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Two dancers slide around on stage, moving their arms as though they were hydraulically operated. The bleepy, intelligent dance music by Klaus Janek segues into something more digital, and so the dancing changes as the two dancers literally and figuratively bounce off one other. Honji Wang and SÃ©bastian Ramirez, we later learn, are partners in real life, as well as dance partners, which is part of the reason they work so well together. The dancing speeds up, they become more frenetic, and they throw each other around with even more enthusiasm, facial expressions contributing to the dance.
The second piece doesn’t start as you expect… it starts with a noise in the middle of the audience, then a noise at the side. Dancers Katharina Meves and Ahmed Soura shout random words (in English) and noises, while Janek scratches at a double bass. And we literally mean scratches: he slides his nails up and down the amplified strings and bridge of the instrument, and the dancers react. Then, as the dancers run through the audience, they end up on stage and the bass player moves across to greet them, finally using a bow – but still not in the traditional way.
Stunningly different contemporary dance is what makes Dialogic Movement so different, as they appeared for one night only at Radialsystem V, a former wastewater pumping station and, since 2006, arts space, to both perform and discuss their art. We weren’t expecting the discussion, which started 20 minutes into the show, but all of a sudden, comfy white sofas were being wheeled in, and the performers were interviewed – partly in German and, also, for the two who didn’t speak the language, in English.
They discussed their forms of dance and what they love about it, and it is here that we learn of the relationship between Wang and Ramirez. As Ramirez chats to the audience and interviewer, he stands, and you realise he’s about to perform. Then Wang follows, and they proceed to have an on stage ‘argument’ which becomes physical theatre, shouting and challenging one another simultaneously; discordant and chaotic until suddenly they’re saying the same thing at the same time. Neither of them are English, yet they end up both shouting the same thing to one another in English, demanding to know why they’re speaking English!
The discussion continued with Soura, from Burkina Faso, explaining how he taught himself to dance by watching the TV while his parents went out drinking at the weekend. It was only at the age of 20 that he got a teacher, who wondered what he could teach him that he didn’t know already! There are, Soura explains, 24 different African dance styles, and he demonstrated some – showing how hip hop dancing has been influenced by African movement. If you can dance to BeyoncÃ©, you can dance African style.
Then, both interviewers were dancing with the performers, showing off how all the dance moves that they’ve learned en route to their professional dance career come from similar roots. And all of a sudden, they’re inviting the audience down onto the stage area to join them in a dance-off – and it becomes clear that a lot of the audience aren’t strangers to public performing, even with a boy who looks no older than seven or eight showing off his street dancing moves.
An amazing show in a stunning building. They’re back in March, when the focus will shift to the current tendencies and perspectives in dance training and teaching. If you’re around, don’t miss them.
This review also appears on DiscoDamaged Berlin, the English language website for gay visitors to Berlin. Dialogic Movement appeared at Radialsystem V, HolzmarktstraÃŸe 33, Berlin. Image of Honji Wang and SÃ©bastien Ramirez © GÃ¼nther KrÃ¤mer.
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