Berlin-based dance-maker and tanztheater luminary Sasha Waltz is celebrated for her compelling imagery and body-focused choreography. Taking the body itself as her subject in Körper, Waltz combines clinical analysis and fantastical illusion in her work. Examining how we manipulate them, extend their use and produce new ones, Waltz studies every aspect of the bodies we call home, from calculating their financial value, to counting, weighing and measuring the components that make them up. In the run up to Körper’s launch at Sadler’s Wells, Something Curated spoke with Waltz to learn more.
Something Curated: Could you tell us about your work Körper; can you expand on the thinking behind the show’s narrative?
Sasha Waltz: This piece examines the material body, dissecting the physical human body into systems, like the nervous system, the bone or the skeleton, finding specific movement idioms which depict these systems. Körper, which means body in German, has 13 dancers onstage that meld together and squirm behind glass like scientific specimens, in a series of living tableaux.
SC: How does it feel to bring Körper back to London, 18 years after it first premiered?
SW: We have been touring the piece for 18 years around the world. Some of the dancers in the company have performed every single show. It is interesting as a choreographer to see the dancers mature and grow older in their role. This is especially true as we deal with our human nature and physicality – it is moving for me to see dancers aging.
SC: In the production, bodies are placed under inspection, behind glass – what was the thinking behind this?
SW: It departed from research when I thought of altar images – dancers were placed between glass windows like a triptych. In the Jewish Museum in Berlin there were vitrines for the exhibits. We did a project there called ‘Dialoge 99 – Jüdisches Museum’, which was a preliminary work to Körper. I wanted to look at the human body as various objects, as if in a museum.
SC: Do you think this examination holds new meaning in the age of social media and self-scrutiny?
SW: Dance always opens up new ways of interpretation as it is a live art. We see it in the present moment and this experience is influenced by how we perceive reality, history or our cultural context. The association now in the digital age will probably be different than it was 18 years ago. I still believe this analysis to be very up to date.
SC: Has anything else that’s happened in the world altered the meaning of the production in your eyes since it premiered in 2000?
SW: The main things are the digital revolution, artificial intelligence, terrorism, new nationalism, as well as post humanism.
SC: Have you got any upcoming projects that you can share with us?
SW: In 2018, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of my company Sasha Waltz & Guests. My production Romeo et Juliette (Berlioz) will come back to the stage of the Opéra national de Paris later this year, and my latest creation Kreatur is traveling internationally a lot. In the fall I am looking forward to premiering my new piece at a large festival in Germany. Besides other guest performances of repertoire pieces we will also have the reprise of our choreographic opera Orfeo (Monteverdi) at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin.
Sasha Waltz & Guests — Körper | 1-3 March at Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN
Feature image: Sasha Waltz, Körper, Schaubühne Berlin Premiere (2000). Copyright: Bernd Uhlig, Warthestrasse | All images courtesy Sadler’s Wells