Dasniya Sommer: The Männy

Something Dasniya Sommer has been working on for an age and I really wanted to see her première (thanks poverty): The Männy at Staatstheater Hannover. Really, she’s gone to another realm of hectic with her rope work.


My fourth site to lurch livewards for the month, and the one longest coming. Thomas and I started working on this in late-2011, got mostly finished, took a long pause while he added quite a few projects in-between doing also quite a few projects, and we came back to it about a month ago and decided that we could wait forever or just arrive now.

In the last three days, I’ve done what is becoming a regular approach to the last bit before a site ceases to lurk and becomes public, which is to go through everything and make all the code coherent, add in anything new that has become standard, remove old stuff, and then completely strip the CSS before rebuilding it one section at a time. This last act usually removes a staggering amount of lines, gets rid of tiny weird problems, and generally smooths everything out so it’s not a couple of thousand lines of not really connected styles. It’s pretty methodical, like digging the garden, and fits my mania for as much cleaning up as possible.

And in eighteen months, that’s like a couple of decades in real life, so there was masses to change. One sad thing was the departure of WPAlchemy, which I’d been using as my always-use code for custom fields. It’s just not being developed as much as it used to, and the absence of repeating fields is something I can’t work with. So obviously I swapped the entire site over to Advanced Custom Fields (more digging of garden), which I feel vaguely confident will still be here in another two years. It’s actually brilliant and I can’t imagine doing a project without it.

Another big change was the rolling into Core of MediaElement.js, my favourite audio and video player (when I’m not using FlowPlayer, which doesn’t support audio anyway), which meant removing all my stuff that I’d set up to use this, and hooking into the core for all of Thomas’ audio and video — of which there is masses.

So, what else? Typography is using exlijbris’ Delicious family, which I find beautiful either for body or headlines; the M+ M Type 1 monospace, not sure when I discovered this, but it’s a very nice monospace; and a couple of occurrences of Genericons, which I find pretty useful for the slew of times icons are needed.

When I first began Thomas’ site, I was using jQuery to make images greyscale and then go colour on hover, which for some browsers (*cough*Safari) was mostly painful. Lucky in the intervening months pure CSS greyscale has become common enough to use, and it’s very nice (except in Firefox, which doesn’t animate the transition).

And then there’s all the loops for the individual projects pages, which hide sections if there’s no content (easy with ACF), and with the check of a box shift them around according to how wide the upper and lower rows (I call them ‘rooms’ …”Upper Room” harhar) are.

That’s about it. When I started it, I wasn’t doing any responsive design, and in the months since it’s become something I don’t even think about, it’s just part of the process, which means I suspect on some devices this site isn’t going to be so coherent. Maybe something to organise later, as making the horizontal layout collapse for smaller screens is fairly simple.

Fourth site for the month, then. The beautiful musician, composer, friend of dancers and choreographers who I really don’t see enough of (too much working to be hanging around in Berlin, where he doesn’t live anyway), Thomas Jeker now has a website where you can see what he’s been doing for the last several years, listen to his work and watch videos. I’d probably take an hour or so just to wander around:


Back in Berlin with the usual pouring-of-day-down-toilet that is economy airlines. Really, I’d get the train everywhere if Deutsche Bahn (and others) weren’t so scandalously overpriced. I’d get work done for a start, and Brussels to Berlin is only a couple of hours longer by train door-to-door than the ‘1 hour’ flight (for values of ‘1 hour’ that include 2.5 hours check-in and .5 ‘waiting for suitcase’).

So! Tilburg, Daniel, ADT. Brussels, Hans, Anuschka, Mokka coffee, piadina at the market (twice!). No shopping in Antwerpen because despite being a 40min drive from Tilburg, it’s 90+ minutes on the train, and I just wanted to get back to Brussels.

Last time I was in Brussels, Hans was just building his new studio in Workspace Renold (wow was really middle of last year I was last there). This time, it’s finished and it’s dead cozy, wood-fired heaters and all. The pictures don’t do it any justice; it’s much bigger (I’m standing about half-way along the length) and is charming – with a lot of natural light even for such small windows. I saw Hans and Anuschka … not enough! but at least four times, and as always become very tempted to make the move over to Brussels.

Anuschka asked me why I don’t write more, which reminded me, I’ve been working on a science-fiction(-ish) novel for the past year, and hit a god-almighty 13,000 words (at this rate will take me another decade before a rough draft is finished). I’d not touched it for a few months, and felt well-inspired, so bashed out / am bashing out several more scenes. Having never written a novel, and never got past a couple of thousand words on any previous attempt, I have no idea what I’m doing, so am proceeding by writing in the hopes it will become clear.

And now returned to Wedding, properly seeing Dasniya (compulsory lazytime), some rehearsing this morning (strange and glorious to get up at 8am to stumble downstairs at 8:30 and spend the morning working, me on abjection, Dasniya on whatever she’ll perform in Australia), finger is mostly healed – it looks funny with a row of stitches going a third the way round … pictures!

Tilburg Part 2

Three days in Tilburg, and one night of obligatory post-show Australian Dance Theatre getting-kicked-out-‘cos-it’s-closing-time. Twice. Which is how I like to remember my time in Adelaide.

In Tilburg, Daniel and I found today a passable café. It was still of the ‘theme café’ variety, but the wholesome, second-hand, thrown together, earthy, natural, and caringly homemade theme was convincingly well-done so that it didn’t too often feel like we were in The Waltons.

ADT last night were awesome. The usual phenomenal dancers, everything well-rehearsed, and then a moment around 2/3rds of the way through where they all seemed to realise it was going swimmingly and just cut loose. Not as if they were holding back for the first 40 minutes, it was more one of those collective moments when it doesn’t seem possible that anything can go wrong or out of time and they enjoyed the hell out of it.

The theatre is also beautiful, and it turns out some parts of Tilburg aren’t like a strange compulsory tourist town, but I was glad to be on the train out, even though I’d rather have been on the bus going north with the rest of the family.

So, back in Brussels for a few more days, then off east to Berlin. Possibly some Brussels tourism and definitely seeing Hans and Anuschka again before more airports.


By car it’s barely an hour away but by train, north with changes in Antwerpen and Rosendaal, then hard east for half an hour, for me taking four hours – missing the first connection by 3 minutes. And the first leg, I found myself in a carriage full of Tibetans, with delirious children clambering over me. I was thinking of the hundred Tibetans who have self-immolated in recent months from Gansu to Lhasa as I realised this carriage wasn’t just an afternoon outing, as raucous and lively as it was, and discovered just now that yesterday was the 54th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising Day.

So I paused in Antwerpen, and ran for the train in Rosendaal, arriving in the cold, dim evening in Tilburg to knock on Daniel’s door, where I shall stay for the next couple of days as they bring their 11-week long tour to an end.

And Tilburg (or Tilblurg as I just wrote), what an odd, odd town. We are staying in the old centre, and it’s wall-to-wall tourist restaurants of the international cliché variety. There’s the obligatory Paddy Irish, Señor Mexicano, Papa Italiano and of course Satay Thai, all with forlorn and empty ranks of chairs outside, expensive “all you can eat” menus and disco lights inside. It’s strange because Tilburg is so difficult to get to and doesn’t seem to warrant such an intense tourist strip, and all my interneting and brochure reading hasn’t revealed why all this is here, unless it’s a hangover from the coffeeshop drug era when everyone drove across the border to visit potland and the first city the hit was this one.

In keeping with this year’s winter it’s so grey as to not be worth looking out the window; however, once they have finished rehearsals, Daniel and I shall go exploring.

Abjection Rehearsals – Brussels

Neither Gala nor Ivo are in Brussels, which makes this decidedly weird being here; eating Piadina alone, sitting on the Metro alone … Hans and Anuschka are here though, and we had an excellent dinner on Thursday, and at least three coffees in three days, and I saw what they’ve done to their studio in Renold Space: wood-fired heating! It’s really, really beautiful, and I’m very envious as well as inspired. And now I depart for the impossible Tilburg. A mere long hundred kilometres away, it still takes 3 hours to get there. But once there, I get to see Daniel for one more time on ADT’s tour (and maybe Emile, fresh off the jet-lag run from down under).

In the meantime, I’ve slipped in a couple of days rehearsing in a secret location which shall remain nameless. More of the same from me. I think my ‘warm-up’ now constitutes much of the actual rehearsing, and it seems to be useful. It’s very methodical, and honestly if I turned up to a class of this, I’d probably hate it (unless it was perhaps Benoît or it was what I expected). I’m still turning up strange, lingering habits from when I mashed my knee last year, something to do on one side with whimpering meniscus not wanting to go into certain positions, so Gluteals don’t work and Psoas takes over, and a straight line between wonky Achilles tendon and Piriformis really not knowing what it’s doing.

The interesting thing is that all of this is quite small and built up from years of habits, but the process of finding these peculiarities and minimising them requires this methodical, patient workflow – spending an hour just working out what happens in my hips when I’m in child pose and would be about to roll from one side to the other.

And it’s never absolute either. What works in one situation at one speed isn’t entirely applicable to another, or even a different rhythm at the same speed, or different initiation of movement or attention. What is possible though is a phase space for particular movements, for example if I’m walking, there’s a variety of possibilities in how the movement happens, and through repetition I can build up a general representation of this, and subsequently which ones tend towards aberrance.

As for what constitutes aberrant movement for me at the moment, I just keep thinking of walking, which is more or less uncomplicated for anyone to do, whereas dancing is complicated, and so keeping in mind the uncomplicated physical feeling or perception of walking (which is not to say walking is simple or easy), I try and find what this is in any dance movement. Which leads me to lie on the floor for an hour analysing whatever is going on when I roll, or endless combinations of arm-swinging, leg-swings, or embarrassingly simple movement patterns.

Mainly I think that if walking is swinging, as in a pendulum movement, then so too must dance be, because it’s done with the same body. What’s come up so far is that it’s applicable across levels of complexity of movement; not just the ‘more things happening at once’ complexity, but the perhaps more interesting edges of movement, the ones where things get weird and awkward and usually get bashed through or otherwise cause horribleness. It also seems to allow for significantly more speed with less effort. All of which is the obsession of contemporary dance, and I don’t really want to contribute to that with some essentialist ‘natural’ movement programme, which is why I’m pointedly not reading or looking at any of the obvious similar techniques, be it release, or Klein, or whatever, even though I can’t escape them because that’s my training history and I can only ever work within what I know, or in reference to what I know.

Maybe to say it’s just me working out how I move, which is curiously something I’ve not done so much of; yes, plenty of thinking about it, but doing has largely been confined to other people’s classes and techniques. So it’s a little like messing around with a musical instrument and teaching myself to play, and it’s really not a technique or a style or a process or any other dressing up of what’s fundamentally me fucking around on my own for hours in a big room.

Which segues into my rehearsals. Which of course was most of my rehearsals. Music! From Abruptum and Gorgoroth and Mayhem to … Pulp! Jarvis Cocker. Oh Jarvis Cocker you are a dirty rocker. And the album is Different Class, which did lead to some useful reconsiderations of what I’m doing with my fingers, and also illuminated how distracting it is to work with popular music. Distracting as in it takes me out of my body, I no longer can feel moving because my ears are too busy. Black metal doesn’t suffer from this so much as it’s pretty incomprehensible and not very melodic. Which then made me think of all the classes I’ve ever done where the teacher puts on their favourite music and we dance to it, and that we’re not really dancing because we’re just doing the equivalent of Pavlov’s dogs drooling response because the music interrupts the physical process of experience of dancing. As nice as it was to dance around to Common People and Sorted for E’s & Wizz, it was unsettling to think that this habit of using music like this actually got in the way of training one’s self in moving.

All of which merits further musing, but I have a train to catch. More rehearsing next week, and quite a bit of going through videos and assembling stuff before then.

Daniel and Düsseldorf

Return to Berlin. Six hours in a mini-van tooling along the autobahn at 140kmh or so, on the nod for the last 2 hours after I finished my book, and lack of other entertainment (tinted windows shaded in road dirt) led me to running a competition for what brand of truck trailer was most preferred (the white, rectangular, steel bullbar of Schmitz beating the field by 2:1; anonymous was disqualified). And previous to that, three nights in Düsseldorf with sweet Daniel, one for each year I haven’t seen him (and at least two drinks per night for each, also).

I’d intended to arrive cutting it fine just before ADT’s Proximity started – the reason why Daniel and the score of others are in Europe the coming months in the first place. Almost blizzard dragged me into the Hauptbahnhof late enough that I arrived at the theatre just as they were finishing. Not to worry! I accosted the darling Jaber and continued to do so until the awful hour we had to depart this morning (awful early as well as awful to have to depart). Kimball was also there, along with Jessica, all in an apartment around the corner from Tanzhaus NRW, in Flingern Sud. (Erkrather Str, I thought a good name for a black metal group, Erkrath. Probably with upside-down cross for the ‘t’.)

A late start the next day, so I dragged Daniel off to some place I’d never been where it seemed there might be a good café for breakfast. Yes! Yum müsli and coffee and talktalktalk until he had to go off to rehearsal so I twiddled my thumbs till the evening when he returned and off we go again in the same approximate direction in search of Chinese (food, that is), and success! And infinite multiplication of success! Handmade fucking Lanzhou noodles! I have never seen anyone anywhere outside of China beat out proper Lamian, and oh how I have looked. We got ours in a sort of spicy pork sauce plus naturally Qingdao beer, and I was just wondering how to kidnap the guy or at least would it be possible to buy a bag of the noodles to take away. Out into the snow a couple of hours later and more wandering, talking, on dance, family, everyone I knew in Adelaide and Daniel in Berlin – it’s a lot to try and encapsulate in less than 72 hours.

Breakfast again the next day (that would be yesterday), and much talking about two things we will be doing together (oh yes, we will be doing together), in the coming months. Then me alone for the day while they all got to dancing in the theatre. And then me going to see.

I’m not going to write about it, har, no! Maybe just to say I forgot how much dancing goes on in ADT (even ignoring coming from conceptual Berlin), and how fucking amazing they are. And Garry was there, and Libby, and Paul lately of Wuppertal, at least a couple of Scotts. More eating, more beer, more of me kidnapping Daniel (it would be kind of possessive if we hadn’t seen each other for so long), more back in the apartment, with a YouTube party consisting largely of Jiz! (I’ll let you discover that for yourself). And finally plonking into bed to get up horribly early and find myself in that mini-van.

I even got a little sad when I got back to Berlin (grey, cold, sunless), and have partly remedied that by writing this, but know I shall have to head southwards to find the beautiful Daniel once more, in Bregenz, in six weeks or so.

Daniel Jaber & ADT — Nought

As if four shows in one week in two different hemispheres (well, four really, depending on how you count them) … wait! Four? … I mean three. Here’s the fourth. The beautiful Daniel Jaber who I miss very much (and would appreciate delimiting said missing by arranging rapid arrival in Berlin), has a work-in-progress showing of Nought, at ADT Australian Dance Theatre on … Friday! Now there’s no excuse if you’re in Adelaide to complain there’s nothing to do this week. Two amazing choreographers one after the other (it’s kind of like tag-team wrestling. Well, not really.). I’m hoping he sends a video to me quick.

(Daniel says, “It’s very pretty very dance very silent very awkward and very non stop dancing for an hour and listen to the dancers get exhausted and pant like their enduring a hard very hard fuck.”)

Australian Dance Theatre presents Daniel Jaber’s
a work-in-progress showing

September 21, 6pm at the ADT Studio
126 Belair Road
Adelaide SA

RSVP essential:
or (08) 8373 7733

Direction & Concept: Daniel Jaber
Choreography: Daniel Jaber & the ADT dancers
Soundtrack: Brendan Woithe & Thomas Jeker
Costumes: Catherine Ziersch
ADT Dancers: Scott Ewen, Amber Haines, Jessica Hesketh, Kyle Page, Kimball Wong
Secondements: Marcus Louend, Madeline Edwards |

Daniel Jaber – Reassessment

Daniel is performing!

Presented as part of the Adelaide Festival Centre’s inSPACE:development Program, Reassessment examines concepts surrounding Self-Worth, perception and the consequences of being seen as “unworthy”.

WHERE: Rehearsal room 2 – Adelaide Festival Centre (meet 15 minutes prior at the foyer of the Dunstan Playhouse)
WHEN: January 26 at 4pm and 27 at 7pm
COST: Pay what you can donation


choreography and performance: DANIEL JABER
soundtrack: DJ TR!P
lighting design and production: DANIEL BARBER


Hope to see you there!

Daniel Jaber