Tanzplan Deutschland
Advanced training workshop on the topic "reconstruction" during the festival move berlim, on April 24th to 26, 2009 at HAU, Berlin.1656

As in many other places, Brazils contemporary dance also recalls its history. One website provides a good overview of the increasing number of publications appearing (www.luciavillar.com.br). How this history is dealt with, how it is written, interpreted and reconstructed, was the object of this advanced training for professors and academics from state-run colleges and universities. It was embedded into the programme of the current move berlim festival, at which reconstructions of emblematic works of contemporary dance in Brazil were among the works presented. After a preparatory trip taken by Ingo Diehl and Madeline Ritter together with the festival directors, Wagner Carvalho and Bjrn Dirk Schlter, to various universities and research institutes in Brazil, choreographers, dance educators, dancers, journalists and dance researchers from Brazil and Germany met for a two-day workshop in HAU.

A roadmap for dance
The first panel was about two different approaches to the legacy of dance: the work of dance educator Klaus Vianna in Belo Horizonte, oriented towards the individual, and the rehabilitation of dance history in the Recife metropolitan region through the medium of a digital dance archive. The RecorDana archive is a pioneering project in Brazil. It is the most comprehensive archive of its kind, has a wealth of material and covers a very extensive range of stylistic forms. (www.recordana.com.br).

It was founded in 2003 during a phase in which dance was given a strong political weight, as Roberta Ramos, dance researcher and one of the archives three coordinators, reported. The archive is a partner of the Movimento Dana Recife organisation, which was also involved in establishing a dance degree programme. They are working together to strengthen dance. Recordanas task is to constitute history and memory.

This digital archive initially focused on dance productions staged from 1970 to 2000. The group of those working on the archive developed everything themselves: collecting the material and data collected and systematically classifying it, initially in a simple database, set up under the headings of Biographies, Choreographies and Works and Groups. In the second phase, with the help of public funding, the data base was changed so that material in the various categories is now cross-referenced. Material on dance from 2000 to 2008 was then collected in a third step.

Subsequent to the creation of this cartography, interpretations were then developed and phases of development and different influences on dance investigated. The data is just a means of achieving something different, namely enabling research, i.e. developing and discussing views of this history (Ramos). Students from the post-graduate programme are also involved in this process. Methods for better analysing pieces and for organising movements and other elements are being developed and the influence of video clips and various kinds of trainings are being examined.

This work is based on a concept that emphasises the perspective of the present in dealing with traces of the past, a critical approach through which histories of dance are created and not just one history. The goal is to create a historical roadmap, which could be constantly changed, an online archive that will enable new critical interpretations.

In the next phase, the information system will be made more dynamic and the audiovisual material improved. Choreographers provide the archive with videos that can be used for training and education, but not commercially used. Recordana itself makes videos with choreographers, which are also authorised for use in training and education. The legal situation with photographers is more difficult, many can no longer be found, and there are no rights to music at all. The archive has hitherto existed only in Portuguese but English translations are now underway.

De-construction and re-construction of the dancing subject
What is teaching dance about? Is it about formal codification or a personal approach to movement? Arnaldo Alvarenga, who coordinates the department of movement education for dance in the dance degree programme in Belo Horizonte, outlined the pedagogic concept of choreographer and dance educator Klauss Vianna (1928 1992). The classically-trained Vianna sought a dialogue between classical and contemporary dance and a way to allow something else, individual expression, to emerge instead of technique. The central aspects of his work are the destructuring and restructuring of the dancing body.

Vianna, who made intensive studies of anatomy and founded a centre for bodily research in Rio de Janeiro, founded his work on physical destructuring, the correct alignment of the bones, loosening of the joints and the expansion of the bodys inner spaces, all in all a playful process aimed at destroying false self-perceptions. This is followed by a complex reconstruction process, in which dancers embark on a personal search to find their own movements and integrate their own personality into the dance. Vianna emphasises the creative aspect of this process, in which reflection, perception and awareness are designed to function together in a very personal form of dance. In Berlin the concept was a topic that aroused controversy in discussions, as it did during Viannas lifetime, especially his questioning of the opposition of technique and the sensitization of the body, but also a changed understanding of technique, which was noted. Viannas interest was certainly multi-layered: for him the question was also how to raise awareness and connect the different cultural heritage of the body in his country.

The repertoire in contemporary dance and memory as a tool in the reconstruction of choreographic works
Could dance itself not be its own recording? And the repertoire a means of transmitting dance? Do repertoire and contemporary dance fit together at all? Is there not a fundamental contradiction between them? Roberto Pereira, dance critic and coordinator of the dance studies programme at the UniverCidade (Rio de Janeiro), who has unfortunately since died, dealt with these problems in an illuminating way. According to him, the basis of memory and reconstruction, topics reflected in many contemporary works of recent years, (example, Boris Charmatz), must be the present. A text about the past, and Pereira cites T. S. Eliot, holds more information about the time in which it was written than it does about the past.

Pereira referred to the emergence of the notion of repertoire in the 19th century. At this time, according to many researchers, dance achieved aesthetic autonomy. Dance criticism was increasingly developing, the notion of the history of dance as a discipline was emerging. The ballet Giselle disappeared and was only reconstructed again in the 1970s. Since then it has stood for the romantic ballet. On this basis, we have concentrated on how the work and not just the technique can be retained.

More than a technique
The project of modern dance as aesthetic and as dance is closely bound up with the names of its creators: Graham, Cunningham etc. This poses, says Roberto Pereira, the question of how he can be his own place of memory, if there is not just one technique, as in ballet? And since there is not just one form of teaching in contemporary dance, there is also not just one body. Dance that has a canon would be very important, but would not permit any change. For choreographer Emio Greco, the notion of repertoire in contemporary dance is a contradiction. Pereira quoted the choreographer as saying, I must constantly reinvent myself. According to this view, repertoire today is something that is constantly being developed.

Aware of this fundamental problem, Roberto Pereira founded with dancer and dance educator Marise Reis in 2003 the Companhia de Dana da Cidade, which is oriented towards the American Repertory Dance Company and reconstructs important modern and contemporary dance pieces in Brazil. Pereira calls the work of this company, which is connected with the private university UniverCidade in Rio de Janeiro, an archaeological adventure.

Its an adventure that has failed, because the body has no recording, yet this failure is the only possibility, it gives the body, the performance, its dignity. Pieces stay alive because theyre on stage, as one critic said. Pereira emphasised that todays bodies therefore change the piece. Dancers only know the style of jazz pieces from films. They can never dance these dances as they were. Yet this failure allows us at the same time to look back at the 1970s and depict the present, like Boris Charmatzs Isadora or Nijinskys Faun. We are dealing here with a lacuna; the bodies are at a distance, but through it we can recognise today how the past looks.

Reconstruction as Research
Marise Reis, contemporary dance teacher and head of the company, talked about practical work. The idea of a company at a university is entirely new. The dancers come from the teacher training degree programme, but they are complemented by graduates from this degree programme. Reis emphasises the research nature of the project. The pieces are selected in discussions together with Roberto Pereira. The main criterion is that they are works from choreographers who had high quality in their time. The repertoire now consists of thirteen pieces.

Researching material is part of the work process. This is often incomplete, i.e. choreography has to be supplemented. It is here that Marise Reis work lies. The pieces choreographers are deliberately only consulted towards the end of the work, to give the whole thing meaning. If they were involved from the outset, says Marise Reis, they would influence the process much more. The concept of this work is however based on the fact that its impossible to dance again the exact same dance that it once was.

Marise Reis initially took on all the parts, but now she coordinates. Choreography is more than just a sequence of steps, she emphasised, it requires more information, including knowledge about the pieces context so that the dancer can approach it. Historical and theoretical research is done and a lot of knowledge is obtained in direct conversations with witnesses of the respective work and period.

To find an individual way of reading
The project was intensivly discussed. One of the questions asked was how the bodies are prepared for this work (Ingo Diehl). That would be desirable, but usually theres no time for it, explained M. Reis, only on tour or in exceptional cases. She added that this also demonstrates how much the project changes the dancers. This experience will be incorporated into their practice.

Research into what kind of discourse develops on the traces in searching for those traces can also not be done (a question put by R. Ramos) theres no time or funding for it. Roberto Pereira described their working conditions. Its a private university, so funding is limited. Theres a space, grants for eight dancers and a little money for Marise Reis. Equipment is bought with the profits of ticket sales at performances, of which there are many.

I. Diehl said in conclusion that, Both Companhia and Recordanca simply go about this work, without letting themselves be scared off by questions of rights or the fact of limited possibilities.

The companys practical work was again explained in detail, using the example of Catar, the first piece in the companys repertoire. Marise Reis danced in Catar, Lia Rodrigues first piece, and developed it again herself for the reconstruction. The company presented two different programmes at the festival with pieces from very different periods that were very diverse in terms of style. Initially it wasnt easy for the dancers to switch between styles, although today its no longer a problem. Art lecturer Sandra Meyer (Florianpolis) observed that most of the choreographies were created a long time ago so its not easy to study the different styles. One of the dancers emphasised how important it is to find out something about the piece and discuss it thoroughly, Because each dancer must find his or her own way of reading.

Martin Nachbar: A practical insight into work on Affectos Humanos
Dance technique can mean that bodily awareness is developed within the technique (as in contact improvisation, Susan Klein). The body is seen not as a machine to be trained, but as an instrument to be tuned. Every dancers body is however different and there are very eclectic methods, so it has advantages and disadvantages. With this specific knowledge of movement, dancer and choreographer Martin Nachbar discovered a video of Dore Hoyers Affectos Humanos during his training at P.A.R.T.S.

In this cycle of five dances, the dancer, alone on stage, pursues the delirium of the emotions: vanity, desire, hate, fear and love. The video was made in 1965. Martin Nachbar was born a few years later in 1971. What attracted him was its powerful intensity and a visibly consistent research into movement. The choreographer describes his work on the cycle as a process continuing over a long period, during which his understanding of it and physical approach clearly changed.

Nachbar was 28 years old when he began this work in 1999. He often met with Waltraud Luley, a close confidant of Dore Hoyer, who also owned the rights to the cycle. The problem was not the steps and movements, but more the intensity that Dore Hoyer had achieved through bodily tension. Waltraud Luley showed the young choreographer exercises and explained the philosophy of Hoyer, Wigman and Palucca. It wasnt easy work. The powerful bodily tension made it hard for him to give it an impetus. He compensated for this by initiating a lot with breathing Hoyer didnt do that.

Entering into physical confrontation
Nachbar chose three dances for his work; Desire, Hate and Fear. The dances were performed without music and just in training clothes, to free up the view of the body. Desire said Nachbar, was the hardest, because it works a lot through countermoves, Release Techniques would have helped with the trembling and tottering in Fear. Nachbar worked on it for a year, then presented it very frequently over five years. Today, after a break of several years and a period spent studying Tai-Chi, his understanding of the work has changed. I now understand that the tension has to do with the relationship, with an oscillation between centre and periphery.

Meanwhile, Martin Nachbar has also rehearsed the remaining dances (Urheben aufheben, 2008). The cycle, says the choreographer, is still hard to dance, although which role gender and the individual body played remains unexplained - Hoyer was at any rate looser in the shoulders and hips. The reconstruction work now consists for him less in work on the subtext than in the coordination of spine and the rest of the body. The basis has changed. Tai-Chi is aimed at a bodily emptiness and here there is a connection to the work of Hoyer, for whom the body was a resonating cavity. Because I am emptier, I feel more resonance.

The question of the antiquatedness of movement has given way to the problem of coordination and the bodily awareness of feelings. Nachbar says Questions of style or taste are not important in an artistic examination, so for me as a choreographer the reconstructions from Brazil were very instructive. Dore Hoyer worked a great deal with the idea of carving, especially with the hips. There are various references to todays forms of bodily awareness, as with Paxton, Susan Klein and Deborah Hay. Nachbar added, To achieve that, you have to move away from things such as taste etc. and enter more strongly into physical confrontation.

What is Reconstruction?
Reconstruction for Martin Nachbar is a form of memory. In German its a reflexive verb, Ich erinnere mich, i.e. I must have experienced it myself. The important thing is that it happened in a form that always had to do with what is recalled and what is danced choreography. In the first phase of the work and the performances he was strongly preoccupied with the differences, but now the focus is on the similarities, admittedly with the important restriction that things are done differently today. A period of time that has to be bridged over lies between remembering and doing, for which the video and Waltraud Luley (a wealth of knowledge) were crucial.

When you reconstruct, explains Nachbar, you have to excavate, jump into the hole. In making this jump, the pictures of the part are not repeated but updated. And then there is a point at which bodily awareness and imagination touch. Thats possible because the present and the past are not completely different because the past is happening now. For Martin Nachbar the idea of experimenting on oneself is central, because through it you become aware of your personal taste through your own history and things are changed.

The memory of dance
The presentation of practical projects was framed in a lecture by Stephan Drschel, who is responsible for stocks of dance materials in the archive at the Akademie der Knste, about the various materials, questions of rights and the new consolidation of the five large dance archives. Video recordings and choreographic sketches are especially important in reconstructions. There are only very few of the former in the AdK, which is a classic archive with lots of material from the first half of the 20th century. The recordings of Gerhard Bohner and Hans Kresnik, representatives of Tanztheater (dance theatre), are also very interesting: scenic pictures by Kresnik, sketches with symbols and time specifications by Bohner. There is of course sufficient video material of them and of other contemporary artists, including live recordings of rehearsals and performances. On Gerhard Bohner is almost only the video material used a treasure trove may well lie hidden in his unread and unedited notes.

Usage rights are a difficult issue. All rights remain with the rights holders when material is incorporated into the AdK archive. The originals may not be shown in exhibitions or be given to readers in the reading room without permission. They may not be publicised, shown in an exhibition or be posted on the Internet without permission. If recordings of performances are shown at events, the rights have to be obtained from the broadcaster and paid for! If the authors were private persons, theoretically everyone who was involved in the production has to be asked for their permission. For reconstructions, the choreographer and composer (unless they have been dead for more than 70 years), and perhaps also others who had secured the right to have a say on the choreography, have to be asked for permission. In general, concluded Drschel, the legal situation in respect of intellectual property and usage rights is now so complicated that even experts express contradictory opinions on crucial points.

On the initiative of Tanzplan Deutschland, the major German dance archives merged in 2007 to form the Association of German Dance Archives (Verbund der deutschen Tanzarchive - VdT):
The German Dance Archive Cologne (Deutsche Tanzarchiv Kln) (the most comprehensive dance archive, oriented towards the classical, connected to a gallery with changing exhibitions)
Leipzig Dance Archive (also a personal archive, involved in research-oriented cooperation with the Institute for Theatre Research Leipzig)
the German Dance Film Institute Bremen ( the most important film archive, equipped with several viewing and editing suites)
the Mime Centre Berlin (documents all contemporary productions shown in Berlin, also runs rehearsal rooms and publications),
the Akademie der Knste (mainly bequests from members of the Akademie der Knste, but also from other major artists)

The Association highlights the national significance of dance archives, drawing attention to the cultural and political significance of this heritage, which needs support and safeguarding. The existing website (www.tanzarchive.de) should be extended to become a joint Internet portal, which could be used for education and training, research and knowledge production. A shared reference on all the stocks of dance materials on the Net should also be set up to facilitate the finding of material and a dance atlas, in which the history of dance in the 20th century in Germany would be illustrated in documents and made accessible in a theoretically substantiated manner through texts.

Edith Boxberger
Hamburg, August 2009

Received her doctorate in Literature from the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE), is coordinator of the RecorDana archive, works with the Movimento Dana Recife association, and is on the editorial board of Idana. Author of the dissertation Deslocamentos Armoriais: da afirmao pica do popular na Nao Castanha de Ariano Suassuna ao corpo-histria do Grupo Grial (English Emblematic Shifts: On the epic integration of the popular in Nao Castanha by Ariano Suassuna and the physical history of the Grupo Grial Ensemble)

is Professor of performing arts at the Art School of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, where he coordinates the department of movement education for dance. He studied Educational Science at the FAE and is Vice-Coordinator of the Dance Research in Brazil working group. He has been involved in the investigations and processes of the State Research Association ABRACE and is a researcher with the Educational History Research Group (GEPHE) and the Programme for Oral History (PHO) at the Federal University of Minas Gerais. He has won awards as a dancer, choreographer and author of works for the stage, incl. the Ministry of Cultures 2006 Klauss Vianna Prize.

Dance critic of the Jornal do Brasil and coordinator of dance studies at the UniverCidade (Rio de Janeiro). A Phd. in in Communication and Semiotics (PUC/So Paulo), he studied philosophy in Vienna. Author of various works on dance including "A formao do bal brasileiro" (en. The Development of Brazilian Ballet), FGV, 2003.

A dance education specialist with a degree in sports education, she danced for 15 years with choreographer Joo Saldanha. She has been head of the Companhia de Dana da Cidade (UniverCidade, Rio de Janeiro) since its foundation in 2003 and is a lecturer on contemporary dance in the dance degree programme at the UniverCidade and at the Faculdade Angel Vianna.

Born in 1971, he lives in Berlin, is a dancer and choreographer, and writes for various European dance and theatre magazines. He trained at the School for New Dance Development (Amsterdam), in New York and at P.A.R.T.S. (Brussels). He was a co-founder of the des B.D.C./Plischke collective, for whom he reconstructed Dore Hoyers Affectos Humanos dance cycle. Martin Nachbar has worked as a dancer with Les Ballets C. de la B., Vera Mantero, Thomas Lehmen and others and collaborated with artists such as composer Benjamin Schweitzer, choreographer Jochen Roller and with organizer Ulrike Melzwig. Martin Nachbar teaches at the FU Berlin and the SNDO Amsterdam. His choreographic works often tour internationally.

Born in 1959 in Munich, he studied theatre studies, philosophy and psychology in Munich and theatre practice at the Munich Kammerspiele. Since 1996 he has worked in the Performing Arts Archive at the Akademie der Knste Berlin and is responsible there for stocks of dance materials, among other things.
He has also been involved in publications on Boleslaw Barlog Tatjana Gsovsky, Johanna Hofer and Fritz Kortner, Hans Lietzau, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle and Maria Wimmer for the Akademie der Knste and in exhibitions on Tatjana Gsovsky, Hans Lietzau, Johanna Hofer and Fritz Kortner, Kate Khl, Maya Plisetskaya, Ernst Schumacher, Maria Wimmer, and has published his own work on Fritz Wisten.


Tanzplan Deutschland

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