Diva - Eine Stadt Tanzt (City Dance)
Opera House, Halle (Germany) - 15th/16th February 2020
A city is dancing! Anyone between the ages of 14 and 80 can take part in this performance: with the choreographers Be and Mevlana van Vark from Tänzer ohne Grenzen e.V. (dance without borders) to create a contemporary dance piece.
All you need is a camera and some colour to create art.
It is difficult to describe the performance of Diva – Eine Stadt Tanzt, is it dance, is it theatre? On reflection I am still not sure but whatever it was - I loved it.
In the unique setting of the Halle Oper Haus the audience were separated from the performers by a gauze netting, onto which a film was projected of various locations throughout the city, from grand to derelict. The dancers, draped in every colour imaginable, then intertwined themselves with a video to give a multi layered production, showing the abstract in the everyday.
There were more than a hundred participants working together as one body with no one standing out, each bringing an individual movement to the picture. There were no auditions for this production – anyone with the willingness to commit and to create was welcome. This is an act of inclusivity that I wish we saw more of in theatre. Of course, it is not always practical, but it results in an all-embracing feeling of togetherness. Proving that anyone can create, and anyone can enjoy.
Due to this it was a thoroughly relaxed audience environment, even within the traditional setting of the Oper Haus. There was no dictating how the audience should respond to the sketches and consequently, looking around, I could see that each audience member was experiencing singular and personal reactions. The show inspired everyone – so much so that it received a standing ovation at the premiere.
One of the highlights for me was the segment involving security cameras. The video was of a supermarket entrance but viewed through a security camera. Some performers then proceeded to dance and move while looking directly at the camera, much to the surprise of some everyday shoppers. This was both hilarious and provoking, because of the negative connotations usually associated with security camera footage. At this moment I had to suppress the feeling to get up and join in. What are we all waiting for?
Sometimes it feels as though theatre is too highly strung – too much at risk. This production has enlightened me, enabling me to recognise what can happen when people come together to create art. When this is their sole objective, nothing else. I loved it. I loved it because I didn’t really know why I was watching it, but to lose yourself in the dancing, the music and your own thoughts was utterly enchanting.
I am a complete outsider in Halle and yet I felt welcome here and part of something bigger. This remarkable production demonstrates that it doesn’t take much to bring some colour to normality and to bring people together in the name of art.
Tänzer ohne Grenzen is an amazing company with dance projects bringing people together all over the world. Check it out - see link below.
Tänzer ohne Grenzen e.V.(dance without borders)