European Cultural News, Michaela Preiner – 4. JULI 2012

europeanUnder the designation “to-rsO”, which first of all has to be puzzled together in one’s mind in order to realize that it refers to the fragmentary character of a torso, the dancing group FeinSinn performed three evenings in the Expedit Hall of the former Anker bread factory.

Reason enough for the sudatory/humid evening – sudatory because of tropical temperatures – was the discovery of compositions by Friedrich Nietzsche, which may be known just to the members of a well-informed Nietzsche community. They provided the starting point as well as the lever for a dancing approach of the philosopher’s thoughts. This is not absurd at all, as Nietzsche dealt with dance a number of times in his works, pointing it out as an important Dionysian concept of life.

Dancer/choreographer Elke Pichler and musician Sasha Nantschev adopted Nietzsche’s music, not only to dancingly link it up with some of his philosophical ideas, they also encroached profoundly on the compositions in order to amplify them, to interpret them anew. They were assisted by Christo Popov on piano, Michael Flatz on percussion and Robert Siegel on bass. Thus the mostly romantic-elegiacal note sources evolved into a soundtrack that extended from rock-pop to abstract sound-trails, mixed into infinite loops, produced by the voices of the protagonists. At the very beginning one was invited to dive into a chuckling, bubbling sound set that Nantschev created on his amplified guitar – recording simultaneously and overlaying several sound tracks.

Along with the industrial monument itself—which spreads a vanquishing, aloof lure—five  slender, black, towering cuboids with shining neon lights on their back surfaces served as the stage setting. It soon became obvious that these not only provided an aesthetic aspect, but, in a symbolic manner, stood for a trend which Nietzsche denounced in his critiques of morals. In this context, the cuboids were not to be seen as a moral aberration in the history of mankind, they rather formed the antithesis of a picture of man, which, during the production, was blatantly imprinted and determined by its animalistic descent. Again and again the dancers Elke Pichler, Julia Mach and Filip Szatarski turned into creeping and crawling multicellular organisms, ruled solely by naturally conditioned processes. Again and again they imitated animalistic motion patterns that didn’t allow forgetting the origin underlying the human race. Yet in the moments when the music became the dominant element, thereby interfering in the action, all the animalistic features were shaken off, the human sensory perceptions with their reactions to music were celebrated. All this culminated in the vocal interpretation of the “incantation”, a poem written by Pushkin, set to music by Nietzsche. The grievance expressed and the desire of keeping the beloved, yet deceased woman, were interpreted so tenderly and touchingly by the actors that it was easy to comprehend Nietzsche’s affinity for music, assenting to his absolute admiration of this genre of art. The integration of the musicians into the dancing action itself seemed to be marked less by one overarching idea, but rather tinged with an ironic wink. At least the audience took it like that. Stripped to their black underpants, they were free to serve their instruments in various poses – whether abused as clothes-stands or lifted from the piano seat by the dancers and brought to a horizontal, hovering position. Nothing could shake them, absolutely unimpressed, they remained true to their music-making, tied to their instruments as mothers are to their babies through the umbilical cord. In this manner, it seems, they attempted to illustrate the contemplative moment – tagged as “flow” in today’s jargon -, which musicians often experience during their performances.

What started as an innocent, tentative, almost timid choreography to the low sound of drops, escalated to a life-affirming, even orgiastic bodywork in the course of the evening, ending up in absolute exhaustion. Correspondingly, the protagonists’ white shirts and slacks changed colour, soon showing ample dirt stains caused by contact with the graphite powder dusted on several spots of the floor. Man, born innocent, but eventually incapable of hiding away the animalistic streak within him, man, who is controlled by his instincts to the core, but after all manages to live them out – this picture was carried through rigorously from the beginning of the performance to the very end. – Nevertheless the artists succeeded in putting in an absolutely unexpected counterpoint during the finale; a counterpoint that did not only have a placable effect, but may be read as “hope”. It refers to the fact that ultimately there are distinct differences between man and animal. A laughter, which by and by took possession not just of the dancers but of the musicians as well, made it clear that in the thousands of years of evolution human intellect has not just evolved with social maldevelopments. “Learn to laugh at yourselves, as one has to laugh!” was Nietzsche’s challenge to people, and a clear clue that laughter requires the ability to learn, to reflect—an ability which only is inherent in  humans, not in animals

Before that, however, Nietsche’s critical view of religion was moulded into an easily re-membered picture – by means of peculiar exaggeration. For that purpose one of the musi-cians, armed with a bucket and a toilet brush, blessed the audience, solemnly pacing up and down the stands. Following at his heels, one of his colleagues held out the obligatory begging bowl on a long stick to get his offerings from the community of the spectators. The fact that the previously deceased ones (now dead of exhaustion, and gathered into a heap of corpses) celebrated their unexpected resurrection as undeads, expands the line of thought demonstrated into further gay absurdity.

As much as Pichler and Nantschev stressed the torso idea as a leading motive of their work – they took something whole, something complete and finished to the stage, which by no means conveyed the flaw of fragmentariness. Displaying their admirable stamina, Mach, Pichler and Szatarski acted as definite individuals, despite egalitarian costumes and roles. Although acting as part of a collective they are rooted in the character of man, each and every one still tries to live out his existence as a subject as individually as possible. Even if this message might not have been intended deliberately, one is easily prepared and ready to take the idea home.