SOIT / Hans Van den Broeck: The Lee Ellroy Show

This is a very tardy review of the one show I did see in Vienna at ImPulsTanz. I’d planned to see two others, but the first coincided with getting from airport to apartment, and the second, following a bike-sprint from Arsenal to Schauspielhaus, suffered the fate of late arrival. That latter was Jérôme Bel’s Jérôme Bel, a performance I’ve only seen parts of on video, which nonetheless had a significant influence on my work.

Lucky third then. Hans, of course I could not miss seeing a Hans show, and double lucky only a roll down the hill from Arsenal to Kasino. Outside I find Ivo, who was looking very healthy and relaxed, having moved to the hills outside Sophia; inside, behind the desk were Hans and Giacomo, and on stage Anuschka and Jake. Present only aurally: James Brown (no, not that one/yes, that one). Inside was late, as Dasniya and Florian shuttled themselves post-workshop (I was the early ticket collector), so my seat was exactly in the middle of the back row, where I got to stretch out above all the others squashed in.

The Lee Ellroy Show, then. Hans had been in Los Angeles with Anuschka and discovered that terrifying writer: James Ellroy. My discovery of Ellroy was as a student in Melbourne. A flatmate had a thing for crime fiction and introduced Ellroy to me, starting with the L.A. Quartet, moving chronologically backwards to L.A. Noir, and proceeding forwards again via American Tabloid. On a plane from China to somewhere (or the other way, not that it’s important), I picked up The Cold Six Thousand. I never read his autobiographical My Dark Places then or subsequently; his fiction was disturbing enough without venturing into that. In Melbourne also, I had a chance to meet him when he was doing a reading around the time of the L.A. Confidential film. My flatmate came back with autographed books; I was far too intimidated of him, or his persona as objectified in the inside-cover portraits, him leaning on a wooden chair with seated Pit Bull.

I haven’t read him for years now, but I do have a distinct memory of the emotional and psychological trajectory that occurs like a leitmotif, one where the pressure and stress on the protagonist (usually in first-person) rearranges itself, as if looking into a scene reflected in mirrors which suddenly shift and displace the viewer’s sense of self and certainty, It’s like vertigo, or waking from a nightmare, where it’s only after, once one has surfaced that the inchoate horror of the preceding pages reveals itself. These waves and drownings would repeat through each novel until the protagonist would put enough of the pieces together to drag himself clear, though not without damage.

I mention all of this because Ellroy seems largely unknown, at least amongst the audience of The Lee Ellroy Show; I mention it also to describe the feeling of watching the performance, and how it illustrated that very particular horror which is an Ellroy novel.

So, first: lights! There are few lighting designers as talented as Giacomo Gorini. I can think of only a couple—Henk Danner for Emio Greco, and some of Frankfurt Ballett—that are comparable, and I would watch a show for his lighting alone. He not only designs, but gets up the ladder, hangs the lamps, operates the show (with beer and cigarettes), which says plenty about his personal artistry and just how uncommon a designer he is. Second: sound, the very-much alive James Brown’s fitted like a film-score with the lights and Dirk De Hooghe’s plastic-walled box set. Third: Anuschka and Jake. Anuschka wearing a dress! I’ve never seen her wearing a dress in six years!

It starts as a long, uncomfortable anti-climax: Jake as Ellroy at a book-reading, or perhaps Jake as a Ellroy’s character in 1950s’ Las Vegas; Anuschka either way as the compère. Canned laughter repeats and cuts abruptly. Ellroy as a boy, or again a character—who is always a stand-in for Ellroy—rides in circles around the transparent walls on an old bike. The walls hang and shine like curtains in an abattoir. Each moment of Jake as Ellroy as the protagonist as authorial stand-in is in tension with Anuschka as Ellroy’s mother, murder victim herself, murder victim in the book—either already or imminently—lover or potential lover, not quite betrayer, always there as a mute signifier and witness to herself, never entirely trusted or forgiven.

This is Belgian dance, so they do in fact dance. I’ve seen many brilliant dancers in Han’s works: Ivan Fatjo in We Was Them, Lars August Jørgensen in Messiah Run, and of course Anuschka in everything. Jake and Anuschka together is dance that makes me smile and say, “fuck, yes!” There is dance where the movement, its quality, the bodies doing it are not so far from mundane, most of the audience themselves could, with some preparation, perform no better nor worse. This is not that. This is transcendence of corporeality that comes from dance having so thoroughly infiltrated the person that they are irrevocably changed. It is virtuosity. They collide, fling together, apart, flailing, wrapping themselves around each other, falling and collapsing, now delicate, now explosive, terrifying, there is an inevitability here, as if we can almost see into the future, and when we arrive and look back it seems there was no other possibility. This is choreography.

Hans’ works are cinematographic and have become more so since working with James and Giacomo, who have strong filmic influences in structuring light and sound across scenes and the entire work. I saw the Staatsballett Berlin performing Onegin recently: both works have progression and development over time of a narrative drawn from a novel, and both use choreography and dance to do this. This may seem a superficial comparison, but it does represent the history of dance and its continual involvement in narrative storytelling (as different from “a bunch of things happen on stage and we the audience get to create our own story”, or straightforward conceptual dance). Hans is one of the very few choreographers I’ve seen who manages convincing narrative performance, in no small part by the highly talented people he works with.

On that, a couple of criticisms: I was speaking with someone after—a well-known Berlin performer whose work I also like—who hated it, who thought it was old and tired and unoriginal ’90s Belgian dance of which the world has seen enough. It made me question my own perception, not the least if somehow in the last few years I’ve become old, my critical faculty is only good for ballet, and this new generation understands the world in a way I can never. By comparison, I see the current autobiographical trend in dance as a very late arrival at the Tracey Emin party, absent critical self-reflection. I did agree with him in part on the process towards nakedness, which is a habit of european dance generally. Even flipping this, so the ending was the clothed resolution of a prior nakedness would lend a different reading.

Writing this, I was thinking of British playwright Howard Barker’s Death, the One and the Art of Theatre:

A theatre which honours its audience will demand of its writers that they write in hazard of their consciences, for writers are paid to think dangerously, they are explorers of the imagination, the audience expects it of them. If they think safely, what is the virtue of them? Do you want to pay £10 to be told what you knew already? That is theft. Do you want to agree all the time? That is flattery, and the audience is always flattered, which is why it has become so sleek.

An honoured audience will quarrel with what it has seen, it will go home in a state of anger, not because it disapproves, but because it has been taken where it is reluctant to go. Thus morality is created in art, by exposure to pain and illegitimate thought.

It’s not simple as that, particularly with the last 15-ish years where racism, misogyny, homo- and transphobia are given free rein under the aegis of ‘freedom of speech’, ‘post-blah’, ‘irony’ and with simultaneous resistance of groups targeted by bigotry to (the idea of) “exposure to pain and illegitimate thought” being presented a priori as neutral or unproblematic. Much as I no longer read William T. Vollman, Neal Stephenson, the classics from Hemmingway to Miller to the canon of Anglo and American literature, I haven’t read Ellroy for years: I’m looking for some other perspective, perhaps something of a Deleuzian Minority reading (and self-as-audience) project. I do however find in this quote something of what draws me to Hans’ work, as audience, as performer, as friend. I also think Hans is one of the rare people who manages to be choreographer, director, artist simultaneously. It occurs to me now that he is close to Falk Richter in this, though personally I think Hans is a vastly superior, thoughtful, more considered, and interesting artist.

Image

Vienna Panorama from Graf-Starhemberg-Gasse

A week in Vienna and no photos until today. Two years ago, Dasniya and I stayed in Mayerhofgasse; this time, we could see our old apartment from the rooftop garden of our new one. Yesterday seeing Ivo in the morning, then Hans at Café Prückel, and Guido for dinner. Today, after returning my bike to Arsenal, lunch with Hans, Giacomo, Dasniya, and Florian, at the café around the corner with the vomiting man fountain. Yesterday also was expressions ’14, where we made some strange shibari performance thing for 6 1/2 minutes. After lunch, finishing packing and off to the airport with Jared and Angela. In Berlin, unpacking, and dinner with Emile who is making AMG sounds while blasting through town: the shortest measurable duration in the universe is the time between us seeing each other and laughing. We also agreed next year shall be us at Nürburgring 24h in Mayhem t-shirts.

And so, one photo from Vienna: the view from the rooftop garden, all 360º (plus a bit of overlap) from the chimney cleaning platform above the terrace. North is slightly to the right of the circular blue table. I spent less time here than I wished.

Vienna Panorama from Graf-Starhemberg-Gasse
Vienna Panorama from Graf-Starhemberg-Gasse

 

Two Experiments at ImPulsTanz

For the last day of our Yoga & Shibari workshop in ImPulsTanz we are having an informal open last hour:

1. Informal Try out Shibari/Yoga workshop at Arsenal, Vienna
Friday Aug 15th, 19-20 uhr
Arsenal F

Japanese Bondage meets dance! The last hour of this workshop people are invited to watch us. How can restriction inspire movement or stillness? How adventures and inventive can we be with our bodies?

On Saturday, we will be taking part in expressions ’14

2. ‘Shibari Express Extra Hot’
Saturday Aug 16 4 pm
Arsenal 1

Shibari & Painting
Shibari & Painting

A Small Explanation

Between now and the last time I posted something non-reading-ish a whole month has passed. Then, I was in Heppenheim with Dasniya and Florian; now, Vienna and still with the two (though Florian caught a night train to Berlin for what we’ve been sweating on the past month.)

The day after we drove back from Heppenheim, I was back in Alte Kantine with Das Helmi for the second block of filming Adrian Jacobsen’s Reisebericht, now titled Der von einem Stern zum anderen Springt, almost two weeks of puppets, foam, cardboard, musical instruments, that got progressively weirder until it completely untethered itself from any faithful telling of the story. I managed two part-days off at the end of filming—I wanted to write a whole post about the Zeiss lenses I was using, but ah, not much time besides hauling camera and sleeping—before dropping into editing land, my first proper slab of time in front of a computer since early-June, and the intervening months reminded me how much my body prefers to be moving around.

So, two weeks; one of syncing audio, cutting the rubbish—bad takes, shaky camera, loss of focus, general meh—and dealing with 12 hours of footage from the second block plus at least familiarising myself with the first (most of which we’d redone, but a couple of scenes at least had usable stuff), and the second, finishing yesterday, of sorting out a rough cut. The first version of that ended up being 50 minutes, twice as long as required, giving Florian and me some gratuitous moments of slashing to solve that.

About now, he’s with the Dahlem museum showing the 15 seconds short of 30 minutes version which we’ve watched twice and have a lot of work to do to shave off a few more minutes, clean up the editing, add and remove things to make the story more coherent and flow better, clean the sound, correct the colour, miscellaneous other things, all in another two weeks starting Monday.

In the meantime, on Sunday we three jumped on a plane at Tegel Airport and arrived a short time later in Vienna for a week at ImPulsTanz teaching Yoga & Shibari. The sultry weather turned stormy and not-summery the next evening. The workshop is sold out, twenty people, once again in the farthest studio from the front in Arsenal. Hans is here to perform, Ivo also is here. I’m not taking any workshops for the first time just to have some leisure to see some of Vienna and the festival in a way that isn’t rushing from one place to another.

That then is the past month as I remember it. A couple of very good books in there also.

Yoga + Shibari June 2014 // Summer Workshops & Performances

Dear Friends, Bondagisti and Dance People!

This month, Yoga & Shibari in Berlin takes place on Tuesday, June 24th. As well, many things are happening this summer in Berlin and elsewhere.

We hope to see you there!

Dasniya & Frances

  1. Yoga & Shibari Berlin, Tuesday 24th June
  2. Individual workshops: Yoga and/or Shibari Sessions
  3. Ballet at Center of Dance, and motions*
  4. Talk: Untangling Cultual Knots: Yoga and Japanese Rope Bondage at Center of British Studies (HU)
  5. Platanacea, – a,– um! Heppenheim, 9th-12th July
  6. ImPulsTanz Festival Vienna Workshops: Yoga & Shibari, and Make You Own Tutu, August 11-15

1. Yoga & Shibari Berlin, Tuesday June 24th, 2014

Hours: 7-11 pm at:
Teatris/Alte Kantine
Uferhallen Kulturwerkstatt
Entrance B/C
Uferstraße 8-11
13357 Berlin
U8 Pankstr/U9 Osloerstr

Please call when you are in the courtyard, in case you don’t find it, or the door is locked: + 49 174 393 70 49.

PLEASE REGISTER BEFOREHAND, THEN WE SEND YOU THE DETAILS!
General class description: English + Deutsch
Yoga can be done separately from the Shibari part. Hours: 7-8.45 pm. Info here.

2. Individual workshops: Yoga and/or Shibari or Shibari Sessions

Private coaching in yoga and/or shibari, or gift cards for bondage sessions can be arranged for Berlin, also in Vienna when we are there. Please write to either of us: workshops@dasniyasommer.de or frances@francesdath.info

3. Ballet at Center of Dance, and motions*

Dasniya is teaching intermediate level Ballet on Friday, 27th June at 12:00 in the Center of Dance in Prenzlauerberg, and professional Ballet on Saturday, 28th June at 12:00 at motions* in Kreuzburg.

4. Talk: Untangling Cultual Knots: Yoga and Japanese Rope Bondage at Center of British Studies (HU)

Later this month, Dasniya will be giving a talk on her work at the Center of British Studies (Humboldt University) in Interdisciplinary Teaching in Arts and Humanities: Untangling Cultual Knots: Yoga and Japanese Rope Bondage.

5. Platanacea, – a,– um! Heppenheim, 9th-12th July

In July, Dasniya and Frances, joined by Solene Garnier and Florian Loycke will travel to Heppenheim, Hessen for the Gassensensationen Festival to perform their new work, Platanacea, – a,– um!. More info on Dasniya’s blog!

6. ImPulsTanz Festival Vienna Workshops: Yoga & Shibari, and Make You Own Tutu, August 11-15

Summer is almost here, and once again we are heading to Vienna for the ImPulsTanz Festival! This year there are two workshops: Dasniya will be teaching a Yoga & Shibari workshop in the afternoons with Frances, and in the mornings with Florian Loyke from Das Helmi a “Make Your Own Tutu” workshop for everyone 6 years and older. Bookings for these are open on the festival website.

Make Your Own Tutu 11:15-13:15, Monday 11th – Friday 15th August
Yoga & Shibari 17:00-20:00, Monday 11th – Friday 15th August
ImPulsTanz – Vienna International Dance Festival
Vienna

Make Your Own Tutu Workshop (foto Brian Morrow)
Make Your Own Tutu Workshop (foto Brian Morrow)
Das Helmi & Theater Hora: Mars Attacks! Rote Fabrik, Zürich
Das Helmi & Theater Hora: Mars Attacks! Rote Fabrik, Zürich

Yoga + Shibari April 2014 // Spring Summer Workshops & Performances

Dear Friends, Bondagisti and Dance People!

This month, Yoga & Shibari in Berlin takes place on Tuesday, April 22th. As well, there are many things now and coming up in the next months.

We hope to see you there!

Dasniya & Frances

  1. Yoga & Shibari Berlin, Tuesday 22th April
  2. Individual workshops: Yoga and/or Shibari or Shibari Sessions
  3. Das Helmi: Syn City — die Stadt, die nicht sein darf!, April 3-16, Zürich
  4. Angela Schubot / Jared Gradinger soon you are theirs at HAU, April 27
  5. Das Helmi / Theater Hora: Mars Attacks!, May 5-11, Zürich
  6. ImPulsTanz Festival Vienna Workshops, August 11-15
  7. Rope Play photography by Boris Kralj

1. Yoga & Shibari Berlin, Tuesday April 22th, 2014

Hours: 7-11 pm at:
Teatris/Alte Kantine
Uferhallen Kulturwerkstatt
Entrance B/C
Uferstraße 8-11
13357 Berlin
U8 Pankstr/U9 Osloerstr

Please call when you are in the courtyard, in case you don’t find it, or the door is locked: + 49 174 393 70 49.

PLEASE REGISTER BEFOREHAND, THEN WE SEND YOU THE DETAILS!
General class description: English + Deutsch
Yoga can be done separately from the Shibari part. Hours: 7-8.45 pm. Info here.

2. Individual workshops: Yoga and/or Shibari or Shibari Sessions

Private coaching in yoga and/or shibari, or gift cards for bondage sessions can be arranged for Berlin, also in Zürich and Vienna when we are there. Please write to either of us: workshops@dasniyasommer.de or frances@francesdath.info

3. Das Helmi: Syn City — die stadt die nicht sein darf! 

Dasniya is currently rehearsing in Zürich, and will be a guest performer with Das Helmi’s production, Syn City — die Stadt die nicht sein darf!, in Zürich at Theater Neumarkt from April 3rd to 16th. Opens tonight!

4. soon you are theirs Angela Schubot / Jared Gradinger at HAU

On the final evening of a series of works from Angela Schubot and Jared Gradinger, Dasniya will be making a shibari installation during their music concert.

soon you are theirs
Angela Schubot / Jared Gradinger
19:00h, Sunday 27th April 2014
HAU 1
Stresemannstr 29
10963 Berlin

5. Das Helmi / Theater Hora: Mars Attacks!

Dasniya returns to Zürich later this month with the Berlin puppet theatre Das Helmi for their new performance Mars Attacks! with Theater Hora. Rehearsals continue in late-April, with Frances joining also. Mars Attacks! opens at Rote Fabrik on May 5th:

Mars Attacks!
Das Helmi & Theater Hora
5th, 7th-11th May 2014
Fabriktheater
Rote Fabrik
Seestrasse 395
8038 Zürich

14th & 15th May, 2014
AUAWIRLEBEN Festival
Bern

6. ImPulsTanz Vienna Workshops, August

Once again back to Vienna in summer for the ImPulsTanz Festival! This year for two workshops: Dasniya will be teaching a Yoga & Shibari workshop in the afternoons with Frances, and in the mornings with Florian Loyke from Das Helmi a “Make Your Own Tutu” workshop for everyone 6 years and older. Bookings for these will open on the festival website in the coming months.

Make Your Own Tutu 11-15 August
Yoga & Shibari 11-15 August
ImPulsTanz – Vienna International Dance Festival
Vienna

7. Rope Play photography by Boris Kralj

In February, Frances provided some rope and tying for photographer Boris Kralj. Some of the photos can be seen on HUF magazine

Das Helmi — Syn City
Das Helmi — Syn City
Dasniya Sommer — Arm tying
Dasniya Sommer — Arm tying
Dasniya Sommer — Sticks and ropes
Dasniya Sommer — Sticks and ropes

Gallery

Some Vienna Train Photos

Cleaning my camera out and found these from the day I left Vienna, catching the train from Wien-Meidling to Berlin it passed Arsenal where I’d been the day before returning my ImPulsTanz bike, and then trundled over the Danube. I decided to stop photographing after that, and just stare out the window.

Vienna-Berlin Train Near Arsenal
Vienna-Berlin Train Near Arsenal
Vienna-Berlin Train at Hauptbahnhof
Vienna-Berlin Train at Hauptbahnhof
Vienna-Berlin Train crossing Danube
Vienna-Berlin Train crossing Danube