Experimental subjects

silke glavna new

Silke Grabinger is a dancer and a choreographer. She is a woman… a beautiful woman-that is important. She starts with break dance then goes up in the air at “Circus De Soleil” in Las Vegas. This biography, altogether with her aura, physicality and movement experience turn to be the material for her contemporary dance project- “Experimental Subject Silke Grabinger“. She invites artists who have their specific individual style to create a 10-minute solos for her. What are the pictures they imagine when it comes to her artistic personality? What are the subjects and the questions that pop up in their heads when it comes to her? And how does she react to that? International festival for contemporary dance and performance “Antistat!c” 2015 cooperating with the “Aerowaves” platform presented a selection of the miniatures. Angelina Georgiva, one of the festival programmers and theatric critic, reveals the answers of these questions.

  What is the point in Silke Grabinger’s experiment? First, to show a colossal reverse in an author’s point of view in the classic relationship between a choreographer and a performer. She obligates the performer to go out of the usual situation where the choreographer use them as an object that can be replaced in different performances, classes, company etc. Silke creates a strict protocol for her collaboration with the others. Every one of them has to create a miniature in previously agreed conditions. They need to show her personality, biography, artistic individuality through their eyes. It is a two-way experiment in which everyone reflects through the other. Silke as a theme, material and a performer through the author and the choreographers and their own attitude, approach and style through Silke. Eventually she takes back their control over the final as she puts them in a situation in which none of the choreographers knows what the others are working on; she also decides that the performance won’t have one particular finished look. Until now, 13 choreographers from different countries have taken part in this project.

 This magnificent artists name list and the open format of the production challenge more players in the dance system-the programmers. Silke calls her project “A menu” for she suggests them to choose which miniatures they would like to present; this way different connections among the projects are constantly created and the performer in Grabinger is being provoked all the time.  This is an opportunity and an ironic (but conscious) wink towards the programmer centers and festivals that play the role of “selectors” of themes and trends. This way everyone puts different perceptions of nowadays life. “Experimental Subject Silke Grabinger“ is a dynamic format with no additional theme; a strongly charged offer.

silke kukli

 In the 8th edition of the International festival for contemporary dance and performance “Antistat!c” 2015 the challenge was accepted. Four out of the eleven miniatures were presented. Fragments of “Experimental Subject Silke Grabinger” connected by the women stereotypes theme-expectations, role plays, usage and the vulnerability of women. Silke’s artistic biography is a gracious material to be used for this particular purpose because of her magical visage of the woman (shown in her aerial choreographies for “Circus De Soleil”) on the one hand and the tomboy in her, presented by her breakdancing. 

 In the beginning of the showcase you can barely see Grabinger-she is covered by a mass of dolls-false baby faces, widely open eyes, reaching hands… Her breath moves them slowly in the silence; it’s like she does not own her body. Like a mutant she crawls on the floor and as she slowly stands up mannequin limbs fall off of her. There is something ironic yet creepy and pulling in dolls’ staring eyes; they charge the space between what’s vital and the inorganic which gives them potential to move and live. On the one hand, sewed to Silke’s body, the dolls are weighting her down; on the other-only with a slight movement with her hand they transform into a mean for discoveries, source of new motion and life. With minimalistic mechanical breakdance movements she starts shaking them on the background of an unexpected hip-hop song as contrasting outburst of the need to free herself from image they put on her body. In her original miniature “Transformer” Anne Juren (France/Austria) creates of her “object of an experiment” something like female version of the robot toys. It looks like a hyperbolized image to the artist’s childlike luminance, even like parody to the doll insinuation and the motherly cue.

 Creating the second miniature “China” Silke Grabinger is collaborating with Philippe, a choreographer from the innovatory artistic collective “Suparamas” (Austria/Belgium/France). Actually it has nothing to do with China, the name idea comes from the quote: “Why in Beijing Opera are women’s roles traditionally played by men?  Because only a man knows how a woman is supposed to act.” .” First we see Silke in a Virgin Mary pose, pious, pure, a saint, interrupted by the image of the woman who follows the orders of an invisible choreographer called Philippe. He refers to it as poses from a photo shoot without a camera. The piece is reduced to the interpretation of the words “I am beautiful!” pronounced by her to motivate herself for the next image. It is a response to the invitation uttered by an invisible photographer to repeat the words. What is interesting here is that this scene represents the “outside” point of view; an outside controller which instructs her and sets her behavioral norm. “China” is a solo performance for the role play in life, the man’s desire to create the women stereotypes. The sublime female image on stage is the Star which mingles with the audience. The mass becomes a coauthor of her body, modeling it according its expectations and notion.

silke web

 “Let’s talk about Vegas” is an autobiographical miniature by Oleg Simulenko (Russia/Austria). He provokes Silke to pick the curtain up and tell her “Las Vegas” and “Circus De Soleil” experience.  The choreography is tangled speech and movements; it expresses the dynamics, ups and downs, hesitation, traumas, the daring in her actions and the timidity in the silence. To be a dancer in Las Vegas you need to have some more practice as a stripper and a waiter. She tells a story about (self)exploitation, blackmailing, cheating and sex among which the things you do on stage are the less important ones. There is no other business as showbusiness.  Out of breath, using dynamic or slow breakdance moves to colour her words she presents Las Vegas life as a reckless machine that dooms every wrinkle and the only way to “win” is to be flexible around the difficulties.

 “Raw material” by the Canadian choreographer Dave St Pierre-the final and the most poetic fragment. Silke is covered with black mixture that looks once like mud and like silver covering when under light so the body is resembling an idol. She shows complex figures and tricks but she always slips on the mud and collapses on the ground. The raw material is the artist’s body which is striving to be perfect and better and trained but is always on the edge of failure. 

 When talking about “Experimental Subject Silke Grabinger” we cannot put “failure” in the same sentence. Because of its very specific format the performance takes up the risks which it puts on the table. If we consider the miniatures as anecdotes then the cream of the joke would never be finished or convincing. The task to find a better transition among the separate parts also exists. Nevertheless Silke Grabinger proves that the onstage performer goes through everlasting transformations and she, as a strong artist, is ready to accept every challenge. 

Autor: Angelina Georgieva

Продукцията  е част от международната танцова платформа „Aerowaves”,  подкрепена от програма „Творческа Европа” и оперирана за България от Derida Dance Center. Представянето й в България се реализира с финансовата подкрепа на Столична община и на Австрийското посолство в България.

The production is part of the international dance platform "Aerowaves", realised through the support of "Creative Europe" program and operated for Bulgaria through Derida Dance Center. The performance in Bulgaria is realised through the finicial support of Sofia Municipality and Austrian embassy in Bulgaria. 

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