Agata Maszkiewicz torn by fellow dancers in Komposition:
Anne Juren’s simple and poetic co-creation was the highlight of the evening
If nothing else, the season opener at Tanzquartier was extremely ambitious. Ten different performance venues in the TQW Studios, Halle G, Jungl, museumquartier21, the courtyard of MQ.
There were over twenty different performances in these venues starting at six. The performances offered a cross section of almost everything we’ve seen in TQW in the last five years. The evening was meant to be more inclusive than exclusive, a chance for the new director to work with all the resident choreographers and performance hangers on of TQW.
I managed to see about seven different shows. Here are my impressions.
Willie Dorner is still interested in stacking human bodies. His excellent bodies in urban spaces which has travelled the world in the last three years, is here brought indoors. The new shapes and movement of the piled dancers, were somehow more subtle and refined than what he showed in the street.
The street is more exciting, as one must chase the performance, but the exercise remains interesting. One feels though that this direction could perhaps have evolved more in the last few years.
The live dance demo of toxic dreams was juvenile interactive fun where people could learn to dance according to projected video in front of their peers.
The feature show was Oleg Soulimenko’s “elegy for the brave”. elegy for the brave concerns itself with the loss of youth and the gaining of consciousness. Oleg has his performers play with distorted voices à la Chris Haring. There is a lot of talk, lots of movement but little dance.
As generation X moves into middle age Soulimenko’s final lament rang loud and true: “Until I was thirty six fucking was the most important thing in my life. Now art is in the first place and fucking only second. How long will it stay that way?” I liked the piece largely based on the focus and energy of performance from Soulimenko and Magdalena Chowaniec. The third performer Alexander Deutinger – the only Austrian – was more a cipher than a personality.
Soulimenko performs several times is rather charming circus stunt of a headstand on a motorcycle helmet ending in a crash to the ground.
Paul Weniger and Elastique hit the stage immediately after with a sort of drone industrial which was so loud it nearly blew us out of the hall. The intensity was impressive but one’s eardrums counted the minutes during Wolf Ekstase.
Easily the most impressive piece of the evening was the extract from Anne Juren’s co-creation Komposition which features herself, Marianne Baillot, Alix Eynadi, Agata Maszkiewicz (wow these Polish names are difficult to spell).
Four women gather together in a standing group to just stroke one another. There is a light window blowing which ruffles their hair ever so softly, as softly as their hands move against one another.
The women wear fencing attire which suggests the combative nature of tenderness. Often there is a danger and element of sportive combat in love making.
The work is unbelievably tender. The first section is how I imagine women wished to be touched by their partners, whether man or woman. The second section is explicitly sexual, rough handling of one’s another’s genitals and anus. Shocking contrast with the first section. This was the way men often grab for a woman or one another. The lifts were beautiful and fit into what Wille Dorner had shown us, but it wasn’t entirely clear how the beautiful lifts fit into the discourse on touching. I’d like to see the full piece sometime.
Apparently Juren’s composition is for rent as a touring piece, but the ladies are not getting as many offers as they’d like. I highly recommend that curators take a second look and see the beauty of this piece. I hope these pictures will help, as apparently the promotional video is very poor. In person the piece is stunning.
The next piece took us into the back studio of Tanzquartier and the extreme limits of dance performance. Finnish performer Satu Herrala and landscape architect Verena Holzgethan make rolls of masking tape fill up the room. Perhaps the best moment is the first when eight rolls of tape drop suddenly from the ceiling.
After this shock the two performers attend to making the tape into a living sculpture.
Finally they come back and wrap up their masking tape jungle.
Landscape architect Verena Holzgethan with dancer Satu Herrala
brings us back the grim reality of daily life: it was all just masking tape
The whole exercise is accompanied by soothing electronic sound from Hannes Köcher and beautiful light fragments from Klaus Rink.
I loathe this sort of installation masquerading as dance under the aegis of performance. But if you must show this kind of work, Enclosure/study #3/ was executed with great seriousness with gorgeous shapes and forms and atmosphere. The effort to make an everyday banal object like masking tape a high aesthetic form was successful.
I do not think TQW is the right venue for this kind of work. It’s installation not dance.
From here the evening took a brief turn downhill, with a surprisingly flat performance from the Superamas. The Superamas ended up all in guerilla suits, telling us their stories through dance. Someone comes from Brazil, someone comes from Poland, the announcer is a sleazy French guy in lounge clothes.
Guess what? Dressed up in gorilla costumes a dancer can’t do much. The one highlight was an energetic belly dance with just a guerilla mask. Delightful kitsch. But as a whole Nobel Prize in Dance seemed just another silly stunt from the Superamas.
Fanny Brunner and Hans Jürgen Hauptmann brought us another stunt in their own skit dreizehnterjanuar. A lady bodybuilder is fought over by a male bodybuider and an old guy who looks almost homeless with greasy hair. Background music is Tschaikowsky’s The Nutcracker. It sounds like more fun than it was. I’m sure someone finds all this deconstructionist mockery of dance extremely engaging. To my mind, having read literature in university, deconstructionism just seems old and tired.
The party closer was an extended parody concert from of all people Superama bopper Magdalena Chowaniec who performed in at least three full shows that night. Magdalena assumes the persona of mariamagdalena, lead signer of The MOb.
Chowaniec reminds one of Blondie’s Debbie Harry, in image and in singing style. I remember the original Heart of Glass even now from teenage years. Hopefully Chowaniec hasn’t inherited Harry’s drug problems by osmosis, although her antics are crazy enough. She bites her microphone, does slam leaps from the stage, sings and screams and hollars and flings herself all over the stage. Her supporting musicians (Erich Horn, Joe Albrecht, Dorian Cantele) make a solid effort – particularly the Horn on guitar – but they can’t match Chowaniec’s frenzy.
Why someone wants to pretent to be a rockstar and what instructive value Fixing Freedom Tour remains a mystery to me. One only need turn on MTV to see all of this as a true story every day. On the other hand, the performance is good enough that the parody takes on a second life as genuine rock entertainment.
Chowaniec and The MOb threw the audience into ecstasy before DJ Bernhard Fleischmann took over for a superlative set which went on to four in the morning. Fleischmann carefully splices together melodic rythms from the last twenty years, taking the atomospher ever higher until the very end, where he wound us down rather quickly over 25 minutes. Unlike star DJ DSL, who’s been playing most of the big TQW parties over the last four years, Fleischmann is concered with atmosphere and feeling rather than his own dogmatic house and drum and base.
The whole evening was a success as an event. Lots of fun to be had with multiple venues, lounges and bars all over. As a live introduction of the director to the last five years of TQW, it revealed what TanzQuartier has become: more little comedy skits and installations than dance. Erste Tanznacht Wien underlined just how far TQW has to go to be a serious home for dance again.
As Vienna, in a period of funding cutbacks, doesn’t have many other homes for contemporary dance, it would be better if TQW would fulfill its dance mandate sooner rather than later.
All photos taken by and copyright Alec Kinnear. Please contact me if you would like to reuse or need originals.