Headhunters

– cutting the edges -

2003

On stage, a constantly growing jungle; in it, animal-like beings, almost faceless, reminiscent of the drawings of Alfred Kubin. These beings gather together to rebel against an overpowering force. While possessing incredible vitality, they have lost touch with their own sexuality and power of speech and increasingly obey the rules of the eerily growing jungle. Huge scissors, which they want to use to control it, turn on themselves.

More spectacularly than nails or teeth, hair goes through constant self-renewal and no amount of rigorous cutting or shaving can interrupt its continual growth. Unlike most other body parts, hair decomposes so slowly and is of such an enduring nature that it exerts a magical and sexual fascination in almost all cultures. The shaving, styling or covering up of hair takes place according to social, religious and sexual ideals and taboos – in Brazil even more pronouncedly than in Europe.

Hair has power. It grows independently of the human will. It characterizes a person as curly, blond, thinning on top or bald – the hairdresser’s and wig-maker’s moment of glory as they fight against characteristics which are not human.
Hair grows out of the stage and entwines itself around the dancers as if they were the army of Philistines, dying at Samson’s hand. They are then woven into mighty spindles above the stage and hurled around by Samson’s animal strength. The spindles are a nightmare factory; casting monstrous shadows, they wind hair on and off and fix the dancers like parasites in a net – a spider’s web of hairy tentacles, a tirelessly operating gland. The dancers are its prey. And only by dancing, by performing voodoo rituals and hair sacrifice as practized in Brazil, Malaysia and Polynesia, can they by freed from its spell.

In Salvador de Bahia, on the east coast of Brazil, the huge Vila Velha theatre was hewn into the rocks on the cliffs. Today it is one of Brazil’s most modern dance houses. The office of Cristina Castro, director of the Compagnie Viladanca, overlooks the endless ocean. Cristina Castro and her company weave international and Brazilian dance traditions into an individual signature style. The company members‘ dancing skill lies precisely in the seamless mixture of ballet, acrobatics, Capoeira, physical dance and contemporary technique, which defies comparison with any European company. Their tremendous physical presence and strength, which cancels all notions of the balletic, folkloristic or circus-like, makes for an eruptive body theatre, as Viladanca demonstrated for the first time in Europe at the festival Move Berlim in April 2003.
Helena Waldmann has known Cristina Castro and her company since 2000. A friendship developed, out of which arose the idea to confront this immense dancerly strength with a stage in a way that is otherwise impossible in Europe.
In Salvador de Bahia we will have the best possible work and rehearsal conditions (from June to September 2003). In this way, a dance can be created beyond all ‚Tropicana‘ posturing but also beyond paired-down European stage purism. We are building an ‚organic stage‘ which will, by simple means, gain a life of its own. The stage is a kind of scalp which can untiringly spin out hair and which resists the dancers like an alternative force through its own strength of will. The dancers, who live in this growth like parasites, do not have the slightest tendency to portray themselves as victims of this machinery, but defend themselves with all their physical capabilities against the independent world of hair.

VOCABULARY
Samson and Delila
The bible (Judges XIII-XVI) tells how Samson was promised to a bride, but the Philistines married her to somebody else. In revenge Samson burns the Philistines‘ harvest, so the Philistines kill his grandfather, and Samson, weaponed only with a cheek of a donkey, kills 1000 Philistines. The Philistines try to jail Samson in their city, but he breaks the city gate and carries it to Hebron. Samson falls in love to Delila, who is asked by the Philistines to uncover the roots of his indescribable power and his weak spot, which is, after a whole string of lovely tries and errors, his lion’s mane. While Simson is asleep, Delila shaves his head and, indeed, he is losing his power. The philistines blind him and force him to work the mill of Gaza. But his hair is growing again, and while he is cheated as an object of mockery at the Temple of Dagon, he got all his power back and causes the temple to collapse, killing more Philistines than ever.

Growing sisal trees
Discover that your hair is animal: Burn it! This terrible, creaturely stink of burning hair comes as a surprise, because hair in itself does not appear to feel. Which means, it does not belong to us. It is our other self, this vigorous, insensate phenomenon strikes out like an organ, like feelers and antennae, into the world beyond us. Hair belongs to the BODY, but it is as impassive as a STONE. At least it seems so. It lives in some ways disassociated from the body where it grows like a parasite, and this disconnection remains an important factor in the large symbolic freight of meaning hair carries – as a stranger to human beings.

Mouthfolds and Tongues
Imagine a tuft of hair on your tongue. Like you find sometimes a hair in your soup. It is disgusting, wonder why. Hair obviously is considered as the essence of DISGUST, the carrier of dirt, bacteria, but at the same time you will easily find agree in, that hair is a source of DESIRE, it is sexualizing, it is a sign for beauty, power, and in almost all cultures it is or has been a female symbol for a virgin. Exceptions you will find in Africa. The tribe of the Arbore in the south of Ethiopia consider only a shaved head as sexual attractive.

Cutting Screens
Hair is living in a world with only one dimension. It grows, without getting fatter or growing in a different direction as the one it once has taken. A picture or a film have two dimensions. To introduce such a video in a dance piece means a loss of the third dimension, the dimension of the body. For this reason, we didn’t cut the film, as a film editor would do it, in a two-dimensional way – linear. But we cut it in its third dimension.

Feather’s Dance
A feather is hair that can fly. Remember the chicken in the film „City Of God“, loosing a few feathers but escaping happily. A feather is seductive hair. Remember the peacock’s wheel of feathers – mere beauty. Feathers can create an orgasm. Believe it – or not.

Stoning
I arrived at the coast, entering the island finding some children, throwing stones at me. They were laughing, throwing more stones towards me. A habit, to check if the stranger or even a returning friend is not arriving as a ghost from a world apart, from a world of the dead. The stones should check and proof if I am alive. That is, why they were laughing so happily while I had to move quicker to escape the even bigger stones. While stones were precisely thrown at me, I had to jump, to duck, swerve to the right, dodging the blow. I felt myself in an absurd movement. But then I recognized, how precisely they forced me with their stones. I was jumping in patterns, no, I was not jumping anymore, I was forced to dance, no, not even forced, the stones made me dancing deliberately.

Scissors and Arabesques
Obviously used in a piece on hair. But if you take a closer look to the movement of a pair of scissors, you find out: They do not only cut but dance – an Arabesque. We love Arabesques. All dancing starts with a cut. Nothing looks better to cut the space with an Arabesque.

Yu’s wig
Shivering, shaking, itching, jiggling, flickering, trembling – we love movements which are so intense, they do not even need a space to dance.

Nodding heads
Heads carry hair. Hair is affirmatively growing on a head which is affirmatively forced to agree in all the fate he has to face. Even if the body is disagreeing with certain circumstances, in which it is forced in, the head is miraculously forced to nod, meaning «Yes», despite the body does not like this fate. Believe me, it is the hair forcing the head to agree in all and everything.

``Headhunters`` is a proper theatrical event: ``Grand Guignol`` and archaic disguises with all the tricks of the theatre.

Gerald Siegmund ballet-tanz

``Headhunters`` is similar to a furious rebel against violence, which comes from outside, excited, lively, sensual and aggressive. The parable over the dealings with own roots wants conflict and pose questions about human’s identity and lifestyle.

Volksblatt

a production of
Burghof Lörrach, Germany
Teatro Vila Velha Salvador Bahia, Brazil
Fundação Cultural Estado Da Bahia, Brazil
Goethe Institut Inter Nationes Salvador Bahia, Brazil
Caraiba Meteis, Brazil

setting
directing
choreography

Helena Waldmann
Cristina Castro

with Cie Viladanca

Yu Kamishigue
MaitÍ Soares
Barbara Barbar
Jairson Bispo
Leandro de Oliveira
Clenio Magalhaes
Danilo Bracchi
Sergio Diaz

music

Muslimgauze
Ubaka Hill

costumes

Adriana Hitomi

light design

Herbert Cybulska
Fabio Espirito Santo

dramatury

Joseval Santana

realisation of stage

Fritz Gutmann
Django Herbert

videoediting

Sofia Federico

musicediting

Kico Póvas

managment

Sergio Bacelar
Claudia Bauer, ecotopia

video takes

Nora de Baan (Litauen, Estland)
Budlana Baldanova & Viatscheslav Zoubkov (Russland)
Mona Gianola (Jordanien)
Susanne Hofer (Schottland, Paris)
Karsten Miller (Kanada)
Christine Spychiger (Italien)
Chris Umney (England)
Helena Waldmann (Brasilien, Deutschland, Holland, Indien, Polen)

fotos

Márcio Lima

duration

60 minutes

Touring

Premiere:
2003, SEPT 11

Burghof Lörrach (D)

2003 + 2004

Teatro Vila Velha, Salvador de Bahia (Brazil)

Press

english

ballet-tanz |11.2003
by Gerald Siegmund

A proper theatrical event >

Helena Waldmann’s new piece, “Headhunters” has a lot to do with cutting. It has also to do with the cutting off of old ponytails. The scene with the screen, whose frame is decorated with luxury springs, are nearly the only moments which bear any familiarity to Waldmann’s earlier pieces. Instead of flattening out the stage like in “luckyjohnny” or “vodka konkav”, this time Waldmann impressively uses the entire depth of the stage and with it creates a kind of ritual. The bodies of the dancers not only leave an impression on the retina of the audiences’ eyes but also their bodies get involved. With kind of trance inspired shaking movements, four of the eight dancers lift themselves slowly from the floor. Stuck between the legs, rising gradually from the floor, a huge bundle of hair as a symbol of growing strength and power appears. On the left side of the stage, on the cable, hangs a figure with a green Tutu type of skirt on, which turns out to be a streak of a wild mane of a man, which lies under her on the floor. She opens her legs in the air like scissors, and later she will cut the hair off of his head like Delia once castrated Samsom. “Headhunters” moves us with amazement and surprises us with images. “Headhunters” has really become a proper theatrical event: “Grand Guignol” and archaic disguises with all the tricks of the theatre.

Oberbadisches Volksblatt | 2003, Sept 13

The rebel in dance against the norm >

What nearly appears to be the dominating theme is a head, to be cut and styled in a hairdressing salon, which pops up again and again on a screen on the first level. On a higher level, on a huge stage, hanging from a strong cable, are creatures romping about that have animalistic features, but which at times are faceless and gather together in small groups. The happening is complimented with Brazilian drum rhythm and wins with it nearly cult character.

It is similar to a furious rebel against violence, which comes from outside, excited, lively, sensual and aggressive. Traditional hair, oversized, shimmering, overlong appears always in danger, threatened by them, which break on them or from huge scissors that could cut off the hair. Everything vibrates in front of massive strong images, with a clever choice of light and color, peculiar and fascinating at the same time. It all comes together in tragic-comical dance scenes: The creatures have admittedly unbelievable vitality, but their liveliness appears to be in danger, their erotic disturbs and reduces. A strong picture at the end, how the the figure from high up on the cable gives instructions to the others on how they should move. They obey, silent and speechless, caught in oppressively strange circumstances – although shortly before they had bubbled over in exploding movement. The parable over the dealings with their own roots leaves a lot open, images fall powerfully into the audience, intensive and distraught. They want conflict and pose questions about human’s identity and lifestyle.

Correio da Bahia |, 2003, Oct 25
by Sandro Lobo

Pictoral as an expressionist painting >

Nothing is allowed to follow, with tranquility, the course of its nature in the eighth choreography of Viladança Dance Group: „Headhunters“ . There’s always an abrupt cut, am unexpected re-start, a horrible razor that, at all times, threatens the characters yet, at the same time, hypnotizes the audience’s eyes.
This shows that the research done by choreographers Cristina Castro (Brazil) and Helena Waldmann (Germany) was successful. This investigation had as its initial goal the symbolic representation of wigs , the idea of cuts and losses ,which can be seen as metaphors of human life. A feeling of incompleteness permeates the performance.
„Headhunters“ shows a clear approach to visual arts that can be observed in the rich wardrobe designed by Adriana Hatomi, in the beautiful sceneries signed by the choreographers and in the creative lighting by Fábio Espirito Santo and Herbert Cybulska.
From the research of the topic to sound editing one can observe a complete overlapping of image, sound, and aesthetic conception. It’s difficult to distinguish what, in the light, suggests the movement, or what, in the scene, originated in the conception of the scenery. For instance, the transition from video to dance is made with rare subtlety , a real challenge in performances of this type.
The fragmentary move, synchronized within short spaces, demonstrates the choreographers mastery of the elements of the dance-theater, which add value to the performances of the group. A powerful work, full of expressive images and a constant, incisive rhythm.

german

ballet-tanz | 11.2003
von Gerald Siegmund

Ein richtiges Theaterspektakel >

Noch während des Einlasses fällt unser Blick auf eine Leinwand vor dem Bühnenvorhang, auf der Menschen zu sehen sind, die sich beim Frisör vor dem Spiegel zurechtzupfen und rupfen, um sich selbst zu gefallen. Wenn sich der Vorhang hebt, wirft ein Spot von hinten den Kopf eines Tänzers als Schatten auf die Leinwand, wo er einem Avatar gleich, als Platzhalter für die Gesichter auf den
Videofilmen dient, die auf ihn projiziert werden. Doch plötzlich wird die Leinwand zerstört. Eine Schere zerfetzt das Papier und mit ihm die Gesichter und Identitäten der Menschen, die eben noch friedlich beim Frisör saßen.
Ums Schneiden geht es viel in Headhunters“, Helena Waldmanns neuem Stück, auch ums Abschneiden alter Zöpfe, denn die Szenen mit der Leinwand, deren Rahmen mit üppigen Federn verziert ist, sind nahezu die einzigen Momente, die an Waldmanns frühere Stücke anknüpfen.
Die Berliner Regisseurin und Choreographin hat ihr Stück im brasilianischen Salvador de Bahia mit der dort ansässigen Companhia Villadança und deren Leiterin Cristina Castro erarbeitet – eine Begegnung, die sie wohl heraus geführt hat aus ihrem kontrollierten Spiel mit der Optik der Zuschauer. Statt die Bühne wie in „glücksjohnny“ oder „vodka konkav“ auf Leinwandformat zu verflachen, nutzt sie sie diesmal in ihrer ganzen räumliche Tiefe souverän aus und inszeniert eine Art Ritual, das die Körper der Tänzer nicht nur als Bild auf der Netzhaut der Zuschauer
erscheinen lässt, sondern auch deren Körperlichkeit ins Spiel bringt. Mit tranceartigen Schüttelbewegungen erheben sich vier der acht Tänzer und Tänzerinnen allmählich vom Boden, ein riesiges Bündel Haare als Symbol erwachsender Stärke und Potenz zwischen die Beine geklemmt. Auf der linken Bühnenhälfte hängt eine Figur mit einem grünen Tutu-ähnlichen Rock an einem Seil, das sich als Strähne einer unbändigen Mähne eines Mannes entpuppt, der unter ihr auf dem
Boden liegt. Spreizt sie eben noch ihre Beine in der Luft wie eine Schere, wird sie ihm später die Haare vom Kopf reißen so wie einst Delila Samson mit der Schere kastriert hat. Steine fliegen durch die Luft, Scheren werden unter Funkenflug geschliffen und schnappen im Rhythmus auf und zu. Ein abgeschnittener Kopf mit heraushängender Zunge baumelt vom Schnürboden, eine Tänzerin trägt eine riesige Perücke aus farblich changierenden Fäden auf dem Kopf. Manchmal unterteilt Herbert Cybulskas Lichtregie die Bühne in drei Zonen, so dass ganz plötzlich
Tänzerformationen vor uns auftauchen, um genau so plötzlich wieder von der Dunkelheit verschluckt zu werden. Die Musik von Muslimgauze und Ubaka Hill, die das Stück ununterbrochen vorantreibt, spielt mit industriellem Krach ebenso wie mit Trommeln, mit verfremdeten Stimmen und wummernden Bässen, die den Boden des Theaters vibrieren lassen. Zum Schluss wachsen die Haarstränge baumhoch in den Bühnenhimmel und verwandeln die Szene in ein Dickicht aus
Fäden und Seilen, in dem sich die Tänzer ebenso verfangen und verstricken wie die
Blicke der Zuschauer.
Headhunters“ versetzt uns in Staunen und überrascht uns mit Bildern. Z.B. wenn vier Tänzer mit dem Rücken zum Publikum an der Rampe stehen und ihre Zungen herausstrecken, die kurz darauf abgeschnitten zu Boden fallen. Auch in diesem Sinn ist Headhunters“ ein richtiges Theaterspektakel geworden: Grand Guignol und archaisches Maskenspiel mit allen Mitteln des Theaters.

Oberbadisches Volksblatt | 13.9.03

Das Aufbegehren im Tanz gegen die Norm >

Beinahe leitmotivisch taucht da auf Ebene 1 in einem Bildschirm immer wieder ein Kopf auf, der im Frisörsalon beschnitten und in Form gebracht wird. Auf größerer Ebene, auf riesiger Bühne, in die starke Seile herabhängen, tummeln sich Wesen, die animalische Züge tragen, zuweilen gesichtslos sind und sich in kleinen Gruppen sammeln. Das Geschehen ist von Trommelrhythmen unterlegt und gewinnt beinahe kultischen Charakter. Es ähnelt einem wütenden Aufbegehren gegen Gewalt, die von außen kommt, aufgeregt, lebhaft, sinnlich und aggressiv. Haartracht, überriesig, schillernd, überlang scheint immer gefährdet, ist bedroht von denen, die daran reißen oder von Riesenscheren abgeschnitten zu werden. Alles vibriert vor wuchtig starken Bildern, mit raffinierter Licht- und Farbwahl eigentümlich und faszinierend zugleich. In tragikomischen Tanzszenen wird festgestellt: Die Wesen sind zwar von einer unglaublichen Vitalität, aber deren Lebendigkeit scheint in Gefahr, ihre Erotik befremdend und reduziert. Stärkstes Bild am Ende, wie eine der Figuren von einem Seil von ganz oben herab den anderen Vorgaben macht, wie sie sich zu bewegen haben. Sie gehorchen, lautlos und stumm, in beklemmender Fremdbestimmung gefangen – obwohl sie zuvor in überschäumender Bewegung explodiert waren.
Die Parabel über den Umgang mit eigener Ursprünglichkeit lässt vieles offen, Bilder fallen kraftvoll ins Publikum, intensiv und verstörend. Sie wollen Auseinandersetzung und stellen Fragen nach menschlicher Identität und Lebensweise.

Correio da Bahia |25.10.2003
von Sandro Lobo

Bildhaft wie ein expressionistisches Gemälde >

In der achten Choreografie des Tanztheater Ensembles Viladança, Headhunters, ist nichts so, wie man es vom natürlichen Lauf der Dinge erwarten würde. Es gibt immer wieder einen harten Schnitt, einen unerwarteten Neubeginn, ein fürchterliches Klapprasiermesser, das die Tänzer bedroht und den Blick des Zuschauers hypnotisiert.
Die Grundidee der Inszenierung von Schnitten und Verlust als Metapher für das menschliche Leben, ist gelungen. Das Gefühl der Unvollkommenheit zieht sich durch das ganze Stück.
„Headhunters“ verrät eine deutliche Annäherung an die bildenden Künste, die bei den abwechslungsreichen Kostümen von Adriana Hitomi, dem gleichermaßen interessanten, von den Choreografinnen entworfenen Bühnenbild, sowie bei der kreativen Lichtregie Fábio Espirito Santos und Herbert Cybuskas sichtbar wird.
Von der Bearbeitung des Themas bis hin zur Tonregie bemerkt man eine vollständige Verwobenheit von Bild, Ton und ästhetischem Entwurf. So ist es beispielweise schwierig zu unterscheiden, wodurch bei der Beleuchtung die Bewegung suggeriert wird, oder was bei einer Szene vom Bühnenbild herrührt. Das Zusammenspiel von Video und Tanz ist von einer seltenen Subtilität. Die fragmentierten, für kurze Momente synchronen Bewegungen, beweisen eine gute Beherrschung der Elemente des Tanztheaters seitens der Choreografinnen, welcher das Viladança Ensembles Qualität verleiht. Ein bewegendes Werk ausdrucksreicher Bilder und eines ununterbrochenen und eindringlichen Rhythmus.