Helena Waldmann

'revolver besorgen' © Sebastian Bolesch
"revolver besorgen" © Sebastian Bolesch

Helena Waldmann, dance director and dance scientist (Applied Theatre Studies in Giessen), lives in Berlin. Her radical work has been receiving international acclaim since 1993. There is no mistaking the political force of her choreographies, as in »Letters from Tentland«, produced in Teheran for six women, the short film »emotional rescue« shot in Palestine, »Return to Sender« – Iranian expats formulating their answers to European policies on asylum, and finally »feierabend! – das gegengift«, a celebration against our modern labour dictatorship. In »BurkaBondage«, she explored the relationship between the Islamic veil and Japanese bondage, in »revolver besorgen«, she revealed the socially ostracised role of forgetting and in »GlückStück« lit a powder keg of dance. Currently, she is working on »Made in Bangladesh« in Bangladesh itself – a centre of the exploitation of human resources.

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Helena Waldmann: Portrait

Is there a crisis brewing somewhere? A national or international, political or social hot spot in the making? A social powder keg exploding? Then it looks like a job for the star of the German cultural task force, dance department: Helena Waldmann. Helena Waldmann’s oeuvre reads like a catalogue of ominous situations. In »Letters from Tentland« / »Return to Sender« (2005/06), she took a closer look at Islam, in »revolver besorgen« (2010), she pushed dementia off its pedestal of pity, and most recently, she dismantled the happy-go-lucky circus of our consumer-driven existence in »GlückStück« (2011). Waldmann doesn’t force her subject matter into apocalyptic images. Instead, her mastery lies in gradually tightening the dramaturgical screw. Her messages subtly sneak up on you in moccasins only to finally drive a lightning bolt of recognition through your brain.

The setting of Waldmann’s next project offers just as much explosive material. For those who buy their clothes at H&M or prefer to walk around in Puma running shoes (to name just two of the many clothing brands involved…), »Made in Bangladesh« might just spoil their shopping spree: piece work, horrendous fires, collapsing factory buildings – and still the textile-producing moloch does not miss a step. All because customers in wellness-wonderland Germany want to save money at all costs. The fact that others pay for it with their lives doesn’t alleviate their bargain-bin bliss. So once more, it is a case for Helena Waldmann, mission: dance.
Dorion Weickmann


When state theatres are still run in an early capitalist style and the independent scene receives its money as if it were alms, why shouldn’t I suggest to cultural policy makers and commissioning bodies that I produce my work based on the same criteria used to produce cheap clothes in Bangladesh?
Helena Waldmann

Helena Waldmann: Produktionen

»Made in Bangladesh« (2014)
12 performers/dancers/musicians, stage variable

»revolver besorgen / get a revolver« (2010)
solo, stage variable, 60 min