Conversation between Luiz de Abreu and Kerstin Schroth

“Reality has adapted to this piece”

A conversation between Luiz de Abreu and Kerstin Schroth with the oral translation and transcription help of Calixto Neto.

I have seen your piece O Samba do Crioulo Doido the first time in Berlin in 2004. Could you share your thoughts behind the piece and how the idea to create this stage work back then was born? As much as your thoughts and the urgency to re-stage the work again in 2020.

What is behind the creation of the choreography of O Samba do Crioulo Doido are issues that I have reflected on since the mid-1980s. I am a black dance artist who has always been inside the context of white dance. This is the history of contemporary and modern dance in Brazil: it has always been connected to a white and intellectual elite. Black people rarely have the power of creation, the power of voice within groups and companies. The black body was always used to speak about white themes in choreographies. Therefore, Samba, in fact, is a synthesis of the reflections that I have been putting myself since the mid-1980s: about the black body in this world.

The play revolves around issues of race, gender, and the place of the black body in the contemporary scene. I felt that the changes that Brazil had been undergoing at that time, in the early 2000s, with the resumption and a new opening of Brazilian democracy, with a left-wing party in power, influenced some sectors of society. Regarding feminism, gender issues, LGBTQIA+, questions around blackness and the black movements. However, in the field of dance, I did not feel these same concerns because the black body is almost invisible in the contemporary Brazilian dance scene. So I started to make these reflections and create a black aesthetic discourse almost alone in that context. I started borrowing from other areas of knowledge the problematizations of the black body: in philosophy, in sociology, in the everyday world, in political movements. Because I was unable to build and maintain a dialogue regarding black aesthetics in the dance of that time.

Therefore, behind the creation of O Samba do Crioulo Doido are the concerns that Brazil was experiencing at that time, the desire for democracy, the construction of black speech, female speech, gay speech and black woman speech, that at that time didn’t even exist. Neither the black woman nor the black man on stage. Brazil as the background – the setting is the flag of Brazil – and the one who tells this story or who reflects and problematizes this story is the black body. I summarize in a simple sentence the urgency to present this show sixteen years later: reality adapts to a dance choreography, not the other way around. And sixteen years later, this piece still manages to problematize and question the different issues of the black body in the world, as much as the historical issues of Brazil, the question of racism, and the question of the place the black body takes in the society. The same flag that sixteen years ago was our redemption and our glory and our desire for democracy, for the construction of voices coming from women, homosexuals, and black people, it is the same flag which sixteen years later oppresses us. It is the flag that sends women back to the kitchen and black people to the lowest jobs, the flag that legitimizes the genocide of a black population and sends gays back to the closet or for a gay cure. And at the end, back to the colony.

How was it for you to transmit your material to another dancer/ choreographer, to re-work your piece together with Calixto Neto? Did the material change or is it exactly the same piece?

O Samba do Crioulo Doido is today for me no longer a dance choreography. I see this piece as a bedside book to which I always go back to and discover other things that are written there. The piece today serves as a background for me to develop other works. There are many things, many concepts within O Samba do Crioulo Doido, that I have not yet developed and that I start to develop in other works, in other writings. Therefore, the idea of transmitting this piece started in the early 2000s, when I put together a version of the show for ten black dancers from Salvador. The show was renamed O Samba do Crioulo Doido – Bahia version. The idea at that time was to have an aesthetic discussion involving ten dancers regarding the black body. In another context, as the original show was created with me alone within the São Paulo environment. The main idea was to develop the themes from the perspective of each dancer, how each one of them related to the themes in the piece. In other words, the final product of each dancer would be personal. I was not interested at that point in working from my original, samba solo, but only to use it as a driving force: ideas that motivate the creation of a show that talks about the black body.

In 2015, I thought about stopping performing O Samba do Crioulo Doido, which I performed for twelve uninterrupted years. Naturally, I started not to want to present it anymore. But people requested to see the piece again, perhaps due to the changing political scenario starting in 2015/ 2016, the democratic backlash Brazil faced. In this time, I started the process of transmitting the piece to another dancer, to Pedro Ivo Santos, who had danced in the group version in Salvador. We did three presentations. This was a first experience. Finally, at the end of 2019 I received the proposal to work with Calixto Neto. I accepted this offer driven by the idea of how to transmit a piece that is so personal to another body. We started working together. In addition, that moment coincided with my loss of vision. I lost my vision at the end of 2018 and started this work of transmitting O Samba do Crioulo Doido with Calixto in 2019, only a year later.

One of the first questions was: how am I going to transmit a dance piece that is movement based to another dancer? We thought of assistance and had help from people who served as my eyes. But I started asking myself, how could I be more present during this transmission? It could be by touch. This was a very important discovery. The whole process stopped being only a work of transmission, but addressed the question: how can a blind person develop work with movement and image? It opened many doors. This work of transmission with Calixto Neto was only possible because he is a dancer and choreographer who gave space for us to work from sharing of ideas. The work did not have much of a hierarchy between the creator and the performer, but it was a shared process. Despite being a new generation, being a young dancer, he has a lot of dance experience. Because he was born in a dance cradle that is the state of Pernambuco, which is culturally very rich, his family comes from dance, his mother was a dancer, and participated in very important professional groups. And he also begins to develop his personal work that questions and problematizes the black body. For me, the most important thing to share in a creation with a dancer/ choreographer today, is of course the question of the movement, but also and foremost I am interested in the way the person is thinking and questioning our world. In that sense, it was a joy for me to meet Calixto because it was a very rich and very equal dialogue, from which we both learned. During the process we said a lot that it was not just a transmission of movements, but a transmission of life, and that we are both learning from it.

The work with Calixto Neto was different from the one with the Bahia group. With that group we took my solo and simply tried to re-create it with the group. But this is impossible! From the moment the movements leave my body environment, the body of Luiz de Abreu who has created this environment, with this muscular memory of Luiz de Abreu and pass it on to Calixto Neto, the body environment of Calixto Neto, the muscle memory of Calixto Neto, it becomes something else! It will never be the same!

When it leaves one environment and goes to another, it is no longer the same. It opens the question of life itself, of generations. Because this is a transmission of knowledge of generations, it is a generational encounter: me transmitting knowledge to him and he transmitting knowledge to me. Both of us learning, two black men, but coming from different backgrounds. It is a dialogical relationship of listening, of understanding the context of one and the other, in a transatlantic diasporic dynamic that is found in O Samba do Crioulo Doido.

Your piece has been shown in Brazil and Europe over the years, could you speak about the reception this work has gotten both in 2004 and 2020, from different audiences?

Today in Brazil, the reception of pieces has become more controversial again, this can maybe be said even for the entire planet. I feel that nowadays, theater or festival directors are especially looking for shows that cause a certain controversy. It seems to me that there is a specific criterion to invite and present pieces these days. I see political questions and activism turned into a product for the market by this. O Samba do Crioulo Doido will only be invited if it responds to a certain type of controversy, and it will of course also suffer from censorship by organizers. The piece can be controversial, but to some extent, it cannot change structures or the institutions that are inviting this piece, nor political structures of a state on a higher level. Naturally, in the sixteen years of its existence, O Samba do Crioulo Doido was often punished, although most of its presentations happened under a left-wing government. But the punishment and rejection took place in environments with strong reactionary currents.

As an example: in 2000, I showed O Samba do Crioulo Doido in Serra da Capivara, an archaeological site in the state of Piauí, Brazil, an area protected by the army. In that presentation, officers from the army were present, people from the military police, deputies, city councilors and mayors from that region, as well as known representatives of the evangelical church and the governor of the state Wellington Dias from the left-wing party PT.

At first, the organizers wanted to prevent me from performing, asked me to cut out a scene from the piece. I did not remove the scene and presented the solo as I created it in front of these people. Well, it was the perfect setting for a great tragedy. I had to run from the city, escorted to Teresina, the state capital. All of this, with many negotiations with the governor, with the politicians of the time so that I would not be arrested. … in short, I took a big life risk presenting the piece in this rather strong reactionary environment. I tell this story to show you how controversial this piece has always been received and strongly rejected, while I was threatened. Only at that time, we (the black community) did not have the exposure that we have today. In fact, the point is, that controversy was not in fashion and was not being co-opted by the market. As in any political movement, the market co-opts them and turns them into products.

Today I feel that audiences are thrilled to see O Samba do Crioulo Doido. And it is a bit scary, because I imagined when I created it that in ten or twenty years the solo and its themes would have become obsolete. That it would have become an outdated piece, that it would no longer be able to answer the questions of the current time. Moreover, it is frightening to imagine – and I repeat again – how reality has adapted to this piece. And in a very powerful, exponential way. In Paris where the recreation of the piece was presented now in March, one of the spectators expressed her horror about how actual and present the questions from sixteen years ago are still today.

And Calixto is still taking the same risk as me back then in Serra da Capivara, with his body exposed. In Brazil today, I cannot present this piece, because organizers are hiring controversial shows, but only to a certain extent. Pieces are only invited as long as they do not interfere too much with the current structures. In this most reactionary phase in Brazil, which began after the coup of 2016 and escalated after Bolsonaro came to power, O Samba do Crioulo Doido was only shown three times. Now the doors for this piece in Brazil are closed, under the current circumstances. Especially because it is the naked body of a black man talking, who has been censored since he was born. So actually, no big surprise! This black body has been censored since birth; censorship is our daily life. Censorship has become a national affair today, because it has affected whites, blacks, privileged and non-privileged people. That is why it got in everyone’s agenda and only then became a national issue. In a sense, it has democratized Brazilian misfortune.

Conversation between Sheena McGrandles and Kerstin Schroth

“What brings this slap stick element is the insistence on the same trajectory, but through getting stuck, rewinding, a particular humor arises.”

A written conversation between Sheena McGrandles and Kerstin Schroth.

FIGURED was premiered in 2018 and is part of a series of pieces on radical temporalities and illogical intimacies. Could you elaborate more about the thinking and starting points behind this series that consists of several other pieces?

My interest in temporalities came out of reflecting on works that I was seeing around me during 2016–2017, as an audience I felt I was in a series of youtube videos, 3 mins of this, 4 mins of that. I was observing how our relations to technology in terms of knowledge production (youtube tutorials) and how we spend time with things and ideas was becoming more dispersed and faster. In my work BOUNTY which unfolded over 4 hours performed at Tanznacht Berlin 2016 with Claire Vivianne Sobottke, I started to work with slow movement as a main quality of choreography. It became a way to slow down but to start to analyze movement which opened up a new aspect of my research on the spaces and situations that appear between movement. I was curious how the performance of times allowed hidden and ambiguous scenarios to emerge. This brought me to the work FIGURED with Annegret Schalke which is based on a 10 second sequence across a wall which I hyper edit and break down. I was interested to adopt and learn video editing techniques on the body as a further analysis, how to fast forward, rewind, get stuck, etc. Every step could be broken down into multiple frames, which meant we needed to create a choreographic notation to be able to count on 3 different levels of movement. This is one of my most technical works so far and insists on its limitations but through this I feel a lot of humor arises from the constant variations of back and forth and appearing/disappearing behind the wall. In February of this year I premiered FLUSH a trio with Annegret Schalke and Ewa Dziarnowska, which brings together the slow and the hyper edited body. In FLUSH I was interested to work with Gertrude Stein’s understanding of landscape plays as a way to look at temporally, meaning making and relations. I brought in newer elements with text and song in which I learnt how to create an analogue vocal looper, and worked with generating text from found internet / social media material. This created a particular poetic artificiality that focused on the dailyness of movement which fluctuated between the mundane and spectacle.

The chipboard wall is a recurring element in your stage work. In FIGURED, you build almost a slapstick and at the same time also a poetic relation between the bodies and the wall. Could you speak about this a bit more?

Each work in the series consist of a wall, BOUNTY, in the shape of a corner, FIGURED, a long flat wall, and FLUSH, a wall that is constructed of different elements that disintegrates into moving landscape. I am trying to track my interest in walls, I wonder if its connected to growing up in Northern Ireland where communities are still divided by walls, and or my passion for DIY stores and raw materials. Either way they have become the basis for all my works over the last years, becoming backdrop, chorographical devise, canvas, landscape etc. I am fascinated by the simplicity, everydayness of the material and at the same time how their texture can become elevated and complex through the space of the theatre and light. They are the main choreographic input, every step, glance and gesture is built around and with them, over the course of the years we have developed and intimate and understanding relation. Regarding FIGURED, I was very conscious about the space of appearance and disappearance, and how that in itself can be quite funny, when some appears or disappears. Although in FIGURED I was not busy with making each appearance more funnier than the last, I think it’s more about, oh here they come again! What brings this slap stick element is the insistence on the same trajectory, but through getting stuck, rewinding, a particular humor arises. It is what lies in between each gesture where the poetics happen, a constant second look, a re-doing exposing what was there before but only that it looked so different from the time before. The wall then becomes all sorts of contexts, from street corner, to cruising, to chase, to an attack, an affair.. it brings a multiplicity of meanings and situations, never resting in one narration or understanding.

What was your experience of time during the lockdown in Berlin?

I have had a very particular lockdown experience, as my wife gave birth to our son in June. It was an intense time reflecting on what it means to bring a child into the world in the middle of the pandemic, wondering what the future looks like and if we can at all think about a future in the far off sense. Until recently I have been consumed with supporting this new life and tried to create bubbles with identified family in the city. I am in a privileged situation where I have a home that is safe and currently have funding. In the meantime I have been with others trying to work towards setting up emotional support practices within the scene, and also rethinking about how some of the art spaces I am involved in collectively can be more of a resource to the community. I try to reimagine what the field of dance can look like without touring and how to build more sustainable structures to continue what we do. I have never been more in the moment, as tomorrows plans can always look different, and giving my mum work out classes over FaceTime have been my biggest anchor in these times.

Conversation between Barbara Matijević and Kerstin Schroth

“At this point in history, it feels like our minds and bodies are in the process of developing a new kind of sensory language in response to digital proximity.”

A written conversation between Barbara Matijević and Kerstin Schroth 

In Forecasting you switch around the established notion of the laptop being the prolongation of our body. How do you see in your work the relation between this object and the body?

Another established notion is that our neurological processes have changed due to digital revolution. People today are sophisticated enough to make quite large leaps of cognition from small amounts of information, yet theatre performances rarely feel as if they were made for the information age. With Forecasting, we wanted to challenge this.

The show is based on a tension between the images of the bodies on the screen and my own, physically present body on the stage. The spectator is forced to rapidly switch between these two different registers of perception, between these two different spatial and temporal coordinates. This is what we naturally do when we surf the internet in our living room, but what happens when this occurs on a theatre stage and we experience it collectively? It’s about finding a form that fits the modern age, about diving into contemporary narratives in a modular form. One might call it narrative surfing. It might be seen as the modern form of epic theatre.

What does the Web represent for you?

In our work as artists, we use the Web as a storage of humanity’s stories and artefacts, like a never-ending museum without walls, in which the only ticket to pay is the one to stay connected.

To make our shows, we act like curators, handpicking items and arranging them into new relationships.

We use theatre as a place for decoding how the all-pervasive presence of the web is changing us, a place in which it is possible to take a step back and collectively observe the new stories, metaphors and ways of being in the world that emerge as the result of our online immersion.

Forecasting has become even more actual during the continuing pandemic we are going through. During the lockdown, almost everybody was left with the fact that nearly all interaction with other people happened via the virtual world. What did this period of physical distancing create in you and your work?

It confirmed my belief that online communication, apart from creating various kinds of problems, is also capable of creating a new kind of proximity, a different kind of intimacy.

I think that during the lockdown, many people discovered just how much is possible to convey through a screen.

Many times in our online research we have been overwhelmed by the raw, direct emotions coming from videos posted by people sharing some experience in their life, be it a struggle with an illness, with an ideology or with some DIY project.

People enjoy connecting to a field much larger than their immediate surroundings and benefiting from the feedback of anonymous users worldwide.

This kind of intimate sharing with complete strangers on the internet has often been the trigger for our work, because it is similar to the relationship between theatre makers and their audience.

At this point in history, it feels like our minds and bodies are in the process of developing a new kind of sensory language in response to digital proximity.

Conversation Between Nada & Co. (Nada Gambier and Mark Etchells) and Kerstin Schroth

“Europe for me contains the people and all that richness and diversity and history that colors who we are.”

A written conversation between Nada & Co. (Nada Gambier and Mark Etchells) and Kerstin Schroth.

For your project The Voice of a City you travelled together through Europe between 2015–2018, encountering a wide range of local inhabitants in different cities. How was this project born?

Nada Gambier: In fact, the project officially only started in 2017 but the idea was born in 2015 during a residency in Zagreb, Croatia. We were working on another two-year project and came to Zagreb with already quite an overload of things done in previous sections of the process and a frustration of always travelling to work but never actually taking into account WHERE we were, the place within which our work was taking shape. We decided to spend our three weeks in Zagreb to get to know the city and its people and create from there. It was a very pleasurable process and gave birth to some very interesting writing and a cool performative reading, I thought were too good to leave at that. Some other work came in between and it took us quite some time to set up everything and find funding for the project. But eventually, in April 2017, we picked up the thread by going to Tbilisi, Georgia. By now, we have officially left the process but it stays with me as something very precious and quite addictive. New projects are now taking my attention but I do dream of picking up this thread again sometime, somewhere in the future.

Mark Etchells: Zagreb was a new city for me personally, although I had worked in the Balkans region before, but always in Serbia and Bosnia, with a brief airport trip to Split back in ‘96. It was another piece of the region’s jigsaw for me, and it was exciting to learn a city and the people by a natural and specific immersion process, rather than picking up little bits here and there while doing other work. It was quite a revelationary experience to just take everything and everybody in and then try and filter out a specific form and direction with what we were picking up daily.

The project consists of three elements, a performance for eighteen spectators at a time, an exhibition and a book. Could you tell about the choice to present the project in these three ways?

Nada Gambier: We began working knowing that we wanted to collect a maximum of impressions, traces, materials and end up with a huge archive of stuff that somehow would all want to be made public. I had a feeling that a performance might not be the right format for all of it and that maybe it would make sense to divide our attention on different ways of reaching an audience and sharing the experience with others. Now, the different works work together but also apart as they each bring in another perspective of what we did. The book for instance is the most direct trace of the people’s stories whereas the exhibition brings in fiction as an alternative to talk about what we observed. In the process, we also engaged in other ways of sharing. Since 2014 I have been working on blurring the contours of the different phases we work with in performance, namely research, creation and then presentation. I think it is more interesting and these days more relevant to open that up and so also with this project we included sharing at odd intervals as a way to keep it dynamic and alive. We did a couple of writing workshops that included blind-dates where the participants got to meet someone local in a one to one conversation. We also did a performance with children in Budapest based on testimonies from locals there and we have a participatory version of the performance. The end presentations were never more important than the process to get there and ideally we would still be focusing on encounters and all public presentations would continue to evolve.

Mark Etchells: The archive of material that we gathered was vast. We were recording audio, filming, photographing, transcribing meetings and writing creatively. The sheer volume of material lent itself to being used in a variety of formats. It was soon obvious to us that some elements of the archive were more suited to being represented in a particular way, some things performatively, other things better as the written word, or indeed as part of an exhibition. I believe by seeing the performance alongside the exhibition it gives the visitor a fuller experience of what we were doing and how we came to represent the work in these ways. The book is really the icing on the cake in terms of being a more exact, though still slightly abstract, representation of just what we were doing.

When you look at Europe and the European idea, what do you see, especially after a project like the one you made, and during the global pandemic we are now going through?

Nada Gambier: That’s a huge question and a very complex one. Mark and I sometimes fight about this because for me Europe is the continent but nowadays people talk about Europe when they refer to the EU. I think the EU is very problematic as it relies so heavily on economy and continually fails to take into account cultural differences and how that influences everything else. It is as if bureaucracy somehow is supposed to even things out but in reality that’s not how things work.

Paradoxically, during our travels, we encountered a lot of similarities between people everywhere. The idea of borders as something solid became a very silly notion. In all places we’ve been to people struggle with similar issues and enjoy similar things. It is kind of obvious of course but I think I didn’t expect to what extent that would be visible and tangible. I think what makes people think differently and behave different from one place to another is history and how they have been shaped, as a culture, as a society and as individuals by the past. However, as we try to show in our performance, there are also similarities there. For instance, we all have links to immigration and our roots are spread.

Now with the Covid response and negotiations in the EU I think we are facing a very difficult period. We all remember what happened in Greece a couple of years back (the Greeks we met were all still paying the price of that) and do not want to see that happening again. It was a failure on all sides. This is a real test of what the EU claims to be. Will it remain or has it already started crumbling? Did Brexit start an avalanche of cracks in the system that we are now witnessing come to the surface also in other issues? Is this the beginning of the end or the beginning of something new and better? I guess it is too early to say. But again, here I am talking about the EU when in fact I prefer to look at Europe. Europe for me contains the people and all that richness and diversity and history that colors who we are. I’d like to think that what we encountered, the humanity, generosity and curiosity, is stronger than anything else but I am not a politician nor do I work in politics.

Mark Etchells: Indeed, that’s a biggie ! And yes, Nada and I do tend to be different in our interpretation of Europe. For the record, I am completely pro the European idea in whatever way it manifests itself as an organized unit of Nations.

Our differing interpretations of Europe stems from my geographical view of a European land mass with the various nations sharing land borders. As an islander from the UK I do see “Europe” as something I’m happy to be part of, though feel slightly removed from somehow. Not in any kind of arrogant way, just a geographical way. After all, the population of the UK is made up of Angles and Saxons, Danes and Norwegians, Picts and Celts, and of course the French, plus numerous other cultures from around the globe. In actual fact, a glorious mix of races and cultures of which I’m immensely proud of. The idea of nationalism from people of such mixed international heritage to me is laughable. We are a mongrel breed, and I’m super happy to be just that.

Through the work and travels and meeting people in the various locations you get an incredible sense of just how much we are the same. There were tales of conflict, migration, economic hardship, and love and laughter, we share such a rich and varied personal and national heritage that goes beyond land borders and nation states.

It was the similarities between us all that struck me. Maybe this is obvious, but it really became evident because of the immersive process and the way we built relationships, mostly in a very personal way, that brought this feeling to the fore.

There are a lot of us out here and out there in many nations that recognize and appreciate our shared history and heritage, but not enough. Austerity leads to Xenophobia and Nationalism, and as Europe as a whole struggles along with its boom and bust rollercoaster of capitalism, this is happening again.

It’s a very complex situation….and maybe this isn’t the place to go on!!

The current pandemic has been challenging to say the least. Tit for tat border closures, Governmental incompetence, shameless opportunism, and an ill-educated public haven’t made it any easier.

The EU as an organization isn’t without its faults, but it is at least better than a fragmented bunch of nations all arguing with no one direction. We saw that we are really pretty much the same, but with glorious and beautiful differences, and we should stay together and be educated to recognize this.

An invitation: Invisible actions to support the social

Gravity impacts every movement in the… in the sense that it leads movement to the ground. And so, even in the walk when you have a shift from one balance to another, you have a very very quick interval between when gravity, um, pulls you down, and when gravity pulls you down again. In that interval there’s potential – potential to… to move in… in an infinite number of directions. But in a brief infinity, right? …

philosopher Erin Manning verbally describing her tango lessons and moving with a partner in an episode by The Funambulist Podcast

Hi, dear audience, dear friends, dear colleagues,

I’m Pietari Kärki and I use the artist name Pie Kär. I am happy to be called both. I am a freelance artist and right now I am working for Moving in November, thinking about the social aspect of the festival in dialogue with our artistic director Kerstin Schroth. We chose to call what I do dramaturgy for social choreography – for this year’s expanded festival Traces in/ from November.

The collaboration between Kerstin and I was found in dialogue situated in the lobby of Stoa, as two audience-members at the Moving in November Festival 2019. Kerstin walked around in the crowd, talking to people who were available: “Hi I’m Kerstin, I’m new here. I will be the next artistic director of this festival. How is the dance scene? How do you experience this festival?” Seldom had I been presented these questions during the five years I had lived in Helsinki at that point. This marked a sudden shift in my perspective to the festival and the local art scene. I arrived. I shifted from viewing the festival scene over there to inspecting it from here. Simply: inviting me to share my perspective made me feel that my perspective is important, that I am here, and that my perspective is one where agency can emerge from. In my case, it took a newcomer to help me arrive, or an outsider to invite me in. It was then when I became local in Helsinki, someone who sees themselves as having enough insight to act around here. I was invited to invite.

We spoke about how people place themselves in the lobby space, how the architecture of the space affects us and what kinds of hidden rules we assumed there to be. Who can speak to whom? Who is welcomed to welcome? We spoke about time and messiness. It became an excited dialogue! Some months later Kerstin invited me to continue this dialogue towards actions, and I joined the festival team to work on a plan we have titled Invisible actions to support the social.

Our plan accumulates from questions born in the lobbies of theaters. How to playfully affect the sense of time and the use of space in all these lobbies? How to ignite a play that can be perceived as an invitation by both the contemporary dance audience and the passers-by at all these venues?

On behalf of our festival team, I invite you to greet across the lobby. I insist on noticing the intersectionality of these venues. People passing through these spaces daily: some are going to the library at Stoa, some charging their phones at Caisa, some going to a hobby at the Cable Factory, some navigating a festival program, all moving in November with intersecting paths. What if the festive comes just as much from the beauty of those encounters as from the ones that take place in black boxes? I invite the festival audience to greet passers-by. And why not to stop by to stand by, when so invited, and to ask: “how do you experience this scene, this place at this time?”

The festival opens on November 5th in Caisa with a living-room-like setting. You can pass by, come and go and stay a while. Caisa will host two ongoing dialogue concepts and two art pieces.

Lastly, I would like to introduce the festival elastics. Each festival-goer will be given a hoop of elastic. Each elastic is measured so that when two people hoop one another with one, they are at the safety distance from one another, yet in physical contact. A contact that can get playful, but maintains a layer of the urgency this time poses on distances and closenesses. Each elastic also comes with a short manual, and very possibly you might spot other hints too.

The rest of the invisible actions to support the social I will keep to myself for now and they can be encountered at the festival. I wish you a festive, playful, safe and accumulatively inviting November, wherever you might move!

Warmth and winky grins,

Pie Kär

(they/them, hän)

Now, the focus is on you. Traces in November. Moving in November.

During the lockdown between March and May and after the first wave of virtual performances and having become one of many faces on platforms like zoom, skype, hangout a deep craving manifested itself. A desire to leave the virtual space, to grow a body again, arms, legs and feet and to come back to live encounters with friends and family, but also to be back in the theater.

We have adapted our plans, the festival spills over in time and space. Half of the original planned program happens now on 5th to 15th of November, as Traces in November, the other half will happen as Traces from November in the first half of 2021. But most importantly, we are now able to invite you to share festive moments with us.

The festival as a meeting place, dedicated to conversations and exchange, highlighting the importance of the live encounter. The significance for artists to be able to work and present and to engage with audience.

Not everything can happen as planned, but still many things are possible. The virus makes us re-think reality, it points at all the fragile sides of our society. It brings out insecurity and fear and asks us to deal with the unknown, the uncontrollable, to handle a certain emptiness that can’t always be filled immediately. Art and artists can help us to re-think our reality, to reflect and look at the word that we inhabit in another way, to drop out of this reality, to spend time together. And we do the rest and take good care of your safety while you are with us.

During this November program, you are welcome in the theater and to stay home and to enjoy a piece, entirely conceived for the virtual space. You are invited to have a soup and artist talks, to see movies and to sharpen your gaze and engage in the poetics of observation a workshop/ introduction while watching contemporary dance.

The festival opens on the 5th with the piece Talking in the rain by Reality Research Center, Ferske Scener & Western Norway Research Institute that you can watch at home and with the large scale installation work: THE SHOW MUST NOT GO ON by British artist Tim Etchells in front of the doors of Caisa. Inside our artistic director welcomes you over a period of five days with an open invitation, to meet and engage in conversations with her or to browse through the book The Voice of a City by Nada & Co. a hint to a piece we show later in the season.

Also in Caisa the discursive series Soup Talks, encounters with the festival artists, each hosted by a Helsinki based artists, welcome you from the 8th onwards. The movie Donna Haraway: Story Telling For Earthly Survival by Fabrizio Terranova closes this series on the 15th.

The program on stage begins with O Samba do crioulo doido by Luiz de Abreu, in combination with the movie O Samba do Crioulo Doido: Ruler and Compass by Calixto Neto on the 10th. On the same day Sonja Jokiniemi premiers her new groupwork ÖH, the this years’ coproduction between the festival and Zodiak.

These pieces are followed by Consul and Meshie by Antonia Baehr and Latifa Laâbissi in an visual installation by Nadia Lauro presented in Taidehalli and by an adaptation of Tribute, a piece originally made for nine dancers, now danced by the choreographer Frédéric Gies himself. Tribute – library version reflects the current situation and the difficulties artists and organizers face when presenting and touring works.

Take your time, sharpen your gaze and dive into the program together with us!
We wish you a good festival, great conversations and encounters.

Your Moving in November team


The Show is a large scale installation work by British artist Tim Etchells, the full text for which announces, in a bold playful imperative, THE SHOW MUST NOT GO ON. The work is at once a reference to the postponement of larger-audience theatre events during 2020 due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, and at the same time a striking, open call for social pause, critical reflection and political change. Etchells’ ambiguous provocative détournement of an upbeat English idiom ‘THE SHOW MUST GO ON’ becomes ‘THE SHOW MUST NOT GO ON’ – a simple linguistic reversal which creates complex new possible meanings.

“As the 2020 pandemic has devasted lives and economies, our models of human interaction, social structures and priorities have been called into question, albeit to different extents, and with different motivations in different international contexts. Such limited, temporary changes as there have been in these last months though, only serve to underscore the need for deeper, more permanent change. The year 2020 is not only the time in which Corona has amplified global and local injustices and inequalities, it’s also the time in which Black Lives Matter protesters have courageously demanded equality and justice for Black people, and in which the pressure on governments to address the climate crisis has continued with urgency and passion. The hasty return to ‘business as usual’ after periods of Corona lockdown, already effected across many countries, suits vested interests, whilst the possibilities of a pause, with its much needed revaluation of habitual thinking and practice, represents an opportunity we should not be afraid to embrace” Etchells says.

Tim Etchells

Tim Etchells is an artist and a writer based in the UK. He has worked in a wide variety of contexts, notably as leader of the world-renowned performance group Forced Entertainment and in collaboration with a range of visual artists, choreographers, and photographers. His work spans performance, video, photography, text projects, installation and fiction. He is currently Professor of Performance & Writing at Lancaster University.

Donna Haraway: Story Telling For Earthly Survival

Filmmaker Fabrizio Terranova visited Donna Haraway at her home in California for a few weeks, and there produced this quirky film portrait. Terranova allowed Haraway to speak in her own environment, using attractive staging that emphasized the playful, cerebral sensitivity of the scientist. The result is a rare, candid, intellectual portrait of a highly original thinker. Donna Haraway is a prominent scholar in the field of science and technology, a feminist, and a science-fiction enthusiast who works at building a bridge between science and fiction. She became known in the 1980s through her work on gender, identity, and technology, which broke with the prevailing trends and opened the door to a frank and cheerful trans species feminism. Haraway is a gifted storyteller who paints a rebellious and hopeful universe teeming with critters and trans species, in an era of disasters. The film has been an inspiration to artists Antonia Baehr and Latifa Laâbissi while they were working on the piece Consul and Meshie. They opened their process in the Soup Talk conversation right before the movie in Caisa on November 15th 2020.

Fabrizio Terranova

Fabrizio Terranova, who lives and works in Brussels, is a film-maker, activist, dramaturge, and teacher at the École de recherche graphique in Brussels, where he launched and co-runs the master’s program Narrations and experimentation/ Speculative narration. He is a founding member of DingDingDong – an institute to jointly improve knowledge about Huntington’s disease. He has published the article Les Enfants du compost in the joint publication Gestes spéculatifs (Les Presses du réel, 2015).