German choreographer brings Holocaust-inspired piece to Korea

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German choreographer brings Holocaust-inspired piece to Korea

The birth of Sasha Waltz’s son was the impetus for a dance trilogy that would win rave reviews around the world.
Waltz has been called the most significant choreographer to come out of Germany since Pina Bausch. She sees dancers as sculptures, and the works she creates as exhibitions.
Watching her son grow, his body constantly changing, Waltz began to dissect the process intellectually. Veering just slightly away from her usual focus on human interaction, she created “Body,” “S” and “noBody.”
Waltz is bringing the first of the trilogy, “Body,” or “Korper,” to Korea for performances at LG Arts Center through Sunday.
At a press conference earlier this week, she spoke lucidly about dancing in the Jewish Museum in Berlin, about Pina Bausch and about her approach to presenting dance.
“Korper” is dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust. It features a dozen nearly bare bodies, offered up to the audience like specimens under glass. The piece’s origins are in Waltz’s experience working in the Jewish Museum, which was designed by Daniel Liebeskind.
When the museum first opened in 1999, the interior of the concrete, steel and zinc building was nearly bare. The effect, she says, was completely disorienting. The audacious choice referenced the absence of Jewish culture during Hitler’s reign. It was in this physical and powerful psychic space that, over six weeks, Waltz presented several dance sketches.
The experience lingered, she says, and lent itself to the creation of “Korper” in 2000. Despite the profoundly serious topic, and the savage score by Peter Kuhn, she dared to introduce elements of humor.
The second piece in the trilogy, “S,” examines sex. “noBody,” which ends the trilogy, draws upon death. “There was so much to say about the body,” she says. “I could not pour it into one dance, but divided it into three.”
Although based in Germany and often compared to Pina Bausch, Waltz draws on American postmodern aesthetics.
She is quite adamant that while she respects and has seen many of Bausch’s works, “our styles are different.”
While Waltz did study under Waltraud Kornhaas, a pupil of Mary Wigman and the founder of the German expressionist dance theater with which Bausch is associated, Waltz left Germany to study dance. After attending the School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam, she went to New York.
She cites the free expression of Steve Paxton and Trisha Brown, both American, as major influences.
She says that staging performan-ces is a way of having a dialogue not only with her dancers, but with the audience. “I don’t want people just to feel happy after watching a performance, but to think, feel and question what I question,” she said.

by Joe Yong-hee

Tickets are 30,000 to 70,000 won. Performances are at 8 p.m. tonight and 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit the Web site or call (02) 2005-0114.
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