It was Saskia Hölbling week at the tanzquartier in Vienna. At the tanzquartier wien, the young Austrian choreographer presented three works all with intriguing titles. Do Your Desires Still Burn, rrr…(reading readings reading…) and In Tent//Frame 2. In dietheatrer Künstlerhaus, another four works were shown superposition corps, exposition corps, Chat Gap, other feature. All shows produced by her own company dans.kias.
Week long retrospective at thirty-three – some kind of prodigy must this Hölbling be, I thought.
So off I went to the Saturday show at tanzquartier in the hopes of seeing another good local choreographer. The last Austrian dance piece I’d seen was Elio Gervasi’s 7 x 7 – a sharp and precise work with strong dancing by a tight ensemble on vigourous choreograpahy.
Unfortunately the excitement was not to be.
rrr…(reading readings reading…) was a particularly dull introduction to Hölbling’s work. Hölbling herself wheeled out onto a bare stage on a rolling chair and approached a props box where she opened a notebook – and epoynomously enough – began to read. The text was the sort of inane drivel one would expect from a first year architecture student asked to write about the semiotics of constructivist urban environments. Empty words in three languages, English, French and German.
Optimistically, one could compare it to a Brussels euro conference in all three languages. An exercise in multilingual cultural tedium.
For unknown reasons, there was a red dot above her head. For equally mysterious reasons, Saskia Holbling decided to disrobe in mid-tract – all the while still sitting on her stool. Apparently a recurrent theme in her work. After five minutes of her bare back, she returned more actively to her lecture and crouched on her box.
Finally the lights went down, no dance and sixty minutes later. Interminable.
With In.Tent//Frame 2, we had the benefit of other dancers. Sadly they have almost as little to do as Saskia Hölbling in part one.
Lounging around pointlessly on stage is a pretension often found in Toronto modern dance productions. I stand, I sit, I roll over, I exist. As a self-referential existential statement, I understand. As a spectator, I have no patience for it. I neither want to lose time or money to watch somebody else fail to justify his or her existence. Often these dance practitioners have neither the physique or training of a dancer.
Here at least the dancers have better bodies. And they often go nude. Andrea Stotter (of Homunculus fame) is particularly lovely, with attire and sans.
And she showed dramatic gifts – her laughter and delight in the event brought the audience up for a brief moment. The charm of the performer made the senseless palatable.
Unnlike the sixties one of the pyjama chicks in panties and t-shirt goes around videotaping her friends special moments. Why the camera? Not apparent.
Why bring a videocamera or a dog or a child on stage if it not relevant to the actors or the show?
Boys and girls in their underpants and their psuedo sixites clothes some sort of facile Woodstock derivative fashion. Apart from the short haircuts we could be lounging in the suburbs of 1971. How or why?
Truly with Saskia Hölbling we are in Martha Graham’s world of a cult of personality for a certain wild genius.
I am happy to indulge that trope. But in that case please give me wild, please give me genius and not tame loafing.
German speakers can read more about Saskia Hölbling in der Standard.