world premiere 1 march 2019, Atelierhaus der Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien // Vienna/AT
A Piece of Hope in the Apocalypse
First of all: “Da-nach” is a small but stunning production . . . and you shouldn’t miss it, because an Austrian dance production like this, which is so harmonious, clever and coherent, provided with great choreography and brilliant sound, first has to be searched for first. . . .
It is thanks to the creativity of Gudrun Lenk-Wane that the arte-povera props do not indicate a cheap production, but are used appropriately and repeatedly to cause amazement. . . .
The great thing about this production is that it is a total work of art. And it’s not one that flaunts this term on marketing banners. Stage, choreography and music, but also the dramaturgy of the story itself are convincing without any compromises. It is highly topical, but at the same time also of archaic force. In “Da-nach”, compulsive humanity is soberly confronted with a second, completely different side, which usually doesn’t occur at all in the current discourses on dystopia: namely, that of empathy, of joint action and willingness to help – which ultimately also contributes to the survival of the human species in this special context.
It may well also be this redeeming prospect of an everywhere predicted bleak future that makes this piece of contemporary dance so extremely impressive. Chapeau, chapeau and: thanks for that!
(Michaela Preiner, European Cultural News)
DANS.KIAS : Da-nach
Does humanity really need a catastrophe before it remembers its greatness? Do the seeds of humanity only germinate out of the ruins? In her most recent work, Saskia Hölbling draws an image of a person who, reduced to their bare existence, proves to be empathic, showing solidarity, a human being in the best sense of the word. Wonderfully performed and in perfect interplay with sound and light, “Da-nach” is a deeply humanistic work. Nietzsche had his Zarathustra demand: “Write me new tables, my brethren! New tables with new values!” Saskia Hölbling writes them.
(Rando Hannemann, Tanz.at)
Life in the Flotsam
Somewhere in nowhere, forgotten and alone, lost – and yet not lost: these are the figures in Saskia Hölbling’s one-hour dance piece “Da-nach”. . . . Wolfgang Mitterer, one of the most interesting Austrian composers, has written the musical backdrop that seems so dangerous, oppressive, exciting, but also always somehow familiar. . . .
Hölbling develops a set of figures who gropingly explore the new environment. . . . What succeeds in barely an hour is a skilfully made study of the human: together the excellent dancers create a dark but not hopeless atmosphere of forlornness. And create a unity in Hölbling’s design that captivates!
(Oliver Lang, Kronenzeitung)
Radically Achromatic: Saskia Hölbling’s Dance Work “Da-nach”
The world has tanked. But nevertheless, a few people were able to save themselves! In the new dance piece “Da-nach” [there-after] by Viennese choreographer Saskia Hölbling, they float on an unstable raft of junk on the wooden floor of a large room in the Semper depot. . . .
Perhaps the shock of the great downfall is too deep, perhaps the survivors had foreseen the (unnamed) event that drove them onto their raft. Anyway, now they have to get by without everything that was so incredibly important before. Because anything they possess besides their raft, they are wearing on their bodies as clothing. So they clamber around, on top of and over each other, in seemingly meaningless and aimless activity. Until they realise that, thrown together as a little group they at least have their community.
Hölbling refrains from blowing up the usual dramas from this miserable situation – so no fight, no knife, no shark with a mouth full of teeth. Only a patient searching and attempt to find somehow come together. . . .
The action on the raft is tenaciously carried through the waves of time by Wolfgang Mitterer’s vivid soundtrack. In the end, the audience saw the efforts of some people who do not seem to have anything special about them. In our present-day of gaudy stagings of the individual, it is precisely the dancers’ lack of colour in “Da-nach” that is a radical statement.
(Helmut Ploebst, Der Standard)
Surviving after the Catastrophe
What happens “Da-nach” [there-after]? A constant rebellion against external forces that lead to an energetic, straightforward and oppressed body language. . . .
What makes this choreography strong is that it directly conveys the search for one’s own position, of surviving on after an undefined catastrophe in which one is initially forced to concentrate on oneself. . . .
Body language is the only means of communication that remains intense and dense. . . . The emotional effect on the audience is enhanced by the brief, poignant appearance of the nine-year-old Oskar Mitterer, who integrates himself quickly and fully concentrated into this community of people on the run.
world premiere 1 march 2018, Atelierhaus der Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien // Vienna/AT
It is ordinary everyday objects that this time become the main actors in the performance: “Things”, the choreographer Saskia Hölbling’s new evening show in the Semperdepot, focuses on everything inconspicuous, from parasols to tyres. An eighty-minute spectacle with celebrated attentiveness. (…)
The Austrian composer Wolfgang Mitterer has underpinned all this with fragmentary music. Quotations from well-known works by Stravinsky to Tchaikovsky fly around one’s ears and then decay into small particles again. Finally: hearty applause! Karlheinz Roschitz
The stuff piled up on a dance floor forms an artistically arranged chaos. Hölbling and her four dancers, Ardan Hussain, Leonie Wahl, Jan Jakubal and Anna Hein, make no secret of the fact that they dominate this landscape of plastic tarpaulins, tubes, helmets, containers, suitcases, sacks etc (…)
Citizen Kane, as it turns out in Orson Welles’ 1941 film, became the messie in search of the symbol of his lost childhood happiness – a Rosebud-make sledge. A similar wooden sledge can also be found among Hölbling’s things. That may be an allusion to “Citizen Kane”. Especially since the beautiful opening scene of the work is bathed in a light that transforms the stage into an almost perfect black-and-white image and with Wolfgang Mitterer’s composition, which begins with this image, is reminiscent of film music. (…)
The poetic play can prevent them from being drawn by this vortex into the hades of depression.
Rag pickers become generals, who with their subjects set off on a procession and towards the end merge into a single organism – the boundaries between human and thing seem to be dissolved – at some point a symbiotic being of human and rubbish drifts through the room.
A space that once again seems to be made for dance productions.
world premiere 3 march 2017, Atelierhaus der Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien // Vienna/AT
Impressive premières by Saskia Hölbling in the Semper Depot
It’s a trap. Two men and two women become entangled in a a big net made of black threads, which a hidden arachnid has stretched across a wide, uncanny space. (…)
The hidden female spider is the key to this work, which alludes to the atrophy of the great networking enthusiasm of the last two and a half decades: as Hölbling writes on this work, it alludes to the “many egos between consumer oases and rubbish dumps” and to “the many in the quicksand between success and superfluity”. So it is to be assumed that the absent arachnid here stands for the what is secretly pulling the strings in our globalised network business and profiting from it. (…)
The figures in Hölbling’s web are clearly just attached, without yet being aware that they have been dumped. (…)
They cannot leave the net, because it is a fetish that numbs its inhabitants. Hölbling calls it “a little world machine”. Those suspended in it wear the black of this machine, which never allows them to gain their balance, that permits neither stopping nor calm and which suggests there is no outside.
With amazing ease and elegance, the four performers twist and tumble, crawl, clamber and lift themselves through the network. And literary references can be recognised in the process – involuntarily one recalls the Norns in Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, who pull on the threads of fate and spin networks. However, Hölbling does not conjure up the Wagnerian catastrophe, the tearing of the rope that heralds the end of the world. (…)
Wolfgang Mitterer, the prominent organist, electronic musician and composer, wrote the backing music: a rollercoaster of refined sounds, colours, instrumental tones and noises, an artistically designed, in itself reference-rich sound network for Hölbling’s staging and choreography.
Gudrun Lenk-Wane has built a little “world machine” in the atelier house of the Academy of Fine Art (better known as the Semper Depot). (…)
In brief instants of closeness Hölbling shows moments of mutual dependency, physical surrender. But the potential and perhaps actual security is repeatedly disrupted by new solo attempts in the rope labyrinth. But who, finally, stands right at the top? And who completely crashes to earth? Is there such a thing as solidarity?
These are questions that Hölbling poses in Corps suspendus, which her four excellent, black-clothed performers (Anna Hein, Ardan Hussain, Jan Jakubal, Leonie Wahl) attempt to answer, very acrobatically and constantly in new constellations. (…)
Close observation is called for. But anyone who engages themselves with Hölbling’s clear, structural language of form will be richly rewarded and can hang out really well between the ropes.
CORPS À CORPS
world premiere 25 feb. 2016, Odeon, Vienna/AT
With circling movements four dancers conquer the stage. The scenes condense. Human bodies and emaciated marionettes tangle with one another, become knotted, human rubbish heaps, a vibrating sculpture: In the Odeon, Saskia Hölbling is showing her new work Corps à Corps. (…)
Wolfgang Mitterer’s exciting compositional work, full of refined structures, sound colours and noises, condenses the images. Sometimes as if in a horror film. A scenery of haunting figures in a world inhaling death. Breathing mountains of the dead! Full of dark moments with the foreboding of horror.
But one can also only regard this dance in the light of Saskia Hölbling’s choreographic concept: as plays of movement that see their tensions from condensation and dissolving, from the counterpoles of human and non-human and the mutual influence. Exciting!
In the Odeon, with eight bodies, two female and two male dancers, four headless puppets clothed in white, Saskia Hölbling shows the individual sinking into the mass. Escape is hardly possible any longer; the mass repeatedly captures the individual again. With a strange new body language the choreographer conjures up beautiful, impressive images. Bodies in close combat.
It is not love when two people embrace, rub against each other in order to dismember limbs and attempt to rearrange them. The bodies of the dancers – Adriana Cubides, Leonie Wahl, Adrian Hussain and Jan Jakubal – move aggressively, almost desperately; they have their own movement canon but are still similar to one another, avatars of themselves. Resistance is attempted, but is hardly possible. (…)
Essential to this impressive (and also somewhat oppressive) performance is the music composed for it by Wolfgang Mitterer. Uncannily, it threatens, drives the dancers on and holds them up. In the four solos it appears as if they were fighting against the storm of electronic sounds. (…)
The audience in the full Odeon is impressed. The applause is intensive but restrained. Saskia Hölbling, whose Dans.Kias ensemble has existed for more than 20 years, repeatedly shows that she does not rest on her laurels.
After the three-part Squatting Project, with Corps à Corps, the double premiere of dance and music, she has reached a new level, and with her exceptional team has developed a movement canon never seen before.
Hölbling has drawn on two of her earlier works, Assemblage Humain, a solo with a puppet, which was shown at Impulstanz last year, and Body in a Metal Structure, created with the French artist Laurent Goldring in 2012. In Corps à Corps one white puppet has turned into four and the metal structure has become two scaffolds. On the stage, two women – excellent: Adrian Cubides – and two men confront two life-size limb figures.
The dance is an antipode to posthumanism; Saskia Hölbling builds on this too. In Corps à Corps the lamentation corresponding to the zeitgeist is far from the vulnerable and mortal bodies. (…)
In its second half the work becomes increasingly aimless. Possibly this is intentional. Because it may also be that the choreographer wishes to reflect the aimlessness and helplessness of human bodies in the face of themselves and their organisation. If this is correct, then Corps à Corps would be a successful statement that just does not present this confusion radically enough. The dance ends in giving up in the face of insoluble problems.
The music, which is convincing to the last second, comes from Wolfgang Mitterer, the puppets from Gudrun Lenk-Wane, and Gerald Pappenberger is responsible for the composed lighting that follows the rhythm of imminently threatening to go out.
BODIES IN TUBES
world premiere 10 oct 2014, Tanzquartier Wien, Vienna/AT
Two bodies attempt to stay inside rubble chutes that are closely linked to one another. As in their two previous works, "body in a metal structure" and "bodies (with)in fences", Hölbling here allows the uncanny to run its apparently abstract course. Again a framework from which the body cannot find its way out. But here the claustrophobia of our existence is most radically revealed: as bodies that are now only the debris of the systems that govern them.
"bodies in tubes", the new work by Saskia Hölbling in the Tanzquartier, is at the same time the completion of the “Squatting Projects” series, which was produced in collaboration with Laurent Goldring.
The projects address the relationship between bodies and urban space. This time there is an installation with rubble chutes by Goldring and Gudrun Lenk-Wane on the stage. In the half darkness the choreography is only vaguely discernable. Hölbling and Rotraud Kern fill the moveable tubes, and disappear into them as if seeking protection. Body parts protrude until the performers have explored every joint of the installation. There is a growing impression of a space that covers their bodies like a straitjacket.
BODIES (WITH)IN FENCES
world premiere 23 jan 2013, WUK, Vienna/AT
Brillant: The dance work "bodies (with)in fences" by Saskia Hölbling and Laurent Goldring!
Our society is a permanent building site. One that is permeated with fences and secured by bars. With their oppressive dance work "bodies (with)in fences" in the Vienna Wuk, the Austrian choreographer Saskia Hölbling and the French artist and philosopher show exactly what this policy of blocking feels like. (…)
After "body in a metal structure", "bodies (with)in fences" is the second cooperation between Saskia Hölbling and Laurent Goldring. The first piece has already been a success. The new one has now scored a bull’s-eye.
In an installation made out of construction-site railings, three bodies explore the possibilities of movement, overcome barriers and end up where they started from. Saskia Hölbling and Laurent Goldring have also conceived the second part of their “Squatting Project” for public space, in order to enrich the urban environment. The première took place in the project space of the WUK. (…)
An exciting performance in its difficulty and physical commitment, which would be even more intensely experienced in open space (indoors or outdoors). In the small project room of the WUK the audience is seated on two sides of the installation and as it were sees only half of the moving body images. Moving around to repeatedly change the perspective would be more advantageous. The next performances of this impressive project have not yet been fixed, but (like body in a metal structure, the first part of the “Squatting Project” by Hölbling/Goldring), bodies (with)in fences will certainly be seen in several places, with or without a roof over it.
BODY IN A METAL STRUCTURE
world premiere 3 may 2012, donaufestival krems, Krems/AT
A woman in black trousers and a black shirt – Hölbling herself – places herself, head pointing downwards, in a four-metre-high scaffold of metal poles, as used on building-site scaffolding. The planned unstable construction (by Gudrun Lenk-Wane) consists of a pyramid within a cube. Inside, the dancer moves for an hour, climbs up, lets herself down to the floor again, hangs from the supports and shakes them. The scaffold can indeed stand this, but above all its outer parts shake dangerously. The symbolic value of it all is considerable. The philosopher Martin Heidegger was impressed with the idea of the “Ge-stell” (frame). For him it was what “challenges people to bring to light the real as something created.” (…)
For Hölbling this work is the first statement in a whole series of future “squattings” of public places. A start has been made – and very successfully.
In public space – on the bastion of the Albertina – a strange construction of metal rods in which a person clothed in black hangs upside down. It is the choreographer and performer Saskia Hölbling, giving her evening performance "body in a metal structure" at the ImPulsTanz-Festival.
Saskia Hölbling’s evening (developed together with Laurent Goldring) may provide apparently dangerous moments of climbing, but no circus-like art: it is not about the show, but about the conquest and experience of the scaffold. What do you see? Saskia Hölbling coils and swings through the large metal scaffold, sometimes reptilian, then offensive again. The object is explored in changing clothing; sometimes she hangs upside-down on the poles, then she leaps, climbs, lets herself fall, reaches the ground. Repeatedly in between there is the scrutinising look at the scaffold, a measurement of power, an estimation of the opponent. And slowly the tubular structure yields, turns from an object that looks like something from a construction site into a sculpture that has been deconstructed by Hölbling. It is exciting to observe what takes place between the dangerously swaying individual components and the fixed inner construction, and how the conquest of this meters-high object is designed.
In the open air, on the terrace of the Albertina, a metal scaffold – a sculpture by Gudrun Lenk-Wane, that is meant to be conquered. The framework in an unusual place stands for the obstacles and the irritations of the city.
Regardless of whether one reads and understands the explanations of the dancer and choreographer Saskia Hölbling and the media artist and philosopher Laurent Goldring in the programme, or is simply enchanted with the metal architecture and the body communicating with it in the midst of the historic buildings (from the Opera to the Hofburg to the Albertina): "body in a metal structure" is a fascinating performance.
Towering into the sky, the sculpture, which Nik Hummer gets to ring (sigh, moan, rattle and sing), has a quite different effect than at the preview, which took place indoors.
The dancer, initially all in black, hangs upside down, caught in the bars, then climbs high up to the top. Tiny and fragile in the midst of the hard material. Still she fights with the occasionally swinging, evasive parts, touches cautiously with her feet and hands, becomes ever more certain. While the moon sails upwards surrounded in haze, the gymnast puts on a skirt, becomes a woman ready to communicate with the material, to build trust, to conquer it.
Smoothly, the body glides through the labyrinth of the artistic architecture, offers itself to the long-since no longer hostile material with open legs, in order, when the last of daylight has faded, to remove her clothes, to hang upside down again on the poles in lace underwear. No longer as the prisoner but now as the freely surrendered. The body is one with the metal structure.