are looking for authentic experience while feeling safe. These people are the vulnerable ones who need to be reassured, and that’s why they call these hosts ‘guardian angels’.

Having said that, they do not exclude men, on the contrary, women living with others, be it their husband, brother, father, male friends…and so on, are extremely welcome! Honestly, It sounds like the most promising platform I could imagine to use as a solo female traveler myself. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘I have a dream…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’…Isn’t it true that we shall listen to each other, instead of turning away from those who have needs to be heard? 

If you’re interested in learning more about what makes La Voyageuse the safer platform, you can check out:

It’s not a one-man show to make this dream happen. Christina has an amazing team of five people including herself and her current husband. ‘They are motivated, young, dynamic and believe in La Voyageuse,’ she said. ‘oh, and they are all solo travelers!’ Support by her other half, Christina overcame her stage freight and gain self-confidence in public speaking, they had won two prizes during the Startup Weekend in Bordeaux where people were amazed by their pitches.

That is a living proof of the fact that today’s women are stronger than ever. We want to create something bigger than oneself. We want to continue the dialogue between different sex without perceiving judgment. ‘Taiwanese culture teaches us to stay humble, and to work without questioning authority at work,’ Christina reflected. ‘Here in France, people are encouraged to give criticism, to disagree, and to challenge authorities. Being a Taiwanese in France, I’m still learning to find the perfect balance;  I can see some progress in me.’

I admired her courage and strength to find her own way. ‘if you ever want to feel free, better and stronger, go traveling solo,’ she said. ‘It’s really the best way for me. Traveling solo has not only made me who I am today, it has helped my healing process when I hit the rock bottom of my life. It enriches me and gives me a new way of looking at things and people around me. If you are still scared, hopefully with La Voyageuse, you will be able to make that step forward!’ That was a solid message from her that she would like to share with you all.

Are you ready? Before you hit the road, here are the practical tips for preparing your travel regardless it’s solo or not. I hope her story would inspires some of you in some ways. I encourage you to find your own destination, break out of your comfort zone, and live in the present moment. 

Christina Boixiere did a skydiving

Tips for planning solo travel— first of all, respect local culture when you travel

  • Research on the local customs and culture, knowing ‘’do’s and don’ts’’.
  • Look for Safety tips and blogs, articles and websites that offer ‘’off the beaten road’’ tips.
  • Make a simple list of what to visit and activities one would do.
  • Download useful apps, such as local off-line maps, useful phrases in local languages, weather, local tour guides, local event calendar…and so on.
  • Note down local emergency numbers and local Embassy number of one’s nationalities.
  • Look for local music and films to put oneself in the mood.
  • Prepare the bag ahead for making sure one pack the essentials.
  • Create a personalized itinerary with flight & accommodation information, contact number/ address, and websites, and save it to one’s mobile phone.

With many thanks to Christina Boixiere
photo credits/Christina Boixiere
The homepage of La Voyageuse please see the link

{feature} 27 dance monkeys’ free playground – Be van Vark & Sven Seeger

Her house was located in the backyard of a typical Neukölln building for the residents. As I was invited to visit, Be van Vark opened the door asking me if I would like a tea. There it was, surprisingly, a concreted pumpkin standing in the backyard. You can have a 360 degrees view of the garden from the big windows inside. She dressed casual, matching quite well with her long hair tiebacks. It all felt very familiar. I stood around the kitchen with a dormer roof. She said it all starts in 1996 when she started working in Schlesische 27. I was delighted to hear the story unfolding itself in that way. Be van Vark was one of the founders of 27 dance monkeys together with Sven Seeger. They started it in an organic way without a name. She continued, ‘’Schlesische 27 is an international youth, art and culture house. It has always been the same: networks and people.”

While she continued to share more about their history, Anna Katalin Nemeth and Julek Kreutzer came into the room with the Turkish dessert. They are the younger generation who help organize the projects. Together, they offer a space to play and create with one another. They found the name ‘27 dance monkeys’ in a bar later on. It showed how important to give it a name that it has been existence. Without a name, they did one project after another. It didn’t have this kind of commitment.

The discussion between four women including me turned into an enthusiastic dialogue. I hope I could warp up those amazing memories they shared with me, but it took so much energy of me. I decided to let my artist write instead of myself. It is very simple. They did amazing things with community. And this is an short introduction of what they do.

Roter Flohmarkt

Bringing people from different ages, background, and styles to merge inside the framework of dance & theater work. It was all about meeting at the moment, doing something together.

What is 27 dance monkeys?

27 dance monkeys have been funding by the government- The Senate Chancellery, the center for funding programmes which has different cultural projects running from different programs. We only have basic funding from the government. Then we find other funding commentary for each project.  

At the moment, the some money comes from a school. Basically, every school in Germany can use three percents of their budget for anything they want. A lot of schools use it for artist’s projects. The school who funds us wants their students to integrate with fantastic monkeys people. Some of them are already there. Last year, the project black mountain was fund by cultural education Kulturprojekte Berlin in Berlin. The thing is, we always have to look because the funding is coming from different places to see what is there. Sometimes we are a part of a big project . One of the strength is we are open, adapting to new situations and projects. For example, it’s our first time letting something like Tensegrity Lab over a period of time. It was a project that one of us came up with the idea that everyone jumped on later on. All of us can think of that under that root. With the strength, I would also consider it’s so open to people that everybody can join. It is really working against the biggest problem of our society-”education”. We had the whole world joining us, such as students, refugees, teachers, dancers, non-dancers or people who come for the first time. It is what I like. It’s great all these people grow together.

What is the most challenging situation at the outset of the process?

Continuity or the openness of the project. There were no rules of joining. You don’t have to pay, you can come whenever. If you come, we would do the best. We are always there for you. This fact- always be able to offer means it’s challenging all the time. If someone drops it at the last moment, it’s fine. We have different people coming in and out; it seems like people are more committed to things that they have to pay. It’s such a tragedy. Togetherness, we find an art project together, and, people think they are not paying. Obviously, it’s not everybody.

This is the education side of it. There’s an interesting thing in this project now that we start with the new generation to teach, be there and let people know us. There are some of the people don’t understand what they have because of the system which they grow up with. They were like ‘It’s no value because I don’t pay for it.’ There are some friends think about this training as ‘I don’t know, maybe I come, maybe not. It’s interesting, but it’s not a prestige.’ Because it’s not in Marameo or you are not paying three hundred euro for it. It’s a thing you learn to understand.

What if we make another circumstance with another project we say to people that you have to write me a motivation letter and CV for participation? Sometimes, it’s easier to get people. Maybe it’s something about people wanna be selected, but it’s really deep in our society. It’s open source. It’s the challenging part to change the value; For being a teacher, it’s also challenging to deal with this. There are people who have the same kind of understanding. Such as ‘it’s my decision to decide what is valuable or not.’ Do we really communicate this by words, openly talking about this now? Or you rather keep back waiting for the other person to discover it by oneself. We choose to do the second. Still, it’s a challenging process to see your own creation. It’s way to grow for us.

How does the creating process go in the project?

In dance monkeys, there’s no such thing as a failure. You can just go, play, and search, which is the beauty of it. There is always an outcome, but there’s no high expectation. You make your own rules with the monkeys. Most of the time, you decide the performance gonna be then and there. It’s an experimental, political playground.

Be:I have inspirations from everything, but Ballhaus has been my main resources of inspiration. It has been so much time involved. They have been really inspirational for me in any kind of aspects. Not only the architecture, design or performance aspect. It’s everything. It’s the philosophy of how people work together, how the thing can be nonhierarchical. In the work to build something in different ways of interacting with one another which is quite flat in the hierarchy. Still, find out how much hierarchy it needs to be.  I have really decided the long time ago that my art is not independent of the society. Therefore my art is always more political. This is the things I am looking for. This is the things we have been doing together.

Kreuz Mountain College   Reenactment „theatre piece no.1“

What is Tänzer ohne Grenzen about?

It’s the same kind of the structure, bring professionals to nonprofessionals. In 2011, we found our NGO. It’s really like our baby growing slowly. We did projects ever since then. It’s something that everybody is evenly involved. Everyone finds their own parts in it. The main thing is not just us. We have a session that we offer our structure and how we function to apply for funding and realising projects. It’s a very special thing to offer. We offer our blueprint to people who are not so experienced, enabling them to work in this structure and find the funding. We always come back to help now and then, having a look at what they do. It’s also good for people to find connections with one another. For example, one of the TOG people connects with the other TOG person to do a project. The project doesn’t have to be us. It’s just there to offer the structure. It’s important.

What is the Blueprint?

The discussion for us is like how can we open up ‘Tänzer ohne Grenzen’. How can we actually make it available for other people to organize things? How it works is basically we come up with an idea like ‘I would like to do this musical in a football club that only with girls and with a clown’. You come up with some idea, finding out what you need to do for this to be realized. In this example, you need to find a clown, football club. You also need to decide what kind of music you want to do, who are people I want to work with. You figure this out by yourself. Then you approach us, saying ‘this is my idea. Are you interested?’ Besides, Tänzer ohne Grenzen has always offered project which is in a context with the society. It’s about social and caring. It offers an opportunity to someone who feels alone to deal with this big thing. They can somehow approach us for some supports. It’s also something valuable to go through an artistic process. It makes you learn a lot. You can point to things, such as how do you relate or respect each other, how do you create or build up things together. There is a lot of knowledge that it’s another part of our society/working field. For instance, we work a lot with youngsters in the school. It’s such a big drama to go through school. You can settle a lot of seeds in the field during the process.

How do work together? How can this system be accessible to people? How can structure and hierarchy establish themselves over the time? How can we break them apart and restructure them?

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

Be: Take a break.
Julek: Stay wise and soft.
Anna: I just wanna have fun. For me it’s a sentence I remember somehow. It’s great you are doing it, but you should not forget it. Because it’s you every day twenty-four hours, you should enjoy that.

What’s the question you had this week?

Be: When do I gonna have the break? Honestly, if this going to be good? This is normal. Every time you create something, it is always the point of doubt. It never changes. I have never had one project without the doubt. I think it’s a good emotion.
Anna: Is it me or is it them? It’s related to many things, work or personal life. It’s the relations with your behaviors.
Julek: Do I get stuck with the thinking pattern or is the thinking pattern still actual? It’s like the question of how to think of your experiences and imaginations.

Be like the music to be composed for her work and her preferred composer to work with is Alexandre Decoupigny from Psycho and Plastic. 

Any word you would like to share with our audience?

Be: There’s a sentence from someone else describing very well with my artistic and in private life. That is: ’ To empower people to take the decision is the core of democracy. I think it’s so fantastic. It’s political beautiful in the education. It is something that stirs me.
Anna: She just ate a heart of a horse?
Julek: Experiences are concrete.

For more videos of their projects please see the link. For further information, please see their websites: Tänzer ohne Grenzen, Be’s current projects, and 27 dance monkeys

With many thanks to Be van Vark, Anna Katalin Nemeth, and Julek Kreutzer
Photos credits/ 27 dance monkeys
Original article in Mandarin contributing to Red Bull please see the link

The born of Berlin Circus Festival – Josa Kölbel & John Hilliger

I met Kölbel and Hilliger at the Asian restaurant beside the theatre. They dress similar colors, sitting right across me. They are both German and the founder of Berlin Circus Festival; Josa Kölbel studied in Circus art and performance arts in France as a trapeze catcher; John Hilliger’s background is event management. They met each other back in the school. They always would like to do something together. During the period of working, Kölbel got an injury. They decided to start the organization of the festival. It was 2015.

The creating process is: Kölbel works more into the artistic direction, creating the program. It’s more about organizing and planning aspect. Hilliger works all the other aspect of creating the event, such as communication. They bounce them off each other consistently, deciding how they speak to the public visually. It’s quickly clear what’s working and what’s not. When comes to the aspect which is not so clear, then it takes lots of time or even creates conflict. In the end, they know this is an idea worth following. Because there’s needs and will to fight for it.

Slimane Brahimi2
Josa Kölbelz & John Hilliger ©Slimane Brahimi

The first circus festival in Germany

There are different things came together. One is there’s no circus festival in Berlin and Germany, dedicating to this special art form. There’s no platform or possibilities to present this art form. We want to on one hand create a platform, on the other hand, being able to see those shows easily here. We want to see them, show them and share the experiences in Berlin. From the practical aspect, our two experts came together and fit perfectly. We are as a team adapting to each other. We saw the free space to do it. There are not many festivals in performance arts which are outside, summer and ten days long. That’s the point Berlin Circus Festival start.

We were pretty surprised when we realized there’s still space. When people heard about it, many people said they had had this idea for many years. In the end, it’s was clear you need a lot of energy for making it happen. You really need to invest energy to move things forward. On the other hand, many people expressed that they don’t think it’s gonna work. It’s normal to hear this feedback when you just start a new festival.

It went quite fast when we decided to do this festival. It takes like a couple of months to make it happen. Everything we did for the first year was quite new in any case for both of us. We figured it out including the whole communication. It was the first time doing program involved with so many people at once and taking care of them. We are a small team, so it’s lots of talking. In general, we do have kind of the same idea about how the festival should look like. It’s about bouncing off, really cooking with things until it becomes dense with a clear core. This core is the starting point which goes into the festival, manifesting itself. At this point, we start to invite other people engaging in the working process. We exchange with other people about the look, design, and set-up from then on. This concept develops through the years. We learn how to design a few boundaries, letting go the rest and trust. As a team of the festival, it’s two of us most of the time. Other members are such as designer, technician, and stage manager. It grows to maximum fifty people plus the artists in our team if we count the people being active in one day. We always try to develop by asking questions afterward. It’s not always easy to work with feedback. It’s hard at the beginning which is turning out super good.

The experience was quite strong during the second and third year. Where after the second year, we didn’t have any funding, which is a big step from our previous editions. We had to realize the necessity to make a big step. From the first to the second edition, we came from having space with all equipment to building everything ourselves. Besides, we have more than two thousand spectators. In order to adapt to the new situation, we double our spectrum, adding six more tents and shows from the second year. The change was needed to happen. At this moment. We know we need to fight hard to make the third edition somehow. The feedback was rough, giving us a very insight to make small changes. Those changes allowed us to guide the whole team, creating the familiar atmosphere for the public. That makes the public to see the space as a community. The change was: communication, trust, and faith. Of course, it was about the experiences as well. The best part is to see the festival realized. When space is nothing fixed, it allows you to change. It’s also helpful for everyone to participate in a way. Many audiences are curious to discover Tempelhof- a place full of the histories. Space is open, making the exchanging space as one of the aspects to keep in mind. If people find the space, feeling themselves safe and covered, then it creates an even stronger exchange at that moment.

What is the contemporary circus?

It’s like a process. It comes from trying to get away from the tradition as far as possible. At one point you realize it’s just about reflecting what you are doing, putting it into contact with other art forms, disciplines, the circus itself and the place. For us, the contemporary circus is an extremely open term. If we see something might be the contemporary circus, although no one could recognize it, we know it is the circus. Because no other discipline could do that kind of performance. Of course, we always need to think about the circumstances. For our festival, we create the maximum freedom for ourselves. So to speak, it’s not just about the tricks, but the discipline. We create the space for any kind of potentials to happen. We offer a broad range of different shows for the audience to rediscover circus from different points of view.

For example, artist Jörg Müller was turning ‘momentum’ in the water. It makes the click when you know the performer has the circus background. It makes sense.

There was a really special moment in the first edition. It was three Scandinavian women who performed at the last show. Their show was quite feministic and political, not easily accessible. It was cold outside. Despite that, we saw the audience was so responsive, giving so many energy to the performance. That was the first time we realize we could actually speak to the wider audience. You need to believe in the audience that they would grab the message you try to deliver. The audience wants to see the experimental performances. They want to be challenged.

Inspirationally, one of the companies who were close to us from the beginning is ‘Cirk La Putyka’ company. With their energy of creating things, inventing new formats, losing fixed ideas and going different ways, I think we have received quite a lot of inspirations and energy from them. They were the first show that we programmed as well. Their spirits are ‘just do it’. They arrive, play and show. They made things happen in a very little amount of time magically. It feels like every year the community is growing out the zone of people we know. Our circle of friends is also growing who inspires us in all the different way. We are open to see how other festivals do things, how we can adapt or change. Artists who came are often coming back again. From the funding perspectives, we are one of the few festivals offer over fifty percent of our funding to artists who participate. We have a lot of volunteers to work over hours. Everyone stay to make this happen. In the end, everybody goes, you realize what you do there is not for the money but for everything else- friends, experiences, pleasure, fun, food and all of it. This is more than a job. This is a real encounter.

The audience, artists and the community

You don’t necessarily need the audience in the creating process. You can melt something together to build the art piece that it’s going to be finished, then you bring it out to the audience. But it’s something alive. It’s not something written on the stone. It would change through times. It would change during the performance. It would get richer because of the different reactions, different attention to details. Somebody would see something most of the artists would not even realize. It is the process happens when the show performing a hundred times. Only after one hundred times you start getting to know the show better; It does have its own lives. The exchange with the audience is necessary. It’s not fun to play one hundred times without them.

You need the audience to see where you can go deeper, add comedy aspect more or put more energy. For example, the tents we have makes the audience sit really close to the people on the stage. What happens is, unconsciously both side of audience exchange their experiences with the people on the other side. They live the same experience. It builds attention and strong energy in the tent. It makes all the people going out of tent hype from the experience. They had seen something with this collective energy. It’s very different from the traditional theatre setting which is you can easily think you are the only one sitting in the audience; In the tent, you can’t.

We created the exchange between artists and audience spontaneously. Sometimes it happens right on the stage. The artists don’t want to go changing. They sit down, have a Q&A with the audience. For the audience, it’s really good, because they get an insight which is lives. That explains another definition of the contemporary circus: community. It is something very special and specific. When you get deeper into this community, you realize you can go any place seeing someone you know. You can meet and exchange with people everywhere. For example, a Taiwanese festival visited our festival in the last edition. It is a big community around the world. They came here to see what’s happening here and we would also want to go over visiting. For the audience, it’s a great place to understand the creating process. They would hear most of the productions takes one and a half year to establish or the creation takes four to six months.

The size of the community in Berlin is not too small, but it’s always moving. Even if the active artists who are based here, eighty percent of them are working somewhere else. It’s very international. There is only two circus school in Germany, plus a third one just starting. There was a center of joggling, now being rebuilt as a residency. There is a festival showing circus now. On the other hand, the active performing part is relatively small because you don’t have so many opportunities to perform in Berlin.

Norvegian Ninjas 2 - Slimane Brahimi
Norvegian Ninjas ©Slimane Brahimi

What’s going on with your project ‘Die Originale’ collaborating with Berliner Festspiele?

Actually, It’s a completely different project. We have two tasks; First, we work here as curators for circus house, in general, is been asked questions from the director. Second, it’s a festival we create which is gonna happen in April. It is an interdisciplinary researching program around the contemporary circus. We try to inject the idea of the circus which is taking the risk, emerging different art forms. We invite artists to come together, meet and exchange within a week. They would create something which is oriented to the process and intuition without going too much into the imagination. Because they have to go. They have one week to present something. What they present doesn’t have any standard to be perfect. It doesn’t need to be finished or anything. It’s the tail of their experiences, having the dialogue with their audience. The concept is to create the space for researching, then sharing the research with the public, whatever it might be. It’s hard to know there’s no finished product to tell the public beforehand. No one knows what’s gonna happen. You have to let go of the expectations and be open about it.

How do you perceive the future of what you do and the development of the circus in Berlin?

We can only say what we saw from the last year. There’s a lot of space for development which is gonna happen. This year, the festival has three tents. We open up the program to show more different things. We hope the audience would come having fun. I have no idea how big the festival can be in five to ten years, but we do have an arrangement for maximum size to keep the feeling together. There’s a lot of happening right now. We try to make everything denser including the place, program and the language of the festival. Therefore, people can walk around and discover something interesting at every corner; performers would have more energy to create new things.

For example, it’s the first time our art project was being financially supported, which is created in Berlin. They would be shown at the festival. It’s great to support the work performers created. Compared to last year’s one German performance, this year we have four to five German performances. We try to develop the stage dedicating to the performances that are worth showing. We keep the quality, creating the formats that are more open, such as ‘meet the artists’ from last year. We gave the space to the artists presenting themselves for an hour. They have total liberty to do what they want. We just told them, ‘we would like you to create a moment for the audience to exchange with you and get to know you.’ It’s for the small audience. But it’s a real moment of encounter.

Any word you would like to share with our audience?

We love to have people from all over the world. we are lucky to have international audience and artists to join our festival. Start with the idea, doing things that haven’t been done before. Follow your ideas and dreams.

With many thanks to Berlin Circus Festival, Josa Kölbel & John Hilliger
For more information about Berlin Circus Festival please see the link.
Original article in Mandarin contributing to Red Bull please see the link.