- an autopsy -
(from αuτός „yourself“ and oψις „seeing“ )
– eine Autopsie –
Helena Waldmann invites to an autopsy
She makes sure that the view can go under the skin. Inside the body. What penetrates this body – both at the political and at the level of immune medicine – is called a foreign body, an intruder: bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, seeds, transplanted organs, migrants, etc. They invade the body, the mind, a people, a country, a community that can never be homogeneous, that does not form a real whole, just as the body is not a closed system. Every living body is contagious in order to change and survive. Everybody is besieged by foreign, potentially harmful organisms. Most pollutants can already be fended off at the border – at anatomical barriers such as the skin or mucous membranes or at artificial bulwarks such as fortresses and barriers. If the intruder nevertheless succeeds in breaking through a barrier, the next stage is activated: The immune system mobilizes and tracks everything that is not recognized as its own. It remembers the nature of the intruders, it records their personal data so to speak, in order to be able to react faster and more effectively through the immunological memory with a renewed infection. Immunology is like border guards and intelligence services. A certain cunning is always necessary, which is applied by both sides, by the opponent as well as by one’s own system. Just as intruders gain access under false pretences, the body becomes a victim of its own immunodeficiency if it has no knowledge of its attackers. But a body does not function thanks to nationalist identity efforts that erect a selective, excluding barrier to an outside. Instead, the body changes itself as soon as the immune system is induced to engage in activity. Borders here do not mark a closed world, but form an edge that is delicate and sensitive, but remains permeable for all connections with the outside. So that the body does not reach its own limits. This is also the end of the fairy tale of the body as a closed fortress: We have no real boundaries.
But our bodies are full enough of mechanisms that integrate the foreign into ourselves. The staging of „The Intruder“ aims to provide precisely this proof that political constructs survive only through openings, just as bodies are only able to survive through openings – anus, vagina, urethral outlet, mouth, nose, eyes, ears, pores. Despite all danger.
eine Produktion von Helena Waldmann und ecotopia dance productions
in Koproduktion mit Pfalzbau Theater Ludwigshafen, Forum Freies Theater Düsseldorf, Tafelhalle Nürnberg, Tollhaus Karlsruhe;
Hauptsponsor BASF/Kulturförderprogramm Tor 4
mit freundlicher Unterstützung des Pumpenhaus Münster
„Unterstützt durch das NATIONALE PERFORMANCE NETZ Koproduktionsförderung Tanz, gefördert von der Beauftragten der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien.“
martial arts coaching
2019, JUNE 8
Theater im Pfalzbau Ludwigshafen (D)
Martinée at Pfalzbau Theater,
Theaterhaus Stuttgart (D)
Festival Theater in Bewegung,
Pumpenhaus Münster (D)
Forum Freies Theater,
Forum Freies Theater,
Tollhaus, Karlsruhe (D)
Theater Aschaffenburg (D)
Tafelhalle Nürnberg (D)
Stuttgarter Nachrichten | 2017, March 6
by Julia Lutzeyer
Walls in the mind >
Her staged rivalry between serious art and entertainment can also be read as an allegory of a world in which the privileged part of humanity keeps the other, allegedly more primitive part at a distance.
This ambiguity makes it almost impossible to acknowledge the global situation as unbalanced for one thing but, when it comes to the question regarding the value of body languages, to favour dance. The wall inside the mind topples. But the production also shows how exhausting a however spectacular flic-flac sequence is in the long run, while the dancers convey something sophisticated with much less physical exertion.
Constitution, faith and war, that’s how Helena Waldmann names her three chapters in which four dancers compete against three acrobats, assisted by an amateur choir that functions as a mobile wall or a manipulable mass.
All of them together stand for the whole of human mankind. Every chapter begins with an animated tableau.
First of all, the protagonists re-enact the 1945 photograph of the raising of the US flag on the Japanese island Iwo Jima; then a takedown from a cross, and finally Francisco de Goya’s ‘The Third of May 1808’. Again and again these group scenes break up and two factions form that try to dominate the situation, each increasingly relentless and with their respective form of expression. To this resound three versions of the today somewhat cynical song “We Are The World” by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie that crowned Bob Geldof’s Live-Aid charity concert for Africa in 1985. We never hear the tacky melody for long as it gets swallowed up by pulsating rhythms and sharper sounds.
None of the memorable scenes move on a single track. Setting world events and theatre life side-by-side makes for a striking effect because it gives an idea of how comprehensively equality must be conceived. If “Good Passports, Bad Passports” ends with the question of whether humanity will ever get along without borders, the company seems to refuse an answer to this but gives it nevertheless: through the spacious, coequal and completely mixed arrangement of all the performers. Once again Helena Waldmann trusts the body when it’s about taking a position.
Dance Europe | Aug/Sept 2017
by Deborah Weiss
Dance Europe >
In her compelling work Good Passports Bad Passports Helena Waldmann draws parallels between borders, crossing them, innate prejudice, outdated traditionalism and the held beliefs of contemporary dance and acrobats, but it’s an analogy that works well in this context and proved to be a stroke of genius.
There were many uncomfortable, upsetting moments, but at times it was laugh-out-loud hilarious. All of it resonated rather deeply. The stage was populated with four dancers, three acrobats and 20 local people. A pole was erected and one of the acrobats quickly shunted up, holding himself (somehow!) at a right angle to the floor, symbolising a flag. The stage was split into two and a voice spoke in both German and English, making a series of comments: I pay taxes; I have a credit card; I have a conviction and so on. The cast have to choose left or right, yes or no, and flock between sides, sometimes changing their minds, as if they feel obliged to be honest. So, the scene is set, the rights and wrongs of our assumptions, the blatant observation that we are different beings, with multi-faceted opinions, but neither wrong nor right.
It is expertly portrayed via the vocal and physical representation of the contemporary dancers, who do not want spectacle or tricks or glamour, and the flamoyant acrobats, who are intent upon risk, exploring the new and gaining applause. As both sides vie for authentication, the acrobat demonstrates his ‚roll’ by throwing himself into an airborne flip. The contemporary dancer executes his version as a sideward somersault on the floor, adding to this his ‚prince role’, with the mime gesture of a crown. The delivery is deliciously droll and highly amusing. What ensues can only be described as a battleground where each side dismisses the other – the aggression, endurance and sheer physicality and athleticism escalate to monumental proportions, with plenty of explosive and exciting episodes – and the central issue of prejudice on both sides is left unresolved. In one sequence, the acrobat mimics the dancer, generating much mirth. A quite brilliant, exaggerated display of campery followed, made all the more poignant because, in reality, he could not demonstrate adequately the contemporary technique. As a wall of linked people surged and repressed the two divisions, with no satisfactory outcome, it hit home – the inability of populations everywhere to change their core beliefs. Such thought-provoking, politically topical material, with such first-rate, sometimes astounding performers, is well worth watching more than once.
Helena Waldmann >
freelance dance director since 1989, studied Applied Theatre Studies at the University of Giessen.
Her plays have been touring internationally since 1993. Since 2003 her plays have been created worldwide:
Letters from Tentland in Iran, in Brazil – for her Headhunters created in Salvador de Bahia she received the UNESCO Theatre Prize -, and in Bangladesh. Here she has twelve kathak dancers stomp the hard life worlds of the seamstresses into the ground like rattling sewing needles and draws parallels to the dancer precarity of the western world. For the production Made in Bangladesh she was nominated for DER FAUST 2015.
Helena Waldmann is invited to lectures and workshops worldwide, most recently in January 2019 at the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority in Hong Kong. She is a juror of various dance competitions, since 2018 also for the German Dance Prize. Hans-Thies Lehmann published about her in his classic Post-dramatic Theatre. Already in 1995 she received first teaching assignments at the Université Paris 8 and at the Institute for Theatre, Film and Media Studies at the University of Frankfurt/Main. Currently she is Bertolt Brecht visiting professor of the City of Leipzig at the Centre of Competence for Theatre.
Anna Saup >
is a video artist and co-founder of the artist group Supreme Particles. She has worked on theatre projects with Heiner Goebbels, Michael Simon, Robert Wilson and Michael Nyman and in dance with Arco Renz and Helena Waldmann (vodka konkav, glücksjohnny, Cheshire Cat, Letters from Tentland, Made in Bangladesh).
She works as an editor for 3sat, and was awarded the Gold Medal of the Art Directors Club of New York and a first prize of the Eyes and Ears of Europe, as well as at the New York Festival.
Herbert Cybulska >
has worked as a freelance lighting designer for opera, drama, dance and performance at home and abroad since 1984.
Since 2004 he has created his own installations, often with a strong media presence in Frankfurt, Shanghai, Milan, Koblenz, Hanoi and for the Gasometer Oberhausen. In 2014 he became Artistic Director of Lichttage Stendal.
Since 2006 he has been strengthening his work in the field of architecture, initially as a partner of L-Plan in Berlin, and since 2012 with his own planning office in Frankfurt.
Together with Cybulska+Partners, he develops lighting concepts for regional and international projects; articles for trade journals and lectures on lighting design at home and abroad. He was President of PLDA (Professional Lighting Designers ́Association) 2011-2014.
His work has received numerous awards, including a German Lighting Design Award four times.
Judith Adam >
designs costumes for various types of dance.
She works together with the ballet choreographers Tim Plegge (Eine Winterreise, Hessisches Staatsballett Wiesbaden Darmstadt), Reginaldo Oliveira (Othello, Salzburger Landestheater), Antoine Jully (Jurassic Trip, Oldenburgisches Staatstheater), the breakdance choreographer Kadir Amigo Memis (Cabdance, HAU Berlin), the analytical performer Gabriele Reuter (Tourist a de-centred play) and the experimental choreographer Deborah Hay (Teancity of space Tanzhaus NRW).
She has been working with Helena Waldmann since 2014. She created the costumes for Made in Bangladesh, Good Passports Bad Passports and We Love Horses. In addition, she designs costumes for music theatre.
Aljoscha Tursan >
was born in Italy and moved to Munich with his family at the age of four. He studied classical ballet at the Heinz-Bosl Foundation in Munich and at the Staatliche Ballettschule in Berlin. Engagements as a dancer led him to several German municipal theatres. He then trained in martial arts. First in a classical style Siak Lak Hang and later in Wing Tsun Kuen.
Telmo Branco >
was born in Portugal. He is an interdisciplinary performer trained in acting, singing, body theatre and contemporary dance. He currently lives in Berlin. Besides developing his own plays in an interdisciplinary format, he has worked with artists from various artistic fields such as Nir de Wolf, Alexandra Piric, Falk Richter, Shang-Chi Sun, Ximo Flores and Alvaro Correia.
Ichiro Sugae >
was born in Japan and studied at the Musashino Art University in Kodaira/Tokyo. He works as a dancer/performer among others with Angelica Liddell, Rui Horta, Jo Kanamori, Saar Magal, Yoshifumi Inao, Yuki Yamada, Satoshi Kudo (Eastman), Shintaro Hirahara, Heine Avdal & Yukiko Shinozaki, Takashi Murakami, Dennis Gansel, Shang chi Sun, Jara Serrano e.t.c.
Tillmann Becker >
was born in Indonesia. His career as a dancer began at the ballet of the Landestheater in Coburg, where he also worked as a physiotherapist. He graduated from the ArteZ Hoogeschool voor de Kunsten in Arnhem as Bachelor of Dance (Dancer/Maker). Besides free projects in Europe and China, he has appeared in works by Marco Goecke, Roy Assaf, Amos Ben-Tal, Jerome Meyer, Noa Shadur, Jeori Dubbe, Angelin Preljocaj, Gregor Zoellig, Katrín Háll and Jan Pusch. Tillmann Becker is also active as a choreographer and won 2nd prize at the International Choreography Competition „No Ballet“ in Ludwigshafen in 2012. He was twice semi-finalist at the „International Competition for Choreographers in Hanover“.