In his ballet evening Loops and Lines, Stephan Thoss and his dancers demonstrated the importance of Rudolf von Laban’s 1920s Movement Study concerning forces, impulses and dynamics, and made it tangible to the senses. In co-operation with Ensemble Modern, a music ensemble that is unique in its dedication to the flexible and innovative performance concepts of 20th and 21st century music, Thoss also transposed the study of human body movements to the world of instrumentalists and sound bodies.
The dancers and musicians initially used interactive means to make it possible to experience Laban’s movement concept in etudes and miniatures before Thoss choreographed a premiere featuring Shaker Loops by John Adams and Eight Lines by Steve Reich as a Gesamtwerk (total work of art) comprising movement and sound.
The result demonstrated on various levels the impact of Laban’s principles of stage dance on “thinking in movement” and, working directly with the instrumentalists, dance heritage was transformed into a living art of our time.
A Professor of Dance History at De Montfort University (Leicester/UK), Burt also teaches at P.A.R.T.S. (Brussels). His publications to date include Male Dancer: Bodies, Spectacle, Sexualities (1995), Alien Bodies: Representations of Modernity, ‘Race’ and Nation in early Modern Dance (1998), Judson Dance Theater: Performative Traces (2006) and – together with Valerie Briginshaw – Writing Dancing Together (2009). In 1999, he was a guest professor on the Performance Studies course at New York University. Together with Susan Foster, he is the founder and publisher of the Discourses in Dance journal.
The founding of the democratically organised Ensemble Modern (EM) was an initiative by students of the Young German Philharmonic in 1980 with the aim of promoting and performing New Music. The EM, which has been based in Frankfurt am Main since 1985, is one of the world’s leading ensembles for New Music.
Under the direction of Wolfgang Ott, the Ensemble Modern revealed in Stephan Thoss’s new ballet evening Loops and Lines the extent to which Laban’s theories are rooted in everyday life. The ballet demonstrated how the Movement Study penetrates not only the dancers’ world but also that of the instrumentalists and sound bodies.
Reflecting the spirit of Laban’s link between sound and movement, the dancers and instrumentalists came together on stage in an interactive choreography in which sound and movement triggered and interrelated to each another.
Loops and Lines
The Laban dance project by Stephan Thoss with Ensemble Modern
Music by John Adams and Steve Reich
Choreography, stage design and costume – Stephan Thoss
Musical director – Benjamin Schneider / Wolfgang Ott
Stage design and costume assistant – Jelena Miletic
Video/camera – Andreas J. Etter / Fabio Stoll
Sound director – Norbert Ommer
The ballet company of the Hessian State Theatre of Wiesbaden