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Fabian Barba – A Mary Wigman Dance Evening

Eylül Akıncı

Fabián Barba’s reconstructive work on Mary Wigman, A Mary Wigman Dance Evening, is based on the utmost reassembly of the theatrical elements Mary Wigman used as well as an intention to present her dance in the most faithful way possible, not without accepting that one-to-one staging is impossible and a carbon copy is not even a consideration.

It is not easy for me to asses the original and reconstructed parts of the solos –from three dance cycles, Seraphisches LiedPastoraleSommerlicher Tanz- separately, and probably for any viewer who had not gone through the footage and photo archives; in a way this implies the fact that Barba has succeeded to convey a devoted interpretation and to decipher the intrinsic qualities and aesthetics of Ausdruckstanz in terms of logic, emotion and expressive process. He smoothly constructs a whole work out of the fragmentary material from Wigman’s legacy.

The strange encounter between Barba and Ausdruckstanz, which he himself claims to have had, not necessarily might be valid for the audience, though. In this case, personal history of spectatorship indeed plays an important role; furthermore, certain codes of expressionism –especially German expressionism- is still with us in an internalized and unnoticed way thanks to a myriad of artworks from various disciplines, bearing its undertones on our current experience art and daily life to some extend. After all, changing subjectivities of expressionism is exactly what has not changed after the modernity, and it is not easy to define a big hiatus that would erode memory between modern and post-modern era although most of our presumptions about dance and movement has been transformed on that threshold as much as it had at the beginning of 20thcentury, for this evolutionary history is not an exhaustive one that would create amnesia and, of course, we still have active representatives of these first generation dance forms.

However, watching Barba’s reconstruction is definitely surprising, if not uncanny; sitting face to face with something like a part of your cultural subconscious is enlivening. Mary Wigman becomes alive, gender neutral, breathing loud, in whirling and entrancing costumes (successfully recreated by Sarah-Christine Reuleke), under the music of husky piano and drums, under the chandeliers and behind the red velvet curtain. It feels like a 3D simulation of a 30’s evening indeed, and it creates an excitement in spite of one’s possible familiarity with the expressionist dance by its daintiness on details. The performance as a whole frees the image and movement of Mary Wigman from monochrome and scratchy visuals, thus in a way becomes a live documentary, as much as it is a unique performance, that freshens up our relationship with the past.

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