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Ko rp e r Schaubiihne director takes a close look at the body

’When I began choreographing my own dance pieces it was clear to me that movement should have meaning,’ says Sasha Waltz, shooting star of the contemporary German dance scene. ’I didn't simply want to sketch beautiful forms. I had a refrigerator and a desk and I improvised with them. They were like partners integrated into the dance. We carry out many physical activities with these things in everyday life, I use these everyday movements to tell stories. You can decode movements differently if they take place in a concrete context; it’s another way of making dance easier to understand.’

Waltz, born in 1963 in Karlsruhe, south-west Germany, had lessons with Waltraud Kornhaas, a former pupil of Mary Wigman, the great American dancer, before studying at the Amsterdam School For New Dance Development and a spell working in New York, and then again in Holland. About eight years ago she applied for a scholarship in Berlin, eventually to set up ’Sasha Waltz & Guests’ and, in 1996, to open her own performance space, the Sophiensaele in the centre of the city. At the start of this year, together with Thomas Ostermeier (director of Fireface in 1999’s Edinburgh International Festival), she took over the directorship of


William Mcllvanney Politics, poetry and prose

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William Mcllvanney: Novelist, poet and cultural commentator

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There‘s a nude dance craze: Korper

the Schaubiihne am Lehniner Platz, the famous theatre founded in 1970 by Peter Stein.

’I believe the primary function of this theatre is to create a space for dance and the body,’ she says. Because of this, she regards Korper (Body), her debut at the Schaubijhne, as an emblematic production. It's partly inspired by her giving birth to a son just as new scientific developments were reflecting our desire for infinite life and the perfect body, but in rehearsal she found that the space itself determined the content. She wanted to make ’the space visible over the body, to measure its dimensions, and to show the body in its pure state exposed to base materials concrete, steel, wood and to set that in contrast to the naked bodies.’

We see a window in the middle of a black wall. The space behind the window is small and narrow and is filled with dancers. They come from the sides and from above, they slip down lazily, their skin pressed at the glass of the window, noses and breasts squashed flat, the body becoming an image in a frame. The production epitomises her attempt to present the body as a neutral, material thing. 'The bodies are naked, but consciously asexual,’ she says, explaining that the walls of the set symbolise their limits. ’They represent the inability to get very far, and also the limits of relationships between partners and to do with claustrophobia.‘ (Rolf C. Hemke)

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William Mcllvanney

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