Jo Tomalin

Reviews

Cal Performances Sasha Waltz Korper 1 Bernd Uhlig

Sasha Waltz & Guests: Körper

Pictured: Sasha Waltz & Guests performs Körper Saturday–Sunday, October 20–21, 2018 in Zellerbach Hall. (credit: Bernd Uhlig)

Pictured: Sasha Waltz & Guests performs Körper Saturday–Sunday, October 20–21, 2018 in Zellerbach Hall.
(credit: Bernd Uhlig)

Sasha Waltz & Guests presented Körper, October 20-21, 2018 produced by Cal Performances as part of their Women’s Work thematic strand of the Berkley RADICAL series.

Körper means bodies in german and Waltz created the show in 2000 when she was the first female artistic director of the Schaubühne Theater, Berlin. Waltz choreographed and directs this tanztheater / dance theatre piece, which is an exploration of the human body in movement, it’s material substance, and more. Performed by a company of thirteen male and female dancers Waltz incorporates abstract imagery, science, architecture, spoken word and a masterful use of space to tell this story.

Pictured: Sasha Waltz & Guests performs Körper Saturday–Sunday, October 20–21, 2018 in Zellerbach Hall.
(credit: Bernd Uhlig)

All aspects of the body – whether muscular or liquid – are on the stage and they transition through a series of these themes, in provocative and unexpected scenes.

On an all black set, a very high wide wall with a window is placed centre stage – this wall unlocks its secrets starting with small shadow and light play. This is fascinating and after a while, an arm or a leg protrude through the wall, which piques the imagination and we are compelled to go on this journey. Set to music by Hans Peter Kuhn, the dancers shift from imagery that is real, strange, athletic, rhythmic and is suggestive of things that happened decades ago.

The choreography and dance sequences by Waltz are muscular, visceral, low gravity and strong, with an especially vigorous opening section. Hollow sounds at some points bring a disturbing feeling and later writhing movement of several bodies in a vertical frame is beautiful and surreal. This latter dramatic image is one of the most memorable and evocative of the performance – it’s breathtaking and even haunting, when bodies seem to be magically suspended in space. This and many images in the large space are sculpted by superb lighting by Valentin Gallé and Martin Hauk.

Stylistic costumes by Bernd Skodzig range from dark suits, robes, stylish cocktail dresses, to white underwear. Also, several well chosen props enhance the scenes about the body – especially the one about the vertebra!

Several performers speak short monologues about their body, in one a woman alludes to her feeling that she is inside another body, then another traces the length of her body in chalk on the wall. The scenes in Körper are abstract to literal and include metaphor and symbolism to convey layers of meaning. Interpretations of moments of this visual piece are sometimes chilling, curious, humorous, emotional, surprising and daring. Staged by Thomas Schenk, Heike Schuppelius and Sasha Waltz, Körper is a feast for the senses, sometimes dark, sometimes thrilling – and is relevant. Highly recommended!

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Jo Tomalin, Ph.D. reviews Dance, Theatre & Physical Theatre Performances
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