Fest — 2

The temperature today is 25° less than on Friday, minus glaring blue sky, plus what is defined as “starker Regen”; mostly the streets are sluicing great sheets of water and everything is hydroplane-y. Naturally, I am in no doubt it’s perfect weather for either biking to rehearsal, or hiking in the Wald. Rehearsal it is, then.

My day’s routine has become lurching vertical-wards around 7am – I suspect induced mostly by it getting light around 4am – breakfast plus reading (my suitcase will be un-liftable by the time I return to Berlin), and then an hour and an half or so of yoga-ish antics. I’m somewhat out of routine with yoga, and last week was the first in a very long time when I’ve done yoga every day, and not even a heavy, Astanga workout, just a lot of floor stuff and at the end some light sun salutes. Seems enough though, and I add a little more every day.

Rehearsals, then. Sometimes starting in the afternoon, like today, other times in the morning (requiring diligence to get through yoga and standing on balance board in time for sitting on bike). Today was an afternoon start, so I bashed away at some code, and other computer stuff, then had a lazy lunch. More reading, obviously.

I’m not sure how much to say about rehearsals, so I shall be a little vague. Marko joined us from Rome on Saturday, and today was four of us, with Nicola returning from Berlin tomorrow. We’re doing a lot of ‘gardening’ on the second scene, which is to say, like gardening, we start at one end, dig the way to the other; a combination of scything through weeds and occasional exhuming large roots and boulders. Once one pass through the undergrowth is complete, we return for another. Today we carted off approximately one skip full. Accompanying the gardening is Ligeti, Stockhausen, Berg, Chinese classical, house music, hit ‘Play’ and hope for the best.

It’s a nice group to work with, and for me a new role, both as assistant and working on a piece that is currently text-heavy theatre, though somehow familiar, working with text, seeing the patterns, structures, and so on, a bit like coding, a bit like blogging, a bit like writing fiction (yes, is novel). Nice also being in Vienna with a good bike, getting soaked in pseudo-summer as warm as Australian winter.

Fest — 1

The last days since arriving in Vienna have been in the high-30s with glaring blue sky, and me riding in this. I don’t think I’ve ridden in such heat since Melbourne, Berlin for sure in the last couple of years has never been that hot, and my previous times in Vienna have been maudlin summers. It’s both somehow gloriously indulgent and just plain horrific, and I am in awe at the Viennese cycle couriers, all tanned, shaved calves, blasting up and down the city’s hills on proper fixies all day in this weather.

What am I doing here then? Well, a couple of months ago, I got an email from Ivo, asking if I might like to assist him for a piece he’s making, to premiere in ImPulsTanz. Then I saw him in Berlin two or so weeks ago and we talked more, and early last week it fell together, seeing me and my bike (and Panda) on a train on Monday bound for here.

This time I’m staying in Zieglergasse, in Neubau, the 7th district on the end away from Mariahilferstr in a nice old apartment on the top floor. Somehow I thought it was the same street as last year — there is even a crane outside the window, but last year was in fact close to Hauptbahnhof and this year it’s Westbahnhof up the road. Seeing that I’ll be here a while, I’ve found my markets, Bio shop (I’m picky about Haferflocken), climbing halls, english bookshops, general getting around on bike, and other typical things.

Rehearsing, then. We’re currently in a studio behind a massive blue, metal door in Laxenburgerstr, one of a pair with kitchen and trellis outside shaded with dense grape vine growth. The first days working afternoons, then the last two, mornings; back to afternoons next week, I think. At the end of next week we move somewhere new, and then (again, I think), on to Kasino am Schwarzenburgplatz, where the premiere is on July 27th.

What are we doing? I originally supposed I’d blog as usual every day or as much as possible, but arriving in the heat and having my laptop hit 70º just reading the news made me leery of excessive mashing of keyboard, and now it’s already five rehearsals done. Also it feels a little private at the moment. Nonetheless, I spend some of my time (surprise!) mashing keyboard, hammering in Ivo’s conversations with himself. Other parts are spent developing strange fantasies that seem to cause simultaneous horror and mirth. We’ve written together probably over an hour of theatre, and whatever location could be called ‘The End’, is speculatively another quarter to third away.

The festival hasn’t started yet — well, this one has, because it’s called Fest — I mean ImPulsTanz hasn’t started yet, still two weeks away. Ivo is also DanceWEB coach this year, performing X-on in the festival, Lili Handel in Switzerland, and teaching a workshop. I shall continue to blog sporadically.

BER-VIE nochmal


Yesterday I got fingers greasy again. The previous day changing brake pads, and then realising the front brake could in no way be pulled into the kind of shape I desired without replacing the cables, leading to Saturday morning acquiring said cables and making repairs, and achieving the kind of throw-self-over-handlebars stopping power I like.

Followed by a lazy trip to the market, similar lazy trip to St George’s for new books, and evening lazy trip to Unbezahlbar for second dinner, beer, and seeing Isabelle, Joey, Volker and others. And saying goodbye also.

Tomorrow morning I jump on train for southwardsness to Vienna, where I’ll remain till the end of July. I’ll be working with Ivo on a performance to premiere in ImPulsTanz at the end of next month. Fifth time then for me at the festival, and ten years since I first arrived there on my first trip to Europe where I first met Ivo.

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.


Ivo’s Studio

Red sky in the morning, and a chaotic arrival to Brussels. Somehow I thought Chaussee de Mons ran parallel to Rue de Anspach, and so we walked along the two long sides of the triangle getting there from Parvais de St. Gilles. Then I discovered it was also the street Ivo has his studio on, so we stopped there. Talking, also with Barbara who was visiting, an afternoon doze, dinner of lamb, hummous, rice and steamed vegetables, more talking and music, followed much later by coffee, fruit, and chocolate croissants for a late breakfast … and I decided to take some photos of Ivo’s work, taxidermic animals dipped in acrylic paint and wrapped in masking tape, overwhelmed with glitter; broken glass glued into clumps with more paint and glitter; painting oozing as they dried …

Arrival in Brussels then. We start on Monday, though already this feels unexpectedly close and the mundane preparations to support this – shopping for food, unpacking – seem to have gouged a hollow in the day.

Some photos …


a body – gala moody at the volksroom

The coffee is made thus: In a small bowl two teaspoons or so of sugar for every cup is added. Once the coffee begins to run out of the espresso machine, the first trickle is poured onto the sugar. This is beaten with a spoon until taking on a pale brown colour, emulsifying. Into each small cup, two viscous spoonfuls of this amalgam, and then the coffee on top, stirring until a crema floats on its surface.

This is the coffee of Giacomo, who has been in Brussels the last week and an half while Gala finishes some weeks of rehearsals in a single performance at Ivo’s Volksroom, along with Anuschka von Oppen, who was showing Nearby Buffalo in Brussels after a short season in Berlin.

Gala and Giacomo haven’t been sleeping so much the last week; long nights working on the set, lighting, rehearsing, rewiring, trying ideas and pre-show amendments (a whole scene vanishes, and the sound from a previous one also). Coffee is in abundance, as is beer and cigarettes. A calmness across the days also.

I found myself in the place I am happiest: a theatre, making performance. I do mundane things such as taping things, hanging things, adjusting things. This is not a review, though perhaps can be taken as one.

Throughout is a stillness, waiting attentiveness. For a dancer who has found home in companies where movement is the heart, she makes nothing that could be said to be dancing. Perhaps the floor on which she rehearsed is responsible, but equally, there is no inconsistency between one being a dancer who dances and the same one making performance far removed from this. At the end (less than thirty minutes), had she continued the room would have gone with her.

Rope bondage and suspension. Gala hangs sideways from her waist and abdomen. Giacomo dresses her in a sheet of emergency orange latex. She is in a box inside a room, walls of opaque or transparent plastic, floor reflective Aluminium. Lights stutter and tremble.

Giacomo illuminates the performance with perhaps twelve or so sources, some recognisable as theatre lights, others fluorescent tubes, others common household lamps. At times, a fan pushes the plastic sheeting, undulating and filling the space with sound.

She is naked until the end. This also is a change; before she was naked the whole way through. In the end she is talking, in jeans and a t-shirt. A story, autobiography? A poem. She is swimming, no water, no, definitely water, water goes in, goes out, polluting a little. In ten years, twenty years, only a photograph left. I am paraphrasing here.

Earlier, she is running. On the spot. Endlessly. Throwing dirt or dust or ashes, which haze in the aura of light. Giacomo … his lighting is as music, classical music perhaps. Deeply artistic and romantic, and also precisely technical. Without being obvious, it fills the room, gives not simply form and colour, but emotion, movement, sense, time. He says we should come to the Gorini home, to eat rabbit and drink coffee.

I spend Friday with them watching this, light and performance, trying to find some settings on my camera that will not balk at the conditions. Low light is one concern, and ultimately the difficulty I can’t surmount. The plastic sheeting between Gala and I, the other; the camera resolutely focussing on any light reflecting off the sheet, making her even more unfocussed.

This morning, more coffee. Then a failed trip to the markets for crëpes, arriving too late. Anyway, it was beautiful, poignant. Some photos.

Two Solos Brussels: Nearby Buffalo & A Body

A good reason to come to Brussels. This weekend Gala Moody and Anuschka Von Oppen are performing at Ivo Dimchev’s Volksroom, this weekend. Nice things also: light by Giacomo Gorini who most recently did Roméo Castellucci’s Parsifal in Brussels, and among others, supported by Company SOIT.

Nearby Buffalo & A Body

20:00, Saturday, May 21
Chausée de Mons 33B
(Inside courtyard, right)


ein bühnenweinfestspiel, some books, a story

“A funny story.”

(As I remember it from 9am, or, how black metal brings us all together.)

“I said to my brother, “No one ever makes dance to Throbbing Gristle”. Then he was in Adelaide and said, “!!! Throbbing Gristle!”. So I googled ‘Frances d’Ath’ and then someone said you, here.”

(Hello Anne-Lise.)

Some warming up. Some suspensions, but the ropes have left some deep bruises making for enjoyment-absence. A short rehearsal and then a look through the libretto. A run out the door to find beautiful Ivo waiting for me, just leaving for Sofia. We go to a bookshop and I come out with Howard Barker’s Death, The One and the Art of Theatre (as does Ivo) and Frank Dikötter’s Mao’s Great Famine.

Dasniya, Gala and Jorgos continue with some suspensions and we all trawl the snow with our boots towards the shops for food and home to talk and eat and soon eat once more.

(Addendum: Parsifal is blogging Parsifal.)


2009 theater

Without taking the time to look, I’m not sure I’ve ever done an end-of-year best-of list for performances I’ve seen. Actually, judging from my cynicism alone, I suspect if indeed I ever have done such a thing, it was at Chinese New Year.

Not to worry, I saw not much in 2009, but luckily it was almost easily split between “ow! that hurts” awful and “uuuhh…” sliding off the chair with joy. Only two pieces don’t quite make it into either absolutist subset, and one of those, Jan Fabre’s Orgy of Tolerance wouldn’t have been mentioned at all if it weren’t for my thinking about the other, quite close to brilliant but also somewhat flawed No Dice from Nature Theater of Oklahoma – also the longest show I saw, at four hours. Both were exceptional pieces of theatre, and despite whatever qualifications I have about them, that I still think over what I saw gives them a place here.

Dasniya Sommer started off the year with MA√ 15 { IDIOSYNCRASY } || SIN X = LY – FX²¯, which I didn’t see. Strange it made it to the list then. Well, through my involvement with Dasniya on several projects revolving around her website I got to see this piece in many guises and as with many pieces that made this list, if I liked them enough to want to be in it, of course it should be here.

SOIT and Hans van den Broek were worth traveling to Brussels for, to see We Was Them. Of course again I am biased, having played in the Viennese Settlement with them in summer, 2008. Still, who cares? Astute and memorable theatre from someone who should be seen more.

Two from Ivo Dimchev, then. What does it say that most of the performances I found beguiling this year are from friends? Michael said, quoting Tilda, that you should make performance with your friends, because they’re the ones who have the biggest influence on you, who you hold in highest esteem, who have the closest affinity to you.

Lili Handel is an old piece, performed now some 200 times, and that many times Ivo has sold his blood. beautiful, dark, deranged theatre. The other, and last for they year, made by Ivo for Christian Bakalov whom I saw in Orgy of Tolerance is Paris.

All these I works I adore, and when I have my own festival shall make them first on the programme.


Cycling home in -5º or so on a rather broken bike, I remembered another piece I didn’t see but saw video of and was rather taken by. Yes, it is a festival of my friends. Daniel Jaber’s WG Spiel deserves a mention here also.