50 memories of our dance

1. In my dance memory, emotions are very interrelated. When I start to move and dance, I always have the same question, did I decide to move? Or something moved me? Whether there are people or not or if someone else was moving or not. Was I the one who took the decision?

2. My first idea of dance is that I always had questions in my head: like this sport that needs a lot of warm up and body preparation like any sport is not considered a sport it is dance.

3. My first dance class, I was totally taken and shocked, I was absent minded most of the time, to the point I did not move as I know I can move when I concentrate. I felt so much of a looser I was expecting a negative feedback from the coach. At the end of the class, the teacher told me “it seems you were very excited you seemed very impressed!” I was surprised he could see that and remained silent.

4. When I started dancing, I always had dreams related to performing on stage and dancing, the preparations for dance, building a stage etc.… In a way that my dreams changed completely from before. I started distancing myself from my surroundings.

5. My first performance marked my hardest feelings I ever hard, which turned after two hours of anxiety before the performance, to me not being able to sleep at night because I was too happy to sleep. The performance was in a football stadium, the audience was around 30000. There were monitors installed where we could see ourselves move during the performance; it was grand. Until this day I remember it at every start of a performance, I always remind myself that this is a time that ends with happiness and should be all happy.

6. One of my dance memories is when I was going to be very badly injured or even day, as a piece of the decoration on stage fell over me. The theater was in open air, and it got windy that a piece of the installed pieces for decoration which is a big sword in the palace of Shahrayar , 3meters high! The other dancers looked at me as though they saw a ghost! But it fell near me not one me! I survived.

7. Standing on a ballet barre, no, on a climbing frame in the gymnastic hall. Roger the ballet teacher came with a ghetto blaster and some classical music to teach the little girls some elegance for their gymnast floor performances. I was one of them, the one who couldn‘t turn out her legs. I felt as if i was the only one who wasn‘t able to follow and whose body didn‘t fit the requirements. A strong feeling of being left out in the place where i used to spend all my afternoons.

8. Jazz dance in the youth cultural centre of the city. A woman with red hair and black leather shoes. A lot of steps, complicated turns, a mirror, lines which we had to stand in, a counting system that seemed to be obligatory to know. Hundred repetitions of small steps before actually doing some moves to the music. Very hard work, no reward, no fun. I had expected something much easier and more acceccible. Came just once to this class

9. The ballet school where a lot of classmates on elementary school went to. Hacke Spitze Hacke Spitze. Imagined Hackfleisch (minced meat). A strict teacher, a lot of dresses, schoes with pointed toes. I was only allowed to watch and in the end sit with the others in the streching circle where the coming show was discussed. A world that seemed completely closed to me.

10. A birthday party of a classmate, we were twelve, thirteen. The songs of kuschelrock albums 1-6 with elton john, roxette, the bangles, songs from the la boum movies. For the first time the attempt to dance ‚the blues‘. It meant two people would stand in front of each other touching their shoulders, come closer to each other than in any other occasion during the day. But not as close as to step on the foot of the other person. You could smell the other person, you could feel the cloth of the shirt, the movements were almost invisible, a slight shift of weight from leg to leg, uncoordinated. We knew how insecure and cliche we looked like, we had seen it in movies. We wanted to experience it anway. For one song. To jump with the last cord of the song back to the friends we came with and say how horrible it was and that we never wanna do it again. Until the next slow song came up.

11. I‘m in Bremen in an old water tower that was occasionally used as a music club. Funk music. An offshoot of the famous Mojo club in Hamburg. I tried it with movement. I tried to relax, I tried to be wild while staying in the rhythm of the music. I tried to loose myself to dance, I tried not to copy anyone, but to understand the unwritten rules of what‘s a cool individualistic way of dancing. I tried not to repeat myself to often, I tried to have fun. I threw hair, made fists, communicative hand gestures, now and then closed my eyes to signal how deep my relation to all this was. Wanted to be seen and found. Wanted finally not to be seen anymore but to dissolve. Wanted to be sexy, evoke a lust for life, envy, feeling of togetherness. Suffered from the lonliness while dancing in a crowd.

12. Dance theatre at school. A classmate and me decided to create a dance scene: We think of a story, it involves a man (her) and a woman (me). We invent our own couple dance, inspired by tango, rock‘n‘ roll and acrobatics. It is good to be together in this. We rehearse twists and weight shifts and even lifts. I feel heavy and fat, but I like to figure movement out together.

12. A festival in the yard of a castle where jugglers, acrobats and puppet players eat and drink, dance and sing: I‘m sixteen and want to show how free and independent I can move, how limitless and creative my body generates movement, a direct affirmation of potentioal adventures.

13. I use a lot of space, dance with a friend, we make faces, we do moves we consider as experimental, we are very theatrical, bend backwards, want to be the most expressive dancers in the yard, want to scream out our youth and the potential our lives bear by moving. In the same time am I experiencing for the first time a freedom within moving, dancing, not stopping that happenes very intimately and without being addressed to potential observers.

14. In Berlin, it‘s 2001 before the 9/11. I‘m a dance student. Feel as if I don‘t have a chance, but want to try it anyway. In the night we go to Rigaerstrasse in the cave of Fischladen. We don‘t need alcohol or drugs to dance, we are craving for this stage that we don‘t find in school. We take a lot of space and attention and think we atomize liberation and pleasure.

15. I find a book with pictures of Pina Bauschs work. Someone must have told me about this choreographer before. I am fascinated by the women I see. Their beauty. I want to know how it feels to be like them.

16. I see a dance show in Bremen. Young choreographers. I‘m sixteen. It‘s the first time I see Tanztheater. A woman from the same world as the Pina Bausch dancers is one stage, her back to the audience. She hugs herself and it looks as if someone else is hugging her. She stays in this pose for a long time. I feel a lot while watching this gesture. Later she destoys the cement sculpture of a male head. I don‘t understand. I am drawn to this absurd actions, to the emotional images, to the beauty of bodies who know themselves.

17. I read about the working method of Pina Bausch to ask questions to the dancers. I read some of their answers.

18. We read the greek myth of Antigone at school. Later, for the final presentation as a dance student, I want to bring that story into a performance. I write down images. One is: Creon with one string on each of his fingers and on each string a dancer.

19. The diagonals in dance school in the modern classes. I love it. So much energy, so much space, a clear form that I desire to fill.

20. A party in an appartment. Am there with a date. We are both very shy. A woman touches us both and brings us together, makes us hold hands and look at each other.

21. Am in Amsterdam. First solo. Defiance, lushious fury facing the fact of having and being a female body that is constantly looked at and judged. I go on my knees and impersonate porn movements. It does feel outragious and the right direction to go.

22. In a movement exploration class in Amsterdam. Was it called movement exploration? I don‘t remember. We try authentic movement. Just be yourself. With closed eyes you can follow all movement impulses you have. Another person is there with open eyes, observes you and takes care that you don‘t get hurt. A lot of resistance, a lot of incomprehension for the idea of authenticity. I‘m angry and afraif of just not feeling it. Where are this imulses? Where do they come from? How do I know what a real impluse feels like?

23. When I was in Kayaköy – which is a Turkish village called the rock village. It was inhabited by the Greeks before and then when Turkey got it back the Greeks left but the Turks did not move in, so it stayed empty, an entire city with houses, and bakery etc… is just empty . You just see a passing goat sometimes. I went up to the top of the hill and there was a mosque I danced at the yard of the mosque without any thought.

24. When I was in Beirut preparing from my first Lab of the research, it was very funny that the place where I did the rehearsals and where it would be performed is next to the migration intelligence unit. So I practically spent my day in this government unit called “Adliyeh” standing in long queues, and being treated by poorly and usually without much result at the end. Then I would go change and shower and head back to the same area and rehearse in the theatre next to it!

25. Now that I am thinking about my dance memories, I always remember my performance at Ada studios to be my first performance. I always look at it that way , and when I see it I always look in its direction and remember the performance. I feel a sense of belonging to it. Like the new start place.

26. I am in a research together with a colleague in Essen at pact Zollverein. She finds the movements from an audition for a dance school that we both did years ago. She turns and turns and looks so full of energy. I don‘t understand why she didn‘t get in then.

27. We bring our head down on the floor and explore every part of it. Eva Karzcag is the teacher. We are in Arnhem. I‘m 22 and not used to such a slow and tender way of moving. Something happens. I feel as if I wanna sink into the floor and never get up again. A deep longing for rest and invisibility.

28. We are performing TRIP on a big stage. The lights are blinding me, I don‘t see the audience. Saliver is dropping, my shirt is full of it. I can‘t holds my pee, I grunt in order to keep up with the choreography which we designed in a way that it will always bring us to the edge of what we are capable of. I squeeze last glimpses of energy out of my being. My thighs are burning, my arms in flames.

29. We get the excercise to create a solo. Each person gets a colour to work with. My colour is red. I close my eyes and move with a lot of very concrete images. I make up a story. A lot is happening inside of me. When trying to show the others afterwards, repeat and formalize the movements, it seems very far away from what i‘ve felt.

30. We went to Kenia to teach TRIP to Kenian dancers and perform together with them on a tour through the country. At one point a dancer comes to me and touches my shoulder. „Don‘t be so hard on yourself“

31. One station of the tour through Kenia is in the countryside in a resort close to a lake. We are supposed to perform outside on an improvised stage in the evening. Behind us an electric fence so the hippos stay away from the resort. Shortly before we perform we learn that the audience, a bunch of white ex-pats who sponsor the whole tour, had required that beside the black Kenian cast the white European dancers must be part of the show and stand in the front line, otherwise they wouldn‘t have given their support. We want to resist and go on strike, but we perform as everybody else.

32. I am supposed to look after some children in a refuge shelter at Pankstrasse. It is 2015 or 2016. The place is already closed by now. Akiles and me met there for the first time.

33. The children are waiting with me in an improvised space, they are taking part in a movie that Jo Parkes shoots, they are waiting until one by one gets in front of the camera.

34. I move around with them while waiting. We do some tricks and some silly movements, I try if I can still do the splits and impress them. This afternoon I notice what a great way of communicating and connecting with each other it is to move together. And I notice that I actually have skills for that. All my studies weren‘t just abstract and only fitting for certain people and selected stages. No- it can be right here with these children that we create a connection by moving, by dancing!

35. I am in an old rocket station. I have a residency there. It is a rich area of Germany, artists being sponsored by industrials has a long tradition here. Beuys worked here, a lot of famous Fine Art was created here. I have a room that looks like the room in a monastery. I don‘t know what to do, I can‘t move, I am just watching criminal series on my computer. I have no access to dance.

36. In Gothenburg at the theatre place skogen. I have one hour by myself to create movement. There is so much pain between my shoulders, expecially the left one. Since years and years I feel this pain, it changes it‘s intensity but is always there. I shake, I pulse it, I roar from there, I want to digg it out of my body. But it stays. I create a solo from the desire to get to know this point of pain.

37. I witnessed a performance during one of the informal lunch showings at school. A person is jumping and jumping and doesn‘t stop. Joyful and fast classical music is playing. While jumping the person takes off one piece of clothes after the next until he is completely naked.

38. After the knee injury I discover most basic movements like standing, walking. One afternoon I spend hours just walking in the living room, steo by step, very slowly. It makes me extremly happy to be able to do that.

39. We have spent weeks on the boat. I crave for time alone and possibilities to move out of the daily routines of lifting sails and other heavy actions. I leave the boat after we arrive at a remote stone island, make my way through some underwood and find a big stone to stand on. There I dance, after weeks, to Joss Stones soul music through my headphones

40. There was a phase where I wanted to do movement research always exceedingly long. I set an alarm clock for 1,2,3 or even more hours and gave myself the task not to stop moving before it rang. Most of the time I stopped before. But one night I had a studio in Hamburg (and no place to sleep) I didn‘t stop moving and so I was almost the whole night awake and in motion. I remember how tender this session ended.

41. Norberg Festival. A six hour long dancing session of a version of Dancing Plague, a piece that always includes a lot of amateur dancers from the place where the piece is shown. We are tired and euphoric, we wanna celebrate that we did it. A feeling of metaphysical intoxication without any drugs. I am glad that we did it, deep inside I feel too old for this extreme situations in art contexts anymore, don‘t feel the relevance anymore, wanna go to bed and listen to philosophical podcasts.

42. A performance of Ivo Dimchev in a festival, before his piece a performance of Trajal Harell. I want to let the pieces get to me, to receive them as if they could go through my pores without any resistance. To understand what the hype around them is about, to evade the hype, to understand them on a physical level. But all I do is being tensed and selfconcious. A curator is sitting beside me. Eventhough I don‘t want to I am thinking what impressive and intelligent things to say and how to draw connections to the work i‘m doing at the moment. It takes all my energy to deal with this impulses and I miss the impact of the performances.

43. It was always a hustle for me to improvise. It scares me to have a lot of options, to be released in a field where the unexpected can supposingly happen. It scares me to be seen in all my limitedness and my wish to do it good and to please. Whenever I can I try to evade too open improvised situations. One time in a showing – a very long time ago- we were supposed to improvise the last minutes of the showing to the theme of pathos. I climbed on a speaker and screamed: „I‘m pathetic“. Later in the feedback round Barbara Friedrich said she liked the showing, just the moment when I‘m on the speaker was a bit too much for her taste. AH. Still ashamed for that.

44. A hip hop class with teenage girls. I‘m 38 and in the back line. Want to learn some cool moves to use in the dance workshops with children that I happened to give. I remember how I felt when I was young, how shameful it was not being able to follow, how important it was to do it right and to not make any mistakes. Now, so many years later, all this insecurities didn‘t count anymore. It was fun no matter how it looked or if I could keep up with the choreography. With this distance towards my own image it felt that it was possible to understand something about the characteristics of hip hop. But also- to understand something about the stress of all this young girls trying to dance up to a certain image.

45. Kundalini Yoga: grinding! What an amazing move. The circling of the spine! Since I got to know it from Chris, I do it regularly. It touches all parts of the spine inside and I can feel immediatly how my spine is doing.

46. Gymnastics. Little girls. A very strict teacher who used to be a former trainer for russian olympic gymnasts. She shows me my floor choreography. I have to hold my hands like claws and stick my hip out. I enjoy the attention that she gives me, even though I‘m not one of her best horses in the barn. It is not difficult to perform the sexy claw postures. It feels very grown up.

47. Paris. A video exhibition with people dancing in their living rooms all over the world. Part of the exhibition is a live performance that happens every hour. We are lucky and get to see it. A performer does a gesture that I didn‘t forget ever since. She slowly brings thumb and indexfinger together. By doing this it seems that she‘s shrinking and finally squeezing the whole space, maybe even the whole world between her fingers.

48. The gesture of people looking actively away, refusing to look at me, you, at the person in front of them. This gesture is so painful and inscrutable for me, that I one day as a twelve year old one I make a plan how to deal with it creatively. I imagine a performance where people can walk around the performer and observe her from all sides. But it is never possible to catch the eyes of the performer. She will always look away. This way the audience can experience very detailed and almost like in a laborytory this very specific gesture that makes me so bewildered.

49. In a dance Studio in Arnhem, a hands on class as part of our education. One person is lying on the floor and tries to be as relaxed as possible. The other one, me, is manipulating different body parts. While holding the ellbow of my partner, I have a revelation: We are all just bodies, and any body is worth being touched. I may have doubts and ideas about a whole person and his/her body, but if I just take an ellbow, there‘s no objection to make against it. I feel as if I could love and be tender to any ellbow in the world, no matter to whom it belongs. I feel very strongly how we are all just material that changes over time.

50. I‘m already older, for sure over thirty. I don‘t remember the exact year. Since years I work as a professional performer and dancer. It is not part of my wardrobe to have really fancy clothes. It‘s my brothers wedding. So I wear a dark green second hand shirt and something red. I am glad when the music starts playing and it is time to dance. But this pleasure doesn‘t last long. Another guest asks me what I do for living and I answer honestly and without any hesitation that I‘m a dancer. She looks at me and says: „But you don‘t look like a dancer. You‘re much too big for a dancer.“