SPRING on Screen
available until May 31st
 
 
 

SPRING Academy exchanges remotely

 

SPRING Academy, SPRING’s platform for artistic exchange, would have welcomed over 200 participants this May. At SPRING Academy, (inter)national artists, scholars and students come together to share knowledge, skills and perspectives. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 the SPRING Academy is cancelled this year. As a reaction to the corona crisis, we see national governments looking inwards, countries competing over supplies and autocratic leaders growing their dictatorial powers. But we also see acts of solidarity, creativity and collaboration. This is a time to reach beyond (national) borders, even if it is digital. That’s why we think it is important for Arts students to be able to exchange ideas and inspiration across borders. Therefore, we developed a small exchange assignment for students from all the schools that would have participated in SPRING Academy. The students chose an existing artwork that inspired them and reflected on the idea of ‘creating togetherness’, the theme of this year’s Academy. The assignments were exchanged between the students and it was a start of a transnational conversation about togetherness in these corona times. We share three contributions by the students here below.

 

Roots by Frida Kahlo
Contribution by Selina Tuijnenburg, ArtEZ University of the Arts

Strong presence of abandonment and tangled roots during these distance times.

While we are all finding our ways around this situation our world is in right now, we experience how vital social contact is for our wellbeing. We’ve all been put in this crisis, involuntary, yet we are quickly adapting, transforming, optimizing in a noticeable way!
I took this work of art to portray the importance of touching base with your roots, to check upon your health, physical and mental. To remember and respect that there is no right way of dealing with a global pandemic and that we will grow from this experience, together.

 

Ascent by Fiona Tan
Contribution by Jesse van Delft, Utrecht University, pre(masters) program Contemporary Theatre, Dance and Dramaturgy 

Ascent is a work by film maker Fiona Tan. It is 80 minutes long, made of only pictures from the mount Fuji in Japan. It is a work that, by watching it, gives you a sense of moving stillness. It brings you in a kind of liminal space. The pictures are combined with a fictional narrative in which impermanence, time, moving and stillness are reflected. In Japan, death is the fall of the cherry blossom, which is celebrated. Change can be a tradition. In this time of change and death, this work can give a humble reflection on these matters and 80 minutes of breath space.

 

Relay by Ula Sickle
Contribution by Ashley Ho, ArtEZ University of the Arts, The Netherlands / Singapore

In Relay, a black flag undulates in a quiet riot – a baton passed from performer to performer. The durational work is centred on the flag’s tabula rasa, which invites a multiplicity of interpretation. Raised in celebration, mourning, alarm, within each performer’s singularity, the relay structure alludes to the omnipresence of a collective, embodying a symbol and a product of togetherness. At any point of apparent standstill, feet rooted to the ground, the flag remains in constant motion – you know that elsewhere, which is also right here, a ripple of black is calling out a name, which is all of ours.

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Messages from quarantine

 

SPRING has a rich tradition of presenting art in the public space, and we see no reason to stop. We asked current and former festival artists what they want to tell the world in this corona time. Under the title 'Message from quarantine', we will show contributions by Milo Rau, Nicole Beutler and Julian Hetzel on posters and digital screens in Utrecht, offering hope, reflection, and inspiration to all of us. 



Thirteen artists have contributed to this poster project. 
 

CHECK OUT ALL POSTERS HERE

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Opening speech SPRING on Screen

 

From an empty Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, Rainer Hofmann opened the SPRING on Screen programme on Thursday 14 May with a speech via Zoom. Read the speech here.

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Opening speech for an unopened festival 2020


Goedenavond, good evening.

Welkom, welcome at the opening speech of SPRING Performing Arts Festival 2020. There is no SPRING this May, but I thought I keep a good tradition alive and give an opening speech in the Stadsschouwburg Utrecht. Thanks for joining me here. Now it has become an opening speech for an unopened festival in an empty theatre. So this is not a moment of starting something, but of not-starting something, a moment of pause, of reflection. Fulfilment is postponed.

The actual opening show that we wanted you to see tonight, had the title The Lingering Now. It was created by the Brazilian theatre maker Christiane Jatahy with a cast of people who had to flee their homes and countries. It is about people on an unknown and involuntary journey, people whose lives had been interrupted, people who want to go back home or build a new home somewhere else. The show is about life in suspension.

Now in some way we all live in suspension, most of us under comparably safe conditions. But we do not know what comes tomorrow. ‘Varen op zicht’, as they call it in politics using a nautical expression. According to Dutch laws you need a good radar-installation to be allowed ‘op zicht te varen’.

The other day I listened to an essay by Olga Grasnjowa, a writer from Azerbaijan. Having grown up in a country with questionable democratic and humanitarian standards, she expressed how surprised she is about how surprised we Europeans here are about the fragility of existence. Her life experience in her country taught her that everything can be taken away from you in almost no time.

Then I saw a video on YouTube – yes, I spend too much time staring at small screens trying to make my lockdown a bit more intelligent -, an edit of commercials from our Corona time. All the commercials looked and sounded the same, no matter if they sold cars, insurances, beers, smartphones, tacos, running shoes, tractors or credit cards: They had sad but soothing piano music, they were referring to decades of tradition (trust us, we know how to make you drunk, buy an insurance and drive a car), they showed pictures of warmly lit homes, and they said, we are here for you, we are all part of a community, we help each other, we are there for each other, we are in this together, we do it together, we build it up together.

At least if you buy our cars, insurances, beers, smartphones, tacos, running shoes, tractors and credit cards. Is this being together? Is this offering a safe home? I mean we all know, that in a glass of jam with a sticker that says “home-made with grandmother’s recipe”, there is surely nothing homemade in it and grandmother was absolutely not involved in it at all.

All these desperate companies from the video with their shrinking advertisement budgets and their exhausted marketing departments exploit our need for togetherness and safety, which I also feel strongly in these days.

At the same time the ‘anderhalve-meter-samenleving’, the one-and-a-half-metre society is sold to us as the new normal, het nieuwe normaal. Sold to us by a government whose press conferences have highest viewing rates on TV and internet. They have become very successful pest-sellers.

Expressions like “het nieuwe normaal“ or “anderhalve-meter-samenleving“ (even with the good intention of keeping us safe) try mainly to keep things going. Come up with a harmless name and you do not have to think about real changes! But calling something normal, does not make it normal. It is a step on the way to business as usual. It is the opposite of a Lingering Now, the opposite of a pause, the opposite of a moment in suspension, the opposite of a moment of reflection.

But is there not something that we could learn instead of rushing to a new normal? The virus is like a magnifying-glass, showing us the effects of the ideologies of growth and exploitation which rule our society. Theatre maker Milo Rau said in a poster project that SPRING initiated: “If you are not relevant for the system, perhaps the system is not relevant for you”. This leads to the question: What kind of system would be relevant for us? What kind of system do we want? All together? I have no answers, but let’s use this lingering moment to think about it. This is the hour of the life savers, soon comes the hour of the big questions.

And here we come in. We from the arts. The paradox is that whilst all our theatres and venues are closed, we are as much needed and as important as maybe never before. We ARE a radar. We are THE place of coming together, we are THE place of creating communities. We are THE place of reflecting on a crisis. And of discussing the deeper causes of a crisis. And possible futures. We cannot save sick people. But we can help to understand the world and come up with ideas for a different world.

What could we learn about the old normal? What kind of new normal would we want? Could we imagine a different society? How could it work, even on a global level? Does the human perspective that we can offer help with these questions against the preachers of efficiency? Could the emotional quality of art and its utopian power lead to a different understanding of how we want to live?

How can we promote an open society, also against those who use the virus for their nationalist and populist goals, against those, also within the EU, who dismiss democracy under the pretence of safety rules? How can we safeguard international exchange when nationalist, protective behaviour threatens us? How can we balance the local and the global in the future?

I do not want to instrumentalize the arts, I want to argue for freedom and support for the arts, especially at this moment. They offer the most, when they are not forced to offer something. Culture and art are not a luxury for good times, they are part of the infrastructure of a liberal, democratic society. They reflect deep human needs. They can offer feelings of togetherness or comfort, a larger sense of being, critical thoughts, visions and provocations, utopias and new spaces. Don’t tell the arts what they should do. Leave it to them, give them support and the chance to surprise you.

Right now we cannot go to theatres. Theatre means coming together in the same place at the same time, artists and audiences. We from the performing arts are hit in the core of our existence. We were the first to be closed and we will probably be the last to open up again fully.

We are thankful for the support the Dutch government offers to the cultural sector so far. It is a beginning at least. Yet they underestimate the relevance and the power of the arts heavily. I would like to remind them, we are essential for an open society. Let me translate it into a recommendation for action: fair practice is no fair weather practice.

Obviously, our government does not even know the big economical role of the creative sector. They seem to stick to an old idea of economy which is held alive by equally old and powerful lobbying structures. Even less do they see our strength beyond the economical role, beyond immediate exploitability. Even less do they see the need for this. Back to business seems to be good enough for them, back to normal. It is not for us. We are essential in imagining our future world. Artists and audiences together. In the theatres and in the foyer bars afterwards. Without someone saying “End meeting for all.“ Only “last round“ is accepted.

For the time being, we all created online activities. Far too many in my eyes. A strong and stale smell of “Ersatz“ hangs in the air as soon as the streaming starts. (I am really sorry for imposing myself onto you in the same way, but there is no other way right now and you signed in voluntarily.) Let’s make a little less digital noise for a while and prepare for the time when we open again, when we can invite the audiences again to our venues and museums.

Loving contradictions and ironical gestures, I cannot help but make some noise here myself. And we at SPRING cannot help but offer you an online programme. Don’t worry, it is very specific: We do not show any registrations of performances. We show you work that is made for the screen by the artists that had been invited to the festival. We want to give you an idea of what you have to miss and some inspiration. Every day you can find a new art work on our website. Today we start with a short film by the Japanese choreographer Hiroaki Umeda, a spectacular merging of the physical and the digital. As a special extra we offer you next week on Saturday a new online version of Lotte van den Berg’s Building Conversation called Digital Silence. On the third space combining digital and physical presence.

We do not restrict ourselves to the screen. Theatres are closed but the city is not. For a poster project we asked artists: What do you want to tell the world? Many answered our call and gave us Messages out of quarantine for the future, amongst them Tim Etchells, Nicole Beutler, Philippe Quesne, Dries Verhoeven and Christiane Jatahy. Look out for their contributions on posters in Utrecht and also on our website. I am sure they offer some comfort and some thoughts for our future.

The current situation is not the new normal. It is an emergency situation. Otherwise we are not living, only surviving. I do not want to imagine a world with 1.5 metres distance, where social interaction takes place mainly via screens. I want to believe in us coming together again. I want to believe in the moments, when we will meet here in the theatre, when we will be moved by what we see together at the same moment.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare SPRING Performing Arts Festival 2020 alive and unopened. Please raise your glasses with me. I see many of you have dressed decently for this non-opening. Please stand up and show also the lower half of your bodies and the clothes there. To a moment of pause and to postponed fulfilment. Do yourselves a favour whenever your current situation allows: Stop being efficient and take your time! To a shared future with open theatres! To the magic of the live moment! To coming together again! Hopefully at an extended SPRING in Autumn edition. Latest at SPRING 2021. Thank you for joining and cheers!

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SPRING presents SPRING on Screen

 

Like many other events, the SPRING Performing Arts Festival has unfortunately been cancelled this May. We’ll miss the surprising and innovative performances, the healthy tension at the office, the enthusiastic volunteers, and of course the wonderful, curious audience. But SPRING still exists. Even though the performances can’t take place, we intend to present the artists who would have been part of the festival in an online programme. SPRING on Screen will include dance films, music videos, podcasts, philosophical reflections, living room performances, and short documentaries. It doesn’t replace the festival experience, but gives a glimpse of what we’ll be missing, in the hope that SPRING in Autumn or SPRING 2021 will enable us to see the work of the festival artists live again. In addition, we’ll show a series of posters in the streets of Utrecht and online, with messages in quarantine from current and former festival artists. Artistic director Rainer Hofmann is happy to invite you all to a talk via Zoom on Thursday 14 May at 8 pm.


Digital artworks
The programme on the SPRING website is short and powerful. Genevieve Murphy will release the first song of her new album with a music video. Theatre collective Dood Paard is working on a podcast. Jan Fedinger is making a video version of his work land[e]scapes 4 - redistribution of wealth by nature. In addition to new work, the festival also showcases existing pieces by festival artists. Christiane Jatahy shows a short documentary from her performance The Walking Forest. Japanese artist Hiroaki Umeda presents the short dance film Holistic Strata Screen, and The Bohemian Rhapsody project by Singaporean artist Ho Tzu Nyen will also be streamed. The full programme will be published online soon.


The public space is not closed
SPRING has a rich tradition of presenting art in the public space, and we see no reason to stop. We asked current and former festival artists what they want to tell the world in this corona time. Under the title 'Message from quarantine', we will show contributions by Milo Rau, Nicole Beutler and Julian Hetzel on posters and digital screens in Utrecht, offering hope, reflection, and inspiration to all of us. The series of posters will also be published on springutrecht.nl.


Opening speech
The performances of SPRING 2020 have been cancelled, but there will still be an opening speech. There’s a lot to say. Artistic director Rainer Hofmann will talk via Zoom on Thursday 14 May at 8 pm, when SPRING would originally have opened, and everyone is welcome (keep an eye on our website and social media). The first SPRING on Screen programme will be available online immediately after this, and new contributions will follow on a daily basis.

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European theatre project Moving Borders launched

 
RICHARD GREGORY DEVELOPS LARGE SCALE CITY PROJECT IN UTRECHT 2021
 

Society is shutting down, borders are closing and we cannot meet. Unfortunately we had to cancel SPRING Performing Arts Festival in May. However, we are not sitting still. Especially now we realize that the importance of meeting is a great deal. We are thinking about the future, including with this project where diverse people meet to question borders.

The international theatre project Moving Borders, which is co-funded by Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, began with a digital kick-off meeting at the end of March.  SPRING Performing Arts Festival developed this project together with six European performing arts institutions. 

Over a period of two years, seven individual editions of one artistic concept – ARK by the British ensemble of artists & producers Quarantine with director Richard Gregory – will be produced in Athens, Dresden, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Porto, Strasbourg, Utrecht and Warsaw. In each city, Quarantine will collaborate with local artists, creatives and citizens to construct an ‘ark’ – which could materialise physically or metaphorically and will be adapted to each city’s individual local demographical, historical, cultural and social realities – providing a space for alternative activities and for new encounters between people.

This joint participative project aims to examine the term “borders” and its manifestations in our contemporary European societies. Through it, we will address the phenomena of borders in our cities and in our everyday lives: as a divisive element that can prevent people from reaching out to each other and which can foster inequality, but also as a constituent part of successful diverse communities, where mutual respect and recognition only become possible by drawing lines. As we witness a dangerous resurgence of nationalist and xenophobic tendencies in Europe and in times of COVID-19 and increasing economic inequality, ARK will send a positive message about diverse ways of being together.

The preliminaries for the long-term project have now started in each city and these will lead into the next phase of the project, consisting of laboratories and workshops in autumn 2020. The seven editions of ARK will be developed and presented in each city in spring and summer 2021. ARK will take place in Utrecht during SPRING Performing Arts Festival in May 2021.

For more information click here.

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SPRING and the coronavirus

 

At SPRING, the health of all of us humans comes first. We follow the advice on the coronavirus from RIVM and the government and closely monitor developments. It is still unclear what the possible consequences are for our festival in May. We take into account all scenarios. We have currently suspended our pre-sales of the first three performances and moved the ticket sales of the entire program from March 25 to April 7. As soon as there are new developments, we will keep you informed via our website and social media channels. Stay healthy, pay close attention to each other and hopefully see you soon!

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OPEN CALL PARTICIPANTS SPRING ACADEMY 2020

 

SPRING Performing Arts Festival 2020 is calling (emerging) artists and students: makers, choreographers, scenographers, dramaturgs, dancers, actors, performers, writers, curators, researchers and political engagers who would love to learn more at the masterclasses & SPRING Intensive of SPRING Academy 2020. Meet other young artists, as well as professional artists that are performing at SPRING this year.

This year we offer you three open call programmes:

With this years’ theme: Creating Togetherness, SPRING Academy promises an inspiring gathering of artistic minds and bodies at Het Huis Utrecht! We will be exploring questions such as; What does it mean to be human? And what is the ratio of your body to its environment?

The application deadline is April 14. To ensure yourself of the Early Bird Discount, please apply before April 1st. You can visit the SPRING Academy page for more information about the masterclasses and intensive.

 

MORE INFORMATION

 

We look forward to meeting you at SPRING Academy 2020!

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Join the SPRING crew!

 

Have you always wanted to take a look behind the scenes at an international, innovative dance and theater festival? The eighth edition of SPRING Performing Arts Festival will take place in theaters and public locations in the city of Utrecht from 14 to 23 May.

Register now as a volunteer at SPRING and experience the ultimate festival experience as part of the SPRING Crew. We offer you the opportunity to work in a super fun volunteer team in the position that suits you best. Become a public guide, cashier, SPRING Guide or Reporter and experience 10 days of dance, theater and more!

 

More information     Apply now

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WANTED: old mobile phones

 

For "my shadow used to have a density", the new show by Francesca Lazzeri / no time for commas, we are looking for MANY MANY mobile phones! Do you still have a telephone somewhere in a drawer that is just collecting dust? Send an email to: vera@wildvlees.com

Give your old phone (either working or not working) a new life, help us prevent buying and wasting new phones and help make a show. Afterwards, all telephones are donated to eeko ccc, a company that recycles parts and distributes all profits to charities.

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First three performances and Early Bird passe-partout tickets on sale now!

 

SPRING proudly presents the first three performances of SPRING 2020!

In Ensaio para uma cartografia created by the Portuguese theatre maker Mónica Calle we bear witness to the strength of women, to human strength and the power of imperfection. Twelve actresses – a cast that reflects the diversity of humankind and of womankind – attempt to execute classical dance routines and perform a complex symphony.

TANZ by chorographer Florentina Holzinger – best known for her overwhelming and raw brand of total theatre – is a study of the female body as a special effects machine. The dancers are undergoing a rigorous training in "action ballet". It is a search for perfection in a world on the run, and turns the raw into the sublime.

In The Ecstatic Jeremy Nedd and the Impilo Mapantsula company intertwine the energetic dance form that arose during the Apartheid era in South Africa, pantsula dancing, with the spiritual dance tradition of the praise break. Onstage, time seems to come to a standstill as six pantsula dancers reach a point of extasy in an explosion of energy.

Do you desire to see all these above mentioned performances, and even more? This is your chance to buy an Early Bird passe-partout for € 68,- (instead of € 88,-). Check this page for more information & terms of condition. 

 

Program       Passe-partout

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Shout-out to our most loyal visitors!

 

We are looking for five people with different backgrounds (young / old / fat / thin / short / tall / man / woman / everything in between) who want to become the face of our fresh SPRING campaign.

We photograph in Utrecht on 12 February. More information? Send an email to marketing@springutrecht.nl.

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Talking with rice cookers

 

This article is only available in Dutch.

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Zuid-Korea is wellicht nog onbekender dan het totalitaire Noord-Korea. Vanuit het Nederlands perspectief zien we de ellende en onderdrukking in Noord-Korea en gaan we er vanuit dat Zuid-Korea net zo is als het welvarende Japan. De voorstelling Cuckoo van Jaha Koo biedt een somberder perspectief op Zuid-Korea.

Eerst over de vorm: een tafel met drie rijstkokers en een groot projectiescherm. De voorstelling is een mengeling tussen documentairefilm, een persoonlijk verteld relaas door Koo en pratende en zingende rijstkokers. Koo laat zien hoe twintig jaar geleden de economie van Zuid-Korea in elkaar donderde. Toen het land op de rand van bankroet stond, hebben het IMF en Wereldbank onder aanvoering van de VS het land geld geleend, maar onder voorwaarde dat de markt werd opengegooid. De rente steeg tot ongekende hoogte en veel bedrijven gingen failliet. Dat leidde ertoe dat Korea door het buitenland (Amerika) werd leeggeroofd. En dat leidde tot werkloosheid en onlusten. Keiharde demonstraties en confrontaties met de politie.

Koo vertelt dat zes van zijn vrienden zelfmoord hebben gepleegd. Zelf ontvlucht hij Korea en woont nu in Amsterdam. Hij worstelt met de ellende die hij heeft achtergelaten en de vrienden die dood zijn. Het grote verhaal over economie en de kapitalistische roofeconomie komt dicht op de huid door het persoonlijke verhaal van Koo.

In het interessante nagesprek van 10 minuten waarbij vragen uit het publiek verzameld werden op briefjes, vergelijkt Koo Nederland met Korea. In Nederland is er meer ruimte voor het individu, meer ‘zuurstof’, dan in het strikt hiërarchische Korea. Een van de vragen (toevallig mijn vraag) was: hoe moet het verder met Korea? Koo gaf aan dat hij daar het antwoord niet op heeft. Hij wil analyseren en laten zien dat er problemen zijn. Dat is natuurlijk allereerst noodzakelijk, pas als het helder is dat er een probleem is en wat het probleem is, kan er gedacht worden aan mogelijke oplossingen.

Gebukt onder een probleem waarvan ik het bestaan niet wist en waarvoor ook ik geen idee heb wat een oplossing is, haasten we ons naar de andere zaal voor alweer de slotvoorstelling van SPRING in Autumn.

Kleurrijk excentriek modeconcert
Het publiek zit op het podium in de grote zaal rondom een vierkante glanzende vloer. Er volgt een veelsoortige voorstelling waarbij een interculturele excentrieke modeshow van de toekomst de hoofdmoot vormt aangevuld met muziek, zang, dans en poëzie. Een groot deel van de performers is afkomstig uit verschillende landen in Afrika. Er komen Afrikaanse elementen in voor, zoals traditionele trommels, maar het geheel doet denken aan een moderne club. De show is een grote verkleedpartij met op de catwalk dansacts en een intrigerende vechtscene in slowmotion. Bij het kijken krijg ik ook een ongemakkelijk gevoel. Tussen alle excentrieke vrolijkheid door vragen de makers aandacht voor neokolonialisme en politieke correctheid.

De drie daverende dagen SPRING in Autumn verruimen de blik op de wereld. Ik zie uit naar het grote 10-daagse SPRING festival in mei.

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Alles anders Everything is different

Reflections on SPRING in Autumn day 1 by philosopher Floris van den Berg

news
 
Dronefare op de bühne Drones on stage

Reflections on SPRING in Autumn day 2 by philosopher Floris van den Berg

news
 
 

The fashion in Chombotrope

 

This article is only available in Dutch.

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Blogger Liesbeth Berg-Meulenberg doet verslag van de fashion in fashionconcert Chombotrope.

SPRING 'Fashionweek' in Autumn sluit af met de toekomstvisie van de Oegandese modeontwerper Xenson, lid van The Jitta Collective.

Catwalk
Alle bekende VIPs zijn aanwezig: de artistiek directeur van SPRING, de programmeur van Stadsschouwburg Utrecht en de crème de la crème op het gebied van choreografie. Speciaal voor deze gelegenheid is het toneel van Stadsschouwburg Utrecht omgebouwd, zodat al het publiek om de catwalk heen op het podium plaats kan nemen. De muzikanten maken zich klaar, het publiek wordt opgehitst. De show kan beginnen!

Nieuwe collectie
De modellen worden op het podium aangekleed en tonen de eerste creaties van het nieuwe seizoen. Het begint gelijk al goed met een verschillende set aan jurken. Wat een ruimtelijkheid, wat een rijk gebruik van materialen. Plastic, aluminium, karton, touw en nog veel meer passeren de revue. Mijn voorkeur gaat uit naar de kartonnen verpakkingstrui en de schuimjurk.

De modellen showen modeposes, die je normaal op een catwalk niet tegenkomt. Er wordt gevogued, gerapt, gemarcheerd en benen in de nek gegooid. Het martial-arts outfit wordt op een wel heel toepasselijke wijze getoond: in volle actie, al is het in slow-motion. Zo is goed de mate van flexibiliteit van de gekozen stof te zien. Alle mogelijke stoten worden gedemonstreerd.

Ook is er aandacht voor het haar: zowel de supersnelle haartrends als hoofddeksels, waarbij de UFO-hoed en de tentakel-muts een heuse eye-catcher zijn. Deze laatste kan ook ingevlochten worden.

Fashionconcert
The Jitta Collective slaagt erin een nieuwe manier van catwalk te presenteren, fashionshow en concert ineen, die meegaat met de tijd en de kostuums laat zien in de situaties en omgeving waarvoor het kledingstuk bedoeld is. Of juist de afkomst van het kledingstuk accentueert. Als klapper op de vuurpijl wordt een geheel nieuw concept naar voren gebracht: het community pak. Om een community te vormen die alle verschillende afkomsten samenbrengt!

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Drones on stage

 

This article is only available in Dutch.

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Reflecties over SPRING in Autumn, dag 2 door filosoof Floris van den Berg. 


Only the dead have seen the end of war
. - Plato

Als je niks zou weten van wat er in de wereld speelt, dan zou de voorstelling #minaret vermakelijk kunnen zijn. Maar in de tijd dat iedereen online is, krijg je de ellende uit de wereld mee, of je het nu wilt of niet. Wat mij verbaasd is dat ellende en geweld entertainment kunnen zijn – kijk naar de vele actie- en geweldfilms die kaskrakers zijn en waar niemand ook maar een nacht minder om slaapt, zoals onlangs de geweldsorgie van de film Joker. Het nieuws stort dagelijks ellende over ons uit en ook al is dat geen entertainment, we laten het onverschillig langs ons heenglijden. Tenzij het de kat van de buren betreft die door een dierenbeul is doodgemarteld, dan vinden we het niet leuk meer. Dan zijn we geschokt. We kunnen het nog wel, geschokt zijn. Maar we zijn het niet vaak. Klein leed dichtbij doet ons veel meer dan groot leed ver weg. Wat moeten wij met de ellende die er elke dag in de wereld is? Geschiedenis toont ons de lange opeenvolging van ellende in de wereld. Hier in Europa, in het vrije westen, leven we in een interbellum, de vredespauze tussen twee oorlogen. Want dat er oorlog komt is zo zeker als dat na de zomer de winter komt.

Ik had op gezien tegen de voorstelling #minaret. Ik had de trailer bekeken en de aankondiging gelezen. En, eerlijk gezegd, als ik niet had toegezegd om erover te schrijven, zou ik niet gegaan zijn. Vluchtgedrag. Escapisme. Het is omdat ik niet weet wat ik ermee moet. Ik vind het geweldig dat er via theater aandacht voor is, maar ik hoef het niet te zien. Net als dat ik het goed vind dat er concentratiekampen zijn die bezocht kunnen worden – maar ik hoef het niet te zien. Ik steun mensenrechten en ben lid van Amnesty International, maar het blad Wordt vervolgd ligt ongeopend op de trap – ook dat durf ik niet in te kijken. Ik kijk liever weg. Omdat ik het gevoel heb dat ik er niks aan kan doen. Ja, ik doneer en ja ik teken petities en ja ik loop mee met fakkeltochten en demonstraties. Maar ik besteed meer tijd aan Netflix entertainment dan aan pogingen het leed in de wereld te verminderen.

De voorstelling #minaret op de tweede avond van SPRING in Autumn, gaat over het oorlogsgeweld in Syrië, meer precies over Aleppo en de minaret aldaar die in 2013 door oorlogsgeweld is verwoest. Het meest opvallend is de drone die in de lucht hangt. Een drone met een camera die de dansers volgt en filmt en het beeld groot op het achterdoek projecteert. Er is Arabische livemuziek en er is dans. Dus je zou kunnen denken, als je niks weet, dat er gewoon vrolijk gedanst wordt. Maar het geweld maakt mij misselijk. Het lijkt of er lijken liggen. Er wordt met lichamen gezeuld. Er wordt gedanst vanuit angst en wanhoop. Er zijn martelscenes. De drone die alles volgt en vastlegt als een vijandelijke indringer voelt als een constante dreiging. Er is geen privacy. Moderne oorlogsvoering is dronefare. De drones doen het vuile werk en de drones filmen de gevolgen. De mensen blijven op afstand. Maar het geweld van de oorlog wordt er niet minder om. De slachtoffers zijn alleen steeds vaker de ander.

In het nagesprek vertelde Omar Rajeh over wat hem tot deze voorstelling inspireerde en dat was een video die hij op Facebook zag van een drone die een verwoeste stad in Syrië filmde. Rajeh is opgegroeid in Beiroet ten tijde van de burgeroorlog. Libanon wordt thans overspoeld door Syrische vluchtelingen. Oorlog is voor Rajeh heel wat concreter dan het voor ons, Utrechtse Schouwburgbezoekers, is. Oorlog is ofwel ver in het verleden, ofwel ver weg. En zo zal het altijd zijn, dat was de conclusie van de geschiedenislessen op school, in ieder geval impliciet.

De vraag knaagt waarom deze voorstelling zo aangrijpend is, en waarom de Hollywood actiefilms dat niet zijn? Is dat de kracht van kunst? Gaat kunst de wereld redden of tenminste een bijdrage leveren aan een vreedzamer wereld? Gandhi benadrukte dat oorlog slachtoffers maakt en dat het voor de slachtoffers niks uitmaakt wie degene is die hen leed brengt:

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy. - Ghandi

Hoe zou het zijn als alle strijdende partijen in Syrië deze voorstelling zouden zien, zouden ze dan begrijpen dat het beter is om de strijd te staken en in vrede met elkaar samen te leven? Het is een vraag waar iedereen het antwoord op weet en waarvan we het tegendeel hopen.

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Alles anders Everything is different

Reflections on SPRING in Autumn day 1 by philosopher Floris van den Berg

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Praten met rijstkokers Talking with rice cookers

Reflections on SPRING in Autumn day 3 by philosopher Floris van den Berg

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Everything is different

 

This article is only available in Dutch.

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Reflecties over SPRING in Autumn, dag 1 door filosoof Floris van den Berg

Daverende derwisj dans
Bij SPRING is alles anders. Na drie ervaringen op een avond worden de voorstellingen in mijn hoofd vermengd tot één overdonderende belevenis. Na een hele dag achter een scherm werken is de openingsavond van SPRING alsof je gaat stappen in Ibiza. Dat probeer ik mij dan voor te stellen, want ik ben daar nooit geweest. Bij Ghost Writer and the Broken Hand Break begon de doorbraak uit de sleur en gebaande paden gelijk. Bij de ingang stond een bak met oranje chips, dat dacht ik tenminste even, maar het bleken oordoppen te zijn. Meer iets voor een dance party of metal concert. Geen stoelen. Op de zwarte dansvloer wervelden drie dansers rond in drie lichtcirkels. Het publiek zocht een plaats langs de kant. Eerst staande, maar langzamerhand gingen mensen zitten op de dansvloer. De moderne derwisj dans bracht niet alleen de dansers in een trance maar heeft ook op het publiek een hypnotiserende werking. De dans ging over in een concert met de dansers als muzikanten. Er werd al dansdraaiend een gitaar, een drum en een bekken aangereikt. Al draaiende werd er een concert ten beste gegeven. Midden in de voorstelling opeens een moment stilte en stagnatie. Prachtig. 

Wat theater tegenwoordig tot een extra intense ervaring maakt is dat het een van de weinige plekken is waar mensen nog van hun telefoon afblijven. Al ging in de Ghost Writer and the Broken Hand Break een telefoon met luide melodieuze ringtone af. Waar zitten mensen nog zo lang zonder hun aan het scherm gekluisterde blik? Velen zitten op de wc en aan tafel nog met een scherm voor hun neus. Wat tot voor kort heel normaal was – omdat de smartphones er domweg niet waren – is nu bijzonder aan het worden. Theater brengt de focus van attentie van een hele groep mensen samen. Van de individualistische schermen naar de collectieve ervaring. Theater is een intense gedeelde ervaring. Zodra het applaus verstomd grijpt een groot deel van het publiek alweer naar het scherm want daar speelt blijkbaar het echt belangrijke deel van het leven zich af. Dit is geen goedkope cultuurkritiek op anderen. Ik ben guilty as hell. 

De harde muziek waarvan de trillingen in heel je lichaam voelbaar waren, maakte de voorstelling intens. Erover schrijvend word ik duizelig in mijn hoofd. Hoeveel rondjes zouden de dansers hebben gedraaid? Hebben ze alle drie hetzelfde aantal rondjes gedraaid? Draaien ze elke voorstelling dezelfde hoeveelheid rondjes? Hoe voelen ze zich na de voorstelling? Bij het in ontvangst nemen van het applaus leken ze nog vast op hun witte sokken te staan. Een vraag die bij mij opkomt is: bestaat het getal van de som van het aantal rondjes van de voorstelling van vanavond? Als het is opgenomen, is het mogelijk om te tellen. Maar als het niet is opgenomen en niemand heeft geteld, bestaat dat getal dan, ook al is het niet te achterhalen? Wellicht is deze metafysische reflectie over de ontologische status van getallen van standen van zaken in de wereld, mijn doorgedraaide brein.  

Dansen op de vulkaan
Dikwijls heeft moderne dans en theater een minimalistisch decor. Maar niet de voorstelling Crash Park. Die is juist gemaakt rondom een decor. Ik heb in al de jaren geen voorstelling gezien waarbij het doek gesloten was aan het begin van de voorstelling, zoals hier. Regulier zijn eersterangs kaarten duurder, maar bij de vrije placering is er soms vrees voor de voorste rij. En daarom was er nog ruimte genoeg om midden vooraan te zitten. Zonder silhouetten van hoofden in je beeld beleef je het op de eerste rij het meest direct. 

Overlevenden van een vliegtuigramp op een onbewoond vulkaaneiland. Er ligt een vliegtuigwrak en er is een grote rotspartij met palmen, het vulkaaneiland. Het eiland draait. Een laag water op het toneel. Er is een schuimparty. De vulkaan spuwt metershoge vlammen. Er staat een pianola op het toneel die eenzaam zoetgevooisde muziek pingelt. Hoewel de overlevenden een vliegramp hebben overleefd, laten zij zich niet kisten, of is het naïviteit? Ze feesten vrolijk en zien overal de zonnige kant van in. Het eiland wordt een heus party-eiland met een bar en discotheek. Een vliegramp mag de pret niet drukken. Op het toneel ligt nog een afgerukte arm, maar helemaal niks verstoort de obsessieve vrolijkheid van de overlevenden. De voorstelling is een klucht van losse acts met muziek en weinig tekst. Verkleedpartijen naar 17de -eeuwse kleding uit de tijd van Daniel Defoe en diens Robinson Crusoë. Even lijkt het mis te gaan met komst van een zeemonster. Maar het monster wordt verslagen en vervolgens vrolijk op gepeuzeld. Helemaal niks kan de pret drukken. Er wordt gefeest en gedanst, op de vulkaan. En zolang het goed gaat gaat het goed. Après nous le déluge. 

Is de klucht wel een klucht en niet een aanklacht tegen de moderne mens die de rokende vulkaan – de ecologische crisis – in de wind slaat en vrolijk doorfeest alsof er niks aan de hand is? Als SPRING een feest is, is er in ieder geval de reflexieve ondertoon die het publiek aan het denken zet. Er is een ongemakkelijke ondertoon. SPRING biedt weliswaar entertainment, maar je krijgt het niet voor niks. De klucht van Crash Park is de harde werkelijkheid en ook al hebben we het soms door dat we dansen op de vulkaan, we doen alsof we het niet zien. We feesten om te vergeten. Misschien gaat het goed. Zolang het goed gaat, gaat het goed.

Ik moest denken aan dat vrolijke lied ‘met die sombere ondertoon Dansen op de vulkaan’ van De Dijk met daarin de regels:

Dit is de grote vrijheid
Je mag zeggen wat je denkt
Niet dat het iets uitmaakt
Met hoeveel je ook bent
Ze doen toch wat ze willen
Al moet de hele boel vergaan

Chemie van het geluk
Is de apotheek van Dries Verhoeven entertainment of een aanklacht? Het is in ieder geval fascinerend. Voor de Stadsschouwburg staat een onopvallend gebouwtje met een wit kruis. Toen ik er naar binnen wilde kwamen er net wat type drugsdealers uit. Zo bereikt SPRING ook nog eens een ander publiek en wordt het multicultureel. Er passen vier mensen in het krappe gebouwtje. Wie binnengaat komt voor een toonbank waar achter glas een vrouwelijke robot staat die vriendelijk allerlei farmaceutische gelukspillen aanprijst. Ze vertelt waar het voor dient, hoe het werkt, hoe het voelt en wat de bijwerkingen zijn en of het verslavend is. Het zijn gelukspillen. Daar zijn er veel van. Naast de legale gelukspillen die huisartsen en psychiaters voorschrijven zijn er natuurlijk ook de illegale gelukspillen waarvan er veel in Nederland gemaakt worden en waarvan de vaten chemische afval regelmatig in de natuur gedumpt worden. Maar alcohol is ook een middel voor instantane geluksbeleving en afstomping voor de werkelijkheid. En is suiker in de vorm en mate waarin wij het tot ons nemen niet ook een genotsmiddel met als bijwerking obesitas? Het streven naar genot en verdoving is niet nieuw. Roesmiddelen hebben de mensen al millennia verleid en je vindt het in vele culturen. Is geluk voor zoveel mensen dan zo onbereikbaar dat ze naar geluksmiddelen grijpen? Er zijn mensen met psychische problemen, maar hoe kan het dat zoveel mensen zoveel pillen slikken, legaal en illegaal? De apotheek zet – in tegenstelling tot een echte apotheek – aan tot kritische reflectie over waarom we eigenlijk zoveel pillen gebruiken. Het is een apotheek waar je niet met pillen uitkomt, maar met vragen over de aard van geluk en daarmee naar vragen of wij ons leven goed leven en de samenleving optimaal voor een echt gelukkig leven hebben ingericht.  
Niet alleen farmaceuten houden zich met geluk bezig. Er zijn ook filosofen die proberen geluk te bevorderen, zoals Bertrand Russell in zijn boek The Conquest of Happiness (1930). Hierbij een filosofische pil voor geluk. Aan jou om het te proberen: 

A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy can live. 

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Dronefare op de bühne Drones on stage

Reflections on SPRING in Autumn day 2 by philosopher Floris van den Berg

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Praten met rijstkokers Talking with rice cookers

Reflections on SPRING in Autumn day 3 by philosopher Floris van den Berg

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What happens after?

 

This article is only available in Dutch

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Blogger Liesbeth Berg-Meulenberg over Ghost Writer and the Broken Hand Break

Kan jij rondjes blijven draaien? 45 minuten lang? En wat gebeurt daarna?

Toneelbeeld
Er staan drie performers op de vloer al cirkels draaiend in een ronde spotlight. Ze draaien 45 minuten lang om hun as. Of zijn het muzikanten? In het begin zijn de adem en de wind die ze al draaiend maken de muziek. Daarna wordt deze overgenomen door muziekinstrumenten die de performers al draaiend krijgen aangereikt.

Wat nou als je hele wereld een cirkel is waar je rondjes in blijft draaien? Wat nou als je hele wereld rondjes draait? Of nog erger: als je maar om de kern heen blijft draaien en niet uit je afgebakende cirkeltje komt?

Einde=begin
De ronde spotlights zelf gaan ook draaien. Het hele wereldbeeld verschuift. Je staat steeds in iemand anders cirkel. Zonder de houvast van de regels, begint de onderlinge afstand tussen de performers te wisselen. En dan gaat plots het licht aan: einde.

Terwijl het voor mij dan pas echt begint. Wat gebeurt er met mensen als hun framework wegvalt, hun vaste kaders? Blijven ze dan toch zo lang mogelijk doorgaan in hun ritme of gaan ze afwijken van hun routine? Compleet losgeslagen?

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Chombotrope: opening questions on power, ownership and the future

 

An interview with Stephanie Thiersch and Kefa Oiro about the fashionconcert Chombotrope. 
Source: Berliner Festspiele.

 

The Jitta Collective is a collaboration of various artists, dancers and musicians led by the Kenyan dancer, choreographer and director Kefa Oiro and the German choreographer and media artist Stephanie Thiersch. In 2017, The Jitta Collective made the show Chombotrope, which has its Dutch premiere on 2 November at SPRING in Autumn.

 

Which journey is the audience invited to in your work Chombotrope?
Thiersch: A very diverse journey, a very colorful journey.
Oiro: It’s an open journey also, an open journey of rediscovery.

 

What does ‘chombotrope’ mean?
Oiro: It’s a made up word, an invention. ‘Chombo’ is the Swahili word for container/vessel. And ‘Trope’ is the visualization of a poetic expression. We mixed it together. ‘Chombotrope’ is for us the container in which we find ourselves and in which we make the journey together, from one geography to the next.

 

In what way do you consider fashion or clothes as an instrument of power?
Thiersch: Fashion is a style and it means also something. You can change your character with fashion. And in this piece we talk a lot about the use and misuse of power, and fashion is an instrument for that. It can be fake power, it can be fake weakness, it can be real power or real weakness. Fashion is a way of juggling with these notions. And it’s also a way of expressing yourself, of course. And in the end it is a way of freedom, freedom of expression and fantasy. Which I think is an important part of our work.

Oiro: It’s a definition of ownership as well. There are grouping, classes, and the identity behind it. Especially in Kenya we have conflicts of where the ownership lies and where the class divides. So there is a strong sense of ownership around it.

 

What is your artistic strategy to question and deconstruct it?
Thiersch: I think the fact that we work all together, and the most interesting part of the journey is that we were in different countries for the curation of the collective. But also we passed most of the time not in rehearsal space creating, but discussing the issues. Which doesn’t mean that our approach is basically political but of course it’s a deconstruction of each issue we have because we shed light on very different perspectives of the same problem or issue. So, it’s a deconstruction, it’s getting fragmented. It opens questions and doesn’t give necessarily answers.

 

How did you find together as a collective?
Oiro: The route to Chombotrope began when Stephanie and I were looking at the issues of clothing. It’s transformation from Europe, going all the way to Africa as a secondhand clothing and becomes an economy there. We started to explore this route and it was called mitumba, where we created a fashion setting and talked about al these questions. That gave an impulse to discuss something further around this. From there we started a research around it. Stephanie proposed different people to include. Then we had a research where we travelled to Kenya and Uganda and met interesting people. The fashion designer we work with we met in Uganda and other interesting people like musicians and DJ’s in Nairobi. Through this research of moving to this place to the next, we met interesting people and that’s how we shared collectively our materials.

 

Do you consider Chombotrope an Afrofuturistic piece?
Thiersch: We talked about Afrofuturism a lot but I think its something by its own and we are not creators of Afrofuturism I would say. But it’s something that is close to us and we discussed it a lot. And we definitively don’t look backwards, we look into the future. We talk about ownership and new identities and that goes towards the future definitively. So, there is something about that in it, but I wouldn’t call us Afrofuturists. The definition is also coming more from the States, right?

Oiro: Yes. But I also want to shy away from the label ‘afro’, we don’t stick ourselves to that kind of labeling. And just like Stephanie says, we do not look back but to the future. Its being open and being free to just dream and fantasize and all that. So, we let the audience that sees the performance decide from themselves, but we tend not to stick to that label.

 

Chombotrope takes place on Saturday November 2nd at SPRING in Autumn.

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Can a city die?

 

A director’s note about #minaret by Omar Rajeh

Can a city die? And with it the values, ideals, principles, history, and culture that embodied it? Would it be possible to revive its presence? This performance is an act of resistance against the demolition and destruction of one of the oldest cities in the World. It is an encounter between contemporary dance, visual arts, and a soundscape inspired from the classical musical heritage of Aleppo. A meeting that takes us into the heart of the city, digging into its cultural and artistic heritage and questioning our position towards the act of its destruction today. What remains? Everything moves, changes, and shifts around us. We experience turmoil of human, social, religious, and political conflicts. A ‘big bazar’ of lost human values and brainwashed minds. We witness a sickening applause to extremism, conservatism, and fanaticism.

Violence / Violation
While witnessing the destruction of a city and the killing and suffering of people, we ask ourselves many questions. What can I do? Do I have to do something? Am I guilty? Do I ignore it? What is my role? Am I able to change anything?
It becomes obvious that in front of the scale of atrocities and the silence of the international world we find ourselves helpless and powerless. This performance focuses on the specific moment of questioning our position and where we stand. How do we act and how are we able to respond responsibly and according to our human values?

This opens a further discussion into the role of culture and the ability of art to initiate change, to resist effectively and play a role in defending human values. Moreover, to ask how it is possible to open opportunities of change rather than fix the structures and mentalities criticized. It seems urgent to ask whom are we resisting against. Is it the fighting opponents, the conflicting parties, that are a result or an outcome, or the underneath hidden logic and policy that controls our World. The barbaric destruction of Aleppo brings me back to the destruction of my own city Beirut in 1982 by Israeli Warplanes, and the ongoing Civil War. It highlights, at the same time, the destruction of many cities in recent history. The demolition of Aleppo today and similarly of Grozny or Berlin in thepast, is not a natural disaster, it is a clear and direct decision of elimination. Not only the elimination of buildings in a city but also its inhabitants, culture, history, values, and future.

We are puzzled in front of our screens, witnessing such atrocities through the Media and we follow the daily ‘listings and calendar’ of violence. An absurd fictional scenario, or this is how it may seem, alienates us more and distances us even further. Reality is shifted by the oppressor, which not only has the ‘authority’ to destroy but also to manipulate our position towards it.

 

#minaret can be seen on Friday November 1st at SPRING in Autumn. 

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Jaha Koo and his talkative rice cookers

 

This article is only available in Dutch.

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Twintig jaar geleden kende Zuid-Korea een grote economische crisis, vergelijkbaar met de financiële beurscrash in de Verenigde Staten en Zuid-Europa in 2008. Deze crisis had een grote impact op de jonge generatie waartoe de Zuid-Koreaanse kunstenaar Jaha Koo behoort. Problemen zoals jeugdwerkloosheid en socio-economische ongelijkheid zijn niet ongewoon in zijn thuisland. Maar hoe groei je op in zo’n maatschappij? Cuckoo is een combinatie tussen eigen persoonlijke ervaringen, politieke gebeurtenissen en reflecties over geluk, economische crisissen en de dood.

Cuckoo is een Zuid-Koreaans merk voor rijstkokers. Dat Koo een rijstkoker inzet als metafoor voor het hoogtechnologische Zuid-Korea, is het gevolg van een persoonlijke tragedie. Hij verloor zes vrienden door zelfmoord. “Kort nadat ik in Europa was aangekomen in 2011, pleegde een schoolvriend zelfmoord. Toen de rijstkoker die ik naar hier had meegebracht, meldde dat mijn rijst klaar was, voelde dat plots erg troostend. Het deed me dieper nadenken over de problemen in Zuid-Korea.” - De Standaard (22 FEB 2018) – Gilles Michiels. Wie had gedacht dat een machine met je mee kan leven? 

Jaho Koo en zijn vier gehackte huishoudtoestellen vertellen een bitterzoet verhaal over het leven tijdens de schrijnende recente geschiedenis. Het ‘hacken’ van de technologie van de rijstkokers is een krachtige beweging om de technologie opnieuw in eigen handen te nemen. De vier toestellen raken vermengd in een discussie rond de wenselijkheid van ‘smart’ toestellen, vanuit een origineel en grappig perspectief van de machines zelf. C4 is jaloers op de niet geüpgradede C1. C2 verwijt C3 dat zij door haar toegenomen intelligentie niet langer in staat is om haar basisfunctie, rijst koken, uit te voeren en zo haar bestaansreden is verloren. 

“In tijden van de gps met irritante stemmen en een hilarische Siri doorbreekt Koo de absolute grens die we als mens willen bewaren tussen mens en machine/robot. Hoe we zelf nog mens kunnen zijn, is de existentiele vraag die in de Cuckoos vervat zit.” - Tumult

"Cuckoo feels like a peculiar kind of dream, a communication from your subconscious, offering some truth you’ll never be able to translate into words." - Exeunt magazine

 

Cuckoo is op zaterdag 2 november te zien op SPRING in Autumn.

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What comes after the catastrophe?

 

Dramaturg of Crash Park, Camille Louis, reflects on the performance. Is the crash in Crash Park the end or a new beginning? 



Crash Park shows an outlook on our modern world. We live in a worldwide disaster park where everything is gradually falling apart - the ethos of the Enlightenment, the advances of science and an economy prone to endless ‘crises’, humanistic ideals, and more importantly, humans. We are collectively sinking. The fall has become a fixture of our lives and makes us impervious to any uprising. We, the survivors, penned in to our gated islands, are looking at those shipwrecked ships, transfixed, awed, grounded and ‘crash-landed’. 

But what if the crash is considered not as the end and the inescapable fate of our human trajectories but as a beginning? What comes after the forced catastrophe, the end of accepted, authorized and organized speech? In the theater, it is supposedly the moment of poetry when speech frees up as it breaks out of its normalized framework, leading ‘us’ beyond rationalism toward the excesses of the imagination, the fable, and the potential but unlikely pairing of reality and fiction. However, the highly contemporary artist Philippe Quesne brings his signature language to a journey between an archaic theater that indulges itself in beginnings – beginnings of worlds, beginnings of languages that do not always involve words, beginnings of images, etc – and the revived experience of a present that always comes next. 

As this paradoxical point of regained time, images are turned on their head and the island depicted by the play appears simple, uneventful and mystery-free, as if it had always been there. It is not the island of our tragic modern age but instead the little utopian place that we trivially occupy. There is no fate any longer. The play begins with a disaster and when the end is at the beginning, what remains for us takes on the appearance and quality of shared time, a common duration that we can occupy while keeping ourselves occupied. Thus, the odd little survivors of a plane crash lead us into occupation attempts that do not feel like representational ploys or talking points. Instead they convey the remains, effectively, the survivals of our current utopias that today’s doomsayers have diagnosed as ‘finished’: urban development zones, makeshift cities resulting from some kind of occupation (jungles, disused areas, abandoned buildings), phalansteries transformed by the successive attempts of communal living that fill the history of art and the history of men and women, epitomizing occupation forms that hold up not through social rules but by the simple fact that we hold on to them. Together, without any layout. 

Before the ‘penning’ of our lives became the new order of a border-expanding world that spreads us into islets separated by police-guarded and militarized seas, before the word ‘park’ was narrowed down to only one meaning – ‘closed space’ - it was a heterotopic space, an ‘other space’ like the garden or the island, right next to us. Sometimes, a few illogical artists and dreamers give us a tour of it, not taking us back to a lost past but to the junction between an endless ‘before’ and an after that becomes this present from which we can start. 



Crash Park can be seen on Thursday 31 Octobre at SPRING in Autumn.

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Spinning, Turning, Swirling

 

A converstation with Miet Warlop about Ghost Writer and the Broken Hand Break, "it is in fact like a whirlabout that is thrown out of my work and takes its course”, according to Miet Warlop. Interview by Tineke De Meyer.

How did that music enter your work?
Warlop: "I'm always looking for material that I'm not used to, to express something with. How can I make it more dynamic? How can you shake an existing thing and then discard it again, throw it out according to your own logic? In Mystery Magnet there was the investigation into painting. In my solo work it were plaster sculptures. In Fruits of Labor it was music and (spinning) movement. So great, when you're working with images and suddenly music creeps in... something that goes straight to your soul. I decided I wanted live music, but without hiding the musicians, as so often happens in theatre. If we were to do music, we were really gonna do music. So in this way, the performance has brought itself somewhere else. It makes no sense for me be the slave of an idea and to continue in a cramped energy. So I let go of the turning. But it was stuck in my head. That's where Ghost Writer and the Broken Hand Break came from."

'Ghost Writer', the title says, so who's writing here?
"In the performance we mix-up texts by me and Raimundas – a very good visual art writer with whom I worked in Marseille. But, yes, who is it that writes your story? People say 'Everyone writes their own story', but that’s not true. Even if you want to write your own story, if the world doesn't cooperate, you can't control it. Things just happen to you. This thought automatically brought along the Broken Hand Break. As a human being, you just have to 'go' – you just deal with what comes your way. So I didn’t mean it in a wild way, but rather intimately. Like I did with Fruits of Labor, actually I was just making a ritual for the world to have a moment to laugh at terrorism, something like that. It's wholesome. The whirling dance also has a sacred connotation. Yes, but we are more interested in profanity. Rather than reaching for something that transcends us, we want to pull things to the ground. That whirling is a state of being that also exists when we are not physically doing it, you know? I would have liked us to even be able to drink something while doing it. It's like throwing 100,000 litres of paint on a stage. Is that beautiful? No, but the underlying energy makes the audience get a sense of freedom. I think everything revolves around the attitude with which something happens, with which you pick up something and put it down somewhere else."

Your title suggests something narrative, is there a story at the base of your performance?
"It's more like thinking for a moment. A kind of outcome. If you were to rub through my work, past all those sculptures and sculptures, I am now there at the end, spinning with two others. Not really connected, but not separate either. This simplicity - not one prop, no material trick - is quite exceptional for me. For me, this spinning is being at rest, being in your own world. I need a break: what is my work at a standstill? What is my life, where does it go? Who are you, what do you stand for? Ghost Writer And the Broken Hand Break is in fact like a whirlabout that is thrown out of my work and takes its course. Turns out that..."

So your work at a standstill is in fact a sustained concentric movement. Your mind at rest remains a whirlwind?
"The 'now' means nothing, right. You look at a sequence of now, now, now, now, now, now - until you get some kind of overview. From this, you construct your memory. In the chaos, you keep searching for the middle axis. With big questions, but at the same time like a dog chasing its own tail and biting it. The restlessness in your head and your body and your world is permanent, you just have to chill in the fact that nothing is fixed. And this is exactly is the essence of the whole whirling technique. That's life, basically."

So the whirling technique is nothing more than a thought?
"Your head and body just have to become one with the space that revolves around you. Your head is used to fixed frames, as soon as they disappear, your own head can mow you down. Brain must learn. Caress your brain, everything is fine. You just go: from standing to spinning, from looking at to staring, from breathing to singing. In fact, when we are spinning, we literally can't see what's happening around us. We are blind in your midst, who are looking at us. We can't see any danger coming. We are open, now. That specific mode of being there can only exist within these walls. When we stop spinning, we use our hand to come back to where you are. Your hand is the fixed frame you always cary with you. Your hand is your brake. It's you."



Ghost Writer and the Broken Hand Break can be seen on Thursday 31 Octobre and Friday 1 November at SPRING in Autumn.

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SPRING receives grants from the EU and Fonds Podiumkunsten

 

We’re very proud to announce that SPRING has received two grants. With the support of the European Union the European network “Moving Borders” will develop a community art project that initiates meetings between people from different backgrounds and environments in the city. Next to that, the young interdisciplinary artist Samira Elagoz has received the “Nieuwe Maker” (New Artist) grant from Fonds Podiumkunsten with which she can develop herself at SPRING. We produce her next two productions and guide her in the development of her own artistic signature. Read more below!

 

European grant for Moving Borders

SPRING is part of the European project "Moving Borders". Together with six other European cultural institutions, the network receives € 200,000 from the European financing program Creative Europe. In the two-year project "Moving Borders", the partners are developing a community art project to initiate meetings between people from different backgrounds and social environments and in which the subject of "boundaries" is explored in different ways. The network produces seven different editions of the project, each of which zooms in on the seven European cities where the project is presented. The European cultural partners are HELLERAU - European Center for the Arts (Germany), Le Maillon / Théâtre de Strasbourg (France), Ringlokschuppen Ruhr (Germany), Teatro Municipal Do Porto (Portugal), Onassis Cultural Center Athens (Greece) and Performing Arts Institute Warsaw (Poland).

 

“Nieuwe Maker” (New Artist) grant for Samira Elagoz

SPRING receives the “Nieuwe Maker” (New Artist) grant from Fonds Podiumkunsten for the interdisciplinary artist Samira Elagoz. With this grant, SPRING supports Samira in the development of her artistic signature and in the creation of production and presentation possibilities. Her next two productions will be presented at SPRING Performing Arts Festival.

Samira Elagoz (1989) is one of the most remarkable young artists who has graduated from the SNDO (School for New Dance Development, Amsterdam) in recent years. Her work is very personal and at the same time sits on top of the important social and political debates of our time. It is strongly characterized by the way of life and communication of Samira’s generation. Although Samira has followed a dance education, she does not make dance productions. Samira works transdisciplinary and in different genres and contexts and she is looking for new forms to reflect on this time and the challenges we face. She makes performances as well as films and video installations. With striking ease, she combines and switches between different art forms. In 2017, SPRING successfully presented two works by Samira Elagoz; Cock, cock, who's there?, her graduation performance on online dating, sex, violence and the blurring line between public and private, and the film Craigslist Allstars in which she showcases her own intimate encounters with men. SPRING and Samira Elagoz are now going to intensify their collaboration.

 

Photo: Cock, cock, who's there? by Samira Elagoz

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New artists for Standplaats Utrecht

 

Abhishek Thapar, Julian Hetzel and iona&rineke will be working in Fort Blauwkapel from next season. Biographies for these artists are only available at the Dutch website.

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Lancering Standplaats Utrecht Launch Standplaats Utrecht

Musician and performer Genevieve Murphy, visual artist and designer Jan Fedinger and hip-hop theater collective DIEHELEDING are the first artists to start at Standplaats Utrecht.

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OFFICIAL AFTERMOVIE SPRING 2019

 

SPRING 2019 was about robots and people, about cultural identities and global connections, about people and the city. Enjoy our extensive retrospective on a very special edition, one that we will never forget!

See you next year!!

Video: Chris van Ijken

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Standplaats serveert

 
This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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Episodes SPRING Radio 2019

 

On the weekends of SPRING, a radio report of SPRING was recorded. Luuk Heezen talked with SPRING artists, festivaldirectors, volunteers or fans. Did you miss the broadcasts or do you want to see them again? Read further and click on the links of the episodes below!

Episode 1
Guests: Rainer Hofmann, Shira Eviatar, Lotte Verkaik
Artistic director Rainer Hofmann discusses his tips for the festival. 
Choreographer and dancer Shira Eviatar talks about her inspiration and motivation to make the performance Eviatar/Said & Rising. 
Visitor Lotte Verkaik shares her experionce with the performance Transfrontalier. 

Episode 2
Guests: Karlien Vanhoonacker, Fang Yun Lo, Marlise Trouwborst
Artistic advisor Karlien Vanhoonacker tells us which performances she is looking forward to.
Choreographer Fang Yun Lo explains her family history, which is the starting point of the performance Unsolved.
Performer Marlise Trouwborst discusses the work Ephemeral Data, on which she is working on.

Episode 3
Guests: Jelstje In der Rieden, Silke Huysmans & Hannes Deerere, Ayham Fattouh
Managing director Jeltsje In der Rieden reveals her festival favorites.
Theater makers Silke Huysmans & Hannes Deerere created a performance on a mining-depleted island. They tell about their journey on Nauru.
Volunteer Ayham Fattouh guides visitors during their walk in PoroCity en describes his experience. 

Episode 4
Guests: Karlien Vanhoonacker, Joost Maaskant, Gido Broers & Ellen van de Mortel
Artistic advisor Karlien Vanhoonacker discusses the most memorable performances.
Soundproducer Joost Maaskant talks about the second part of PERMANENT DESTRUCTION and his work as a soundproducer.
Visitors Gido Broers & Ellen van de Mortel saw the performance Uncanny Valley and explain what it was like to see a robot on stage.

Episode 5
Guests: Rainer Hofmann, Kris Verdonck, Jacquelina Berkhout
Artistic director Rainer Hofmann looks back on a succesfull festival.
Artist Kris Verdonck tells about his performance SOMETHING (out of nothing), which premiered on SPRING.
Volunteer Jacqueline Berkhout was present at the special "uitwismoment" of Ephemeral Data and describes the experience. 

SPRING Radio was made possible by Mister Motley.

We would like to see again next year at the SPRING Radio broadcasts.


© Anna van Kooij

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SPRING 2019: Succesfull edition about technology vs humans

 

The seventh edition of SPRING Performing Arts Festival is over. We have enjoyed the festival, which straddled the lines between technologie and humans. The works of artists Boris Charmatz and Jeroen van Loon were an ode t transience during a time in which everything is always digitally archived. The influence of thechnology on the human body was explored by Stefan Kaegi of Rimini Protokoll and Kris Verdonck & ICK.

SPRING 2019 had 21.000 visitors. We presented a total of 20 productions with 73 performances, including 14 Dutch premieres and 3 world premieres.

SPRING 2019 brought voices from all over the world to Utrecht. In the combative Transfrontalier, the public followed the Cameroonian artist Zora Snake in the refugee trail through the center of Utrecht. The spectacular opening performance Attractor by the Australian dance companies Dancenorth and Lucy Guerin Inc and Indonesian musical duo Senyawa ensured a collective trance. The Flemish theater makers Silke Huysmans & Hannes Dereere shared the tragic story of the mining-depleted island of Nauru with the theater audience via their smartphones.

One of the public favorites of SPRING 2019 was the bondage performance BUNNY. Luke George & Daniel Kok created an intimate atmosphere in which they explored the limits of collective responsibility and got the full trust of the public. Naomi Velissariou played the second part of her PERMANENT DESTRUCTION trilogy in a production of Theater Utrecht. A radical theatrical concert that was enthusiastically received by the press and the public. The stunning All Around, a duet by choreographer Mette Ingvartsen and drummer Will Guthrie, was a special conclusion to the festival.

We would like to see you again at SPRING in Autumn!

 

© Anna van Kooij

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Apparent power and complete surrender

 

‘WOW…’ is all I can think of when I leave the venue of the interactive performance BUNNY by Luke George and Daniel Kok. In gradual steps George and Kok guide the audience into this collective experiment of power and surrendering. When I enter the venue I don’t know it yet, but I will become part of the performance…

Beforehand I get a booklet which reminds me of IKEA instructions: inside are knots explained with little histories and backstories. I browse through it a little, but can’t make much sense of it just yet. I go in, and on the bright blue floor master George is suspending Kok in an intricate web of dark ropes. Kok wears a tight grey sports legging and macramé-braided ropes around his chest and head. George is dressed in neon colors, bright yellow ropes form a star on his chest and his kimono is dazzling pink. The dazzling colors contrast the almost tanglible tension between all attendees.

The first interaction with the audience commences when George, just after he has tied his legs, asks someone to tie his hands together. ‘Real tight,’ he says. He positions himself on the floor while Kok is still rotating in his suspension position. Gradually the spinning stops, and at this moment George invites the audience to ‘keep him spinning.’ Curious audience members are given the opportunity to participate, in a position of power relative to both suspended performers.

A sequence of disentanglements follows, while more spectators are taken along in the performance. At some point George is sitting across from me, he looks me in the eye and comes a little closer. At first I thought ‘he is not looking at me, probably someone behind me wants to go,’ but he takes place in front of me and asks if he could tie me up. I nod and he thanks me before he straps my arm together in a futomomo knot (with my hand on my shoulder and my arm folded). He guides me onto the floor en lays me down on a pillow. I am a bit tense, ‘what is going to happen to me?’ ‘how far will this go?’ but most of all: ‘how far am I willing to go?’ Kok takes over and senses my tension and starts to massage my lower legs, neck and back. Afterwards he continues strapping me down with the remaining three neon green ropes. ‘Okay,’ I think to myself, ‘while I lay here roped up, what is happening around me?’ I take a look around and see another participant being tied up. ‘I am not alone up here, I am part of a bigger picture, lying here as a sculpture of human and rope.’

Kok kneels before me again, holding up my bag: ‘is this your bag?’ he asks. I nod again, and he starts to unpack it, one item at the time. Carefully he checks every nook and cranny, even takes out all my debit cards. It was this moment other people were most curious about, ‘didn’t you feel uncomfortable?’ they asked. My answer was the same every time: it felt like my stuff, just like me, was exhibited. I didn’t have any problems with it, for it made me feel even more part of the performance. The moment I was chosen to partake, I started thinking about how I could experiment with my own boundaries, but also with the boundaries of the performance. I felt completely comfortable being exposed in such a direct personal way, even that piece (my wallet) that everyone keeps away from the outside world.

While I laid there, all my body parts tied together in a bizarre position, i noticed how at some point the ropes became an extension of my body instead of a restriction. The ropes supported me, although not for long. At some point I felt my arm and leg tingle and slowly falling asleep. As both performers said to me while making me into that sculpture, ‘if there is any moment you want to stop, just nod your head of wave your hand.’ So after an intriguing and genderbending dance routine is signed George. On the one hand I didn’t want to disturb the performance, but on the other hand I didn’t feel comfortable any more. He saw me immediately and asked what I wanted untied. Meanwhile the performance continued, another spectator was invited to spank Kok with a pink whip. ‘Don’t worry, he wants it,’ George says while loosening my leg. Again the power play shifted from performer to the audience.

For me the performance was mostly about communication in such situations of power and surrender. At first i thought George in his role as master would be in control, for he decided what happened to Kok and the audience in certain parts of the performance. He also directed them at moments when the participants appeared to be in control (like the invitation to keep Kok spinning, or the spanking later on). However, the moment I laid there tied up on the ground, I realised that the bunny is actually in control. When they say ‘stop’, the master stops, listening and sensing very carefully. At the same time the bunny gives away some power, trusting the other to respect their boundaries. This mutual respect, sensitivity and trust ensures a intimate communication between both parties. I felt a connection, which extended to the day after when I ran into Kok in the ‘festivalhart’, and we greeted each other with a hug. BUNNY for me was an experience I would recommend to everyone - if only to explore your own limits. It gave me new perspective on successfully involving the audience into a performance, and on the importance of the presence of both these parties in theatre events. Both the performer and the audience do not exist without each other - every experience of every attendee can leave a deep mark. I want to thank Luke George and Daniel Kok for this extraordinary experience, BUNNY i will remember for the rest of my life.

By Sofie Revet

© Bryony Jackson

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Ephemeral Data leaves no recognisable trace behind it

 

Over ten days ‘Ephemeral Data’ was created, worked upon and on the final day, obliterated.

In this visual investigation, the performers work with coloured sand in the construction of a mandala depicting a giant Google map of the city of Utrecht.
Additional markers of internet hotspots are depicted throughout, as well as a location point.

Housed within a large white tent with many windows, entrance is via a side door.
After being advised that Ephemeral Data is not to be documented, a sticker was placed upon my phone’s cameras and I enter the space.

Over the course of the festival, visitors witness the slow and meditative building of the mandala.
The performers work silently, seperate from one another.

With calm faces, I cannot tell how they feel but there is a total engrossment and occupation with their activity.

Each sit with a metal pipe and a wooden stick they use to gently coax increments of sand onto the glass squares that form the base of the work.

Set within the Neude in Utrecht, a bustling square with the open air cafe seating, bikes hurtle by and people peer through the windows encasing Ephemeral Data.

With life outside visibly chaotic, the space within contrasts as contemplative, consistent and largely silent.

As the mandala grows, I begin to think about personal attachment and how we negotiate the temporary elements of our lives.

With the internet a dominant force in most of our existences, we rely upon it for work, entertainment and communication, as well as for projection of self-image.

But nothing on the net is definite or even permanent, how many times have you attempted to visit a favourite music video on Youtube and find it has been removed?
Or a familiar webpage has been entirely reformatted?

We have little to no control over the ever-changing nature of the online world and yet we are so heavily invested in it as an entity, a necessity for life.

Social media platforms and their popularities shift and change over time and demographic and often exist as attempted curations of what we view as our non-embarrassing traits.

In the past when you liked a musician, you had to go to a shop and purchase an album, in the years to come the object would exist within the home.

You may come across the album now and again and think, ‘wow, that was an era, a time in my life. I forgot that I even liked that band.’ 

In the internet age our fleeting likes and dislikes are searched and experienced online, leaving behind no tangible evidence of our tastes and dreams of a time and eventually wiped away with the clearing of our web histories.

Everything has become intangible, less permanent than ever before.
And with this being the case, how can we look back and remember the large quantities of the eras we now live online?

Ephemeral Data reflects this lack of permanence, with the mandala constructed from the very material used in fibre optics (which must exist for the internet to), the performers invest time and energy in something they know will very soon cease to objectively exist.

There is a natural fear present to need to document everything, what if I forget some key element?
I must be able to look at a photo, to retrace that step.

But documentation of this performance is not allowed.
Everything experienced here must be remembered in our imperfect memories.
I get anxious thinking about it.

The moment of obliteration arrives.
It must be witnessed in person to have ever existed, no other record will document this process.

The performers are neutral, seemingly unaffected by their involvement in creation or destruction.
I wonder why they are like this?

I had not touched a grain of sand and yet as the more detailed squares of Ephemeral Data are poured off their glass base into a growing heap, I feel my heart mourn in a slow and sad way.

All that exists now is a grey pile of sand with glimmers of colour hinted on the exterior.

The sand shows no signs of what it had once been, the process, imagery and feelings that were created.

A physical version reenactment of our current engagement online, Ephemeral Data leaves no recognisable trace behind it.


By Diana Story

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SPRING In Autumn

 
This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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What remains of nature lies in wait for this annihilation to be over

 

​​​​​​The stage is still, vast and dark, the crowd before it waits silently for SOMETHING (out of nothing) to begin.

With the tiniest glimmer of light revealing her existence, a woman sits in the back left corner of the stage.
She doesn’t make eye contact or break the atmosphere with her voice.
She has a cello.

A minimalistic string plucking commences.
It is not song but the sound of something happening.
My eyes are fixed upon her, in trepidation for what will happen next.

A small blue imperfect orb begins its descent from the ceiling.
There is haze around this unknown shape, it brings a further mystery to what it is composed of?
Is it purely light?
Is it physical?
As time unfurls, so does the orb.
It slowly opens into a full form.
Although abstract it has a stem and what looks like a flower at the top.
My mind decides this is an unusual type of tulip.

As fast and as alien as it grew before us, it shrivels, deflates and retracts its bodily form within itself and disappears from sight, leaving us questioning what it was that we had just witnessed.

With the stage empty apart from the silent cellist, a voice broadcasts.
It’s the sort of accent I can imagine global-English sounding like in futuristic times, it is well polished and perhaps Canadian.

Her speech is allegory, directed toward ‘you’ but the identity of ‘you’ is unestablished.
She speaks from a place of helplessness, a time after the destruction of the earth and all things natural, she is unable to restore the damages we have inflicted.
She addresses the audience as ‘you,’ seemingly I and every audience member has a role in the descent of the earth as we know it.

Ending this segment of speech, she asks whether she can tell us a story.
We learn of an island ‘we would call paradise,’ where it was believed that spirits live in the trees and if a person was to cut a tree down, certain death equated.

One day a man travels to another island and buys a chainsaw.
He returns and fells a tree.
Nothing happens.
Humanity is in disbelief.
They too begin to cut the trees they had once held with such esteem.

And thus the story begins to (as the unknown object before us had) unfold.

Four people enter the stage, two wear pink dresses in slightly different patterns and cuts.
The other two, grey suits similar to each other but not the same.
Instead of skin, their bodies are encased in black fabric, their heads with domed masks.
In the right light, you can just catch a glimpse of what may be a face underneath.

Their bodies are tireless, they sway their arms and test the extents of their physicality.
It reminds me of when you are a child and your teacher tells everyone to wait and be silent in the classroom.
They silently interact with their surrounds, with the others around them.
There is this feeling that they have entirely nothing to do, an aimless boredom consumes the stage.

Part absurd, part surreal, in this initial sequence, we witness a depiction of the first sign of the earths demise, humans no longer necessary, purposeless.

In segmented transitions, the voice returns narrating the development of global circumstances, the dancers portray the lessening control of individuals upon their altering physicality and unearthly forms proliferate, engorge and rescind.
Physical embodiments of the present impact of our obsession to ‘progress’.

The voice returns, there is a certain rage and surety in her words, her tone.
In these narrative sequences, she repeats certain phrases both convicted and broken by what she tells.

‘I cannot move, I cannot make whole what has been broken.’

She speaks of the decline of the earth.

‘I am afraid of the rain, the sun and the wind.’

Something once so natural has become insidious and toxic from the influence of humans.

The cello plucking and hisses become more and more rapid, both calculatedly controlled but entirely chaotic.

Dancers enter a new segment, their movements wilder than ever before.
They no longer have dresses nor suits.
Are they human?

The narrator returns.
She has heard the cries of nature that exist on another frequency, entirely inaudible to humanity.

The desire to ‘progress’ reigning so supreme that humans become entirely unaware of nature and blindly smother its attempts to communicate its suffering.

The unearthly forms that once innocuously descended from the ceiling have multiplied and exist alongside what were once humans.
They don’t seem to notice them.

‘The flowers are blooming but they have no scent.’
‘I cannot move, I cannot make whole what has been broken.’

The narrator speaks of the demise of our children, our partners and eventually our entire families.
When it happens we don’t believe it, despite living in the reality of this dystopia.

Alongside the road we have wrapped a deceased elderly woman and dead cow in the same plastic, world unbalanced.

We are unable to cope.

‘Trash is all that remains from progress.’

Black snow falls upon the earth.

Modified creatures roam, absorbing elements through their  anomalous forms, no longer human.

What remains of nature lies in wait for this annihilation to be over.

I start to wonder whether this narrator is intended as an embodiment of Mother Nature and perhaps it is only at this moment any of us have been able to hear her?


By Diana Story 
© Bas de Brouwer

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Dancer in the dark

 
This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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Magic with an on-stage robot

 
This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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Dancing against repression

 
This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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Nostalgia towards folkdancing

 
This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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Circus of 10,000 movements

 
This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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SPRING Academy: experience the relationship between sound and dance

 
This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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Lessons from Nauru that nobody listens to

 
This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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“We waren benieuwd naar de perspectieven die resten op een plek die kapot is.” "We wanted to know what perspectives there might be in a place that is so devastated"

Interview with Silke Huysmans en Hannes Dereere about Pleasant Island. 

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"What do we project onto, and into, this absence? Fantasy, horror, desire, and so much more."

 

Angela Goh is an Australian dancer and choreographer working with dance in theatres, galleries, and telepathetic spaces. Her work considers the body in relationship to commodity, materiality, technology, and feeling, and explores how meaning is both revealed and obscured through image making. Angela Goh preforms her performance Uncanny Valley Girl at SPRING. 

What was your motivation to work in the performing arts?

I think motivation always somehow crosses over with circumstance, chance, or where you find yourself already. For example, I started dancing when I was very young, after my mother and doctors realised I had a femoral torsion, which meant my legs were rotated inwards 90 degrees. The doctor suggested the best therapy would be ballet lessons. So I started dancing at a young age and kept it up, taking up different styles, and eventually I realised I could study dance and make a career in it. Somewhere along the way I became motivated to work in choreography, informed by so many other things besides dancing. Dancing was my background and experience, so it became a material to work with, a framework for relating to things and ideas. And now I work with choreography more as a container for bringing together people, things, ideas, and modes of thinking. I work with dance not necessarily as a mode of expression, but rather as a material that can produce relationships between things, people or ideas. For me, choreography is the container, and dance is the interface.

What drives your creativity?
I'm mostly driven by following ideas, learning things, connecting things in ways that alter my relationship to or understanding of them. My desire to work is driven by curiosity, which is ongoing. But what drives my ‘creativity’, well, maybe deadlines!

What do you think about the role of theatre and dance in society?
My concerns are more with thinking about the function of dancing, rather than its role, per se. Outside of creating, watching or doing dance within an artistic context, dance has a social function, and it functions as a mode of expression. I was specifically thinking about this when I made Uncanny Valley Girl, because I was considering how dancing might function differently for a machine. Why would a machine dance? If a human being dances for social, cultural or emotional reasons, and we can assume that a machine doesn't dance for those same reasons, then when a machine dances it becomes either kind of cute, or extremely unsettling. And I'm very interested in this relationship between cuteness and horror, and what that opens up.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
At the moment, specifically, worms, horror, Giselle, AI, fembots, cowgirls, flower arrangement, surveillance, the dark, ballet, pop stars, puppetry, energy drinks, the Californian Desert, my image of China, bath bombs, shooting ranges, slumber parties, and mostly and always, dancing. And in terms of who, specific to Uncanny Valley Girl, always and forever the most amazing collaborators Corin Ileto and Holly Childs; they are 100% pure inspiration. I'm so lucky to have been able to work with them on this piece.

What role did the theatre play in your childhood?
Not a big one, I hardly ever went to the theatre. What did play a big role was dancing, but not watching it, doing it - I took dance lessons every day after school, and on weekends, too. But I’d rarely go see a dance performance, my interest in and knowledge of dance came from dancing, not watching. This is the thing that has remained interesting to me - if dance is something one experiences through the act of doing, through participation and the physical experience of embodiment, then what does it mean to be watching dance? What does dance do when it’s presented to a spectator in an artistic context? For me this isn’t a question solved simply by implementing some participatory practice, it’s something to work with - this relationship between image and embodiment, and how that can be more than just representation, but can always become something else completely.

What was the starting point for creating this show?
Uncanny Valley Girl really started with an interest in what absence can produce. At some point, presence, or ‘being present’ became quite important in dance and performance, especially within the field of improvisation and somatic practices. It is related to being a ‘strong performer’, in terms of ‘stage presence’. Somehow, I was suspicious of this, especially when the term is used in contexts like ‘mindfulness’, self-help, self-care, self-improvement, self-motivation. Self, self, self, politics; somehow the notion of presence became co-opted by neoliberalism and individualism, and my suspicion grew. I wanted to know what absence could offer. Not absence in terms of inaction or disappearance, but rather what it would mean to show up with absence, or to be present precisely through absence. The idea of absence opens up a specific kind of darkness; when we aren’t blinded by someone’s presence or something that can reflect ourselves back at us, we are forced to look into the void. What can we see there? What can we imagine there, or become there? So Uncanny Valley Girl started with this investigation into presence and absence and modes of performativity, and then the idea of the uncanny valley came in, the idea of lifelessness and horror, and then the figure of the android as something that ‘embodies’ this absence so well. What do we project onto, and into, this absence? Fantasy, horror, desire, and so much more.

Why are you interested in technology and gender?
My interest lies in what the relationship between the two might mean. Uncanny Valley Girl investigates the aspects of fantasy and horror within this relationship. If machines are consistently coded as feminine, while the collective fear persists that machines will rise up and destroy us, then what does that imply for our collective fear of the feminine rising up? Uncanny Valley Girl is not about either technology or gender, instead, it uses the trope of the fembot as a lens to frame an investigation into the entanglement of desire and fear.

What impact do you want to have on the audience? What feelings/experience should the audience expect?
Well, after the responses from audiences both in Australia and Europe it’s really difficult to say what feelings people should expect. Responses have been so varied, some people couldn't hold back their laughter they found it so humorous, some cried, some thought it was terrifying, some thought it was really erotic. It’s hard to say what people should expect. I think because the work somehow deals with a sense of absence, an emptiness, everyone projects into that void whatever they want. I think that is really interesting. I wouldn't want to predict or control the impact of my work on an audience, because it’s not about giving answers. It’s about opening up a multiplicity of propositions.

What are you working on right now?
I’ve done research for a new work about the horrors of absorption, which I’m developing through a series of residencies over this year. I’m also working on new collaborations with Holly Childs, and Su Yu Hsin, as well as having the pleasure of being a performer in the works of artists Mette Edvardsen, Louise Ahl, Adriano Wilfert Jensen, and Holly Childs & J. G Biberkopf. And I just keep working on life as an artist - how does one do it?!

What is your biggest artistic dream to achieve?
I think it is important to have goals, and it might even be important for them to be achieved, or at least worked towards, but dreams, well, I think dreams should be reserved for something separated from the notion of achievement. I guess my answer might be: one goal I want to achieve is to keep open the possibility to dream, to be able to experience dreaminess, alone and with others, and to have the time and support to do so.

You can catch Uncanny Valley Girl on 24 and 25 May in Theater Kikker. 

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Speech by Artistic Director Rainer Hofmann

 
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A moment of mindfulness

 
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Minimalistic dance

 
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What is orchestrated? What is reality?

 

Venturing into the futuristic surrounds of the Stadskantor for the first time, an immediate confirmation of the imagery that pop culture has presented as depicting our future world and existence occurred.

Aesthetically every film from Kubrick’s ‘2001: Space Oddessey’ to Jonze’s ‘Her’ now seemed to make sense, this building visually representing our future aspirations, the constant update of technology and our global obsession with image.

Finding ourselves in a small fragmented huddle within a vast foyer space, we hear a short introduction of PoroCity by choreography Andrea Božić. 

It doesn’t give away much. 
We are encouraged to stay silent.
To turn off our phones. 

A figure in green detaches himself from the group, his body is commanding, sure, his face neutrally expressioned. 
He is excited. 

He has heard of a brand new water park, it is meant to contain all of his wildest desires. 

A performer in red questions the performer in green. 
She too is commanding and existent in her own reality but in brief moments they engage and question one another. 

With descriptive sentences spoken adamantly, the performer in green arrives and is bitterly disappointed. 
This water park is a lie.
All he sees are spas. 
Spas extending throughout his horizon line, outside and even towering upwards on multiple architectural levels. 
With curiosity and disappointment, he walks his surrounds. 
People fill this peculiar place. 
There is judgement in their eyes.
A sudden awareness that he is an outsider and not welcome… 
Their piercing glares burn metaphorical holes in his body as he breaks unknown rules by walking through the now milky spas. 
This action seemingly forbidden from this water park. 

We (the viewer) transform into this crowd, we peer at him largely with little emotion shown on our faces. 
He becomes aware that he is naked and is initially ashamed. But we do not shame him for that. 
Our exclusion is specific and unidentified, yet continually present. 
He wants to get out but can’t find the exit.

Upon his escape, we follow the performer in green up the escalators and into a world of dreams, seemingly located throughout the building. 
The performer in red speaks once more, within the same space they concurrently describe the situations they exist within.

A spoken convergence between both red and green continues in certain moments, providing an explanatory bridge that questions the sureties of the spoken statements of the one other. 

Challenging established dream-logic. 

The performer in red is happy at first, she has found a group of people to belong to. 
They all wear colourful sports jackets. 
With joviality and hope, she follows them up a hill united with the group mentality. 
She does not know where they are going. 

When they gather as a group, one gives another a pill.
Initially seeming harmless, a sudden intuition kicks into her mind. 
This pill causes imminent death. 
She wants to intervene but she cannot find the right words. 

With communality, each sports-jacket wearer blindly consumes their own pill, while internalised panic occurs in the performer. 

She knows she cannot escape. Her death is inevitable. 
Her intuition overpowered as she has enters a fixed state, paralysed and frozen, much like a trapped animal hypnotised by it’s predator. 
I couldn’t help but to think of people who join cults and demise within this setting. 

With all of this occurring as we move throughout the varying locations of the building, the viewer finds themselves in a constant shifting position.

Building elements are sometimes used by the performers as they describe their personal surrounds within their performative sequence.
This brings not only a subtle situational reminder but makes the viewer consider their own waking lives and wandering thoughts. 
And moreover that in every space any given person exists within their own personal reality fused with a slippage of fantasy or imagination.

These blurred boundaries are reinforced by the shifting vocal projection of the performers, each having a small speaker on their lower back. 
With their vocal tones varying slightly dependent on where the viewer stands, this only contributes to the sensation of the surreal, the meeting place between dream and reality. 

Entering a narrowed space, we are lead towards a tall thin iron bar standing vertically upright. 
We can hear sounds coming from it. 
I am unsure if this is normal here, an element of this futuristic building. 

As we move away, a man bumps into the bar.  It falls. 
The sound petrifying.
I jump out of my own skin.
And become suspiciously aware of the physicalities of my location, I begin to distrust every pipe or potentially unnecessary building element and feel anger towards the sounds I hear, having previously been at ease with them. 

What is orchestrated? What is reality? 
Why does this indistinction make me deeply uncomfortable?

A new sequence begins. 

The performer in green steps through a white curtain. He is in a boundless picturesque Croation landscape. 
The performer in red steps through a white curtain.
She is in a peculiar public toilet. 
There are no walls here. 
Simply toilets on the ground with a transparent pipe.
She is confused. 
Unwantedly someone demonstrates and normalises this toiletry procedure. 
She is uncomfortable with the space and with those around her. 

Suddenly, uncontrollably she also must evacuate her bowels.
So see does as she has seen. 
The shit travels up the pipe, visible and unashamed. It finishes its journey dispensed in a metal drain on the floor. Exposed. 

The performer has deep shame. 
The shit suddenly fills her mouth. 
She gags, is horrified, feeling bound and trapped. The performer enacts extreme vomiting. 

She feels humiliated as if she is unwillingly part of some kind of nasty plan that those in this public toilet must have been aware of. 
She is finally able to get the shit out of her mouth but the chunks remain. She is entirely disgusted, so much so that she can barely cope with the situation at hand. 

This segment of the performance reminded me of the exhibition 'Goldene Bend'er' I’d seen by Australian artist Mikala Dwyer at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art back in 2013. 

As part of the exhibition, there had been a performance work where ornately dressed figures with faces shrouded by medieval hooded masks circled a public room and began to empty their bowels into clear cylindrical containers. 

Although both this performance work and Dwyer’s both were both connected to our responses and feelings to do with human waste, the sense of control of the participants in these rituals was vastly different. 

While Dwyer’s had seemed as if the performers were participating in an established normalised ritual simply on display to a bemused audience, Porocity’s was brutal and horrifying. 

Control was taken from the performer. 
She could no longer hold in her need to shit. 
Then attempting desperately to normalise the situation and act as she had seen. 

Only for the most humiliating to be senselessly inflicted on someone innocent in the situation.

Meanwhile, the green performer is exploring the wild landscape in Croatia, marvelling at his witness of plant and ecological growth. 

In a later situation, we accompany the red performer on her walk with her friend. 
Air balloons without a basket float temptingly by. Her friend grabs the rope. 

The performer doesn’t know why but supposes she better join her. 
After a majestic but terrifying flight across Europe, they have landed.

And with a sudden turn, the performer is angry. She has been mislead. 
There was meant to be treasure there. 
Suddenly the situation was a ‘scam’. 
I wondered what inner decision had shifted an unplanned balloon flight into the expectation of finding treasure? 

The performer blames all of those who surround her. 
She refuses to take responsibility for her decision to grab the rope and begin the flight. 

As a viewer to Porocity at times, we became various people throughout each performers situation. 

We inflict paralysing fear. 
We silently ostracise. 
We become shop attendants. 
We transform into bears. 
We were predators. 
We were bystanders. 
We inflicted discomfort. 
We were initiated by eye contact and by the performers nomination. 

At times I was unsure who was formally a part of this performance and whether that even mattered?

The ambiguity became more engaging than my desire to structure the experience. 

As viewers, we watched imagination feed into reality. 
We witnessed human insecurity and our tendency to disregard intuition while only later being forced to rely upon it. 

The duality of dreams and the influences of day to day life are viscerally displayed and thus inner narratives that exist in each person that are largely left dormant and untold are exposed. 

By Diana Story

© Thomans Lenden

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Database of attidudes

 
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Naked cheerfulness of the Homo ludens

 
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And I wonder, where do all these memories and identities go as time continues to shift?

 

‘’Unsolved’’ commences with a darkened stage, a man and his voice narrating his story to tell. 

A roller door opens, revealing a desolate, uninhabited and almost monochrome house. Built by his father and grandfather as a grand venture to house to their extended family, now well-worn and unused, ambitious metal poles extend from the roof and point hopefully into the sky – the possibility for physical expansion idealised. 

With an bashful initial disclaimer about the chance that their identity as Taiwanese Hakka could be considered ‘fake,’ as only one grandparent speaks their original language, elements of the inhabitants identities are introduced. The languages from groups that occupied Taiwan emerge in song and adjoin whispered by different family members, these voices from the performers memory remaining constantly present throughout his narrative. Creaks, sounds reminiscent of fluorescent lighting and bodily noises jarringly provide a soundtrack throughout the journey. 

A grandmothers voice begins to sing in Japanese, contrasted with a long-unused kitchen, she sings a song from her childhood of birds flying together – perhaps reflecting her aspirations for her family. On a darkened stage, the performer’s face is pushed one way, his body another, ducking and weaving, becoming a child submissive to the memories of the adults dominant in the house. A physical re-enactment of his childhood reminiscent of the phrase ‘better seen, not heard.’

Half-dance, half neurotic, the performer dusts his projected lounge room in a repetitive pattern, the screen jolting and jumping in response to his actions.Dynamics within this family inhabitance unfurl, a father forced to work from a young age, in constant fear of the economy.The performer begins a defensive, untrusting fight against the abandoned and unassuming rooms of his family home.Projections of discarded objects from another time and marked walls from the home move their closest to the audience creating a sudden feeling of situational suffocation.

A mother who bottled and refused to acknowledge injustice, aiming to be ‘discreet’ and neat. Deep seeded family resentfulness towards the long-term unemployed grandfather. With revelations about the life and secrets of the grandfather revealed, lies uncovered that disguised the marks of torture that he had been subjected to during a terrifying period of political disaster.

Voices of family members reflecting upon their life in their home with one another play as the performer relives his childhood reality, contrasting the variations of two peoples experiences in the same environment. Despite the turbulence and pressure during his youth, slowly and surely we witness the growth and strengthening of the performer as he triumphs in the formation of his identity and love of hip hop and dance and eventual his detachment from his family.  Family culture and its effect upon childhood experience is explored deeply but moreover the indeterminant and unquantifiable inherited ramifications of hidden family histories. Equally connecting the physicality of the house as corresponding to the actions and beliefs of its inhabitants provides a fascinating insight to the separate identity a home can hold in the memories of each person who has lived within its walls.

On a personal level, “Unsolved” naturally reawakens memories of childhood, family and home in the viewer. Thinking about home, I remembered the family house of my father, where he and his siblings had lived and grown up and where I lived as a teenager, having left my childhood home for the very first time. The house was owned by my grandparents for fifty-seven years until we helped clear out its vast possessions when they could no longer live there independently. With both of them surviving enormous hardship in their youths, my father and his siblings were influenced by their characters, strong religious convictions and no doubt their traumas.

Learning about the suffering of the grandfather in “Unsolved,” I thought about my own Opa. He had survived the occupation of the Netherlands during war and had been taken as a prisoner by the Nazis and being naturally gifted with language, forced to be their translator while they starved him and killed his friends. It was many years before anything emerged about my Opa’s experiences in the war and when they did they were far more horrifying that any of us could have imagined. This trauma impermeably lived wherever he did and embedded itself in the tangible and intangible traits throughout my family, its presence seemingly a permanent element of the family psyche. As time passed by and the inevitability of change ensued, our family home no longer stands and a new one has taken its place, with a new family and new memories being created. 

"Unsolved" tells an important biographical story of life and childhood in Taiwan and the effects of political change and occupation on individuals. And I wonder, where do all these memories and identities go as time continues to shift?  

By Diana Story

© Yun Quan Lin

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Home is where my family is

news
 
 

 
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Global Affairs: borders, dances and identity

 

By Karlien Vanhoonacker

With the Global Affairs line, the SPRING 2019 programme takes you to a wide range of places across the globe. What is the impact of our place of origin? What determines our cultural identity? And how can we maintain a connection between these two elements in this increasingly globalised world? The artists asking the most relevant questions in this area are predominantly young. Their fresh, but more importantly, open and critical outlook, alongside their refreshing, energetic approach makes spectators see the world through different eyes. You will not only take away a different view on their world, the specific place they zoom in on, but you will also have a fresh perspective on your own home and the way we are all inextricably connected with each other as human beings. To put it more strongly, not only do many of the questions and themes we tackle seem universal, they are also increasinly interconnected on a global scale.

The Taiwanese choreographer Fang Yun Lo (Unsolvedis taking a literal approach to the search for her origins, by returning to her family home and her family’s history. Her dancer Chih Wen Cheng uses urban dance to guide us through her childhood home which is evoked by video-projections on the walls of a staged installation. She reminisces on her early years in 1980s Taiwan, but at the same time she puts those formative years behind her for good. And all the while, she tackles the big existential questions of our times. What is a home? And how does the youngest generation deal with the unresolved conflicts of the preceding generations?  

Shira Eviatar (Eviatar/Said & Rising) is an Israeli choreographer who brings together widely different dance traditions. Traditions that exist alongside each other: the Jewish-Yemeni tradition and the Palestinian on the one hand, and the Yemeni and Moroccan on the other. Both her dancers know their movements intimately, as they are part of Arabic-Jewish festive traditions. Choreographer Shira Eviatar uncovers the origins of these movements in fascinating ways in her show, stripping them of their context. She brings the kinship and the differences between the dances to the surface, showing us how two dance traditions differ, yet are able to connect, both within a single solo in the body of a single dancer, and in a duet. 

The young dancers Mitra Ziaee Kia and Hiva Sedaghat (Through the Skin) depart from a largely non-existent dance tradition in Iran. Or, to be more precise, from the difficult position of contemporary dance in a country where dance is largely forbidden, and female bodies especially must be covered in public at all times. The effort, therefore, these young dancer/choreographers’ have made to create a show about intimacy, is daring in itself.

Where the Israeli Shira Eviatar focuses on movement, dance, elements from traditional celebrations in different religions, different sections of a population, and places them alongside each other to address the political realities in Israel, Roee Rosen (Theatre of the Awkward) takes a different approach. Recurrent themes in his work are the representation of structural violence and desire. As a painter, writer, film maker and visual artist with a strong presence at the latest edition of Documenta 14, he undermines the normative impact of identity and identification in his artistic universe, by using fictionalisation and irony. He mixes current Israeli and world politics with mythical and historical references to European and Jewish history. In Theatre of the Awkward he presents both a work-in-progress of his Kafka for Kids and the live performance Hilarious: a dysfunctional stand-up comedy. And Roee Rosen persists in linking current politics pursued in his ‘heimat’ to world politics, two strands that are inextricably linked.

In Pleasant Island, the second instalment of a trilogy two young theatre makers, Silke Huysmans and Hannes Dereere, are devoting to the worldwide economic, social and political impact of the mining industry, they present their take on the island of Nauru. British whalers once nicknamed the island in the Pacific Pleasant Island because of its wealth of natural resources. What was once an earthly paradise, is now a ransacked, poor and exhausted country where, to make things worse, Australia has located an enormous refugee camp. Refugees rarely ever leave the place, yet it also never quite offers them a home.

The global apparentness and unavoidability of the impact of international politics and economic inequality are demonstrated by the Cameroonian artist Zora Snake. With his live performance Transfrontalier he confronts both the audience and people in the street with the physical realities of borders. In the Utrecht city centre he literally demonstrates the pain and the obstacles refugees are subjected to. He shows us the every-day reality at the borders of Fortress Europe that we decline to be confronted with. Zora Snake is thus not only using public space as his stage, but more importantly, as a place for encounter, a forum for debate, and a space for confrontation and dialogue. A confrontational, danced dialogue about borders and identity and the way they determine where we call home.

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Refugee trail with obstacles

 
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Ritual for unbelievers

 
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"I wanted to rediscover dance, specifically the necessity for dance and its connective power."

 

Tzeni Argyriou studied dance and choreography. For more than 10 years she has been generating choreographic work that focuses on integrating the performing arts with other artistic genres. After exploring the merging of media constructs with performance, she has currently returned to the analogue body and the empowering qualities of collective physical experiences. This year, she is presenting her show ANΩNYMO at SPRING.

What drives your creativity?
I observe what is happening around me, especially human behaviour under different socio- political conditions. The observation awakens certain needs, desires, thoughts or questions. When something jumps out and “locks” in my mind, then this becomes the topic, the magnetic centre of ideas and imagination. So, in a way, this is about the content.
When rehearsals start, things might change, and my creativity then is driven by the work itself. Which means that my ideas and directions, together with the people taking part (performers/collaborators), plus time and space, transform the work to a living organism that triggers other layers of my creativity.

What do you think about the role of theatre and dance in society?
I guess they can play many roles, depending on the times. They can predict, warn, or remind, and they can transfer knowledge. They can also awaken people’s desire for things, internal elevation, critical view, and also emotions. Furthermore, it highlights different perspectives that we tend to forget because our everyday lives are so busy. Somehow art needs to function as a modern oracle…

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
I cannot isolate a single biggest inspiration; it’s a combination of many. I grew up in a beautiful small town named Kavala where both the sea and the mountains were close, in a carefree time, always playing in the neighbourhood with other kids, so teamwork. Greece in general is a big inspiration for me. I was also inspired by some of my teachers who transferred their love, passion and dedication to dance and art in generous and gentle ways. I was lucky to travel a lot, to meet and talk to different people from different origins, ages, backgrounds.  

What role did dance play in your childhood?
It was very important during my childhood. It made me feel like I belonged. I remember attending a dance school in my hometown and being unable to wait for the next class or to stop dancing at home. It gave me such joy, power and freedom. And it was truly important since it provided me with other tools to express myself (bodily instead of verbally). It was a place to learn, to try, to share and not a career-oriented training. This came after. I also belong to this generation that watched ‘Fame’ and ‘Dirty Dancing’ on TV.  

What was the starting point to create this show?
The starting point was my observation on how technology has not only entered our lives, but also shaped and defined our bodies and relationships. There is a proportional relation between the increase of online digital interaction and the decrease in social physical connection. How do we share experiences with others? And what do we share with others? I also look towards a technological understanding of anonymity, a digital arena where privacy is under threat. All of these factors have intrigued me for many years, and just after I had had my first child I was asking questions like ‘where are we headed to’, and ‘what kind of experiences, memories and life are my kids going to have’.  In the end I felt an urgent need to go beyond digital communication and redefine the ways people connect while they are physically present.

Why did you want to make this show?
I wanted to rediscover dance, specifically the necessity for dance and its connective power, of being and sharing physically together inside our social frame. This led us to pre-choreographic forms of collective actions and expressions which were based on human contact, grip, group cohesion, shared joy. So, the project explores different ways of traditional dancing, singing, rhythms and patterns and other anonymous forms of ‘art’, also found in architecture or even in agriculture, that have been binding us as cultural beings for centuries. Connecting with others, with yourself, with the universe; all these different connections are somehow therapeutic; physical expressions and purifications that can make you feel better and build a better society. My intention was to find bridges to connect bodies in an age dominated by physical detachment, and to reflect upon the possibilities that collective cultural values can offer in an era marked by digital individualism.

What was your personal highlight during the making of this performance?
It was actually the first day of rehearsing after a long time of planning. I wanted to start with the digital communication section, and I had asked the performers to make a new Facebook profile, a digital persona they would like to have in Anonymo. The plan for the first rehearsal was to create a Facebook group, without knowing who is who, and my partner and I would digitally give the dancers all the scores, tasks, and directions in the group. So communicating digitally while being physically present, all in the same space, but not knowing who is who. We logged in and within 15 minutes Facebook blocked all our profiles, one after another! And at that very moment a big man entered the studio; we all thought he was police or FBI! Turned out he was just a delivery guy!

What are you working on right now?
I have new concepts that I would like to start working on, so at the moment I am working on the conditions, applications, meetings etc. that will make these works possible. Being a freelance artist living off this work is not an easy thing…

You can catch ANΩNYMO di 21 en wo 22 mei in Theater Kikker.

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SPRING starts today!

 

This edition is about robtos and humans, about cultural identities and global relations, about the people and the city. We're crossing Uncanny Valleys and Pleasant Islands and leading through a wide range of genres and art forms.

Attractor unites two of the best Australian dance companies, Dancenorth and Lucy Guerin Inc, traditional Indonesian folk idioms and heavy metal vocals, virtuoso dancers and audiences. Before this opening show you have the opportunity to visit the performance Transfrontalier by Zora Snake during the opening in the public space. The artist tackles the question how we can escape borders by literally opening himself up to the hope, pain and obstacles that are so characteristic of the long road travelled by refugees. 

During the festival, we have a continuous programme:

Ephemeral Data - Jeroen van Loon on de Neude
Polygon - Lawrence Malstaf in Hoog Catharijne
After Ghostcatching - OpenEndedGroup in de Hekmanfoyer in Stadsschouwburg Utrecht
Through the Looking Glasses - Andrea Božić, Julia Willms & Robert Pravda in de Hekmanfoyer in Stadsschouwburg Utrecht

You can't make the installations today? Come and see! 

We'll like to see you thise week in the theatres, in the public space and in our Festivalhart. We're excited!

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“Relearning what you know by becoming aware of it, like an immigrant in your own home, your own body”

 

Shira Eviatar started in the theatre as a child actor and later completed her BA in theatre and dance. At 25, she entered choreography school in Israel. At the time, she was active in many creative fields, such as making clothes, painting, pottery, video art, and playing the drums. We talk to Shira Eviatar about her upcoming performances at SPRING Eviatar/Said & Rising, showing 18 & 19 May at Theater Kikker.

What was your motivation to work in the performing arts?
I am intrigued by our ability to create and change our reality, manifested through rules and cultures, and to question it and dissect it to go to our pure essence. This essence is taken away from us in our daily lives; society has no space for it. In order to go beyond what we think we know and ask why things are the way they are, beyond our cultural rules, we need to use our bodies and explore time and space. For me, that is what the performing arts are about.

I like to create works that use the body. I have stopped playing the drums, but I use body percussion in my performances, shaping the space through rhythm and creating a visual that has music. You can even listen to what you see.

What do you think about the role of theatre and dance in society?
That is specific to my country. The situation is very complex, so what I’m saying here is highly simplified. Israel was established by migrants from Europe and the USA (Ashkenazi Jews) and the Arab world (Mizrachi Jews). The Ashkenazi culture was dominant in society, possibly because they had more money. Through media and society, their culture was placed before the Arab culture. Israeli society was extremely segregated, and the Arab Jews were treated very badly. For example, Yemeni Jewish children were kidnapped by the government and given to Ashkenazi families. Many Mizrachi women who delivered in hospital had their babies taken away from them. They were told the baby had fallen ill and died. For many people - and many groups in society - the trauma runs deep.

The Ashkenazi’s Zionist project portrays a certain image of Israel and if you speak Arabic or have a slightly darker skin tone, you are an embarrassment to this image. My grandparents came from Algeria and Morocco, and my father had to change his last name to have any chance in society. As a Moroccan, you are a “no-go”. My grandmother was called a liar for saying that her son was going to be a doctor, both because they didn’t wish her well and because nobody considered it possible.

When I became a dancer, I realized how this trickles down into our culture and I was shocked. I was educated in the typical ways of classical ballet, which requires you to fix certain parts in the body. Any other approach to movement was inferior, and there wasn’t even any space for research – those parts should simply never be moved. They are of no value for a professional contemporary dancer.

It would make you no more than a folkloric dancer, because anything from the Mizrachi culture is reduced to oriental stereotypes, like the dark-skinned villain or the stupid person. The Ashkenazi outside view on Yemeni culture, fashion and dances, has deemed it exotic and given it a negative connotation. It is completely excluded from the cultural scene, unless it’s a specific time and place and called “ethnic” or “folkloric” night. As if contemporary ballet is not folkloric! Because of this manipulation, people began to abandon their traditional dances and clothes.

How did the position of Mizrachi cultures within the Israeli cultural scene inspire the shows Eviatar/Said & Rising?
These performances give space to elements that are excluded from the cultural scene. More importantly, calling it “Mizrachi dance” blends and blurs everything and generalizes it. But I want to respect the richness of these cultures. It’s not all-the-same! In Rising, we are looking at the differences within Mizrachi dance. We reclaim the space and create an unbiased view on what it’s actually made of. By taking out the stereotypes and getting to know the essence, we see similarities and differences and we celebrate the cultures. That is what Rising is for.

What was it like to work with Anat Amrani? And with Evyatar Said?
Anat was ashamed: she was so trained not to celebrate her cultural (dance) heritage, practice it or see it as worthy – but she wanted to work on it. I needed to break her in order to bring it out and into the studio. I remember one very beautiful moment. She embodied her shame and I wanted to push her. I was cheering her on, yelling “yes, yes, this is really good!” and suddenly she let go and her memories were released. I remembered dancing with my grandfather and my mother when I was a child. First, she danced the image of the dance, then the memories, and then the cultural imprint in her body.

Overall, it’s funny: while making this performance I had the same experience that I want the audience to have. Anat comes from a Yemeni culture and I come from Moroccan culture. While working together in the studio, I saw Anat’s work. I said ‘Wow!! This is also Mizrachi dance – it’s so different!”.

With Evyatar, the process was very different. Evyatar doesn’t have a dance background. He researched his Yemeni traditions and trained through the culture, like parties and celebrations, not as a professional dancer. He didn’t know what a plié was, and we didn’t have the same language when talking about the dance. So we had to find another way to capture our movements. Since Evyatar studied Linguistics in university and spoken language is similar to movement, we started to agree on words, sentences and letters, creating a dictionary with three bases in Yemeni dance, and created different lines from there. They were the tools to relearn what we knew by observing and becoming aware of it, like an immigrant in your own home, your own body.

The code we developed came from our bodies. It’s how we practice our cultures. To be an immigrant in your own home means to alienate from everything familiar and to look at it in a new light. Our knowledge is not our own, we share it with each other all the time. We are our own mothers and have the ability to embody others. This duality is my inspiration.

Do you have any advice to share with starting artists or choreographers?
Listen to yourself. Question and doubt what other people tell you are the right ways, and develop a clear view on what people are giving you as tools. Be critical of it, it’s full of politics and information that should be questioned. And enjoy!

What are you working on right now?
It’s a really complex piece of work, it’s big. I am questioning: “what is the material, what is the creation?”. Half of the work is the actual material, and the other half is the pieces that I dispose of during the creative process.  But I am also creating a paradox of time: “What body are we born into and whose body is it?”, with souls hosting different bodies, using people from different backgrounds. I hope to start showing this show in August.

You can catch Eviatar/Said & Rising on Sat 18 and Sun 19 May in Theater Kikker.

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This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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"City Hall is like a loop in a dream, you keep coming back but something has changed."

 

Performance maker Andrea Božić and visual artist Julia Willms are members of the interdisciplinary platform TILT. They came to  SPRING before with their installation The Cube (2016) and early in 2019 they presented a performance around the lunar eclipse (Orange Nights). This year Andrea and Julia will be at SPRING with their show PoroCity inside the Utrecht City Hall.

How do you feel about the (social) relevance of performing arts?
Andrea
: Live performance can create space in which we can engage with the world in a different way: we can practice ways of attending, engaging and being in the world that are uncommon. That makes it into quite a powerful space and perhaps one of the last remaining places where something like that can be exercised.
Julia: Performance can propose radical gestures and setups, that are playful and creative with the spaces we inhabit. Ways of attending that would otherwise not be possible outside of the performance world.
Andrea: Performance can ‘undo’ a gaze that already knows what the world is. It can undo the idea that this world is given as such and the only possible reality. With the current political, social, economic and ecological meltdown – performance can be a space where we don’t know yet where we are, so something new can emerge. Maybe that's for us the social relevance of it.

How did you start your platform TILT?
Andrea:  Julia comes from visual arts, Robert is a sound artist and I come from performing arts, but each of us has worked in-disciplinary within our own field and within our education. We initially started collaborated on my performances and continued collaborating on different projects for 15 years. We set TILT up as an in-disciplinary platform – not as a collective but a group of three individual artist who work together in various constellations - as an artistic statement, to practice horizontal connections between these disparate worlds and also to look for new ways of producing our work in collaboration with other partners.
Julia: A platform gives us the possibility to organise ourselves according to what the transdisciplinary nature of the work needs and to ask questions about how authorship is distributed within it. We are not a collective: we do not always use the same common signature. We are able to decide with every project how authorship is divided or shared. It gives us a horizontal organization and a flexible and free but ongoing and connected structure.
Andrea: A lot of our work is about developing new performative or installative formats that would allow for a shift of attention towards the world and the space we are in. Interdisciplinary structures started arising from those concerns and from the need to organise the relationship between the audience and the work, and between us, the work and the world differently.

How do you connect these different formats to the story you want to tell?
Andrea:
Rather than tell stories – I would say we try to create conditions in which something unexpected can emerge. We look for a performative language that needs to be developed to create such conditions for each specific project.
Julia: We often layer several spaces, each with a distinct logic, on top of each other. Together they then create a third porous space between the two. The audience is invited to inhabit this new space for a while and after a while, it becomes ‘real’, ‘natural’ and ‘normal’, even more so or just as much as the one we arrived from.
Andrea: With the dream project we were originally not so interested in the dreams themselves.  But rather in what are the edges of a performance, where do we feel the stage ends and ’the world’ begins, what are the levels of staging in the world, what if there is no border between the art and the world? We were interested in this situation where one comes to a theatre, sits down to watch a performance and then goes back out through the door, leaves the ‘art’ behind and goes to the ‘real’ world outside. We were really interested in how we can create space in which this fictional border will be removed and this knowing where the stage begins and the world ends will be confused. So, we layered two spaces on top of each other: the dream world and the everyday world in which we perform. We map one into the other, they merge. Through the performance, you attend to both of these worlds at the same time. This re-organizes something in how we attend. The dream logic of the performance starts seeping into the everyday logic. And then, as you continue after the performance, we hope this logic stays with you for a few days or at least for a few hours inside the ‘real’ world. So, with the dreaming, we were not so interested in the way dreams are presented to us through psychoanalysis, but much more in what kind of a logic operates within the dream world and to enter it and move through the world in that logic.

What was the starting point of this performance?
Andrea: Our interests kind of continue over a longer period of time, there is no strict starting point. We were interested in creating porous spaces, what happens when you apply organic logic to black boxes and white cubes. In our installation The Cube, we were interested in the rectangular boxes we live in and present art in and we worked with dream logic to re-organise the cube through a visual experience of space. Then we started playing with this performative set up where you walk down a street or are at home in your own apartment but you imagine a different world into the one you see. You call it something else, or you describe it as something else. As if there is another world present but it’s not completely visible and not so different from yours.
Julia: It’s also like looking at something, such as a tree in the street, beyond what is obviously visible to the naked eye. So, there is the upper part of the tree, which looks like a separate object but how far does the tree continue underground into the invisible? How deep are the roots, how are the roots entangled with other roots, how does that create a deep and large strangely entangled underground organism – which very much defines what we see ‘upstairs’?
Andrea: For this performance, we did research into dreaming, for which, as part of it, we invited Mala Kline to work with us. Mala is a Sapphire dream technique practitioner, a dream technique which has its roots in ancient Sephardic Kabbalah tradition. We worked with our night time dreams, but according to this teaching, we dream all the time - we produce images all the time, only we don't pay attention to them. Working in these sessions, we noticed that dreams have a very cinematic and immersive quality when they are told not as a story but as an image that one sees in that moment. We started mapping them into the space and realised there was something interesting in this gap because the dreams have a certain logic in themselves, which one cannot simply invent. It comes from another place. So, we developed something we call “dream collecting and mapping sessions”. We first ask people to tell us a dream – they usually first tell it as a very short anecdote: “Then this happened and this happened.” We then ask a lot of questions: “Can you describe the space you're in? How does something feel? Who are you with?”
Julia: The more questions we ask, the more details emerge. As a listener, you start imagining the dream nearly as yours. Then in the third phase we ask them to re-tell the dream again but to now map it into the space of the building as though it takes place here and now.
Andrea: For the performance we wove the various dreams into one another and into the architectural space. We started doing research into various buildings in Amsterdam, looking at buildings as organisms themselves.
Julia: Buildings are projections of specific mind sets and have emerged from a zeitgeist of the time they were imagined and built in. A building which was built in the 50s comes from a very different political and ideological mindset than a building built today. But also, the use of the buildings changes over time, parts are destroyed, re-built, transformed, edited, merged into a current state.
Andrea: We chose the Orphanage House, designed by Aldo van Eyck, as our first location. It’s a very interesting architectural concept: a series of modular spaces, the inside and outside spaces are equally important, none of the spaces are the same, there are no closed cubes. It is kind of a labyrinth. We created a parcour through the building – through its history and through its current usage - the office spaces of the BPD, their art collection. The two layers - the dreams and the building – reveal and speak to each other.

Why have you chosen City Hall Utrecht as building?
Andrea
: This space is quite new - only five years old - and feels like a future projection of the now. There is the concept of transparency between the levels and the outside, of commoning, of shared and flexible spaces, to accompany the ideas of new ways of working and transiting. It is situated in an intersection of transport and a shopping centre, a no space, everybody is a passer by, everybody is going somewhere, no one is here. Everything is constantly in movement. It is a perfect place for PoroCity.
Julia: The building is very spectacular, but at the same time it has calmness to it. People are moving around and talking but it’s very quiet in the space. When you travel up on the escalator you pass through a series of different viewpoints and perspectives, but you're at the same time always looking back at where you came from. Everything looks the same but is changing all the time - your perspective within the building is constantly shifting. It feels like a strange vast landscape – you never know if you were there already or not.
Andrea: It is like a loop in a dream, you keep coming back but something has changed. We perform outside of its office hours so the building will be completely empty. That is always a very special experience. The space is left behind by people who work there but the traces of their activities are present.

How is the installation Through the Looking Glasses connected to the performance?
Andrea
: They are two individual works but together they create a constellation and a larger work. Through the Looking Glasses is a project which we originally developed as part of the Mars Landing, a project we made in 2010. We then reworked it into an installation for this project. You put on a pair of non-see through white glasses on which we project coloured light and headphones with noise sound. You don’t hear any recognizable sound or see any recognizable shapes. You no longer look at something but you feel like you are in the space of the colour.
Julia: The installation is based on the Ganzfeld effect - the result of the brain amplifying neural noise in order to look for the missing visual signals. It is similar to dream production because of the brain's state of sensory deprivation during sleep – you don’t actually see anything but an image is produced. Ganzfeld is also used to train astronauts for their travels to outer space. The installation and the PoroCity journey speak to each other. For the performance, it is important that both are experienced.

You can catch PoroCity on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 May at Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, in the Douwe Egbertszaal.

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This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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The permanent destruction now is a kind of payback to the world, instead of an act of self-revenge.

 

Theatre maker Naomi Velissariou and sound producer Joost Maaskant are back with PERMANENT DESTRUCTION. Last year they came to SPRING with their show PERMANENT DESTRUCTION - The SK Concert, a melodramatic energy concert about self-hate and unrequited love. The makers explored the confrontation with the work of British playwright Sarah Kane. This year their latest work, PERMANENT DESTRUCTION: The HM Concert, based and inspired on the work of German playwright Heiner Müller and co-produced by Theater Utrecht, is set to premiere at SPRING. We asked Naomi what it is all about.

Last year you played The SK Concert. What was it like?
It was super fun! The treatre concert is a new form of expressing myself. Ultimately it became a highly consistent cross-over between a play and a concert. So aside from what I am doing with the work of Kane or Heiner Müller, I have created an alter ego: an international popstar in great pain. It was a great character to develop. 

How did audiences respond last year?
I’m not sure, since I was on the stage. It depended greatly on where we performed and the audience itself. People who failed to recognise the pop idiom, couldn’t see the irony, references and nods.. Some people didin’t know who Kane or Müller are, so they are simply dancing to the music and having a fun time like at a regular concert. To me, all experiences have equal value. Our audiences and their responses have never been so mixed before.

How did you arrive at this new instalment of PERMANENT DESTRUCTION?
I integrated Müller’s work based on a number of themes that, to me, form the core of his work. The same way I did with Kane last year. This year’s concert is about sexism and the urge of destruction. The #metoo-situation stirred something inside me, and I felt a surge of unreasonable rage. It could have led to some form of extremist feminism. The official term is: resentment. That’s the feeling you can get when you’ve lived with suppression for a long time and you’re entitled to an aggressive response. So taking Müller’s work, I created an extremist, feminist concert. Last year’s show dealt with pain, death and a broken heart. The rage was directed inwards, and this year, it is very much directed outwards. The permanent destruction now is a kind of payback to the world, instead of an act of self-revenge.

Can you tell us about your collaboration with Joost?
We work together on a show for a year. We prepare for ten months and then we play for two. During those ten months we write and record the record together, which is very much a fifty/fifty collaboration.. We always start improvising simultaneously, at a table with two laptops, and write the record. Six months before the premiere, that’s finished, so we know the material that we will be using to create the show. Once the record is done, we start working with a visual artist to create a film. This year we are working with photographer Jan Hoek. The film is completely based on the record and then the concert we create, is based on the two. The music is the artwork around which we create this Gesamtkunstwerk called a theatre show.

Why choose a theatre venue with a concert set-up rather than a concert venue?
In terms of genre it certainly counts as theatre, so a theatre venue is only logical. However we also play in a theatre venue in Antwerp and on Lowlands, last year. It’s just that the creative process of this concert is different from creating a show. I play at the Paardenkathedraal, because it’s a beautiful venue and it is the home base of my biggest co-producer, Theater Utrecht. But I could do this show anywhere; even on a stage in a square somewhere in Utrecht.

What are your plans for the near future?
The HM Concert is the second part of a PERMANENT DESTRUCTION trilogy. Part three will premiere in late 2020 and after that I’d like to see what else is possible. I feel like I have been searching for this hybrid form between theatre and music for seven years, and for now, I have found it. I’m not ready to let go of it, yet, but perhaps after three instalments it will be done. Still, I’d like to see what else we can do with PERMANENT DESTRUCTION.

PERMANENT DESTRUCTION: The HM Concert (coproduction with Theater Utrecht) premiers next week in Theater De Paardenkathedraal. See the performance on Wed 15, Fri 17, Sat 18, Thu 21, Tue 23 and Fri 24 May!

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"We wanted to know what perspectives there might be in a place that is so devastated"

 

The focus for theatre makers Silke Huysmans and Hannes Dereere in their work is on creating documentary theatre. Silke attended the drama school at KASK School of Arts in Ghent, while Hannes was a Theatre Studies graduate. For their first show Mining Stories (2016), they conducted extensive research into a mining disaster in the Brazilian region where Silke grew up. This year they are coming to SPRING with their latest show Pleasant Island.

Can you tell us how you came to work in the performing arts?  

Hannes: We first worked together on Silke’s graduation piece. It contained the seeds of the vocabulary we went on to develop in later projects. The search for a performative way to process documentary material.
Silke: We have been instilled with a fascination for the performing arts from a very early age. We were unwittingly triggered in school, I think, so it was never a conscious decision to step into this world. We create documentary performances and our research is akin to journalism, it’s quite dry. So being able to tell our stories through theatre is good.
Hannes: The research-fase is something that brought us together and that we have gone on to explore in different successive projects. During a research phase we collect material and then, we try to translate this into a theatrical form. We create staged pieces for the theatre. What’s good about a theatre venue is that you’ve got people in the room with you for sixty minutes. It works really well, because it means information is processed very differently. It’s a completely different approach than a film or a radio segment.
Silke: In a theatre venue, the here and now is very important.
Hannes: The theatre has its own laws and characteristics, and these are elements that you can work with.

How did you arrive at the Pleasant Island case?
Silke
: It is a continuation of Mining Stories, a show we made about one of the biggest mining disasters in human history and about the Brazilian region where I spent my childhood. We were intensively involved in this case and we saw how mining actually means you are always destroying a part of the earth. So we went in search of place that is in fact already completely destroyed, a place where the future is already visible. And that’s how we arrived at Nauru, or Pleasant Island, an island measuring four by five kilometres that is a complete waste land. We wanted to know what perspectives there might be in a place that is so devastated.  
Hannes: In Mining Stories one of the main subjects was our collective memory: how do we deal with our memories and remembrance of the past? By contrast, in the research for this show we look towards the future: what happens if we think more deeply about the future? What perspectives do we have left?
Silke: This is something that is on everybody’s mind. It’s also about post-apocalyptic images of the world and in that sense, Nauru is a micro-world. Recently there was another mining disaster in Brazil, so clearly, things are not going to end well if we continue like this. The show is not strictly about the future as you can see; it’s more about the consequences of our lifestyle today. It’s very much about the present.

How did you set about researching during your trip?
Silke
: It started very much from our position. Our last show was about a place I had a personal link to. This place is not ours, and our position is very important to us in working with a true story. So we studied what people in general think about the future, and how mining works. The island was discovered by Europeans, so we also did in-depth research into imperialism and the consequences of European world domination. We never thought we would get into Nauru, because there are detention centres there and because there’s a media ban in place. Hardly anyone is ever allowed to enter. It wasn’t until we were told our application had been processed that we took our research to the next level.
Hannes: We try to incorporate as many perspectives as we can, so we talk to a great number of people. We record these conversations. From Nauru we took away not only audio recordings, but some video images as well. Then the artistic phase can start, during which we try to find the appropriate form to capture all of our material. Every research takes its own form.

How do you arrive at this form?
Silke
: Because as we said, it’s not easy to interview people over there or film them, we chose to simply show certain aspects of the island. We did that in a very rough way. It’s all done using smartphones because it’s so tricky to walk around wielding Dictaphones or cameras over there.  
Hannes: They approach we took in researching the project is echoed implicitly in the form. Silke plays the material. It’s important to us to uncover the process of editing, and with it, the artist’s subjective position. For example, in Mining Stories you could see Silke edit the material live.

What made you choose the title, Pleasant Island?
Silke: The Europeans who discovered it called it Pleasant Island and the people who live there sometimes still call it that. Sometimes they’ll refer to this Pleasant Island because it used to be such a beautiful place, which is very painful. When you’re on the island, the overwhelming sense is one of loss. And to us the name also refers to the world where we play, and which is so pleasant.
Hannes: The title straddles the line between a sense of nostalgia for the way things were, and a view of the future, the things you hope will be some day. The people there often talk about being able to recreate Pleasant Island. For me that’s a sense of utopia, and what would be the consequences if we want to achieve this utopia.

You can catch Pleasant Island on 20 and 21 May in Theater Kikker.

© Joeri Thiry

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This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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Performing Robots Conference

 

On May 23-25 Transmission in Motion organizes the Performing Robots Conference at Het Huis Utrecht (Boorstraat 107).This conference takes stock of interactions between theatre and robotics so far and looks at possibilities for future collaboration. What do the performing arts have to offer as inspiration, model, and testbeds for robots and for HRI? With presentations by SPRING Festival Fellow Peter Eckersall, Kris Verdonck and Stefan Kaegi, amongst others.

Want to know more about the conference? Check out the event. Entry is free, but you do have to register. Register here!



© Gabriela Neeb

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Super Human: Performing Humanity

 

By Karlien Vanhoonacker

New media are prompting people to create digital versions of themselves; usually better, Photoshopped ones. Online we show only our more succesful, happier selves. Super versions, with fewer human traits. At first sight it seems that digital identities and digital media are creating a greater distance between people.

And in our day-to-day lives, everyone is disappearing into their own digital bubble. Sitting across from each other on the tram, we are digitally connected with each other’s online versions through our smartphones. We observe the world via screens, constructed frames. On the one hand, this means the physical distance between people seems to widen. Face-time conversations are often replacing face-to-face communication.

On the other hand, from a global perspective, new media are bringing people closer together. Faraway places are pulled in closer. Remote villages are becoming less isolated. Connections across continents can be easily maintained because we can stay digitally connected. Thanks to such developments, local, nearly lost cultural traditions and folk-dance are gaining greater visibility; the coverage these fail to get from regular media can be generated through social media. Subcultures find a following and widen their fanbase more easily thanks to digital. Content is now controlled by all, and no longer by a ruling political and cultural class.

While all this is going on, the digital age has also sparked a renewed interest in both the tangible physical body (and its endless possibilities for movement) and in dance as a connecting agent in communities. The French Boris Charmatz opts for both, the physical as well as the collective, with a group choreography in which not a single movement is repeated. Like an infinite databank, a live- archive of unique human movements, 10000 gestures unfolds; a moment when individual movements flow into a collective, endless, yet never repeating movement. It results in a collection of movements that are shared simultaneously and as a group. And yet it is different for each individual because none of the movements ever returns.

In the past, local dance traditions and festivities helped strengthen social cohesion. Folk dance used to be part of social life in small towns and communities. But today, forms like these have largely been lost or are presented only – in often watered-down versions – in specific contexts such as tourism. Now that only small groups of people are still familiar with these traditions, the need is increasing to revive them or incorporate them into new forms. In new media, such alternative forms and dance traditions are increasingly generating attention. Moreover, the renewed interest is allowing the influence of such traditional forms of dance to trickle back into contemporary dance. It is slowly beginning to question the current definition of contemporary dance and reflecting on the gap that has for a long time appeared to exist between it and folkdance. The dominance of a Western/American-oriented definition of contemporary dance is challenged by and contaminated with forms of dance that have a long history.

The Greek choreographer Tzeni Argyriou, for instance, departs from traditional dances in ANΩNYMO, but she transcends its formal movement, structures and rhythms to focus on a collective encounter and shared experience. ‘If technology is controlling and determining our lives and human relationships, isn’t it time we returned to the source? The source of dance and movement?’ It is no coincidence that Argyriou has been working on the cutting edge of the performing arts and media art for 10 years. “In my creative processes so far, I have been preoccupied with questioning a society that is defined by media. In the work, the performers and their physical presence have functioned as tools and as figures that have inhabited and explored this digital reality. After the technological saturation I felt the need to return to the ‘analogue body’.” Dance connects us through a physical experience that is far removed from digital culture (which rather seems to be deepening the divide between us). ANΩNYMO was born from an artistic need to redefine the ways in which people feel connected, beyond any digital channel. It is an attempt to rediscover the connecting powers of physical contact: dance as a catalyst within communities.

The Singaporean artist Daniel Kok and the Australian Luke George are also seeking out the connective powers of physical contact within the collective experience of a show. They are literally tying both themselves and their audiences up (although never without permission or consent!). What they are asking for is not just the audience’s attention, but also the viewer’s mental and physical surrender. Every time they ask for viewers to participate, they push their audience a little further. Who will surrender? Who dares to position themselves as a dominant/submissive within a collective setting? Who takes their extended hand, asking to help facilitate the show? How far do you trust another person? And what type of complex group dynamic is triggered when one audience member is asked to hold another by the collar? Using simple sets of questions, fluorescent ropes and an intimate setting in which the audience encircles the performers and participating audience members, Daniel Kok & Luke George suggest a number of ways to become connected. And they question the hierarchy between makers/performers and viewers. Because, if there are no viewers ‘performing’ or participating in BUNNY, there literally IS no show.

Vincent Riebeek is questioning the patriarchal hierarchy and the white, heterosexual male norm in the representation of bodies, to determine identity and authenticity. With One of a kind he is creating a quartet, a musical, a rollercoaster of genres and images in which gender becomes fluid. Like in his earlier work with Florentina Holzinger, he combines grotesque pornographic imagery with a childlike naivety.

In the second instalment of her concert-trilogy Naomi Velissariou is also seeking out the grotesque. In her first concert she departed from texts by Sarah Kane, and this time she is taking Heiner Müller’s work as her starting material. In PERMANENT DESTRUCTION: The HM Concert Naomi also seems to want to take possession of the digital images surrounding her, challenging taboos within the dominant visual culture. She does this by focusing on themes that are avoided within this culture because they are not sexy or Instagram-worthy, like a broken heart, sexism, misogyny and destructive urges. The setting of a concert, which she is once again exploring with DJ/VJ Joost Maaskant by her side, is a perfect vehicle for this theatrical and grotesque exaggeration of the dark sides to our visual culture.

These artists’ responses to digitalisation differ widely. Tzeni Argyriou and Boris Charmatz pair the digital revolution with a traditional sense of the collective, translating contemporary digital developments into a revived attention to the physical body on the stage. Luke George & Daniel Kok are limiting themselves to a purely physical negotiation between the people in the theatre, zooming in onstage on the power relations in society. Riebeek and Velissariou are both very comfortable with the digital world they are reflecting on. They are very critical of digital representations of the body, and of which bodies are visible. And yet they are keen and comfortable users of these very media. They even ask which is dominant: physical presence, or digital representation. Do our physical bodies still matter? Or are their images dominant? Is the digital version of ourselves enough?

 

© Bernie Ng

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SINGLE RELEASE PERMANENT DESTRUCTION

 

Naomi Velissariou, of PERMANENT DESTRUCTION, took over our Instagram last weekend. She promoted the first single of PERMANENT DESTRUCTION: World without mothers! Check the single, with music by Joost Maaskant, here

Theatreconcert PERMANENT DESTRUCTION: The HM Concert premieres at SPRING next week. PERMANENT DESTRUCTION polishes off a range of taboos from contemporary visual culture. Emotions such as disapoointment in love and misogyny currently remain invisible, because they aren't sexy or Instagram-worthy. The performance demonstrates how fear can be curbed by honouring it, how the heaviness is lifted from your shoulders when you dance to the beat of your pain. 

#permanentdestruction #makepainsexyagain

© Jan Hoek and Theater Utrecht. 

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SPRING Closing Party

 

Have you ever danced with a robot? Experience the awkward dance between human and machines during the SPRING Closing Party!
SET UP did research to the fusion between human and machines to create a real robot ceramicist.
Be part of this party like a robot, do a robot dance during this party with excellent, funky disco music from Wicked Jazz Sounds' DJ Kremlin Disko!

The Closing Party will start from 21.30 mevrouw Duduk, Stadsschouwburg Utrecht. 
You can buy your tickets online for €5,-. Tickets can also be purchased at the counter in Stadsschouwburg Utrecht.

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BLOG: Information age

 

SPRING-blogger Diana Story from Australia describes what performances extice her most and what she expects op SPRING 2019.

As a first-time visitor to SPRING, learning of the diverse programme, intemerging startlingly real facets of human experiences and thought-processes, deciphering my own thoughts on what performances attracted me most was not an easy task. I began to contemplate the programme, how it came to be that the performances were to exist and what influences from our contemporary wonderings, individual ideas and experiences were dissected and reimagined into performance pieces.What elements of the current global experiences and shifting moods regarding political, sociological and environmental circumstances influenced them? What moments in each individual creators living memory inspired and provoked them to create such works?

On reading the concepts behind each performance, thoughts arose regarding the term 'information age’ and whether or not this indeed equates to being 'truly informed’ and even what the definitions of these terminologies really mean. And if I really was to be 'informed' than surely the outcome of this information I'd read would equate to a knowledge somewhere within myself to assist in making a decision about what performances sparked my interest. But somehow that information didn’t quite arrive. Living in the 'information age' can sometimes mean (in my personal experience) that there is so much information, possibility and variation that I become unsure about what my own preferences are and if they exist, how to feel about them. Maybe communication in the form of performance could be the answer to these blurred lines, specifically around defining our own personal thoughts and perspectives, rather than relying upon the absorbtion of information interpreted by the media and others around us. Viewing performance pieces could act as a catalyst in determining the creation of our own individual perspectives informed by purely by observation, unaccompanied by any commentary (other than that within own minds).

And on a small but meaningful search within myself for the performances that excite me most, here is my list:

1. Unsolved - Fang Yun Lo | Polymer DMT
Concepts behind this piece question the viewer with the humanity-wide questions many of us will ask ourselves in moments of change, accumulation and ownership of possessions and during our eventual creation of 'home'. Lived experiences, recollection of aethetics of past-eras and of our first experiences of 'home' linger within our conciousness and assist us to connect and relate with others and to comprehend new environments and life phases. But what fascinates me about this performance is the potential unpicking the equation of the feeling of 'home', stitch by stitch, whether it be smell, sounds or objects or maybe sights upon our home commute.
What elements create the experience of 'home' differ so greatly but it is interesting to think that perhaps a list of common 'ingredients' could exist.

2. SOMETHING (out of nothing) -  Kris Verdonck & ICK
A desire for development of technologies to bring comfort and ease to our existence is a long-held obsession of mankind but at what point do these technological advances impact our understanding of our own physicalities? Is it possible that the driving desire for new updates and technologies to assist our every wish could hinder our knowledge of simple pleasures? In the flaring advent of new inventions, has such a mass global change occured that we are unknowingly limited by our own creations? This performance investigates the shifting roles our bodies play in a society where technology is number one and the potential ramifications of unwitting involvement in a constant chase to the next update with the envisionment of unattainable idealisations of problem-free life.

3. Ephemeral Data - Jeroen van Loon
Internet and social media dominate the majority of the 21st century life and with so much of our lives now digital and with the communication of life events being announced with social media posts, it is interesting to consider the effects of this communication shift. What interests me about this performance is utilization of the intangible nature of our online activities being represented visually, using the base material used for the creation of fibre optics, sand. Idealogically, Ephemeral Data inverts our usual online lifestyles and brings them into live sphere, where we can witness something real. In this case, live collaborative performance work, a contrasting experience created from the same original material. Interestingly, as our online interactions and search histories are essentially ephemeral, so the mandala created in this performance also will be, being returned into the form it originated as before the performance began.

© SOMETHING (out of nothing) - Bas de Brouwer

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Watch the trailer now!

 

This edition is about robots and humans, about cultural identities and global relations, about the people and the city. Ravishing dance shows and documentary theatre pieces, ironic humanoids and skillful bondage artists, Greek traditional dance and Indonesian noise music come together in a theatrical journey around the world and into Utrecht, crossing Uncanny Valleys and Pleasant Islands and leading through a wide range of genres and art forms.

"Ravishing dance shows and documentary theatre pieces, ironic humanoids and skillful bondage artists, Greek traditional dance and Indonesian noise music come together in a theatrical journey around the world and into Utrecht."

A red line of the programme evolves around new technologies, High Tech: Performing Technology includes stunning shows and installations by Rimini Protokoll (Uncanny Valley), Dries Verhoeven (Happiness), Jeroen van Loon (Ephemeral Data) and many more. But who are we humans in the light of our enthusias tic embracing of new technologies? After all you cannot think about technology without thinking about humanity and you cannot reflect on humanity without reflecting on our use of technology.

Therefore, at SPRING we perform not only technology, we perform humanity in the programme line Super Human: Performing Humanity. French choreographer Boris Charmatz celebrates the skills and variety of the human body (and mind) in his show 10000 gestures, a living data-base of 10.000 movements. Greek choreographer Tzeni Argyriou (ANΩNYMO) shows the role of traditional dance in the creation of communities before social media. Naomi Velissariou delves into the social mediarun pop culture.

This brings us to questions about where we come from and what forms our cultural identities. The programme line Global Affairs: Performing Politics takes us round the world, e.g. to Iran, Taiwan, Nauru or Cameroon.

SPRING takes over the city again with installations and performances by Lawrence Malstaf (Polygon), Zora Snake (Transfrontalier), Jeroen van Loon (Ephemeral Data) Andrea Božic & Julia Willms (Porocity) and more. We perform inside the Stadskantoor (City Hall), in Hoog Catharijne, on the Neude and in the theatres of this city. Of course, all these programme lines are closely interwoven. They are complimented by a conference on Performing Robots (organized by our partner the University of Utrecht), by SPRING Academy, by talks and discussions, by parties and food in our festival centre cafe Mevr. Dudok in Stadsschouwburg Utrecht.

" We cross Uncanny Valleys and Pleasant Islands and lead through a wide range of genres and art forms."

The title of the opening show is programmatic: Attractor, by two renowned Australian companies, Dancenorth and Lucy Guerin Inc. We hope to attract you, to bring you SOMETHING (out of nothing) – this is the name of the new show by Kris Verdonck and ICK –, so that we can be All Around you, which is the title of the closing show by Mette Ingvartsen. We invite you to follow us on this journey through the arts and the world.

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SPRING in public: SPRING goes into the city

 

By: Rainer Hofmann

In her novel Serious Sweet British writer A.L. Kennedy lets her protagonist Meg muse on theatre: „Theatres wanted nothing to do with you most of the day and then they lit themselves bright and liked to be all straggled round by dressed-up crowds and queues. Then every trace of that got tidied away, shut in behind doors. And the same crowds were leaving, out again, two or three hours later and you’d no idea what went on in between, except that it made them smug and overheated.“

Meg was not at SPRING. She walked the London Westend, the entertainment district, if you want to put it like that. She was seeing good old theatre with dressing-up and interval and ushers and vanilla ice-cream. She was suspecting that something went on inside, that had nothing to do with her, a dry alcoholic, a jobless outcast of the neoliberalized and overpriced British capital. She sensed a border between her and something that did not want to be bothered by her and that did not want to bother her. 

SPRING wants to bother you, we want to be bothered by you. We want to do with you. We want to meet you, touch you. We want to discuss issues of public importance,  we want to interfere with public life. Sometimes it is not enough to light up the theatres but you need to step outside of the buildings with your theatre.

SPRING performs in public space. It always has been, with some remarkable projects. Last year Dries Verhoeven’s Sic transit gloria mundi raised lively discussions. The project, which showed a planned monument about the end of Western hegemony on the Neude, the main square of Utrecht, asked the crucial question about the position of the West in the changed power relations of the world. It asked: could we imagine such a monument? Could we imagine to commemorate our own decline?

It was crucial that the project happened not only in public space, but in the centre of Utrecht, not at the edge in Leidsche Rijn at Berlijn plein (what a name for a place in the periphery), where some want to expel public art to, so that it does not disturb business and cleanliness and the smooth functioning of the profit-machine.

We stay in the centre. The art works can be provocative (given that at least half of the provocation lies in they eye of the beholder) or subversive, subtle or outspoken, beautiful or aggressive. Important is that that they are there, that they claim public space, that they discuss public space, that they keep the public space public, that they are not pushed out to the fringes. That they confront a wider public with issues of social and political importance. That they make the politics that pushed people like Meg out debatable.

Part of this year’s opening programme is the street performance Transfrontalier by Zora Snake from Cameroon. He makes the borders around Europe visible in the centre of a beautiful old city. To a soundscape of political speeches he confronts us with his body that shifts between torture, pain, glamour and sexiness. The show is a compelling provocation, it gives the effects of European border politics and what used to be called „the refugee crisis“ a physical expression.

Utrecht artist Jeroen van Loon deals in his performative installation Ephemeral Data with an important part of semi-public infrastructure: In a glasshouse on the Neude he and his performers re-construct the glass fibre cable network of Utrecht as a big colourful sand drawing, a mandala, grain by grain, street by street, over the length 10 days, until everything gets swiped away again. It is a meditative and decelerative act, a fascinating slow-motion creative process. We can submit to the internet almost like to a religion, but somewhere there is a physical manifestion, which has been built by hands and which is owned by someone. Is the internet public or private? Its ownership gives power but also responsibility.

Lawrence Malstaff’s high-tech installation Polygon is shown in the shopping-mall Hoog Catharijne. Polygon is a large-scale kinetic structure made out of light-weight tubes, that are connected and permanently move. Their movements seem at times almost animal-like or even human. They evoke the idea that this mechanical construction could be a living thing. In its cool aesthetics it fits into the freshly refurbished, glossy mall, which is full of triggers to shop. But it also adds something human to this temple of consumerism: It is an uncanny presence, which hovers above the shoppers.

Finally SPRING goes into one of the political power centres and landmarks of Utrecht: the Stadskantoor, the new city administration building. For their performance PoroCity the artist duo Andrea Bozic and Julia Willms have collected dreams, which they turned into a narrative. They lead their audience through this remarkable building and place their collection of dreams (and the places they are set in) as a second layer onto the existing architecture. Reality and dream world overlap and interweave. The real space and the imagined space co-exist. What could the utopian (or nightmarish) power of dreaming mean in the central administrative building of our city? Could we welcome the power of dreaming to a place of realism? Not only as a utopian idea, but also as a question-mark to what we regard to be inevitable and fact? Can we make politics and administration porous for a moment in order to create new spaces? Will the human potential to fantasize, will the subconscious sneak in?

I wonder what Meg would say if she got away from the dull Westend idea of theatre to this lively, political and humane approach of theatre and public space? Would she feel less excluded if she experienced a theatre which is also about her world and which comes to her, a theatre talking about digitalisation and refugee politics, about consumerism and humanity, about stress and happiness, not behind closed doors but out in the open? Would she experience stepping into a parallel world and coming out in a different state of mind, not smug and overheated, but moved, surprised, angry, enlightened, startled or delighted?

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Performing Technology: welkom in de Uncanny Valley anno 2019 Performing Technology: Welcome in the Uncanny Valley of 2019

Essay programme line #1: High Tech: Performing Technology 

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BLOG: Voorpret

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“Wij hebben het idee dat de machines de problemen gaan oplossen.” “We cling to the idea that machines are going to solve our problems.”

Interview with visual artist and theatre maker Kris Verdonck

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“We cling to the idea that machines are going to solve our problems.”

 

Kris Verdonck’s work straddles the line between visual art and theatre, between installation and performance, between dance and architecture. The Flemish artist dramatizes intimate relationships between living creatures and cool machines. In 2017 he reworked his show I/II/III/IIII (2007) and, with Het Zuidelijk Toneel, created the play Conversations (at the end of the world) (2017).This year he is collaborating ICK to create SOMETHING (out of nothing), a show that will premiere during the second weekend of SPRING.

Why did you decide to work in the performing arts?

The greatest pleasure for me is in the combination and the interchangeability of visual art and the performing arts. I studied theatre, which makes me a theatre director. After that I attended HISK, the Higher Institute for Fine Arts in Ghent.

What drives your creativity?
Reading the newspapers. I never need to imagine a great deal, because the world is crazy enough as it is, all I have to do is copy that. I think looking around is the prime inspiration. But I also have regular conversations with the philosopher Jean Paul Van Bendegem. With my dramaturge Kristoff van Baarle I get to ask him all kinds of out-of-bounds questions, and he always has a truly great answer. This time we asked him what has changed in human history. His answer was: “Not very much.” The only thing he saw changing was the landscape. We manipulate the landscape, and then the next generation has to deal with the consequences.  In the current environmental debate, we can see how the parents and grandparents have ruined the environment and how we are faced with the task of cleaning up their mess. Our children and grandchildren will have to fix what we are messing up today. It’s so difficult to think for the next generation. We could try really hard right now and waste less, because that will make things better for those who will come after. Things are irreversible; after all, you cannot turn back time.

How did you go from the conversation to a show?
Although this was a truly inspiring conversation, it wasn’t the start of the process. You see, SOMETHING (out of nothing) is the first show as part of a four-year research into Samuel Beckett and Nō-theatre. They both have a highly specific relationship with time. Beckett often spoke of the dead still walking the stage. He had an intimate grasp of Nō-theatre and was inspired by it. The connection is not so evident in the form of his work, but in terms of content, both deal with a present that is defined by the past and both have a strong sense of inevitability. Beckett is troubled by the idea that his memory has shaped him. This is something we discussed with Van Bendegem, but within an environmental context.

How come your work is so invested in the combination of art and technology?
Technology has taken on a hugely specific and important position in our universe. We cling to this idea that our machines are going to solve the problems we’re faced with. Take for instance the way we see electric cars as a solution, with complete disregard for the fact that the demand for natural resources has never been greater. Soon we will be stuck with heaps and heaps of dead batteries, for which there’s no solution in sight. It’s just so hard for us to face the long-term impact of these things. There aren’t many people who say: “What if we simply drove fewer miles.” It doesn’t even seem to be a viable solution. The economy must move on, so we need a new invention to allow us to continue making a profit.

Why do you compare performers to ghosts?
Between the living and the dead there are the half-lives. We like to call them ghosts, so as not to call them zombies. There’s an uncanny sort of absence that we often observe in machines. With self-driving cars, for instance, the responsibility has disappeared quite literally; just who is it at the wheel? Imagine a car like that running over someone: who has killed whom? Whenever this happens, manufacturers deny any responsibility. But who is the driver in such cases and who is responsible? This is a truly spooky idea; that there’s this entity that is taking decisions and driving you around, but there’s nothing to protest, because there’s nobody there. And moreover, of course the theatre has a long and close history with ghosts, just look at Shakespeare’s plays. There’s something about the absence of the living object; clearly, it’s something we love to see.

What are your artistic plans for the near future?
We are still working on our research into Beckett and Nō-theatre. In September 2020 we are doing a Beckett play, which I’m looking forward to. And in 2021 I intend to make a show without any performers, with nothing but objects.

You can catch SOMETHING (out of nothing) on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 May at Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, in the Douwe Egbertszaal.

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A bit more patience until Happiness

 

The performance installation Happiness by Dries Verhoeven has been moved to SPRING in Autumn. The installation would have been part of this festival edition, which focuses on new technology and humanity. SPRING presents the relationship between technology and mankind; their interaction and the way they are mingled and intertwined. Sometimes their relationship is fluent and almost organic, sometimes it falters and complications arise.

The latter is the case with the production of the performer of Happiness: a humanoid, which is, due to unforeseen technical problems, not ready in time. A performer of flesh and blood would seek a solution or would improvise, a robot performer can only wait for the right parts and right programming.

The makers work intensively to make sure the humanoid functions. During SPRING in Autumn she will tell us all about artificial happiness.

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In the spotlight: volunteer Ton Klaversma

 
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In the spotlight: vrijwilliger Marjolein Miltenburg

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Performing Technology: Welcome in the Uncanny Valley of 2019

 

By Rainer Hofmann

„I am hardly human and completely human“ is written on the front page of the programme brochure of SPRING Performing Arts Festival 2019. In the brochure and on the website you find a human head which is open on the backside and has cables and silicon chips inside. You will find pictures of limbs cut out of photos and copied and serialized. Man and machine meet, original and copy, digital and analogue, flesh and plastic. SPRING performs technology. But it also performs humanity. It performs the relationship between digital technology and humans, their interaction, their interweaving and intermingling.

Uncanny valley is a term invented by the Japanese robotica scientist Masahiro Mori. The concept uncanny valley suggests that humanoid objects, which appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings, cause uncanny, but strangely familiar feelings of eeriness and revulsion in observers. Is it human or not? It seems to be but also not. We want to see something human in a robot and at the same time are afraid if the artifact has a credible human appearance. The uncanny valley lies between hardly human and completely human.

What if we expand this concept from objects to the setting of our whole life? Don’t we live in an uncanny valley already? How many of the messages that we receive online are generated by bots? Who sets the prices that we see when we want to book a flight ticket? How many percent of trading are done by algorithms and not by humans? Is Donald Trump really more powerful than Mark Zuckerberg? When will our irises be enough to identify ourselves at numerous occasions, to open the doors of our homes, pay our shopping, get on planes? Are our (designed) online identities not beginning to lead their own lives? Will our physical bodies be complimented or even be replaced by artificial body parts step by step? Are our desires not since long determined by digitalized information?

But do we feel uncanny with all this or are we not embracing this new world willingly? Is this valley uncanny at all, if we do not realize its uncanniness? Are we maybe heading to paradise? Let’s see the good sides: algorithm-based medical treatments save lives, communication is easy and fast, we are told what we want to shop (and we really do want what we are told), social robots help lonely people, and soon self-driving cars may bring us comfortably and accident-free to our destinations. Let’s think it a bit further, why should we leave the house to travel when we can have the virtual worlds via 3D goggles and augmented reality and excessive flying destroys the climate anyway? Everything is going to be smooth and easy, if technological developments do outrun (and not cause) climate change.

What is the difference between man and machine? As Yuval Harari points out, some biotechnologists state that organisms are nothing but algorithmic machines. The main difference is that computers are based on silicon and the neuronal networks of humans on carbon.

How do the performing arts, THE art form, which happens live with people physically being present in the same room at the same time, deal with such topics? SPRING 2019 gathers a few performances and installations which reflect on new technologies and digitalisation (and sometimes also use them). In the centre is Uncanny Valley by Stefan Kaegi from the German label Rimini Protokoll.

The sole performer in Uncanny Valley is a humanoid, a copy of the writer Thomas Melle. The show, a monologue by the humanoid, evolves along two lines, Thomas Melle’s own history with a bipolar disorder and computer pioneer Alan Turing. The Turing-test is named after him, a test, which helps to divide man from machine. Melle and Kaegi wrote a witty text on originals and copies, on man and machines delivered by an ironic robot, who is a copy of someone, who is maybe already two personalities. One big question runs through the performance: what are humans?

Two  installations explore the space between humans and technology. Lawrence Malstaff creates with Polygon a large-scale kinetic structure out of lightweight tubes, which seems to show in its movements almost human-like qualities and emotions. The American OpenEndedGroup turned dancer Bill T. Jones into a 3D projection. The real physical body disappears, his movements are still present via motion-capture technique in the form of projected light. Is it still Bill T. Jones? Is he represented by his light-turned movements? Who are we when we are present but not present physically?

As we see, even actors get replaced by machines (but are they really? Maybe the actors are just not visible on stage anymore?) and doubtless the power of digital machines has been and will be rising. The power relation between humans and technology is shifting drastically.

Kris Verdonck asks in his co-operation with dance company ICK SOMETHING (out of nothing) what the place of humans is, when technology is not only a tool, but a decision-maker. When digital technology replaces us, controls us, when it takes over, what happens with what we regard as essentially human: mind, soul, desire, lust, sex, the body with all its functions and qualities? Verdonck’s dance show reflects on the position of humans facing the dominance of technology. He mixes objects and dancers, artefacts and humans and blurs the line between living and dead matter. As with Stefan Kaegi, there is an inherent question: Are we sure we are still humans? Are we not since long hybrids? Or just remnants of the analogue past in a world that does not need us anymore, a potentially extinct species, zombies running on the illusion of their own free will and importance? But we could also say: let’s dance – as long as we can, it is the physical proof of our existence. Dance is real, it cannot be faked.

Who is dancing when Mette Ingvartsen is dancing driven by the beats of drummer Will Guthrie? In All Around Mette Ingvartsen prolongs her body with a light bar. The show displays ecstasy with its hypnotic rhythm and circling dance moves but it also visualizes a merging of the human body with an artificial element. Mette Ingvartsen’s show connects in a metaphorical sense with new developments in biotechnology.

This programme seemed to get too male-nerdy until Mette Ingvartsen entered the scene, and next to her Australian Angela Goh with her performance Uncanny Valley Girl. She offers a decidedly female perspective on technology. She is referring to the extended history of females with machines, be it at hardware assembly lines or in the early stages of computer science, before the boys from silicon valley and their investors took over. But Angela Goh also connects the fear that machines take over with the male angst that women take over. The fembot enters the scene, the uncanny valley girl confronts the nerds.

Dutch installation artist Jeroen van Loon offers a specific take on the internet and its physical form of appearance. In Ephemeral Data he builds during 10 days a big sand mandala based on the glass fibre network of Utrecht. The mandala will be swept away after 10 days. In a brilliant turn his performative installation makes the material that guarantees fast communication (sand, which glass fibre is made of)) into a plea for deceleration and temporariness. He claims that the internet is developing from an archive to a performance machine, from Wikipedia to Snapchat; and that the future of the internet is temporal.

All these shows and installations map our digitalised, technology-influenced world. We might live in an uncanny world, we might be on our way to paradise or we might be human zombies that do not realize yet that they are superfluous. We invite the audiences to draw their own conclusions.

Scientific help comes in the conference Performing Robots (organised by the Media and Culture Studies of the University Utrecht) including a key note by Festival Fellow Peter Eckersall who comes to Utrecht supported by the Centre for the Humanities. This conference takes stock of interactions between theatre and robotics so far and looks at possibilities for future collaboration. What do the performing arts have to offer as inspiration, model, and test-case for the development of robots and for human-robot interaction? How might collaboration between the performing arts and robotics contribute to further development of social robots, as well as to critical understanding of what it will mean to be living with them.

The focus Performing Technology is supported by Prins Bernhard Cultuur Fonds.

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Performing Robots Conference Performing Robots Conference

Transmission in Motion and SPRING Performing Arts Festival are welcoming submissions for the Performing Robots Conference!

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“I want to bring back the moment with a piece of art that is very unique, temporary and local”

 

The artist Jeroen van Loon creates work that questions our current and future digital culture. For his work Cellout.me (2015 – 2016) Van Loon offered his DNA-data for sale, exploring issues around the value of property and privacy. Other recent works by Van Loon include Fake News (2018) and An Internet (2017). This year he is coming to SPRING Performing Arts Festival with his work Ephemeral Data.

Can you tell us why you started working in performing art?

I graduated from the Digital Media programme at HKU where I was taught to tell stories using digital media. From there I moved on to creating installations, trying to find the best form to fit the story for each project. Sometimes it was a screenprint, sometimes a video-installation. In this case I intended to create a piece of art that would be temporary and ephemeral, so I ended up choosing a longer-running performance. Digital art and culture are increasingly taking on elements from the performing arts, which I find interesting. If you are present, you can see it, and if not, you miss out. Those are qualities I was looking for in the piece Ephemeral Data.

What drives your creativity?
It’s not immediately clear. Often I’ll be inspired by literature or by being attentive to what’s going on around me. But sometimes a piece will have been on my mind for a long time. For my next project I had wanted for some time to participate in a computer club for seniors. There was no real reason for it, but after I had done it I came back so inspired and full of new ideas. In my earlier work my main interest was contemporary technology and culture, but in my later works (An Internet and Cellout.me) I started thinking more about the future of digital culture. I also became a dad during this period. I have a child now, and this child will be here when the future arrives, so it’s quite logical that I’m no longer solely occupied by the present.

What makes you so interested in mixing art and digital culture?
My main occupation is the Second-Order Effect of technology. One example is the invention of the car. The first effect of that was that people could move faster from A to B. The second effect was that people no longer needed to live in the city where they worked, which gave rise to the suburbs. Those things are interesting tome in terms of technology as well. Information is available all the time and everything is stored, so there’s no need to miss out on anything. The second effect of this may be that we lose sight of things that can only be experienced briefly. It’s interesting to me to see what technology is doing on a larger scale. Does it set big changes in motion?

What is the reason that Ephemeral Data is an analogue piece of art?
I often question the digital by means of an analogue art form. For this project the inspiration came from sand mandalas made by Buddhist monks, huge pieces of art made from sand. So the digital wasn’t the starting point for this project.  

How did this process go?
For a long time I tried to find a way to create a temporary digital experience. In fact, I intended to set up a hosting company that could host some websites that were temporary and local. For instance, a website that can only be visited in the centre of Amsterdam and only at 5AM on Fridays. I do think the internet will become increasingly fragmented, which means there will be an internet specifically targeted at the Netherlands. I just couldn’t figure out what type of art work I wanted to make. Until I came across the temporary, ephemeral nature of these sand mandalas and was able to link those to the fact that the internet is also a very ephemeral thing. Like telegram cables, our internet cables may become obtuse in 100 years. You must be present to see the work of art and if you’re not there, it will disappear. It was a mix of this temporariness and the ephemeral that came from these earlier ideas.

What made you decide to work with live performers for this piece?
That’s because of the shape and scale of the piece. Initially I was going to do it myself, but when I came into contact with SPRING Performing Arts Festival it grew bigger. It’s impossible to make this piece, which measures 12 by 11 metres, on my own.

Why is the piece erased on the final day of the performance?
The internet has ruined the moment. Now you can be online all day, every day and there’s no need to attend anything, because you can stream everything. It means there’s no longer such a thing as the moment and I want to bring it back with a piece that is very unique, temporary and local. On the final day the work is erased, and we’re documenting next to nothing, which means you have to be there if you want to see it. We’ll be asking the audience to cover the lens of their cameras, so they won’t post anything on social media or watch it again afterwards. I want people to really be present, in the moment, to see and experience what happens. And there is only a single moment to see the completed work before it is erased.

What are your artistic plans for the near future?
I’m currently researching computer clubs for seniors, because as an artist, I haven’t heard much about those. We are very much pre-occupied by the changes new technology brings, but I see big numbers of people who cannot even join in the very basic computer activities, like sending an e-mail. It’s interesting to see how people deal with that. For a long time I thought: when I am older, everyone will know how computers work. But I’m changing my mind about that now. In the future, I will also be attending a course to catch up on developments like a virtual reality network. There will always be outsiders. On the other hand, I’m growing kind of tired of technology. I’m currently collecting concept vision documents published by businesses like BMW or NS to see where we are going and what we will find less important in the future. An interest that was sparked by my reading a book by Rudolph and Robert Das, “De wereld 80 jaar verder” (The world 80 years from now).
And finally, I think that temporariness and the ephemeral are hugely important in a performance. That and the fact that when there’s no audience, there’s no work of art. I think there’s a great need for the qualities the performing arts have to offer. They have a great deal to offer.

Ephemeral Data can be visited on Neude square in Utrecht from Thursday 16 – Saturday 25 May, from 2:00 – 10:00 PM. On 25 May at 3.00 PM the work will be erased.  

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Interview with designers: Floris Schrama en Dayna Casey

 
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Choose for a combo ticket

 

#1 vrijdag 17 mei
19.30 Unsolved – Fang Yun Lo | Polymer DMT Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, Blauwe Zaal
21.00 Attractor – Dancenorth, Lucy Guerin Inc, Gideon Obarzanek & Senyawa Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, DE-Zaal

#2 zaterdag 18 mei
19.30 Eviatar/Said & Rising – Shira Eviatar Theater Kikker, Kleine Zaal
21.00 One of a kind – Vincent Riebeek Theater Kikker, Grote Zaal 

#3 zondag 19 mei
19.00 10000 gestures – Boriz Charmatz Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, DE-Zaal
20.30 Theatre of the Awkward – Roee Rosen Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, Blauwe Zaal

#4 maandag 20 mei
19.00 PoroCity – Andrea Božić and Julia Willms | TILT Stadskantoor
21.00 Pleasant Island – Silke Huysmans & Hannes Dereere Theater Kikker, Grote Zaal

#5 dinsdag 21 mei
19.30 ANΩNYMO – Tzeni Argyriou Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, Blauwe Zaal
21.00 PERMANENT DESTRUCTION: The HM Concert – Naomi Velissariou | Theater Utrecht Theater De Paardenkathedraal

#6 woensdag 22 mei
19.30 Through the Skin – Mitra Ziaee Kia & Hiva Sedaghat Theater Kikker, Kleine Zaal
21.00 ANΩNYMO – Tzeni Argyriou Stadsschouwburg Utrecht Blauwe Zaal 

#7 donderdag 23 mei
19.30 All Around – Mette Ingvartsen & Will Guthrie Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, Blauwe Zaal
21.00 PERMANENT DESTRUCTION: The HM Concert – Naomi Velissariou | Theater Utrecht Theater De Paardenkathedraal

#8 vrijdag 24 mei
19.30 Uncanny Valley – Stefan Kaegi | Rimini Protokoll Theater Kikker, Grote Zaal
21.00 Uncanny Valley Girl – Angela Goh Theater Kikker, Kleine Zaal

#9 zaterdag 25 mei
19.30 SOMETHING (out of nothing) – Kris Verdonck & ICK Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, DE-Zaal
21.30 All Around – Mette Ingvartsen & Will Guthrie Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, Blauwe Zaal

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SPRING starts a pilot for MBO students

 
This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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Tickets on sale now!

 

All the performances are revealed and the ticketsale has started. Ravishing dance shows and documentary theatre pieces, ironic humanoids and skillful bondage artists, Greek traditional dance and Indonesian noise music come together in a theatrical journey around the world and into Utrecht.

A red line of the programme evolves around new technologies. We do not only see humans, but also humanoids, machines and projections as performers, like in the shows and installations by Rimini Protokoll (Uncanny Valley), Dries Verhoeven (Happiness), Jeroen van Loon (Ephemeral Data) and many more. But who are we humans in the light of our enthusiastic embracing of new technologies? We take a closer look at the human body and dance and folk traditions in performances by Boris Charmatz (10000 gestures) and Tzeni Argyriou (ANΩNYMO). We travel around the world, e.g. to Iran (Through the Skin Mitra Ziaee Kia & Hiva Sedaghat), Taiwan (Unsolved - Fang Yun Lo) or Nauru (Pleasant Island - Silke Huysmans & Hannes Dereere). Besides, SPRING is taking over the city with installations and performances by Zora Snake (Transfrontalier) and Andrea Božić & Julia Willms (PoroCity).

We invite you to follow us on this journey through the arts and the world.

Check all the performances here!

 

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International theatre day

 
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Eerste drie voorstellingen en Early Bird passe-partout in de verkoop! First three performances and Early Bird passe-partout tickets on sale!

Today, SPRING proudly presents the first three performances of SPRING 2019!

news
 
Open Call Participants SPRING Academy Open Call Participants SPRING Academy

SPRING Performing Arts Festival is calling (young) artists and students within the field of performing arts, dramaturges, journalists, architects, directors, and editors for the masterclasses and SPRING Intensive of SPRING Academy 2019. 

news
 
 
 

 
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Join the SPRING crew!

 
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Interview: Stefan Kaegi about Uncanny Valley

 

Since 2002, Stefan Kaegi has been working as part of the Rimini Protokoll, together with two other directors, Helgard Haug en Daniel Wetzel. The German theatre company was the “Brandstichter” of the International Theatre Amsterdam in 2017. There, they played the performances Situation Rooms – Ein Multi Player Video-Stück and Nachlass - Pièces sans personnes. Other works of Rimini Protokoll are 100% Stadt, Weltklimakonferenz en Karl Marx: Das Kapital, Erster Band. They predominantly work with individuals or collectives that tell their stories without being trained actors. Rimini Protokoll calls them “experts of everyday life or of their own life”.
For Uncanny Valley, Kaegi worked with German author Thomas Melle. Together they turned Melle into a human robot. We talked to Kaegi about his interests and his motivation for creating the performance Uncanny Valley.

As introduction: Can you tell us something about your career?

My first job was as a journalist. Then I studied a bit of philosophy, visual arts and theatre - but I have no diploma. Sounds like a failure…

What was your motivation to work in performing arts?
I appreciate the attention span of watchers as opposed to the laid-back visual arts audience.

What do you think about the role of theatre and dance in society?
Well, performing arts are a very social tool to communicate as they bring people together in the moment it happens.

What was your motivation to create Uncanny Valley?
More and more we are treated by bots. Somebody may have even written an algorithm that answers this kind of interviews and it would be hard to prove it was not me answering your questions.

After working with many ‘experts of everyday life or of their own life’ you work now with a humanoid as performer. Why did you choose to do so?
I wondered if people can empathize with a thing.

Why is he a copy of Thomas Melle?
He has written this incredible book where he very honestly talks about his bipolarity in a very philosophical way. And when we started talking about replacing him in the public sphere he was very interested as this would allow him to overcome certain instabilities he experiences maybe more strongly than other persons.

How did you experience working with Thomas Melle?
It was my first collaboration with an author - and this was a very inspiring experience - Thomas was very open to my suggestions - and brought in a lot of very productive ideas.

What insights did you gain by creating a humanoid?
I started to doubt that our behaviors are not preprogrammed.

I’ve noticed your performances have discussed delicate subjects, such as death and war. Why did technology become your next interest?
This is not a project about technology. Producing a copy of a human being makes you look very closely at the original, at the human being, at our own decision processes. Our gestures, our reactions, our codes.

What would you be today, if you hadn’t become a performance maker?
I was always very interested in Physics. I could imagine myself inventing theories about invisible particles..

What is your biggest artistic dream to achieve?
Retirement.

What are you working on right now?
I am rehearsing a piece with Cuban performers - very unplugged. It’s fun to be working with humans - you don’t need to invent their gestures from scratch.And we are working on an immersive film-installation for a museum and on a large-scale outdoors commission called Utopolis…

Do you have any advice to share with starting artists?
Trust others. Go beyond your bubble!


Uncanny Valley can be seen 23 May, 24 May and 25 May in Theater Kikker, Grote Zaal. More information and tickets, check this page.

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Open Call Participants SPRING Academy Open Call Participants SPRING Academy

SPRING Performing Arts Festival is calling (young) artists and students within the field of performing arts, dramaturges, journalists, architects, directors, and editors for the masterclasses and SPRING Intensive of SPRING Academy 2019. 

news
 
 

 
This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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Open Call Participants SPRING Academy

 

SPRING Performing Arts Festival is calling (young) artists and students within the field of performing arts, dramaturges, journalists, architects, directors, and editors for the masterclasses and SPRING Intensive of SPRING Academy 2019. 

This year we are offering the following open call programmes:
SPRING INTENSIVE – Dries Verhoeven | MASTERCLASS – Stefan Kaegi | MASTERCLASS - Boris Charmatz

With this years’ theme: Human(o)ID / Huma(n)ooit, SPRING Academy promises another exciting edition that will rock Het Huis Utrecht! We will be exploring questions, such as; What does it mean to be human in 2019? How do encounters with rapidly evolving technologies and change resistant traditions affect our understanding of identity? Could robots ever develop gender roles, rituals and other defining human qualities?

The application deadline is Friday 29th of March! To apply for your desired programme, click here.

We look forward to seeing you at SPRING Academy 2019!

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SPRING starts with WhatsApp

 

New this year, SPRING uses WhatsApp! We keep you updated about the ins & outs of the festival!  you will be informed at first with the latest news and insiders tips.  Practiocal information such as opening hours and locations. Everything will be based on your interests.  Do you like to use the SPRING WhatsApp service? Click here to sign up!

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Get the Early Bird - Passe-Partout now!

 

Do you want to get the full festival experience, and are you already convinced you want to see loads and loads of performances? This is the moment to but the Early Bird passe-partout for only €68,- instead of €88,-! The Passe-Partout gives you unlimited access to all the performances of the seventh edition of SPRING. Immediately after the online purchase, you can order tickets for the performances you want to see ánd the tickets are automatically uploaded onto your Passe-Partout. On top of that, you will be kept up-to-date on SPRING during the festival, and on the performances you have booked in particular.

The first three names of the festival are already annouced! The performance Attractor is our festive opening performance, in 10000 gestures 10000 unique movements will be shown and a humanoid is the performer in Uncanny Valley. The complete program features 21 (international) productions and over 80 performances! On the 28th of March we will announce the rest of our program, so make sure you check our website and social media.

The Early Bird Passe-Partout is on sale unto the 27th of March, for only €68,- instead of €88,-. Get your Passe-Partout here!

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This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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Performing Robots Conference

 

OPEN CALL! Performing Robots Conference: Dialogues Between Theatre and Robotics.
An event organized by Transmission in Motion (Utrecht University) and SPRING Performing Arts Festival. This conference takes stock of interactions between theatre and robotics so far and looks at possibilities for future collaboration. We are welcoming proposals for papers, demonstrations and other kinds of presentations by scholars and artists about interactions between theatre and robotics.
More information on the event and how to apply, check this page.

Important dates to keep in mind:
Deadline for submissions: 7 March 2019
Notification of acceptance: 20 March 2019
Dates of the conference: 23-25 May 2019

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First three performances and Early Bird passe-partout tickets on sale!

 

Today, SPRING proudly presents the first three performances of SPRING 2019!
The seventh edition starts with the performance Attractor by two renowned Australian dance companies, Dancenorth and Lucy Guerin. In collaboration with music duo Senwaya, they unite traditional Indonesian folk music and heavy metal vocals, virtuoso dancers and audiences. French choreographer Boris Charmatz presents an ode to the fleeting nature of dance by executing 10.000 unique movements in 10000 gestures. In the last days of SPRING, Stefan Kaegi from the influential German theatre company Rimini Protokoll shows a humanoid robot in Uncanny Valley.

Do you desire to see all these above mentioned performances, and even more? This is your chance to buy an Early Bird passe-partout for only € 68,- (instead of € 88,-). Check this page for more information & terms of condition. 

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This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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SPRING 2019 is coming!

 

Save the date!
From 16th to 25th of May, Utrecht will be transformed into one big podium for SPRING Performing Arts Festival 2019. This year, SPRING presents, together with several artists associated with SPRING, a complete program, with the common thread: high-tech and super-human - performing technology and performing humanity.

What does it mean to be human today? Who are we in a world where machines, algorithms, big data and tech companies exert an ever-increasing influence on our daily lives, on our thinking and social behavior, on our body and the way we see it?

The performances within this program examine the human body and the human gesture, study dance and folk traditions and investigate how they can be adapted for the future. They look at the ability of music to generate ecstasy and the crossing of the human spirit and its need for freedom. They are contemporary performances, looking for contemporary forms, for today's questions.

On Thursday 14 February, we will announce the first three names of SPRING Performing Arts Festival 2019. The rest of the program will be announced by the end of March. Ticket sales for the entire program start at the end of March.

SPRING in Autumn is coming back! On the 31ste of October, and the 1st and 2st of November.

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Launch Standplaats Utrecht

 

Standplaats Utrecht is a new place for talent development of performing artists. Five Utrecht art institutions, Het Huis Utrecht, Theater Utrecht, SPRING Performing Arts Festival, DOX and Het Filiaal theatermakers, join forces to connect talented artists to the city of Utrecht. The first artists of Standplaats Utrecht are musician and performer Genevieve Murphy, visual artist and designer Jan Fedinger and hip-hop theater collective DIEHELEDING. Under guidance of the performing arts institutions, these artists follow a two-year trajectory in which they develop their work and connect it to the city in new ways. They do this from their own creative location at Fort Blauwkapel.

Launch Standplaats Utrecht
The festive launch of Standplaats Utrecht takes place on Saturday 24 November at 16:00h at Fort Blauwkapel (Kapelweg 3 in Utrecht). Genevieve Murphy, Jan Fedinger and DIEHELEDING will show (a preview of) their newest works. Do you want to be there? Apply via this form. 


Picture: Genevieve Murphy © Bart Grietens

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Philosopher Floris van den Berg on SPRING in Autumn 2018

 

This information is only available in Dutch.

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Herfst is een tweede lente wanneer ieder blad een bloem is. Albert Camus

Intro
Zo is het nog lente en dan is het herfst. En toch is het weer SPRING. Bij doorsnee kunst weet je wat je kunt verwachten, bij het experimentele belevingsfestival SPRING weet je dat niet. De kans is groot dat de emoties, gevoelens en gedachten zich tot buiten de lijntjes van alledag zullen begeven. SPRING biedt geen veilige kunst. Het vereist een zekere mate van durf, openheid en misschien ook naïviteit om een festival als dit te bezoeken. Als je kiest voor veilig kun je naar een concert van je favoriete band gaan of een uitvoering van een muziekstuk dat je van haver tot gort kent. Dat is prima en leuk. Maar als je je beperkt tot dat wat je kent en dat wat je leuk vindt, mis je de mogelijkheid die kunst biedt om je uit je comfortzone te halen, om je belevingshorizon te verbreden, om je te doen worstelen met tegenstrijdige gevoelens, om zaken in een ander perspectief te zien, om dingen te zien die je anders niet snel ziet, om je emotioneel en intellectueel te prikkelen en te ontwikkelen. Je bent geen passieve toeschouwer maar een actieve observator. Een bezoek aan SPRING is als een reis naar verre oorden waar niet alles pais en vree is, maar die je een ervaring geeft die niet eenvoudig te duiden is. 

Crowd
We zaten midvoor op de eerste rij en we roken de laag vochtige aarde die op het podium lag. Een zwart plateau vol met zwerfafval van blikjes en andere rommel. Ik moest denken aan de openingsvoorstelling to come (extended)van SPRING in mei in dezelfde Douwe Egbertszaal toen de vloer juist egaal wit was. Crowdis een ervaring. Het is een jaren 90 techno rave party waar een groep jongeren op hun particuliere manier uit hun dak gaan. Ik maakte me voor aanvang zorgen of de muziek pijn zou doen aan mijn oren of me af zou stoten. Maar het viel mee. De techno muziek is niet mijn stijl, maar het was prima om aan te horen. Een feest is iets om bij te wonen, niet iets om vanuit je luie stoel te observeren. Toch is dat de essentie van deze voorstelling: kijken naar een groep feestende jongeren. 

Verrassend dat choreograaf en filosoof Gisèle Vienne had gekozen voor verstilling. In plaats van wild bewegende lichamen, was een groot deel van de voorstelling sprake van langzame bewegingen of zelfs van totale bevriezing. In dat laatste geval was het een tableau vivant. De verstilling weer doorbroken met korte heftige danssessies, vaak van een of enkele dansers. De groep van 15 dansers was de hele voorstelling op het podium. Bij de interactie van de feestgangers gebeurde er van alles. Zoveel dat ik het niet allemaal heb meegekregen. Er waren wisselende samenstellingen van groepen. Er waren rustige mensen en wilde mensen, gangmakers en volgers, aardige en onaardige mensen. Allemaal leken ze een eigen verhaal te hebben.

De verstilling in combinatie met de monotone muziek maakte dat je als toeschouwer in een soort trance kwam. Een kalm gevoel van distantie van de werkelijkheid. Alles leek zich ver weg af te spelen, alsof je door een donkere tunnel naar achter liep en in de verte nog de uitgang, de wereld, zag. Zo’n dansfeest lijkt toch wel erg op tribale party’s met drugs, geweld en seks. Zo’n feest tilt mensen uit hun burgerlijk bestaan in een primitieve staat zonder het keurslijf van de maatschappij. Ik erger mij aan de drank, de drugs, de luide muziek, de rotzooi, de ongewenste seksuele toenaderingen, de vechtpartijen. Of is dat het standaardperspectief van een ouder met twee zonen in de pubertijd? Want ik hoop ten zeerste dat ze niet naar zulke feesten gaan. De kamer van een van mijn twee zonen is al net zo’n rotzooi als op het toneel na het feest. 

Het geeft een groot gevoel van vervreemding om in een schouwburg – zogenaamd voor hoge kunst – te kijken naar een wild dansfeest van een subcultuur van jongeren, niet bepaald hoge cultuur. Als een antropoloog zat ik te kijken naar een tribaal element in onze cultuur. 

All Inclusive
Waar heb ik naar gekeken? Een theatervoorstelling over een rondleiding in een museum met performancekunst met fotografie en muziek en beeldhouwkunst en schilderkunst en installaties en interactie met het publiek en een filosofische reflectie over kunst over geweld. Als mensen dan vragen, was het leuk? Wat zeg je dan in één zin? Voor veel voorstellingen bij SPRING is het simpele woord ‘leuk’ niet van toepassing. Leuk is een te makkelijk label. De voorstelling was leuk of niet leuk. En dan is het klaar. Als het leuk was, was het leuk en als het niet leuk was was het jammer. En voort gaat het leven, op naar de volgende vorm van vermaak. Wie naar SPRING gaat voor vermaak zal niet zo heel erg aan zijn trekken komen. Voorstellingen schuren en wringen en knagen en vragen. Maar het festival werkt ook louterend. Ik voel me of mijn existentie wordt afgestoft. SPRING is existentiële opschudding. Het houdt je wakker uit de slaap van het alledaagse. 

In All Inclusive van Julian Hetzel volgen we een groepje bezoekers aan een kunsttentoonstelling die een rondleiding krijgen van een rondleidingdame op koraalrode pumps. De bezoekers zijn allen vluchtelingen uit Syrië en de verschillende zalen waar ze doorheen geleid worden gaan allemaal over geweld in toenemende mate van ongemakkelijkheid. Ik lees dat de bezoekers gespeeld worden door lokale mensen. Vanavond dus een groepje mensen uit Utrecht en echt uit Syrië afkomstig. De bezoekers worden het ongemakkelijkst van Syrisch puin dat is verwerkt tot een clusterbom waarmee steden in Syrië worden gebombardeerd. Het stuk loopt uit tot een apotheose van bloed en geweld waarin de rondleidster wordt afgeslacht en haar bloed een schilderij in het museum wordt. De voorstelling eindigt zonder applaus en zonder de confrontatie met de acteurs. In plaats daarvan wordt het podium razendsnel en op ingenieuze wijze omgetoverd tot een museumshop waar het publiek inderdaad parafernalia van de voorstelling kan kopen, inclusief het bloedige schilderij. 

Geweld en de afbeelding en de esthetisering van geweld was een belangrijk thema in de voorstelling. Hetzel zegt hierover: ‘[…] hoe kun je gebruikmaken van beelden die pijn laten zien en hoe kun je de schoonheid van het gruwelijke exploiteren?’ ‘Het is confronterend en schikkend, maar er is schoonheid in de verschrikking.’ Geweld heeft een grote aantrekkingskracht op de mens. De hoeveelheid geweld in film is daar een voorbeeld van. Aan de ene kant vinden we echt geweld verschrikkelijk, aan de andere kant vinden mensen het heerlijk om als entertainment flink met geweld geconfronteerd te worden. In één van de zalen – en elke zaal vormde een act (hier lopen expositie en theater vloeiend in elkaar over) – werden een aantal kitsche hondenbeeldjes opgesteld. De Syrische bezoekers werden aangespoord om het kunstwerk af te maken door een van de hondjes te verbrijzelen. Gaat het echt gebeuren of niet? Zo denk je dan. En het gebeurt echt, zo’n schattig kitsch hondenbeeldje wordt voor onze ogen aan stukken geslagen. Ik betrap mijzelf erop dat ik het nog zielig, sneu of in ieder geval zonde vind. De suppoost veegt de scherven bijeen en doet ze in een houten kist met twee vakken. Scherven in het ene vak, hamer in het andere vak, afgesloten door een perspexplaat met de tekst DOG – GOD. Ook dit werk werd na afloop verkocht en ik heb een beetje spijt dat ik niet heb gekeken of het binnen de voor mij billijke prijsmarge lag. Kun je kunst maken van andermans ellende? Geeft kunst een nieuwe betekenis aan het geweld en is dat respectvol jegens de slachtoffers? Dat zijn schurende vragen. 

De voorstelling vestigt de aandacht op die verschrikkelijke en uitzichtloze oorlog daarginds. Is het decadent om daar kunst van te maken? Is de kunst in de voorstelling wel echte kunst of is het gespeelde kunst wat gemaakt door acteurs en niet door een kunstenaar? De expliciete foto’s van het geweld vond ik naar om te zien. Dat raakte me en ik kon er moeilijk naar kijken. De opsomming van slachtoffers van bombardement en deed mij emotioneel echter niets. Verontrustend. Ik voelde meer empathie met het porseleinen hondje dan met de mensen achter de nummers van de opsomming van slachtoffers. Goed om te beseffen dat onze emoties lang niet altijd rationeel zijn. Emoties kunnen je op een moreel verkeerd spoor zetten. Ik moest ook denken aan de voorstelling Panda Expressdie ik een jaar of twee terugzag bij Spring. Die voorstelling was een theeceremonie waarin de acteurs in kommen plassen voor de ogen van het publiek en elkaars urine dronken. Deze act riep veel meer een emotionele respons op dan het geweld en de aantallen slachtoffers van All Inclusive. Blijkbaar vinden wij (of in ieder geval ik) geweld makkelijker om te verwerken dan plassende mensen waarbij taboes doorbroken worden. Theater en dan met name modern experimenteel theater zet aan tot reflectie en nadenken over jouw eigen reacties, gevoelens en emoties. Misschien kan theater helpen emoties beter af te stellen. 

Salt
Een betoverend mooie solodansuitvoering van de Indonesische danser en choreograaf Eko Supriyanto. De voorstelling begint met angstaanjagende geluiden en tegenlicht van het podium. Door de reflecterende rand was het moeilijk in het donker iets te ontwaren. De contouren van een danser werd zichtbaar. Een dans zoals je die bij Indonesische dans voorstelt waarbij de danser alleen zijn rugkant toonde en van het publiek bleef afgewend. De tweede scene was prachtig, zonder schurende muziek en in de spotlight. Eko Supriyanto had een lange witte tule tutu aan waarin hij gracieus over het podium zwierde. Verrassend was dat hij uit de plooien van zijn rok een grote hoeveelheid wit poeder (zout?) tevoorschijn toverde. Hij stond er middenin, met zijn witte rok en de zwarte duisternis. In zijn dans herkende ik bewegingen uit Indonesische martiale kunsten pencat silak. Hij kauwde opeens onsmakelijk op witte blaadjes. Ik kon dit niet duiden. Het nagesprek bood uitkomst: Eko had in zijn jeugd deelgenomen aan religieuze tempeldansen waar de dansers in een trance werden gebracht en dan glazen aten. Dat eten van het glas tijdens die trance waar hij zich later niets van herinnerde, wilde hij hier laten zien. 

In deze voorstelling heeft Supriyanto zich laten inspireren door de gewichtloosheid onder water: ‘In Java ben ik opgegroeid in een landbouwcultuur. Maar de maritieme wereld heeft een ander ritme. Onder water is er geen zwaartekracht. Vaak ging ik duiken, waarna ik die ervaring meteen probeerde te vatten in beweging.’ 

Hymn to love
Het eerste wat opvalt als we de zaal binnenkomen is dat er een dirigent zichtbaar is. Het is de Poolse theatermaker Marta Górnicka. Op het podium op een verhoogd vierkanten vlonder staan vijfentwintig performers opgesteld. Ze staan in een krachtige dramatische pose en komen recht op het publiek af, als ze zouden bewegen. Het is een diverse groep mensen, jong en ouder, mannen en vrouwen, atletisch en minder atletisch, knap en niet knap, er was een jongen van een jaar of tien met lang engelblond haar en een dame met down. De voorstelling was een muzikale parade waarin de acteurs zich in diverse formaties groepeerden en teksten zongen. Het geheel had een militaristische en zelfs fascistische inslag. De teksten waren een perfide combinatie van nationalistische en zelfs nazistische teksten, teksten uit het katholicisme, fragmenten uit het manifest van de massamoordenaar Breivik, en het volkslied van Polen. Een verheerlijking van geweld. Een afkeer van buitenlanders en een roep om behoud van de eigen cultuur. Liefde voor het vaderland, voor de eigen cultuur en voor de eigen groep is een intense emotie die aanleiding kan geven tot geweld tegen alles wat een bedreiging vormt of lijkt te vormen. Górnicka bedoelde de teksten ironisch. In het nagesprek bleek dat deze voorstelling in Polen gevoelig ligt en dat de voorstelling voornamelijk buiten Polen wordt gespeeld. Ik vraag me af hoe mensen die het met (een deel van) de teksten eens zijn naar deze voorstelling kijken? Het zou kunnen dat voorstanders ook heel goed naar deze voorstelling kunnen kijken en er dan niet de ironie van inzien. Dat is een inherent gevaar aan ironie, dat mensen de ironie niet inzien en het letterlijk nemen. De groepsdans was qua choreografie een verademing om naar te kijken. Ik kreeg zin om zelf mee te marcheren – wat ik meteen betreurde want het betrof fascistisch gemarcheer. 

Nabeschouwing
De flyers en de voor- en nabeschouwingen bieden perspectief op de voorstellingen. Hoewel de voorstellingen doorgaans krachtig genoeg voor zichzelf spreken biedt de context meer inzicht. De voorstellingen bij SPRING komen uit diverse windrichtingen en gaan over totaal verschillende dingen. De ene voorstelling is explicieter in wat het wil meegeven dan de andere. Je kunt het festival op verschillende niveaus waarderen. Enerzijds kun je je beperken tot de esthetische en persoonlijke dimensie waar het erom gaat wij jij ervan vond, met name van hoe je de voorstelling zelf beleefde. Anderzijds, door erover te lezen en te reflecteren ontvouwt zich een wereld van perspectieven en problemen. Je zou dit ook het verschil tussen cultuur als entertainment en cultuur als vorming (Bildung) kunnen duiden. Het kan best zijn dat iemand maanden of zelfs jaren later terugdenkt aan een voorstelling van SPRING waarin een moeilijk aspect van het leven en de wereld op de bühne werd gebracht. SPRING gaat over het leven met de vele facetten daarvan. Na deze vier voorstellingen zit ik met meer vragen en een verbrede belevingshorizon. 
 

Floris van den Berg is filosoof. 

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