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A dance-time-machine

Theresa Steininger

A Mary Wigman Dance Evening has brought the choreographies of the founder of the German Ausdruckstanz to today´s stage.

Why would a young man today dance solos that a 43-year old woman had done in early 30ies? Do we already need a living dance museum of modern dance, as Martha-Graham-Company-leader Janet Eibler suggested in an interview concerning her dancers` tour to Austria? If yes, young Ecuadorian dancer Fabian Barba, currently working in Brussels, can join it. He has put together an evening reconstructing important choreographies by Mary Wigman, founder of the German Ausdruckstanz. In his „A Mary Wigman Dance Evening“, he offers the audience the possibility to go back in history, also having the aim not only to copy and reconstruct, but to build something of his own. The difficulty of such a time-machine-performance is that the audience will more likely see the evening as a chance to imagine Mary Wigman dancing in front of them, not so much concentrating on the elements Barba has brought in.

So you surely will come up with the question if this evening is a creation or a carrying out. The audience will certainly notice how accurate Barba brings in typical elements of Wigman, but not see it so much as a creation of Barba´s.

In what concerns this accuracy, Barba has really worked very precisely. He has perfectioned Wigmans way of gliding, he has studied very accurately how she used breath for her choreographies, he brings in the praying hands in „Anruf“, the snake-like arm in „Gesicht der Nacht“, the strong and flowing arm-movements in „Sturmlied“. He has the costums, playing a huge role in Wigman´s solos. From the program, you may learn that Barba has worked with videos as well as with former students of Wigman, he has prepared very precisely. But when after each solo, he copies Wigman´s very self-confident, almost arrogant way to bow, you cannot be sure any longer, if he is just copying or ironizising it. A strange taste also remains, when until one of the last pieces, nobody gives an applause when Barba bows.

When you see this performance, you can sometimes not be totally sure if it is Barba or Wigman performing. If this was the performer´s aim, he has surely come up to it.

Theresa Steininger

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