etb English
Theatre
Berlin
International Performing Arts Center




Blog Archive

Exotic Animal

 “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” – Audre Lorde

Exotic is warm and spicy. It is one letter away from erotic. It promises adventure. Exotic is somewhere far away and foreign. Exotic is strange, but also very appealing and desirable. It is always over there, not here; them, not us; you, never me. Exotic is dark and mysterious, but its threat is tamed and contained.

The exotic industry has become a big and lucrative market, offering goods and services ranging from food, fashion, music, books, health products, workshops, collectibles, antiques to cultural attractions, theme events, tourism and corporate branding. It has often been touted as a fun and light way to promote the appreciation and experience of foreign cultures. But is it as innocent as it appears? What lurks beneath its foreigner-friendly surface? This collaborative performance invites the audience to see what it takes to create the ideal exotic look.

Drawing on his personal experience as a dancer of Asian origin, Ming Poon looks at how eurocentrism, globalization and cultural consumerism contribute to the exoticization of his body for the art market. Approaching the body as a site on which meanings, values and boundaries are inscribed, he interrogates how the exotic gaze displaces and appropriates his body, turning it into a cultural commodity and a symbol of subjugation. Exotic Animal both invites and confronts the exotic gaze. Staring defiantly back, it attempts to shift the power relation between the gazer and itself.

Ming Poon is a Berlin-based choreographer who began his career as professional dancer in 1993 and started to develop his choreographic practice in 2010. He creates choreographic interventions, where spectators are invited to exercise their agency to create change. His works are interactive and collaborative in design. They usually take the form of collaborative performances, public interventions and one-to-one encounters. He works with vulnerability, care, peripherality and failure as performance strategy.

His practice is influenced by Buddhist concept of interdependence and care, Judith Butler’s resistance in vulnerability, Augusto Boal’s theatre of the oppressed and Nicolas Bourriaud’s micro-utopias.

His works have been presented at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay (Singapore), The Substation (Singapore), English Theatre Berlin | International Performing Arts Center (Berlin, Germany), Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin, Germany), Scenario Pubblico | Centro Nazionale di Produzione della Danza (Catania, Italy) and Südpol (Luzern, Switzerland).

Foreign Body_Trio

Bodies that do not fit within the framework of society are treated as “foreign bodies” and are ultimately rejected.

The choreographer wants to look at society through three such bodies. The unfamiliar physical form that the three bodies create explodes stereotypes about the body.

This performance explores how the audience perceives them and questions the meaning of “foreignness” in our society.

Rays

RAYS is an immersive experience, dedicated to the latent nervousness that increasingly permeates our existence. It strives to make visible what usually evades our senses: Wi-Fi signals, the electromagnetic fields of our smart phones, computers and power supply systems…

Working as an antenna, Mirjam Sögner lends her body to these immaterial waves that define the very core of our contemporary existence.

Using no other device than her own organic material, she attempts to receive, detect, synchronize with and amplify these omnipresent signals. She becomes vibration. Vibration becomes body. Energy becomes solid. The line between transmitter and receiver blurs. Will the body eventually dissolve?

L’ART ET LA MANIÈRE and PLANTING MEMORIES

Two dance theater performances

L’art et la manière explores the relationship between everyday movements and artistic actions in an engaging, fun and critical way. Through this this interactive dialogue with the audience, Marie questions her identity as an interpreter, a woman and the role artists have in society.

Planting Memories is a dance duet that explores the concepts of personal space and identity. Drawing inspiration from their own lives, Marie and Paula relate personal memories through text and images. By plunging into a surreal world, this piece guides the audience through a personal journey in which the unfolding of the past enables the present.

She Came, She Saw, She Said: Meme

When Hyunsin encountered dance, she was quite relieved to no longer be limited to the representation of the female Asian stereotypes, quite common in theater and film. She soon realized, however, that the international dance scene had its own mechanisms of exoticizing of “the other”.

The Western pioneers of dance dived into the “Far East” at the beginning of the 20th century. The “foreign”, with its aspects of beauty, naturalness, authenticity and erotic became the inspiration for the “new” dance which appeared afterwards. Ted Shawn became Shiva, Mary Wigman a witch. Although the fascination of the other is no longer primarily expressed through impersonation and representation anymore, its attraction somehow continues to persist. Hyunsin now asks the naïve question: Can stereotypes exist beyond mere parody and reproduction? Could there be a way to turn them into means of empowerment? Together with live music by Baly Nguyen, Hyunsin delves into these clichés.