Dance director Helena Waldmann lives in Berlin. She studied Applied Theatre Studies at the University of Gießen and trained under Heiner Müller, George Tabori and Gerhard Bohner, among others. She has made internationally acclaimed works since 1993.
Her work is characterized by an increasingly strong political element, from the stage piece “Letters from Tentland”, produced in Tehran for six Iranian women, to the short film “emotional rescue” made in Palestine, the portrayal of exiled Iranians’ responses to European asylum policy, “Return to Sender”, and her anarchic, ecstatic celebration of release from our achievement-orientated society’s dictatorship of work, “feierabend! - the antidote”.
In her ‘captivating’ performance “Burkabondage” she forged a link between the Muslem veil and Japanese bondage. Recently, in “get a revolver”, she highlighted the social stigma of forgetting. In her latest production, “happy piece”, she and her four protagonists reject moderate contentment in favour of turning the smallest stage into a dance volcano.
Some people have a knack for the unpleasant. They confront us with what we really don’t want to see or what we would rather ignore because it stirs up ambivalent feelings.
Helena Waldmann has mastered this skill. Each of her productions goes straight for the weak spots in our – oh so liberal and tolerant – social order. They come into play right where society’s consensus falters, causing latent breaking points to appear on the surface, shaking the foundations of society and leaving cracks in people’s self-awareness. Waldmann, then, drives painful wedges into our field of vision, and she does it with such compelling dance rhetoric – because it is so intricately modelled and exploits its media so thoroughly – that looking away is not an option.
Whether Islam (“Letters from Tentland”, “Return to Sender”, “Burka Bondage”), capitalist bacchanals (“feierabend! - the antidote”) or sexuality (“The Malady of Death”), Waldmann can translate the most awkward subject into sensuous eruptions. She never castrates a subject’s provocative potential, never forges a one-sided argument. This is also true of “get a revolver” – the first and hitherto only instance of dance which dares to deal with a subject that bears down on us like an avalanche: dementia.
Rather than lamenting and eliciting the audience’s woolly sympathy, “get a revolver” hits us with our own cluelessness. “The emperor has no clothes on!” the piece seems to shout. The self-satisfied emperor – that’s us.
4 performers – 60 min
revolver besorgen (2009)
solo – stage flexible – 60 min
return to sender (2006)
6 performers – stage 14 x 12 m – 60 min + tea time