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SEE AND BE SCENE - video stage for dance performance

The play stage is build on the principle of a sandwich. A 16 meter long table-catwalk, above it a projection screen (16x8 m) in 6 meters hight. The audience sits at the catwalk-table, close together as during a banquet. On the catwalk act three japanese table dancers whose nearness does not allow the normal view to see them whole. Their bodies appear like under hand lens, enlarged through the intimacy.
This, mixt with fantasies appear as a projection up over the heads of the dancers and the audience. Instead of place setting a spectator finds a small hand mirror, in which he can first see his own face in a strange perspective. The mirror is also a key to decipher the portent projected by the video artist onto the screen over the catwalk. Words „Appear Here“ announce a fugitive appearance . It consists of waterdrops, each one with a face reflected inside it, waiting with fright for its bursting, when one waterdrop gets nudged from an other, and they solve themself in a silent rill.
This theather play, inspired by the cult roman „Glamorama“ by Bret Easton Ellis shows everything as only staging: the own body, the enviroment. Each detail is disclosed in a shameless directness, each emotion particularise. And yet in this apparent openness, any reflective moment is missing: the truth, which neither the reader of the roman nor the audience member at the play can experience.
The eye traped in a medial sight misses all that aims the enlightenment, knowing distance. The dancers wear the skin naked, not their own but the one of the artist Alba D‘Urbano, a copy printed on the clothing. The show is accompanied by the percussionist Arik Hayut.

Dinner for everyone by Antje Schmelcher, Die Welt

Fashion is terror. That is the now well known conclusion of Bret Easton Ellis‘ novel „Glamorama“, in which models symbolically turn out to be terrorists. The terror of the surface can hit anyone. Even someone who is trying to resist the dictate of fashion, has to be clothed in something. And that is where the net of lust and lies begins. Helena Waldmann, known for her associative staging of sound, light and spacial art, has found new images for Easton Ellis‘ novel. As if celebrating a lord‘s supper of vanity, she places her audience around a banquet like fashion runway in the atrium at the Haus der Deutschen Wirtschaft.

Instead of cutlery the viewer has a mirror, in which, leaned forward, he can see his slightly loosely hanging face flesh from a grotesque angle. This mirror is also the key to deciphering the portent, that video artist Karina Smigla-Bobinski is projecting onto the screen above the runway. „Appear here“ is advertising the appearance, its letters as fleeting as its form. These are water drops, reflecting a face, that resembles the horror of a death row prisoner awaiting the burst. Is it hit by anther drop, they dissolve into a long silent trickle.

The dissolution of the outer shell of the dancers is just as violent, as they walk in white pleated kimonos over the runway to the buzzing and knocking measures by the percussionist artist Arik Hayut. Strangely bending their bodies provocatingly and libidinously towards the audience, until, with a sudden handle of the neck, they seem to hang themselves in the robes. No Munchhausen trick to rescue themselves, but an image of dying angels, trying to peel themselves out of their shells. Underneath appears a nudeness, which with the painted genitalia on the costumes by designer Alba D‘Urbano only seems to be natural. Just as natural as the nudeness staged as „real“ by everyday media.

Waldmann shows how false and destructive this intimacy is by the continued skinning of the dancers. At the end the last bits of skin are carried by the women in knotted bundles on the stage. The horror of the audience is only seemingly relieved in a japanese tea ceremony. Humble the women kneel down in front of the viewers, smilingly handing them a cup of tea. The step from intimacy to the destruction of the body is a small one: enormous needles, projected above the stage, reed with a merciless time into the women‘s smiles. Fashion just is the most flattering kind of terror.

© Antje Schmelcher, Die Welt, 1. August 2000


Concept, stage und regie - Helena Waldmann
Live music - Arik Hayut
Choreographie - Helena Waldmann und Chis Ho Chau Wah
Couture - Alba D'Urbano
Video stage - Karina Smigla-Bobinski
On Stage - 3 dancers and a musician

Technical Specifications

description > video stage for dance performance
components > video, DVD player, projectors
dimensions > 6 m long x 2 m wide
premiere > 2000, Berliner Festspiele

Project of Berliner Festspiele and Frankfurt Zweitausend Podewil Berlin

Supported by Dezernat für Kultur und Freizeit der Stadt Frankfurt am Main, Senatsverwaltung für Forschung, Wissenschaft und Kultur, Hessisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst, Nassauische Sparkassen


> Helena Waldmann