By Vanini Belarmino Berlin, Germany
This article was commissioned by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sports, Republic of South Korea as a part of the Hub City for Asia Culture project.
Photo: Dieter Hartwig
For the 5th anniversary of Halle Tanzbuehne Berlin, an independent performing arts space established by cie toula limnaois, the dance-theater company takes pride in the re-staging of Life is Perfect. As the audience filled the seats in the theater, performers were preset as if they were captivated 3-dimensional images and/or installation. Slowly as the performance began, dancers unfold themselves like animated and picturesque representation of scenes from daily life. A spot light is focused on mannequin-like dancer plastered on the wall, with full-red plastic lips, blonde curly wig before she frees or drops herself from the entrapment; the musician positions himself downstage right – equipped with a cymbal and bow to accompany the movements; the sound of an unclear voice recording from a kind of emergency number is played as each performer reveals the presence on stage. The piece threads itself in a series of undefined continuum, perhaps small stories, not necessarily presented through identification characters but instead with anonymity coupled with strong and precise movements pulling a gamut of feelings, encounters and confrontation amongst the performers towards the audiences.
Depending on the individual perspective, one can wonder how and why Life is Perfect with such an amalgamation of contrasts: highs and lows, winnings and failures, happiness and sadness, from being fully clothed to nakedness. From a spectator’s eye, it can be taken that the imperfections of situations embody the perfection reflected in the dance piece of cie toula limnaois’ Life is Perfect. As noted in the programme, the piece enacts a tableau of stories from real life balancing on the thin line between moments of happiness and pitfalls of reality.
When the choreographer and founding artistic director, Toula Limnaois was asked about the title, she retorted that Life is Perfect was meant as an irony” considering the duality of life. She continued by stating: When the first impression crumbles, it reveals something other than the expected: the smoothness of the outer shell directs attention to the fine cracks. Behind it, a disparate panorama unfolds: in polyphonic images. “Life is Perfect should reflect situations with double bottoms in which only a few steps are enough to topple situations.”
Photo: Dieter Hartwig
Since its Berlin premiere in 2007, Life is Perfect has toured in Germany, Greece and Brazil. In May 2008, it was invited with the Berliner Philharmoniker to present German Culture in Riga (Latvia) and Vilnius (Lithuania). Life is Perfect represents only one out of the 25 pieces that Greek-born choreographer, Toula Limnaois has created in collaboration with composer, Ralf R. Ollertz since setting-up cie toula limnaois in 1996.
Starting off in Brussels, the company, which the artistic tandem co-founded, moved its base to Berlin in 1997, after being invited for fellowship by the prestigious Akademie der Kuenste. Twelve years of hard work later, cie toula limanaois is now considered as one of the most successful dance companies in Germany and performs at its own venue, presenting 4 seasons a year, approximately 75 performances, with 2 new creations out of 4 productions annually. Apart from its extensive range of performance repertoire, it prides itself with diverse team of professional dancers: Mercedes Appugliese, Kayoko Minami, Elik Niv, Clebio Oliveira, Carlos Osatinsky, Ute Pliestermann and Hironori Sugata. The works of Cie Toula Limanaios has toured all over Germany. It has been presented and received accolade from the audiences and artistic community in countries like Austria, Belgium, Brazil, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela.
Halle Tanzbuehne, originally functioned as the main rehearsal space of the company between 2000-2003, was set-up after three years as a performance space specifically for contemporary dance. According to Ralf Ollertz, the decision to build their own performance space was a big step while keeping a dance company that has already 16 regular company members and staff in parallel. The maintenance of the venue demanded a different attention to details where they had find their own lighting and sound equipment, electricity, flooring and whatever else imaginable in building a decent and functional 120-seater performance space. In the beginning, support mainly came from ticket sales, rental of the space including his personal earnings working as sound designer/musician for a number of commercial projects as well as teaching fees gathered by Toula Limnaois. Later on, through the support of the Berlin Cultural Senate, cie toula limnaios and Halle Tanzbuehne received Basisförderung (2-year structural support fund) in 2005.
Apart from cie toula limanaois, the space shared with other partner companies and international dance festivals like Tanz Im August where over a 100 performances take place in the course of a year. The existence of this performing arts space represents the concrete evidence of the combined artistic talents and dedication to sustain not only the dance company but also to have their own workspace.
Looking at how cie toula limanaious and Halle Tanzbuehne are moving together, one can wonder what would be their vision for the next ten years? Ollertz responded by saying, “Nothing is secure but for now we are in a good situation until 2010. We hope to make good art, survive and touch people.”