Riki von Falken

Foto: Sabine Brinker
Foto: Sabine Brinker
Photo: Sabine Brinker

Video: „The Geometry of Separation“

Riki von Falken was born in 1954 in Hohenlimburg and went to Berlin during the early 1980s with a degree in youth and community work and a background of performing ballet when she was at school. She soon began as a dancer at the Tanzfabrik, which was an important centre for contemporary dance in Berlin at that time and looked to modernist American dance for inspiration. She initially appeared in many pieces by Dieter Heitkamp and Jacleyn Carley, who were seeking new directions in which to take forms of movement and dance narrative. Ten years later, Riki von Falken also set out in a new direction of her own: From 1990 on, she developed a clear, constructive formal language in a series of solo evenings adapted to specific architectural spaces.

In the 1990s, Riki von Falken lived together with the sculptor Günter Anlauf. Her partner’s serious illness and the months she spent in hospital beside his bed as he lay in a coma marked a major turning-point in her life. This experience changed how she wanted to communicate with her body and what she wanted to convey. In her pieces White Linen (2000) and Wach (Awake, 2001), her work became more personal and more focussed on the essential.

Apart from her choreographic projects, Riki von Falken has always worked as a teacher as well, at the Tanzfabrik and Dock 11 in Berlin, the Weber School in Düsseldorf and in workshops for professionals and amateurs. She is a demanding teacher who observes closely, to whom the awareness of a movement and how it is composed are just as important as the movement itself. In 2010, she will teach in Malaysia for three months at the invitation of the Goethe-Institut.
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Foto: Sabine BrinkerThis body is in control of itself. She stands slimly, moves in short, straight lines, holds her arms close to her ribs. That is how Riki von Falken enters the scene in her most recent piece, The Geometry of Separation, with a tightly restrained, densely compressed energy. She then asserts her position with sharp, short movements, performing clearly and good-humouredly, economically and precisely.

It is not only the title that Riki von Falken and the film artist Mareike Engelhardt have given their joint piece, The Geometry of Separation, that emphasises the significance of geometry. With the division of the performance space into smaller areas, the thinking structured along graphic lines, the formation of space between the elements, it is contained in every detail of the set, the movements on the stage and the film. On the screen, we see a young woman whose unrest and groping search for her own identity correspond to the states of the dancer on the stage. They could be embodiments of the same figure at different times. Both have arrived at invisible barriers, both suffer from a sense of being cut off from their surroundings.

In The Geometry of Separation, Riki von Falken has succeeded in delivering an unusually honest, rigorous self-portrait, which does not shy away from the contemplation of ageing either. Nevertheless, its themes – what it means to be thrown back on oneself and the strangeness we encounter in our own lives – imply more than mere navel-gazing: Rather, the piece describes the aggregate states of any identity when it refuses to be forced into a mould that conforms to the demands of the market. Despite this, there is nothing heavy about the language of her movements, which is characterised, as ever, by lightness, transparency and elegance. This is achieved thanks to the precise translation of every inner movement into an outer form.

Riki von Falken is now 55 years old. The experiences she has gathered on her way and depicted in the roughly ten productions she has created to date are rare in the world of contemporary dance. After all, its economic conditions do not often allow dancers and choreographers to pack so much lifetime into their pieces. Riki von Falken too has had to fight hard again and again for her production budgets; her pieces demonstrate how worthwhile these struggles have been.
Katrin Bettina Müller

Works available for touring

Foto: Sabine BrinkerWhite Linen (2000)
solo, stage 12 x 10 m, 45 min

One more than one (2003)
solo, stage 12 x 10 m, 45 min

The Geometry of Separation (2009)
stage 14 x 14 m, 55 min