In the 1920s and 1950s, the German Federal State of Baden-Württemberg was a thriving centre of expressionist dance. Today, residents have all but forgotten about works by pioneers such as Rudolf von Laban, Kurt Jooss, Mary Wigman and Oskar Schlemmer. The goal of the three-day festival TANZLOKAL – Tanzfest Stuttgart, organised by the Dance + Performance Production Centre, was to remember the tradition in situ, but also to reflect on it and develop it further. A selection of choreographers who are particularly linked to the region were invited to create pieces in Stuttgart about the above-mentioned artists and to perform them as part of the festival. Participative formats, e.g. contemporary movement choirs, a performative walk and expressionist dance karaoke, involved spectators and took the region’s dance heritage into the urban area.
Furthermore in her lecture Stuttgart and Modern Dance Heritage (see below), Claudia Fleische-Braun provided a comprehensive overview of the significance and development of modern dance in the Stuttgart region, covering the period from 1900 up to today.
The two installation choreographies by Isabelle Schad – DER BAU and FORM UND MASSE (CONSTRUCTION and FORM AND MASS) – looked at the space around the body. They also looked at Oskar Schlemmer’s interest in the relationships between body, costume/object and space from a wholly different perspective. Schlemmer brought geometries, volumes, forms and ‘object bodies’ to light Bauhaus style. By contrast, both DER BAU and FORM UND MASSE saw the space around the body as an (additional) organ.
DER BAU saw costumes as organs and thereby facilitated an investigation of the body and the space around it. At the same time, the space can also be seen as an organ and an extension of the body. The performance FORM UND MASSE investigated the relationship between energy and material, and between material, movement and the resultant form. While existing movement patterns become visible, as if amplified, and an object to be observed, the movement-generating person remains the subject of events.
The dancer and choreographer is co-director of a project space in the Wiesenburg building in Berlin. Her research priorities include the body and its materiality, and the body as a process, place and space. She uses various formats for her teaching activities, including open sessions on somatic work and choreography, workshops or short-term projects, which take place around the world. Recent productions include Unturtled #1 – #4, DER BAU (both with Laurent Goldring), Musik (Praticable) and Experience #1.
The performative map Die Übungen: zur Wahrnehmungsverschiebung (The Exercises: for a Shift in Perception) is part of Diana Wesser’s trilogy Der bewegte Raum (The Moving Space). The map, which included the performative walk Die Erkundung (Exploration) and the movement experiment Mit Mauern Tanzen (Dancing with Walls), invited the public to experience, in various ways, the movement potential in the urban area around the Baden-Württemberg Art Association from a new perspective, and adapt it temporarily.
The works of Oskar Schlemmer and Rudolph von Laban, who linked dance with architecture and painting respectively, formed the background to the performative trilogy. The relationship between space, figure/body and movement as a space-creating activity became the focus of their works. In dance, Schlemmer saw the opportunity to create a pictorial space using movement and rhythmic lines. Laban pursued the idea that every movement takes place in a spatial system of lines.
Diana Wesser is a graphic artist and performer working particularly in the areas of live and public art. In 2005, she graduated in media studies (as a master student) at the Academy of Fine Arts (HGB) in Leipzig. Her walks, participative projects and site-related performances investigate the process-related aspects of space and spatial experience, and invite participants to engage themselves in the respective site, and to observe rhythms and routines. She is particularly interested in involving members of the public in the artistic process and her performative research. Together with Helen Stratford, she founded the collaborative duo ‘urban (col)laboratory’ in 2005. She has been artistic director of the ‘dynamischer auftrieb’ (dynamic boost) initiative, of which she is co-founder, since 2013.
In her piecemetamorph**, the dancer Eva Baumann turns to the theme of spatial art à la Oskar Schlemmer. She makes use of the spacein the Württemberg Art Association. The body transforms itself into different forms and structures, like a moving painting. The human, animal, object-like and mechanical exist alongside each other and are mutually dependent on each other. But what can be seen in all of this? The spectator’s fantasy is given free reign, free association explicitly encouraged.
Oskar Schlemmer always saw art as spatial art, and considered space in relation to the human body. The single figure in the space, and in comparison with the community, is a theme that runs through his entire oeuvre, in particular his paintings. As a spatially structural element, the standardised human figure determines the composition of the image, which can be seen as a synonym for modern social architecture. The body is understood as an architectural form, expressed in a rhythmic game of convex and concave forms, surfaces, lines and curves.
** metamorph – (‘morph’ comes from the Ancient Greek word‘μορφή’ (morphé) or ‘shape’) change condition or shape
After studying classical and contemporary dance at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts, Eva Baumann went on to complete a course in choreography at the Rotterdamse Dansacademie. She has since worked as a freelance dancer and choreographer. Her works have been shown in Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Belgium. Her latest production solitaire was nominated for the Stuttgart Dance and Theatre Prize 2013 and toured various theatres in Baden-Württemberg in the spring of 2013. Her cultural interests include choreographic concepts for theatre, galleries and public spaces. www.evabaumann.art