THE SPIRAL

Concept

Dominik Więcek

Support

Tanzrecherche NRW

 

    The-Spiral project, which I was able to work on thanks to the Tanzrecherche NRW research fellowship, was born out of a hypothetical question that I have asked myself as a person born in Iserlohn, a small town in  North Rhine-Westphalia and raised in Poland: What kind of artist could I be if I grew up in Germany?  This website is a kind of archive of both my research work and my work on the making of the new solo performance Café Müller.

INTRODUCTION  /  WORK DESCRIPTION

 

    One of the elements of my research work was the analysis of the higher education system in NRW. I recalled my six-month education at the Folkwang Universität der Künste in Essen memories. I met with students currently studying there, incl. Jennie Boultbee, Hakan Sonakalan and Mateusz Bogdanowicz , who, after a one-year stay at Folkwang Universität as part of Erasmus student exchange, returned to Essen to study his master's degree in choreography. I also met students of the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln : Philipp Hansen, Hannah Krebs, Hannah Sampé. These were meetings based on conversation, common practice in the room and sharing of their physical experiences. I wanted to see how the bodies and minds of the graduates of these universities look like, get to know their thoughts and reflections on what their school had taught and what they lacked in their education, what the school infrastructure looked like, and the relationship with teachers. Next I can compare their experience with my own.  

 

    I also met with Polish artists who were born in Poland and moved to NRW in Germany, incl. with Mateusz Czyczerski, Ania Kosiorowska and Agafia Wieliczko . We talked about the reasons for their migration, dance expectations, rebuilding themselves elsewhere, trying to transfer the Polish reality to Germany, and how their ideas about this country were confronted with the reality. I also did interviews. An interview with Monika Witkowska, a graduate of the Ludiwek Solski State Drama School in Krakow (currently the St. Wyspiański Academy of Theater Arts in Krakow)  Dance Theater Department in Bytom, was related to her studies at the Folkwang Universität der Künste in Essen. With Dominika Knapik, a Polish choreographer born in Krakow, who currently lives in Bochum and is a prize winner of the most important German theater award Der Faust 2020 for the performance Der Boxer (2019) staged at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg, we talked about the differences in working in Poland and Germany and the reasons why she decided to leave the country. In another conversation with Przemek Kamiński, a Polish dancer and choreographer, a graduate of the Berlin choreographic school HZT [Hochschulübergreifendes Zentrum Tanz], we talked about how he perceives Polish artists working and living in Germany and what his current relationship with the country looks like. All the interviews were published in the magazine Taniepolska.pl .

 

    An important point of my work was learning German for three months. I was checking how language influences personality, how physical exercises can influence work on language phonetics and how learning a foreign language can become a choreographic tool that generates movement material. I also researched stereotypes related to how we, Poles, think about German language (a gallery of memories was created, in which I recorded sentences, quotes and slogans that my friends remembered the most from the long-term process of German language education at school). The methods of my work, which I developed with the help of dr hab. Joanna Pędzisz who teaches at the Institute of German Studies and Applied Linguistics at the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, are presented at language conferences, including a performative lecture Sprache tanzen und Tanz sprechen at the international conference of sciences organized by the University of Silesia.

 

    One of the most important elements of my work was the analysis of Pina Bausch's performances. While at the Theater im Pumpenhaus in Münster, I thoroughly analyzed the movement that appeared in the performances. I was looking for exercises and ways to stimulate the kind of movement creativity that the choreographer operated on. I was interested in the phenomenon of fanfiction  -  works created unofficially by fans of a beloved art work, using the characters and the world from this piece. With this in mind, I created my own movement phrases that could be placed in Pina Buasch's performances. I also took a three-hour walk around Wuppertal, during which I moved around the city performing the famous choreography of The Nelken Line, and the route of my walk on the map was arranged in the PINA sign. I also met the dancers of Tanztheater Wuppertal: Ophelia Young, who has been in the band for almost ten years, and the freshly hired Alexander Lopez Guerra .  

 

    The implementation of the scholarship also had a private dimension. Born in Iserlohn, a small town in Nordrhein Westfalen, Germany, and raised in Poland, I have been asking myself for some time: what would happen if my parents had not made the decision to return to Poland? Searching for answers, I let my imagination run wild and created hypothetical scenarios, traveling around Germany, around my hometown, researching the German language and meeting Polish artists who live there. The research work carried out under the Tanzrecherche NRW program was a great opportunity for me, not only to develop a certain thought, check the assumptions of the written application, but also for my own personal and professional development. The results obtained and the conclusions drawn become the basis for the creation of the original solo performance Café Müller, which will premiere on November 11, 2021 during the 25th International Meetings of Dance Theaters in Lublin. 

 
 
 
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1993/2021 Family house. 

Direction:  West, Next stop: emigration

I was born in 1992, but a lot of important things happened before that time. Many decisions were already made before.

 

After 1983, when Poland was deep in crisis, emigration of Poles abroad became the norm, which was simply convenient for the communist authorities at the time: they was getting rid of the uncertain element, citizens who might have been inconvenient. In the last decade of the PRL times in Poland approximately 1.3 million poles left Poland for good. Among the migrants there were asylum seekers, solidarity movements refugees, and work migrants with very different levels of education and qualifications. Unfortunately, often these trips were not legal, rather they could be called an escape. To stay legally, you had to document and prove your relationship with this country, e.g. by origin or relatives living there. The resettlement process itself was also not simple. Often the waiting for documents to be checked took weeks, during which Poles had to wait in special camps, sleeping in tents or in the open air. In 1989, my father decided to go to Germany. This year, it was the most popular country to go, he was able to move there due to his family situation and his aunt who lived in Germany.

 

The town where my parents lived was Iserlohn, a small city in the west of Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia (current population: 93,537). I was born there. After completing the language course, my dad started working. Everything seemed that that would be our place of residence. The economic conditions and the opportunities offered by this country were much more attractive than what would have been possible in Poland. My mother, however, despite many efforts, was not able to settle in outside of Poland. She couldn't speak German, she couldn't find friends, she missed her family. In 1991 my parents decided to buy an apartment in Chorzów, where they come from. It was supposed to be the place where my mother could stay when she traveled to Poland, and she came back there often, even when being in advanced pregnancy. After my birth, my mother traveled between countries, so that in 1995 she finally made a decision that she wanted to return to Poland permanently. My dad decided to stay and work in Germany and come home as often as possible. Thanks to his earnings in Germany, my mother did not have to work in Poland, and she could devote herself to raising me and my brother.

When we left Poland, I was less than 3 years old. I was too young to remember anything from that time and to have any memories at all.

 

While working on the scholarship, I visited Iserlohn. I felt how strange this place is to me. Of course, I've heard a lot, but all my memories of that time are not my own, but those told to me or those that I appropriated over time as mine. In Iserlohn I visited, among others the hospital where I was born, the places we lived in, the parks my mother liked and where she went for walks. Everything I know about this time of my life comes from my parents. It was also them, without a shadow of a doubt, that I trusted automatically, that their decision to raise me in Poland was right.

 

When in Iserlohn I felt a great anxiety of doing something against it. I felt as if I was telling my parents, "check", questioning what they told me about me. Initially, while realizing the scholarship and researching hypothetical scenarios of my life I felt mostly excitement and childish curiosity. In Iserlohn, I mostly felt uneasy, as if I was about to steal something. I saw the house we lived in, which was situated on a beautiful mountain top and there was a beautiful stud farm nearby. It was a beautiful building with a large terrace, much nicer than the apartment on the fourth floor in Chorzów. It terrified me that I might finally come to the conclusion that my parents made a mistake, that we would be better and easier in Germany than in Poland. I felt that I was undermining their authority.

In middle school and high school, I studied German language, but like most of my peers, I resisted Germanization, and the English language seemed sexier. During my studies, I went on a student exchange at the Folkwang Universität der Künste and lived in Essen for half a year. The performance Dominique was awarded at the festival in Stuttgart and Hanover, and performed in Braunschweig. I have already worked several times with the German group Bodytalk working in Munster. My parents met in the late 1980s. Shortly after meeting, my dad left and my parents were in contact by letters. After some time of correspondence, my mother decided to visit him. This story reminds me of my story and of my current partner. We met in Poland, then wrote and called (this is the modern form of letters that my parents used to write). After two months of talks, we decided that I would visit him in Hamburg. The emotions my mother told me about and which accompanied her during her first trip to Germany were identical to those that I had when I visited my partner for the first time. Until now, my dad works outside Poland. Both my relationship and theirs are a long-distance relationship.

 

I feel a certain pull from the German side. I have a image of a certain parallelism of my and my parents' life. I wonder to what extent my decisions are fully mine, and to what extent they are with a certain destiny.

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The hospital in Iserlohn where I was born
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My first photo from the hospital.
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Pictures with my brother. This bed is still my parents' bed. Throughout our childhood this globe chased away the monsters of darkness.
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The street where my house was located in Iserlohn
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Hauptfriedhof, spark where my mother used to walk. 
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1993 vs 2021
The terrace of the house in Iserlohn
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Together with my brother on the road at home.
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Horse farm next to our house in Iserlohn.
It still exists. I checked myself.
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One of our places in Iserlohn was an apartment for rent. Currently, it is a hotel and restaurant. From there, my brother remembers the elevator and the big dog. I remember the spiral staircase, but probably from a photo I once saw.

On the right, a photo of me and my mother from the brochure of this place.

Meetings and collaborations

 
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2013/2021 Essen. 
Margarethenhöhe, the district next to the dormitory where I lived while studying at the Folkwang Universität der Künste
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Dr hab. Joanna Pędzisz

Joanna became my German phonetics teacher. We spent time together in a dance studio, thinking about how to stimulate the process of learning pronunciation with dance improvisation tasks. In collaboration with Joanna, a choreography was created for one of my scenes in my solo performance. Details of our cooperation can be found  by clicking here.

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Philipp Hansen

A graduate of Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln (in which perhaps I would also study?). He told me about his processor education, the pros and cons of his university. I learned, among other things, that there was a plan to merge his university with the Folkwang Universität der Künste in Essen due to financial problems. I also had the pleasure of being part of "The Fairy Academy", a moment and performance practice that he has developed as part of his residency at Tanzfaktur in Cologne.

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Hakan Sonakalan

"In order to be a choreographer you first have to be a dancer. That's what they believe in here since generations "

A student of the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, where he graduated in choreography. We talked about  his point of view on his education. About the fact that Folkwang builds a certain illusion and educates a dancer, who often does not have the tools required by contemporary artists (partnering skills, contact improvisation, acting). About the fact that Folkwang encourages interdisciplinary actions and  cooperation between departments, however, it is not visible in the performances themselves and they are hermetically closed to influences of other fields of art.

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Yoshiko Fight

Japanese-born choreographer who currently works and lives in Münster. Thanks to her courtesy, I was able to use the space of the Theater im Pumpenhaus studio. She forms the Bodytalk group, with which I have co-created on the performances of Solidaritot, Shahin Najafi and Guests and Still Leben . We talked about the support system for creators in Germany, the status of an artist and the its privileges. 

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Alexander Lopez Guerra

"Dancing is a consequence of the opportunities that came up in font of me, not first decision, but I'm following." Alexander comes from Peru and to work as a dancer in other countries and needs a visa, so he must be a dancer in a company that will give him a permanent job. He is a new dancer at Tanztheater Wuppertal, who joined the team during the pandemic. We talked about his audition for the theatre, type-casting, how performances are restaged and how he prepares for them, how he is attracted to Pina's performances by how amazing it is what happens on stage in her performances.

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Ophelia Young  

A graduate of the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, who collaborated with Tanztheater Wuppertal already at school. She told me that the audition for the company required acting improvisation (she had to create a text about her love for the cup that stood in front of her on an ongoing basis), for which the school did not prepare her at all. She talked about the methods of restaging performances, working with recordings, creating new movement material, but within something that already exists and is often very specific. I asked about  recognition of the company as well as Pina in the city of Wuppertal itself.

Ophelia told me about the variety of skills required in working in this theater. One day you dance Le sacre du printemps , which requires grounding and a very strong center, and the next day Kontakthof , where you have to dance on stage for a few hours on high heels

Mateusz Czyczerski

 

He graduated from the University of Dolnyśląsk in the field of Modern Art Design, with a specialization in Performance. He currently lives in Cologne. He told me about the hardships of finding himself in a new space, both as an artist and as a citizen,  especially during the pandemic times. About gaining the competence to re-create yourself in a new place. He pointed out that he feels safe in Germany, that he can walk around the streets safely  without causing any sensation or comments. He also told me that he was planning to change his name because it was too difficult for Germans to pronounce. Mateusz tries to associate Polish artists living in NRW in Germany, he even contacts the Polish institute in Düsseldorf. 

Agafia Wieliczko  

Like me, Agafia studied at the Faculty of Dance Theater in Bytom and moved to Cologne in Germany to live there with her girlfriend. She told me that now she finally feels safe and that she sometimes misses Polish products such as marshmallow, Winiary mayonnaise and pickled cucumbers. She spoke about how much courage is required to migrate, because it in reality means throwing yourself into a foreign culture, moving your home to another place. 

Agafia likes German language very much, she learned it practically on her own, from books, newspapers, and the Internet. She likes its sound, melody, words that are actually composed  of four words. She told me a joke.  A Polish guide, during a trip to Germany, does not explain another person's statements for a very long time. The disturbed crowd asks why he doesn't, to which the translator replies, "I'm waiting for a verb." 

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Jan HK

Jana is a German lady who was my language teacher. As she has experience in dancing  we experimented together on how to work on my speaking skills. Jana talked a lot about the fact that people often exaggerate when learning another language and are incredibly hyper-correct in their pronunciation of sounds and therefor they lose the thought of sentences. Therefore, we performed exercises and relaxing massages so that we could speak a foreign language without tension.

Additionally, Jana is an amateur opera singer and helped me get some sounds with vocal exercises. We sang together songs from The Little Mermaid. 

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Ania Kosiorowska.

 

She studied at the Faculty of Dance Theater in Bytom, she was the second year of the university. She and her partner currently live in Essen, where they run Pilates studio. Additionally, she conducts physical classes for corporations. She learned the German language on her own, being with others, from books, and her partner who also helped her. 

She told me she dreams of having a car. It would give her the feeling that she could get in it and come to Poland at any time. 

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Jennie Boultbee

Pina's repertuar comes from what she leared in Folkwang, but It's all about the craftiness of using those techniques inside of works.

Student of Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen. We analyzed the silhouette and physicality of the graduates. She considered their strength to be: Presence, Awarness of presentation, the way the body is in the space and the way they place in relation with others, balance, super strong center. 

She showed me what exercises and movement codes they use in class. She drew attention to the freedom that gives her the enormity of the technique that she learns at school, thanks to which she feels that she is capable of everything and that she has great freedom in movement. 

Performative lecture "Speaking dance and speaking through dance: an interdisciplinary look at the performative actions of the contemporary dance artist"

 

A big part of my research was learning German for three months. I was checking how language influences personality, how physical exercises can influence work on language phonetics and how learning a foreign language can become a choreographic tool that generates movement material. 


As I already knew on the research faze of the project, that I want it to develop into a dance performance I imagined a scene where I would speak German and I sound like a native. I had a German teacher, who was a Polish woman, and during our classes she was more focusing on vocabulary and grammar, not putting enough attention for speaking skills. Therfore I decided that it would be nice to find a teacher, with who my education will focus only on pronunciation.

 

I met Joanna some time earlier, when I was working in Lublin on Sticky Fingers Club performance, and I reminded myself of her. She teaches at the Institute of German Studies and Applied Linguistics at the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin. I knew that collaboration would be something interesting for both of us as Joanna is a huge dance fan, who regularly takes classes, and I knew that she will be very open on trying new things, and thinking creatively with me how the meeting between her - German teacher and me - dancer could look like. 

The methods of our work and how they became the basis for the creation of movement material for one of the scenes in solo Cafe Muller are described in the lecture presented at the International Scientific Conference organized by the Silesian University.

Gallery of memories from compulsory German classes.

Quotes, sentences, slogans that were the most memorable from many years of German language education.

 
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Interviews 

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Dominika Knapik  

Dancer, actress and choreographer. She regularly collaborates with drama theaters in Poland and abroad, creating choreographies for performances. She currently lives in Bochum. We met during rehearsals for the performance Księgi Jakubowe (directed by Ewelina Marciniak) at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg. We talked about how did it happened that she lives in Bochum now and about her point of view on Germany. Dominika noted that actors in Germany are much more open for experimenting with style and convention, and going beyond the so-called psychological theater. She also added that there is a visible difference in working with men who, in comparisement to Poles, care much more about themselves and their appearance. In Germany, going for manicure and pedicure is not considered to be non-masculine. It is similar in the approach to the body: keeping fit, going to the gym, practicing yoga is very popular among the German men. Therefore, the actors are in better shape and well-groomed, which allows her for more room to maneuver in working with theirs body as a material.

 

About work and life in Germany

The story is simple. Few years ago, Jan Klata invited me to collaborate on Crime and Punishment at the Schauspielhaus Bochum. There I met my future husband, who is a lighting director. I quickly started working with interesting German directors such as Olaf Kröck or Julia Wissert. Plus a director with whom I have worked many times - Ewelina Marciniak, started working more in Germany. We met when I was fresh out of drama school, and she was studying directing. We worked together creating the performance Der Boxer (2019) at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg, for the direction of which she received the prestigious award Der Faust. When she got a proposal to create another performance, she chose Księgi Jakubowe by Olga Tokarczuk (premiere: 2021) as the theme. She invited the same team of producers, including me, and other Polish artists: Julia Kornacka, Jarek Murawski, Mirek Kaczmarek, and Jan Duszyński. It is much easier to work in a team that you know and with which you can communicate freely. Most of us do not speak German, communication between us in Polish makes our work much easier and more efficient. Besides, they are really great creators, invited to cooperate not because of their nationality, but because of their great skills.

 

It is not easy to transfer a career to another country, it usually demands starting from scratch. I got an incredible gift from fate. Work here just appeared, and right away in the big theaters. I really feel lucky. I am a workaholic, I work constantly, the reality is that I am constantly traveling - sometimes I do not know where my home is ... Currently, I believe that I have two homes: in Bochum, where my family is, and in Krakow, where I come from. All my friends and all my past is set in Poland, so I miss this place and those people. I feel good in Germany, the theater is on a better financial level here. There are also more institutions that support dance. In Poland, the number of possibilities for producing independent performances is small, as is the case with the possibility of touring the piece after creating. 

I don't speak fluent German. I speak English with my husband, my son Feliks is brought up bilingually and I speak Polish with him. I still function in a large division between countries. I have just finished rehearsals at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg, and in a few days I am leaving for Wrocław, where we will create an original spectacle with Patrycja Kowanska, Karolina Mazur, Bartholomäus Kleppek and Wolfgang Macher at the Pantomime Theater, and then I will return to Germany again for another production. I really want to continue working in Poland. Unfortunately, the pandemic made everything more difficult. I would like to function and work in both countries, but combining it with each other is not so easy anymore, and adding motherhood to it is another level of complexity.

Przemek Kamiński 

Polish dancer, performer and choreographer, currently living in Berlin, where in 2016 he graduated from Dance, Context, Choreography at the HZT Inter-University Center for Dance in Berlin.

 

During our meeting, we talked about the differences in work and creation in the Polish and German realities, highlighting more opportunities that a freelance dancer receives in Germany, even if is not a part of any institution. Przemek also received support from K3 Tanzplan Hamburg to develop his project for eight months. 

 

Working on a the new project.

 

I am currently working on a new project at the K3 Tanzplan Hamburg choreographic center. I received an eight-month residency, as well as financial, technical and production support. I got selected through a competition. I work with Julia Plawgo, a Polish dancer and choreographer living in Berlin, with whom I have been friends for over twelve years. The project that I am implementing in Hamburg was initially planned as a show, but due to the pandemic situation and the prevailing restrictions, it has changed into a film. I wanted to get away from showing a video recording or streaming from the stage - from the very beginning I had the feeling that the performance was not a good medium for this work. The piece called THEREAFTER, will be a pseudo-documentary film about the journey of two heroes through an imaginary (green) landscape. This project is also a step towards developing my interest in choreography as an extended practice that can manifest itself in a multitude of formats and media. This project gave me the opportunity to work choreographically with a camera operator and treat the entire editing process as choreography.

 

The eight-month residency in Hamburg, which is taking place in parallel with the development of the pandemic, was a luxury. Not only I was able to use the studio regularly, take care of myself and practice, but also this was the first time I had the time and space to (intentionally) forget what I wrote in the application form, to get lost and start drifting away from the topics. In the last few months, I have thought a lot about pleasure in relation to dance and the construction of the process of work itself. I also regularly practiced Constructive Rest - a resting position derived from the Alexander technique.

 

Relations with Poland

 

In projects, that I create abroad, I often surround myself with a group of colleagues who either live in Poland or are of Polish origin. In THEREAFTER, apart from Julia Plawgo, I work with the Polish musician Zosia Hołubowska, who lives in Vienna, Aleksander Prowaniński, a light director of Belarusian origin who settled in Poland years ago, and last but not least Katarzyna Słoboda from the Museum of Art in Łódź wrote the text for publication about the work process.

 

Since the performance So Emotional (2017, created together with Marta Ziółek and Mateusz Szymanówka), is no longer presented in repertoire of Nowy Teatr in Warsaw, I don't come to Poland often. I have a lot of gratitude for everything that happened to me there: for the opportunities that I received, for the works that I have created, for meeting many wonderful people with whom I am still friends. Sometimes I miss Poland. I believe that the Polish choreographic and dance environment is very interesting, full of many wonderful artists whose activities I try to follow, for example via the Internet. I sincerely hope that in the popandemic reality, I will be able to strengthen my contacts with the Polish choreographic and dance environment again.

Monika Witkowska.

A graduate of the Department of Rhythmics of the Secondary State Secondary Music School in Częstochowa and the Department of Dance Theater in Bytom at the Academy of Theater Arts in Krakow. In 2015, she was a scholarship holder of the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Germany and the Kibbutzim Collage of Education Department of Dance Theater in Tel-Aviv, Israel. 

Co-founder and member of the Vagabond Physical Collective - an independent artistic collective created by students and graduates of the Faculty of Dance Theater in Bytom. Winner of the Best Short Dance Piece prize at the 10th International Competition of Young Dance Performers OPUS 1 in Slovenia, where she performed her solo "Für Roman". Finalist of the 32nd International Competition for Choreographers in Hanover and the Solo Dance Contest at the Gdańsk Dance Festival with the solo "I fought piranhas" choreographed by Maciej Kuźmiński.

 

We share a similar story with Monika. As students at the Faculty of Dance Theater in Bytom / Poland, we had a six-month exchange in Germany. As part of the Erasmus program, we studied for six months at the Folkwang Universität der Künste in Essen. In our conversation, she told me about her experience of an educational process there.

 

About studying at the Faculty of Dance Theater in Bytom and the Folkwang Universität der Künste.

 

After education in a music school, where everything is very well arranged, I studied at the  Dance Theater Department of State Drama School in Bytom, which was a very chaotic and unpredictable place. At the beginning that was a big shock for me and sometimes made students frustrated or dissatisfied. In the third year of my studies, I started an Erasmus exchange at the Folkwang Universität der Künste in Essen. There, I found myself again working in a very ordered system, where for egzample lunch was scheduled, and the calendar of classes allowed regeneration before the next day. After my experience at the University in Bytom, it was hard for me to return to such a  structure! Such a system turned out to be no not inspiring for me, and when I was given the opportunity to finish my education in Essen - I refused. I am definitely closer to a certain artistic chaos. The number of stimuli coming from a wide range of classes in Bytom can be overwhelming, often at a given moment it is difficult to see their meaning, but in retrospect I know that the possibility of taking from so many fields (we had classes in dance, acting, philosophy, aesthetics, anthropology, history of dance and theater and many others) to shape your identity as an artist is unique and incredibly valuable!

 

One term in the Folkwang gave me regular and daily classical dance training. Etsuko Akiya, who taught classical dance techniques for contemporary dancers, took of many of my manners and decorations that I did not need for anything, and the classes focused on the proper positioning and preparation of the body. I also really liked the classes with the wonderful Rodolpho Leoni in improvisation, which were very creative, unconventional and, in contrast to the rest of the education, had a lot of elements coming from the spontaneity of the teacher and the group. Besides, it was an interesting experience to deal with the repertoire of Pina Baush and dance fragments of the Rite of Spring. In addition, it was great to practice in the dance technique classes with live music, that does not happened in Dance Theatre Department in Poland, and I enjoyed the possibility of the cooperation between the art departments of the Folkwang Universität der Künste.

 

On the other hand, I wasn't really interested in everyday modern dance classes. I had a feeling that they were very old-fashioned, they did not allow freedom, and my body was unable to find itself in them. There is also enormous rigor and discipline in the education process. This can be seen, for example, in the requirements of the dress code during classes, which was often commented by the lecturers. Once I was told to change my hair, because the one I had "wouldn't be liked by Pina." I do not consider myself a visually expressive person: I do not have tattoos, I do not paint, I do not paint my nails, I do not wear jewelry, but in Folkwang it turned out that even wearing gray leg warmers, not black, is already avant-garde and not befitting a dancer. Something that always seemed irrelevant to me - there it was raised to the rank of art, or even acting against it. The structure itself is also visible in the exercises and choreographies performed, especially in contrast to Bytom, where there is a much greater possibility of exploring and experimenting during the learning process.

After education in a music school, where everything is very well arranged, I studied at the  Dance Theater Department of State Drama School in Bytom, which was a very chaotic and unpredictable place. At the beginning that was a big shock for me and sometimes made students frustrated or dissatisfied. In the third year of my studies, I started an Erasmus exchange at the Folkwang Universität der Künste in Essen. There, I found myself again working in a very ordered system, where for egzample lunch was scheduled, and the calendar of classes allowed regeneration before the next day. After my experience at the University in Bytom, it was hard for me to return to such a  structure! Such a system turned out to be no not inspiring for me, and when I was given the opportunity to finish my education in Essen - I refused. I am definitely closer to a certain artistic chaos. The number of stimuli coming from a wide range of classes in Bytom can be overwhelming, often at a given moment it is difficult to see their meaning, but in retrospect I know that the possibility of taking from so many fields (we had classes in dance, acting, philosophy, aesthetics, anthropology, history of dance and theater and many others) to shape your identity as an artist is unique and incredibly valuable!

The Nelken Line

 

When I was sure that my work and the practice of creating my new performance would be in relation to the entire heritage of Pina Bausch, I felt a certain heaviness of this situation, I was almost intimidated. Until now when I told others about my work research and the idea for a solo it felt strange, and my speakers, when they hear that I am creating a performance entitled: Café Müller, react very differently, from absolute surprise, or meaningful silence and raised eyebrows, up to a certain offense   

 

I knew I wanted to break Pina's curse over me. Do something that will give me courage. I decided that I wanted to follow the route that would form a PINA word on the map, pass the Opernhaus Wuppertal, and that I would follow the famous choreography of The Nelken Line to Luis Armstrong's looped West End Blues song. I did not speed up  even at the pedestrian crossing, I only once had to jump over the fence.

Two days later I got a message from Ophella, the Tanztheater Wuppertal dancer. She send me a video from her friend who noticed my walk through the window and decided to capture it. I can not imagine a better documentation of my walk. 

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From the very beginning, I knew that my research would lead to a performance. Its idea became clear during the work. Unfortunately, my residency applications (I wrote quite a few) were not successful. Luckily, the performance is finally produced by the Lublin Dance Theater and is created as part of the "Spaces of Art" program financed by the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport, carried out by the Institute of Music and Dance and the Zbigniew Raszewski Theater Institute.

Tanzrecherche NRW research involved testing hypothetical scenarios of what my life might have been if I had been raised in Germany. The activities described in the first part of the page were to bring me closer to finding the answer to this question.

 

Where does the idea / need for this "what if?" comes from? Firstly, out of curiosity. Secondly, because of the feeling that the German context in my private and professional life appears magically and constantly: I have performed and won awards in Germany, worked there, and now my boyfriend is German. The performance is about facing this feeling as wa as  a reflection on who I am now.

 
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Fantasizing about my hypothetical alter ego in a parallel German reality, one of the scenarios was the parallelism of the sequence: Studying dance in a city close to the family home (Chorzów - Bytom, Faculty of Dance Theater) could be reflected by the Iserlohn - Essen, Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen. Immediately after finishing my studies in Bytom, I joined the company of the Polish Dance Theater in Poznań. In the German reality - it could be Pina Bausch's Tanztheater Wuppertal. This is how the idea was born to create a performance about fantasizing about your reality, while creating a fan fiction about the iconic and flagship German performance Café Müller.

 

 Café Müller  

Café Müller was originally the title of a four-part evening, whose premiere took place 40 years ago, on the 20th of May 1978. In addition to the choreography by Pina Bausch, which is still regularly performed today, this evening originally comprised work by Gerhard Bohner, Gigi-Gheorghe Caciuléanu and Hans Pop. Together they agreed that each of them will create a performance that will include the following elements: a café, darkness, someone falls, someone lifts, a red woman enters, everything goes silent.

Café Müller by Pina Bausch is a story about loneliness, isolation, unrequited love, grief and despair. The performance is moving, because it tells about topics that are close to everyone, iconic, because it can be used to explain what Tanztheater is, unique because Pina herself performed in it. For me - it’s simply brilliant.

My Café Müller is a fanficiton. Basing on the existing performance, its world and characters, I create images referring to my personal story. Born in Iserlohn, a small town in Nordrhein- Westfalen, Germany, and raised in Poland, I have been asking myself: what would happen if my parents had not made the decision to return to Poland? In search for an answer I let my imagination run wild and created hypothetical scenarios, traveling around Germany, around my hometown, researching the German language and meeting Polish artists who live there. This performance, however, is not a linear story about what could have happened. It's not writing a new script about some alternative reality, but sharing of the emotions that accompanied me when I once again asked myself: what if?

Concept, choreography, performance:

Dominik Więcek

Music:

Przemek Degórski

Light design:

Klaudia Kasperska​

Costume:

Project: Nikola Fedak
Realization: System Mody / Serafin Andrzejak

Language consultations:

Joanna Pędzisz

Pictures: 

Maciej Nowak

Duration:

40 minutes

Producer:

Lublin Dance Theater

Reserach support:

Tanzrecherche NRW, Theater im Pumpenhaus, Tanzfaktur Köln, Folkwang Universität der Künste, Lublin Dance Theater

Premiere

11.11.2021 / 25. International Meetings of Dance Theaters in Lublin

The performance is created as part of the "Spaces of Art" program financed by the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport, carried out by the Institute of Music and Dance and the Zbigniew Raszewski Theater Institute. The operator of the project in Lublin is the Cultural Center in Lublin.

 
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Reżyseria / Choreografia Pina Bausch

 

Scenografia / Kostiumy: Rolf Borzik

 

Muzyka: Henry Purcell

Reżyseria muzyki: Henrik Schaefer

|With the Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal

Soprano Marie Heeschen|

Bass Lukas Jakobski

 

Czas trwania: 40min

 

Prowadzenie prób: Dominique Mercy

Asystent: Bénédicte Billiet

Dancers: Pau Aran Gimeno, Michael Carter, Jonathan Fredrickson, Blanca Noguerol Ramírez, Breanna O’Mara, Nazareth Panadero, Héléna Pikon, Azusa Seyama, Michael Strecker, Ophelia Young