revew: Florentina Holzinger & Vincent Riebeek – Schönheitsabend (Transform 16)
by Florentina Holzinger & Vincent Riebeek/
dramaturgy Eike Wittrock/
prod. CAMPO, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm & Theater Freiburg/
A Beautiful Evening
Maybe awe is the word. There’s a membrane thinner than thought that separates the inside of a show from the rest of the world. That there Adam Young from Live Art Bistro hops in and out of tonight’s performance and is inside the bubble occasionally, and it is unclear whether he is within the walls or we are seeing him through them. Each time the barrier is breached it shimmers. It’s unclear whether it might implode or explode if the structural integrity is compromised but it feels like thinking about it might help and it’s difficult not to think about it. Young takes the mic: “I am responsible for this venue tonight” and there is laughter and I’m worried something might get hurt.
My European Health Insurance Card ran out in November so it can’t protect me from this show any more. ‘Age guidance: Strictly 18+’ – when you read that, you just know it’s going to be good. Apparently there’s a strap-on. Apparently their last show had pissing in it. You know when the kid who got suspended for chucking a chair at the teacher comes back to school? That feeling. What the fuck are they gonna do next. Warning: this show contains nudity and scenes of a sexually explicit nature’. Sounds like a laugh.
I wonder if these Europeans are toying with us, if they know how terrified and fascinated we are by the way their art is conducted. If the rest of Europe is aware of how painfully embarrassed we all think we are all the time. Maybe this is just a gig to them and everyone in Europe is too painfully embarrassed by themselves to distinguish between individual nations. Maybe this is just a gig to them and they couldn’t care less what the audience thinks.
Somewhere, though, this show is a Dangerous Thing.
Tänze des Lasters
Dance of Vice
You ever seen someone dance wearing a strap-on? You know maybe you have im not here to judge understand im beyond judging in the zen state that can only be incurred by seeing freaky European ballet shows. Maybe youve even danced wearing one yourself. Though not a comedy blow-up hen-party type thing, you understand. An honest-to-goodness, no-nonsense, made-to-make-u-cum accessory. You ever seen two people – one wearing a strap-on, said strap-on inside other’s anus – dance? If you have then have I just been going to the wrong shows? There’s a magic in seeing something so beautiful, so dangerous(?) – this balancing act on the brink of pleasure and injury.
Of course a lot of professional dance has an element of risk – you jump on your leg wrong it doesn’t matter how athletic and tiny you are, you can snap that thing right in two. The same care given to a pas de bourree also needs to be given to a man’s anus, the latter just happens on stage less often. This first act is a probe (phallic). More an investigation into whether the membrane is there than whether it will hold up. And this is the most classically choreographed of the three acts, strap-ons and all. Not that I’m much of a ballet guy. My sister goes to ballet classes. Maybe I’ll ask her about all this.
Tänze des Grauens
Dance of Horror
The most terrified I’ve been watching a stage. By a man sitting on a chair.
Something about aforesaid Britishness and something about the expectation for escalation and I am convinced something awful is going to happen. What actually happens is a massive relief of tension over the length of the act and really a good deal of silliness. A silliness which persists like a series of pokes, reminding me how much power these daft dancers threw over me. The fear of shock is familiar, like the dread of losing control, as Holzinger & Riebeek reenact the fall of Vaslav Nijinsky, reminds me of this article I have read and reread over the past year. Some mundane, crushing force, that halts ability, that seems too ridiculous to be harmful.
There’s a good deal that’s going right over my head in this piece, I’m sure. The opening nod to Shéhérazade, the original ballet’s connection to Nijinsky, and there’s a bit in the programme notes about Anita Berber and Sebastian Droste. There’s some sort of logic working behind the scenes but it has no bearing on whether I’m liking what I see. Perhaps because I am constantly misunderstanding, fearing for others’ safety, trusting in others’ intentions when they could even this moment be having their own personal breakdown.
Tänze der Ekstase
Dance of Ecstasy
Here be antlers, and UV strobes, and paint, and bondage, and a flower costume, and a bow and arrow, and techno or something, and oh they use the big metal bars to do more acrobatics, and there’s more nudity as if we even notice that now, it’s called ecstasy dammit.
That’s all ur getting no questions.
Three acts and three wildly different scenes and it was all absolutely a single, whole thing. It couldn’t be divided – I couldn’t tell you exactly how it all connects but it absolutely does. Had a brief chat about whether direction should be invisible with a friend today – in Schönheitsabend every thing is visible – it’s maximalist, like, it’s bombast, but there’s a hidden element to it. It’s immense and delicate and everywhere and unpindownable. It’s a goddamn experience guys, it’s a fuckin spectacle.
Oh there was a lot of smoke and mirrors and I was manipulated and they got right inside my head and fuck if it wasn’t ace.