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

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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


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