Susi & Gabi’s Salon
Susanne Martin & Gabriele Reuter (Berlin) revive a European tradition that dates back to the 17th century; a salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host (Susi & Gabi as Salonnières do their best to inspire!), held partly for amusement and partly to refine taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation. In dialogue with invited guests and the audience, these evenings revolve around the phenomenon of Improvisation as performance, choreography and research.
first published in Mapping Dance Berlin 2018
Description of the setting and the idea of the format
The latest edition of Susi & Gabi’s Salon marks the beginning of the Tanzfabrik showcase series “Open Spaces” from November 1-6, 2017. Two of the performance groups invited to the showcase can already present their work here and put it up for discussion. The salon, as designed by Susanne Martin and Gabriele Reuter, is based on a long tradition and – in addition to its humorous and artistic dynamic and quality – is socio-politically, feministically and educationally motivated.
The format follows a clear and transparent process comprising ten stations:
1. Welcome; 2. Warm-Up; 3. Transition; 4. Performance; 5. Talk over drinks; 6. Body work of the day; 7. Performance; 8. Improvisation ‚positioning of my art‘; 9. 100 questions and 3 answers; 10. Audience award.
(How) does the format work? The evening starts at 6 pm and ends at 8 pm in an informal conversation. Among the approximately 50 guests, there are five without a dance background and just as many who rarely or never dance. (This information resulted from questions that the audience was initially asked to provide and to write down on distributed sheets of paper. The audience immediately began a lively conversation and also asked each other questions, among other things about their individual backgrounds.)
Welcome: Directly at the entrance we soon see from the stage, costumes, lighting and music that we are in a salon: the warm light, the waltz music, the sequin jackets and the pleated skirts of the two salonnières as well as their distinctive pearl necklaces create an atmosphere in which the group will partake for the next two hours. By contrast, the bare feet of the hostesses contrast with the historicizing salon attributes and clearly distinguish our situation as being embedded in contemporary art and society. In the welcoming part, the language question is quickly clarified: the language of the evening will be English, due to the international guests that are present. Guests will be informed of the evening’s progress (a flipchart with the schedule will be visible throughout the evening) and given a task: to record questions during the evening that may arise from the presented verbal or choreographic content (between a clear distinction is made between “real” and “rhetorical” questions). These questions will be collected in Phase 9 of the evening, but only a few will actually be answered. Afterwards Reuter and Martin select a representative from the audience, who at the end of the evening may present the Audience Award (two lemons) for two particularly successful “aspects” of the evening.
Warm-Up: Reuter and Martin increasingly integrate language into their warm-up, which initially begins as a purely physical contact duo, until they each present a striking anecdote from their studies: Reuter recalls a lesson from her lecturer, who had explained the significance of the audience for the essence and effect of art: “The artwork becomes animated because you look at it.” Martin talks about the notion of the “aspect” in Wittgenstein: An “aspect” always occurs when there is a change in thinking or in perception – an “aha moment”. In this phase of the salon evening, therefore, a kin-aesthetic-intellectual warm-up occurs, which both conveys information and invites active thinking and participation.
Resonance: The following stations are dedicated to theworking methods of the two invited artist groups: MartinSonderkamp/Darko Dragičević and Shannon Cooney with her team. From this phase of the evening I would like to mention the idea of the “responses”: After both groups showed each other an excerpt from their current productions, Reuter and Martin spontaneously stepped onto the stage and performed a “resonance”, which they attribute to their subjective memory as a moment from the presented material. In so doing, they present what they have personally perceived and experienced for all of us, what they remember and what they can do with their bodies. The theoretical concepts introduced at the beginning of the co-creative power of the art-recipients as well as the aesthetic experience of an aspect can be practically experienced here. On the other hand, both artists’ groups present their works in a way that actively involves the audience directly: Martin Sonderkamp asks half of the audience to leave the studio for a while, so that he can provide the other half information about the production. In this way, he wants to discover how being informed can augment or affect the visual experience. After the performance, both audiences can exchange their own visual experiences with a glass of sparkling wine and pretzel sticks. A lively “working break” is the result. Shannon Cooney, on the other hand, asks all interested parties to take the stage and initiates a five-minute somatic session in which we practice three-dimensional vision with our eyes closed. This sensitization not only has a pleasant, personal effect, but also prepares you physically and atmospherically for the subsequent part of the performance.
Positioning: The subsequent eighth session of the evening invites all participating artists to reflect on themselves and their art through the terms “improvisation”, “material”, “movement”, “dance”, “choreography”, “vision”, “relation”, etc. The terms are written on cardboard boxes and quickly invite all to partake in a group improvisation, in which different meanings and definitions arise through different arrangements – and are dissolved again.
Is the format transferable? The person in the seat next to me says goodbye at the end of the salon with the words “Now everything’s even more complicated for me than before! But it was exciting!”. In this sense, I can fully recommend the format for other productions, especially as a prelude to smaller festivals.
Maren Witte, Dr. Phil, is professor for theatre theories, dance and movement research at Hochschule für Künste im Sozialen, Ottersberg, Germany.
30.10.2011 at Embrace Arts Centre, Leicester
Salon Guests: Jo Breslin, Sally Doughty, Marie Fitzpatrick & Kerry Francksen
27.11.2011 at Embrace Arts Centre, Leicester
Salon Guests: Pete Shenton, Miriam Keye, Annie Woodhouse, Rachel Liggitt
03.11.2012 at Embrace Arts Centre, Leicester
Salon Guests: Caroline Bowditch, Jo Breslin, Jill Cowley & Sally Doughty
Thank you for the support of Embrace Arts Centre, Dance 4 Nottingham and Tanzfabrik Berlin
Die Körper der letzten Tage – Ein Abtakt
15.04.2012 at Tanzfabrik Berlin
Salon Guests: Vincent Bozek und Sophie Jahnke
Photos AnnA Stein
A second evening on transforming body and shifting dance practices. This time Susi and Gabi throw themselves and their own current practice of improvisation on the stage working on recipes from two weeks workshops, rehearsals, lectures and personal encounters. The Closing-Salon is a subjective, improvised, unsustainable response to the festival, and is therefore itself a transformational practice. How far-reaching it will be seen … as always.
Supported by Tanzfabrik Berlin
Ein zweiter Abend zum Thema transformatorische Körper und sich verändernde Tanzpraxen. Diesmal werfen sich Susi und Gabi mit ihrer eigenen, aktuellen Improvisationspraxis auf die Bühne und verarbeiten so die Inspirationen und Rezepte aus zwei Wochen Workshops, Proben, Lectures und persönlichen Begegnungen während Tanz Hoch Zwei. Salon-Gäste werden sie aus dem Pool der Künstler und Dozenten des Festivals einladen. Der Abtakt-Salon ist eine subjektive, improvisierte, unhaltbare Reaktion auf die letzten zwei Wochen und damit selbst eine transformatorische Praxis. Wie weitreichend wird man sehen … wie immer.
Der Salon findet statt mit Unterstützung der Tanzfabrik Berlin.
„Die Körper des Tages – Ein Auftakt“
31.03.2012 at Tanzfabrik Berlin
Salon Gäste: Dieter Baumann, Shannon Cooney, Christa Flaig, Marion Glöggler, Kirstin Heinrich, Jutta Hell, Sophie Jahnke, Gisela Müller, Ludger Orlok, Britta Pudelko, AnnA Stein
Photos AnnA Stein
This salon invites teachers of this year‘s workshop program and the Tanzfabrik team to devote their improvisations to the topic of the body in transformation. In short performances and featured exercises current practices and future dance shows are compared, adopted, celebrated, and perhaps transformed instantly. A meeting between imprography, choreosation, never asked stupid questions and impressive specialization. Susi & Gabi‘s Salon is the prelude to two weeks of further trial and error, questions and watching of physical exercises during the festival.
Der achte Susi & Gabi Salon ist ein Auftakt zum diesjährigen Tanzfabrikfestival Tanz Hoch Zwei. Dafür sind Lehrende des diesjährigen Workshop- und Performanceprogramms und das Tanzfabrikteam sebst eingeladen
sich dem Festivalthema transformatorischer Prozesse zu widmen. In kurzen Performances und vorgestellten Körperübungen werden verworfene, aktuelle und zukünftige Tanzpraxen gezeigt, verglichen, verabschiedet,gefeiert und vielleicht vor Ort transformiert.
Für Gabriele Reuter und Susanne Martin ist der Salon Auftakt zu zwei Wochen Weiterprobieren, Weiterfragen, Weiterbeobachten von Körperpraxen während des Festivals. Die Verarbeitung der Ergebnisse zeigen sie am 15.04. um 18.00 in den Uferhallen in “Susi & Gabis Salon # 9”: Die Körper der letzten Tage – Ein Abtakt
Der Salon findet statt mit Unterstützung der Tanzfabrik Berlin.
Salon Guest: Adam Benjamin
29.11.2011 at Plymouth University
After four editions in Berlin with such wonderful guests as Amos Hetz (Jerusalem), Andreas Mueller (Berlin), Rosalind Crisp (Paris) and Hodworks (Budapest), Susi‘s and Gabi’s Salon resides this autumn in Leicester and Plymouth, meeting improvisation based artists from the UK and the famously playful and witty British audience.
Salon Guest: Amos Hetz
04.09.2011 at Tanzfabrik Berlin
Amos Hetz is a dancer and movement teacher, looking for expanding his movement vocabulary through the use of the Eshkol Wachman Movement Notation and the heritage of the somatic learning. He composes solo dances, dance-collaborations, and movement games. For the last 22 years he was artistic director of the „Room Dances Festival“ in Israel.
Amos: „I understand my movement apparatus as a big orchestra of many limbs, in which each limb has its own character. It is calling me to listen to my imagination, as well as to my memory, and to my movement interests that are moving as well. The interest in the small gesture, and in the coordination between the different limbs is the motive behind all my movement activities: performing, teaching and conducting dance projects. I am swinging between the integrated movement and differentiated gestures. This process of moving my awareness from the extremities to the spine and to the shift of weight is bringing me closer to be one.”
Notes from Gabi & Susi, taken during the Salon
Born 1933 – Still dancing
Can I say ‘old’ performer or is it rude? old = mature? – young = immature?
Something about time and presence – Something about just looking interesting in whatever you do, because there is some life experience behind it – Something about not being so influenced by others anymore
Amos is dancing behind the pillar, choreographing perception, resonance – What do we do when we run out of time here? – Everyone wants to be 27 and wise and beautiful – The perception of time: Is one’s perception of time relative to one’s own age? – Interest in the small, the less – When is an artist old? What does old mean? – The anxiety of not being fulfilled gives the sense of feeling late
„I’m already concerned with ageing at 31“ – Velocity, speed – is there space for ‘Entschleunigung’? – Still dancing: Anna Halprin, Steve Paxton, Simone Forti, Deborah Hay
Susanne: I love to see older people on stage, and I would like to become one of them myself. There are several ways to contribute to that. One is that I’m looking for ways and strategies for myself that allow me physically and creatively to keep going performing dancing as a life long practice. Another is that I’m studying the strategies and underlying concepts and ideas and circumstances of older performers who have an improvisational focus in their performance work. Because that is the field I’m working in and know the most of myself, and that is the field where I met the most exciting artists and choreographers. One of them is Amos Hetz. I met Amos through one of his choreographic projects, “Vexations” in which I participated twice (1997? and 2010).
During Vexation I experienced him as an old artist with a very specified and detailed aesthetic and interest, who nevertheless invites performers very different from himself to collaborate in his performance score. And the score he proposed, although tight and rigorous, still had gaps and spaces for our divers choreographic practices. I experienced the whole 12-hour performance, not only as a composition and meeting of all our aesthetics and motivations, but as an active negotiation between all of us. But especially between him as the director and us bringing along our own individual universes.This openness and effort of negotiation and dialogue seems to me one key of how to keep a dance practice alive through decades, through changing fashions and changing artistic values.
100 Fragen an die Improvisation
Salon Guests: Joris Camelin, Rosalind Crisp, Luc Dunberry & Mata Sakka.
10.07. 2011 at Tanzfabrik Berlin
100 Fragen an die Improvisation
Salon Guest: Andreas Albert Müller
04.06.2011, Tanzfabrik Berlin
In der zweiten Ausgabe ist Andreas Albert Müller aus Berlin zu Gast, den wir gebeten haben, etwas von seiner Auseinandersetzung mit Rosalind Crisps choreographischen Methoden vorzustellen.
Tanzen aktualisiert sich dauernd durch tanzendes Befragen, Denken und Tanzen laufen ineinander. Das Bewegen spannt sich auf zwischen beweglichen Begriffen vom Bewegen. Als Fortsetzung des Marathons „THEY STILL SHOOT HORSES.“ wird am 5.8. zum Stromereien – Festival in Zürich „Sog“ zu erleben sein: Mit R. Crisp, B. Wiget, L. Archetti und Müller.
‚The rules are made for when you don’t know.’ A. Morrish
More about Andreas:
Salon Guests: Hodworks (Budapest): Emese Cuhorka, Júlia Garai, Júlia Hadi, Adrienn Hód, Csaba Molnàr
08.05.2011, Tanzfabrik Berlin
100 Fragen an die Improvisation
Ein Salon in dem sich Gabriele Reuter und Susanne Martin auf verschiedenen Pfaden dem Phänomen der Improvisation widmen: praktisch, tänzerisch, theoretisch, mit Zuschauerbeteiligung oder mit geladenen Gästen.
„Wir verstehen unsere 3 Ausgaben bis zum Sommer als Pilotphase, wollen verschiedene Formate für Auseinandersetzung und Austausch erproben, zwischen Chaos und Plan, Spiel ohne Grenzen, Imprographie und Choreosation, nie gestellten dummen Fragen und beeindruckendem Spezialistentum.“
In der ersten Ausgabe ist die Gruppe HODWORKS aus Budapest zu Gast, die gerade eine dreimonatige Residenz in der Tanzfabrik Berlin haben und sich in ihrem Projekt „Daily Routine“ zwischen Improvisation und Choreographie bewegen. Das Showing „Choice“ im Radialsystem am 2o. Mai um 17.00 wird die Residenz von HODWORKS in Berlin beschließen.
HODWORKS was founded by Adrienn Hód in 2007. Besides permanent members the company also invites performers from different fields of art.
The work is based on a method invented by Adrienn Hod, which focuses on the creation of new forms of movement and dramaturgical principles. Her pieces are presented in theatres as well as site specific venues.