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Dance before Christmas

With the second Tanzen vor Weihnachten (Dec 16-21, 20:00) festival, Acker Stadt Palast invites dancers and the audience to meet just before Christmas in an experiment with intimacy as part of a wider programme of varied dance performances.

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Photo by Athanasia Kanellopoulou

With the second Tanzen vor Weihnachten festival, Acker Stadt Palast invites dancers and the audience to meet.

“Our everyday life movements are so poor!” states Acker Stadt Palast’s artistic director Anete Colacioppo. “The computer tells you how you have to behave in front of it, the furniture doesn’t allow much freedom of movement. Some people go dancing in clubs, but even there, the movements are quite stipulated – you wouldn’t lie on the floor. I would like to put the brakes on that a bit.” The Brazilian actress and curator has been involved in theatre since the age of 14. She arrived in Berlin in 2003: “I was surprised by the precise ways theatre and dance styles are described here. Maybe that’s why I am still so curious about all the possibilities performing arts has to offer,” she adds. This extensive curiosity is reflected in her festival’s programme, exploring with 12 different pieces how varied contemporary dance can be, and allowing audience members to experience some of these possibilities themselves.

The Viennese duo of Tiina Sööt and Dorothea Zeyringer present Lonely Lonely, a piece danced in cardboard boxes. Forced to adapt, “the dancers’ bodies are nearly absent,” comments Colacioppo, glad to demonstrate that “dance doesn’t have to be so focused on the body.” Repair:Move, by Richter/Meyer/Marx, also questions the place of the body in a performance, using the repetition of movements performed within heavy red costumes that emphasise the body without really showing it.

On the other side of the dance scale, Greek dancer Athanasia Kanellopoulou shows The Return of Penelope, a strongly emotional piece based on powerful physical expression. “It’s almost pathetic – the kind of work that you see very rarely in the German scene, where artists tend rather to focus on the structural or formal aspects of the movement.” Concentrated on movement’s pure beauty, Berlin-based Korean dancer Howool Baek’s minimalistic piece Did U Hear exposes small parts of the body subtly moving: “Sometimes only the hand or the foot, which opens a lot of images.” The festival also focuses on the connection between dance and new music. Aus Vierundzwanzig: Sieben, a short piece by composer Uwe Rasch and dancer Kiri Haardt, is the result of a common composition; whereas Gabriel Galindez Cruz created La Perfezione Di Uno Spirito Sottile as a response to a music piece by Salvatore Siarrino and performs it as a “choreographic concert” together with a flautist and a singer.

“For me, it’s important to give the audience the opportunity to experience something,” says Colacioppo. “And I am very interested in the connection between seeing and doing.” That’s how the idea of systematic Jam Sessions after the festival performances came. “It’s an attempt to mix the audience with the artists and see what comes out.” Every evening, following the last show, a 20-minute session will be opened, inviting audience members to join the artists on stage. In a relaxed atmosphere, the dancers will teach the audience an easy way of working with the body – to play with distance and proximity, repeat the same movement several times, vary the speed or try to imitate someone else’s gestures. Small, easy ‘tools’ that can be freely experienced and re-used later on, as an impulse to explore bodily possibilities. Dancers and audience members are then, every night, invited to end the evening in a party atmosphere at the bar.

II Tanzen vor Weihnachten – Transmissions December 16-21, 20:00 | Acker Stadt Palast, Ackerstr. 169/170, Mitte, U-Bhf Rosenthaler Platz.

Originally published in issue #133, December 2014.