Reviews / Press

 


24 October 2017 

 

Von der Kunst, zu lieben

Von Isabel Mankas-Fuest, Rheinische Post

Die Compagnie Ofen zeigt in “The Vase” ein herausforderndes Stück über die Liebe – zwischen Performance, Tanz und Schauspiel.

 

 

– English version below –

Zwei Menschen, die sich lieben. Sie (Gala Moody) ist eine auffallend große, aparte Frau. Ihr blondes Haar trägt sie offen, ihr Leinenkleid umspielt ihren durchtrainierten Körper, sie ist barfuß. Er (Michael Carter) ist groß, dunkelhaarig, seine Gesichtszüge sind fein. Er trägt einen Oberlippenbart, sein Leinenhemd ist aufgeknöpft, sein Oberkörper frei, die Hose leger geschnitten, auch er ist barfuß. Ein attraktives Paar. Doch zunächst treten sie in der Tanzperformance “The Vase” beim Festival “Move” in der Fabrik Heeder nicht zusammen auf, sondern getrennt.

Gala Moody betritt die Bühne, setzt sich an den Tisch am Bühnenrand. Von hier wird ein Teil des Lichtdesigns gesteuert und die Musik, teils vom Computer abgespielt, teils live im Loop aufgenommen. Nach einem Kostümwechsel nimmt Moody auf einem Stuhl in der Mitte der Bühne Platz, mit klarer Stimme beginnt sie zu sprechen. Die englischsprachigen Sätze sind für die Zuschauer leider schlecht verständlich. Mit dem Gesicht zum Publikum gerichtet fragt sie: “Hast du heute schon Worte der Liebe gesagt?” Und liefert sofort die Antwort: “Es gibt heute keine Worte der Liebe.

” Die Musik wird lauter, ihre Stimme auch, bis sie schließlich die Sätze herausschreit. Moody tanzt dazu in schnellen, kraftvollen Bewegungen – aus dem Off tönen in Wiederholungsschleife ihre immergleichen Sätze. Carter kommt dazu. Ihre Blicke treffen sich, doch ihre Körper scheinen einander auszuweichen. Alles wirkt schwer, wie in Zeitlupe. Die nächste Szene schildert die heiteren Momente einer Liebesbeziehung, leicht und beschwingt.

Die Stimmung kippt bald wieder. Sprachfragmente im Loop werden boshaft. Carter schleudert Moody in schwindelerregender Schnelligkeit durch den Raum, sie befreit sich und steht gelöst von ihm, so verstellt er den Blick auf sie und ihre sinnliche und glasklare Bewegungssprache. Sie tanzen getrennt und doch zusammen. Ein ständiges Ringen um Nähe und Distanz, Zuneigung und Abscheu folgt. Cie.Ofen wagen mit “The Vase” eine tänzerische Interpretation von Ariel Dorfmans Theaterstück “Purgatorio”, das wiederum eine Adaption von Euripides’ “Medea” ist.

Mal sieht der Zuschauer die Tänzer als Medea und Jason und mal als sie selbst, beschäftigt mit der komplexen Technik aus Licht und Ton. Es hätte den Stoff der griechischen Mythologie gar nicht als Referenz gebraucht, die komplexe Erzählung von “The Vase” besteht nicht zuletzt auch aus der biografischen Geschichte, die die Tänzer miteinander verbindet und von der großartigen Persönlichkeit zweier Künstler lebt, die seit über zwölf Jahren zusammen tanzen.

http://www.rp-online.de/nrw/staedte/krefeld/von-der-kunst-zu-lieben-aid-1.7162486

 

 

 

24 October 2017

From the art of loving

By Isabel Mankas-Fuest, Reinische Post

 

Company Ofen shows “The Vase”, a challenging piece about love – somewhere between performance, dance and drama.

 

Two people who love each other. She (Gala Moody) is a remarkably large, very special woman. Her blonde hair she wears open, her linen dresses wraps around her trained body, she is barefoot. He (Michael Carter) is tall, dark-haired, his facial features are fine. He wears a beard, his linen shirt is unbuttoned, his upper body free, the trousers are a loose cut, he is also barefoot. An attractive couple. But first they do not compete together in the dance performance “The Vase” at the festival “Move” at the factory Heeder but separate.

Gala Moody enters the stage and sits down at the table situated at the edge of the stage. From here, a part of the lighting design is controlled and the music, partly played by the computer, partly live in the loop. After a change of costume, Moody takes a chair in the middle of the stage, she begins to speak with a clear voice. The English-language sentences are unfortunately very difficult to understand. Face to the audience, she asks, “Have you already said words of love today?” And at once the answer is: “There are no words of love today.

“The music becomes louder, her voice also, until she finally shouts out the sentences.Moody dances to it in fast, powerful movements – from the opening sound in the repeating loop their always equal sentences.Carter comes to it.She looks meet, but their bodies seem to each other The next scene portrays the cheerful moments of a love affair, light and lively.

The mood is falling again soon. Speech fragments in the loop become malicious. Carter hurls Moody through the room in dizzying speed. She frees herself and stands by him, so he shifts his gaze to her and her sensuous and glacial movement language. They dance separately and yet together. A constant struggle for closeness and distance, affection and disgust follows. Cie.Ofen dances with “The Vase” a dancer interpretation of Ariel Dorfman’s play “Purgatorio”, which in turn is an adaptation of Euripides’ “Medea”.

Sometimes the viewer sees the dancers as Medea and Jason and sometimes as themselves, busy with the complex technique of light and sound. It would not have used the material of Greek mythology as a reference; the complex narrative of “The Vase” also consists of the biographical history that connects the dancers and lives from the great personality of two artists who have been together for over twelve years dance.

 


 

22 October

 

Heißkalter Liebeskampf

Von Nicole Strecker, Tanzweb.org

 

 

 

– English version below –

„The Vase“ von Cie. Ofen beim Festival Move! in Krefeld

 

Die Frau ist nicht zu halten, nicht zu retten. Medea, die brutalste, unbezwingbarste Heroine der griechischen Mythenwelt, Mutter und Monster, beklagenswertes Opfer und unfassbar rachsüchtige Täterin. 2014 gab die Tänzerin Gala Moody die Medea in Wim Vandekeybus‘ Produktion „Booty Looting“, und man kann gut verstehen, dass diese so urgewaltig-heutige Frau, ihr grenzensprengend-radikaler Liebesbegriff sie nicht losgelassen hat. Ein Jahr später entwickelten Moody und ihr Partner Michael Carter „The Vase“: Ein Stück über ein Paar im ewigen Machtkampf-Modus wie einst Medea und ihr Gatte Jason. Wer manipuliert hier wen? Moody und Carter gelingt es großartig, das emotionale Kräftemessen zwischen Mann und Frau klischeefrei, weil mit heißkaltem Kalkül zu inszenieren. Es bleibt ein Spiel – und ist doch schmerzhafte Schikane.

Auftritt Gala Moody – schon der Name eine Verheißung! – Auftritt also im langen beigen Kleid. Eine blasse Heroine. Das blonde Haar strähnig-ungekämmt, ihre Arme, Beine, auch die Finger und Füße, alle Gliedmaßen so feenhaft lang und dünn. Sie scheint aus einer anderen Zeit zu kommen, doch dann geht sie ganz irdisch an ein Mischpult, das mitten auf der Bühne steht, dämmt das Licht, tippt eine Tondatei auf dem Computer an. Vorbereitungen für ihre Szene, ein selbstgemachtes Setting und ein Statement: Was hier geschieht ist nur eine Theater-Illusion, eine Versuchsanordnung, um den Albtraum „Liebe“ zu verstehen. Hier wird Euripides‘ Medea-Tragödie zitiert und dessen Adaption durch den unbekannteren chilenischen Autor Ariel Dorfman, der durch seine Biografie im Chile von Diktator Augusto Pinochets stets besessen war von den Themen Rache und Vergebung. Man ist in Sartres Hölle, die die anderen für uns sind. Und man ist in Heiner Müllers berühmtem Liebeskampf-Stück „Quartett“, in dem Mann und Frau sich nur um des Spiels wegen zerfleischen und dabei die Geschlechterrollen wechseln. Das geschieht nun auch bei Gala Moody und Michael Carter.

Nachdem Moody zunächst allein immer wieder die ersten Worte des Euripides-Dramas rezitiert hat, tritt Carter auf. Man taxiert sich. Die Körper sind angespannt als erfasse sie beim bloßen Anblick des anderen ein Schmerz-Krampf, als habe Jason Medea schon wegen einer anderen verraten, als habe sie schon die Kinder gemordet. Doch dann springt Moody plötzlich mit einem Lachen zurück an einen viel früheren Punkt ihrer Beziehung. Carter behauptet: „I am her. Ich bin sie.“ Er ist Medea, die Fremde, die Starke. Und während er ihre Vorlieben ausplaudert, zuppelt und grapscht sie an ihm herum, hält ihm den Mund zu, rempelt ihn an, hüpft auf einem Bein, als er ihr versehentlich auf den Fuß tritt. Eine raue Zärtlichkeit, zwei Körper ohne Misstrauen und Scham. Aber war der Schubser jetzt nicht doch ein bisschen grob? Die Arme um den Hals nicht ein bisschen zu fest? Es sind nicht gerade Küsse, die hier Penthesilea-gleich zu tödlichen Bissen werden, doch unmerklich verhärtet sich zwischen Moody und Carter ein Streicheln zu einem Krallen, wird aus einem behutsamen Tändeln der Hände ein kräftemessendes Pressen.

Fantastisch wie genau die beiden an diesem Abend an der Ambivalenz jeder Geste gearbeitet haben. Zwei Star-Tänzer: Sie arbeitete mit den wilden Kerlen der Tanzszene wie Romeo Castellucci, Ivo Dimchev und eben Wim Vandekeybus. Er ist seit 2014 beim Tanztheater Wuppertal und eher mit dem Charisma des sensiblen Melancholikers ausgestattet. Eigentlich ein wunderbares Pendant zur rigorosen Tatfrau Moody, was ihre noch junge Formation „Cie. Ofen“ absolut attraktiv macht. Diesmal aber fegt Medea-Moody ihren sanften Jason in die Ecke, und wenn seine eigentlich sarkastisch gemeinten Übergriffe eher wie behutsame Zähmungsversuche wirken, dann ist das „Unentschieden“ im erotischen Machtkampf doch ziemlich unglaubwürdig.

Trotzdem: Wie die beiden sich so betörend ernsthaft in die körperlichen Befindlichkeiten ihrer Figuren hineingewühlt haben. Wie klug sie die Stereotypen des  Sujets reflektieren und auf jeden billigen Effekt verzichten – das ist bestechend. Die Liebe als Krieg, in dem es keinen Sieger geben kann – Gala Moody und Michael Carter erzählen von dieser uralten Desillusionierung aller Romantiker mit der leidenschaftlichen Resignation zweier Psychologen – die doch keine noch so smarte Analyse vor dem Sog der Emotionen schützen kann.

– Von Nicole Strecker

http://www.tanzweb.org/krefeld/nachtkritiken-krefeld/heisskalter-liebeskampf

 

 

Not to be hold, not to be saved

By Nicole Strecker, Tanzweb.org (translated by Veronica Posth)

 

Gala Moody and Michael Carter succeed with “THE VASE” in Krefeld

 

The woman is not to be hold, not to be saved. Medea, the most brutal, most invincible heroine of the Greek myth world, mother and monster, lamentable victim and incomprehensibly vindictive perpetrator. In 2014 the dancer Gala Moody embodied the Medea in Wim Vandekeybus‘ production „Booty Looting“, and it’s clear to understand that this woman, elemental force of the present-day and radical ‚border-breaker‘ of the love-idea, doesn’t let go.

A year later, Moody and her partner Michael Carter, developed „The Vase“ which is a piece about a couple in permanent mode of eternal power-struggle, like Medea and her husband Jason. Who manipulates whom? Moody and Carter succeeded in making great the emotional power of man and woman cliché-free, due to the hot-cold ménage to stage. It is a game – and yet it is painful harassment.

The performer Gala Moody – already the name is a promise! – appears in the long beige dress as a pale heroine. The fair-haired blond hair uncombed and her arms, legs, even the fingers, feet and all her limbs are fairy long and thin. She seems to come from another time, but then she goes completely earthly to a mixing console, which stands in the middle of the stage; she insulates the light and tips a sound file on the computer. Preparations for her scene, a self-made setting and a statement: – what is happening here is just a theatre illusion, an experimental arrangement to understand the nightmare „love“ – Here, Euripides‘ Medea tragedy is quoted and its adaptation by the most unknown Chilean author, Ariel Dorfman who, in his biography written in Chile during the the dictatorship by Augusto Pinochets, was clearly possessed and obsessed by the themes of revenge and forgiveness. One is in Sartre’s hell, the others are for us. And one is in Heiner Müller’s famous piece about the struggle in love „Die Quartet“, in which the man and the woman are mauling themselves for the sake of the game, changing the gender roles. This is now happening with Gala Moody and Michael Carter.

After Moody has first and again recited the first words of the Euripides drama, Carter appears. Both are measuring each other. The bodies are tense as if they caught a painful spasm at the mere sight of the other, as if Jason had already betrayed Medea for another, or as though she had already murdered the children. But then Moody suddenly jumps back with a laugh to a much earlier point of her relationship.

Carter says: „I am her”. He is Medea, the stranger, the strong. And while he babbles to his beloved one, she jumps and grabs on him, keep his mouth closed, jostles him, bounces on one leg as he accidentally steps on her foot. A rough tenderness, two bodies without suspicion nor shame. But is not the thrust now a bit crude and the arms around the neck a bit too tight? There are not exactly kisses, that Penthesilea-like become deadly bites, but the interaction between Moody and Carter becomes imperceptibly harder stroking and clawing, turning from gentle tangle of the hands into forceful compressions.

This evening the two have worked sensationally on the ambivalence of each gesture. Two star dancers. She worked with the wild fellows of the dance scene: Romeo Castellucci, Ivo Dimchev and Wim Vandekeybus. He has been with the Tanztheater Wuppertal since the 2014 and rather provided with charisma and sensitive melancholy. Intrinsically a wonderful counterpart to the rigorous woman of deed Moody, that makes their still young formation „Cie. Ofen“ absolutely attractive.

This time, however, Medea-Moody removes her gentle Jason into the corner, and if his sarcastic, cruel infringements are more like cautious attempts to subdue, the ’suspension of hostility‘ in the erotic power-struggle is quite unbelievable.

Nevertheless, captivating how the two had so enchantingly and intensively rummaged into the physical sensibilities of their characters and how cleverly they reflected on the stereotypes of the subjects doing it without any chintzy effect. Love as a war in which there can be no winner. Gala Moody and Michael Carter tell of this age-old disillusionment of all romantics with the passionate resignation of two psychologists, who can not protect from the pull of emotions, even with the most sensitive analysis.

– By Nicole Strecker (translated by Veronica Posth)

http://www.tanzweb.org/krefeld/reviews-krefeld/not-to-be-hold-not-to-be-saved-gala-moody-and-michael-carter-succeed-with-the-vase-in-krefeld

 


28 July 2017

 

New People: Cie. OFEN at Ekeby

Cie.OFEN Has Been In Residency At Ekeby International Research Center For Contemporary Arts In The Netherlands Where They Plotted Out Their New Creation For 2017/18. Tentatively Titled “New People” Will Be A Cross-Disciplinary Low-Fi Sci-Fi Piece Featuring Homeless Aliens Who Come To Earth Hoping For A Better Life. “New People“ Will Venture Into New Territory Of Theatrical Intervention Planning A Broad Curation Of Digital, Spectacle And Sculptural Components.

www.cieofen.com

 

 

Having a Voice

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTISTIC DIRECTORS OF CIE.OFEN GALA MOODY (AUS/BE) AND MICHAEL CARTER(AUS/DE) BY MARC WAGENBACH -28 July 2017

M: Welcome both of you at Ekeby. Maybe you can introduce yourself by telling us a bit about your work.

Mi: I am Michael Carter and a dancer from Sydney. I am co-director of Cie.OFEN and dancer of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch.

G: And I am Gala Moody also dancer and co-director of Cie.OFEN, which we’ve had for five years now.

M: And you know each other from Australia?

Mi: Yes, we know each other from 2005. We worked at a company together called Leigh Warren & Dancers in Adelaide. Since then, we both created different works for stage or film and we were both in each others creative lives. We did two and a half pieces together: One Final Evolutionary Note and Evolution/Repetition, and The Vase.

G: So, two full works really.

M: And this is basically the beginning of the research for the third one.

G: Yes.

REBELLING FROM COMFORTS

M: How would you describe your artistic process?

G: We are very much rebelling from our own comforts. We don’t believe in having a set vocabulary in our work, that doesn’t sit well with us at all. So in that way we are mainly a research company and we create movement purely from an idea and a conceptual stand point rather then fitting the movement into a concept that is new. For example for: “One Final Evolutionary Note“, we worked with the idea of evolution from Charles Darwin. We researched movement over 4 months: from the positioning in space to the movement decision itself and the timing. It was all directly influenced from the research material.

M: Which kind of research material was it?

G: We had the book: “On the Origin of Species“ by Charles Darwin and…

Mi: … we watched lots of videos on how animals and organisms interact, fight and survive.

G: What are symbiotic relationship with animals?

Mi: ….and how planets move, and evolution in thought “I think therefor I am’.

G: In our second piece, I was going though a very hard break-up, when we started; and I was also studying Medea for a theater play. We were looking for a text to start with and we found a modern version of Medea which we both found interesting. We wanted to work more theatrically with body language. We used a lot of text in the piece also.

Mi: .. and we wrote a lot of stuff and quoted from emails.

M: So text was a very strong reference in this process?

G: Yes. We were very curious about text and the voice, and very scared also. In the piece we quote the theater play that we were looking at; “Purgatorio” by Ariel Dorfman, and Euripides “Medea”, and our own biographical texts. It had these three layers of the narrative which had all the same themes but different time periods.

Mi: We wanted the movement to be true to the idea that “Everything is valid“. We were interested in the randomness of life and we wanted to make movement that was true to that, also feeling it would work well for these volatile characters of Jason and Medea.

G: We also liked the idea that we could play with theatricality. So one minute we were Michael and Gala on stage and then next we were Medea and Jason. Therefore, we could leave the characters and retake them again throughout the piece.

Mi: Physically we had to learn how we were as well. Because as a performer you usually go into performance mode and your body changes for the role, but we had to be ourselves.

G: We found when it came to performing the clue was in each other. As long as we keyed into each other.

Mi: In that moment. In that day. How were we reacting to that movement and the text. Otherwise, it became something that was learnt and rehearsed and distant somehow and actually we weren’t in the moment.

G: It had very much the feeling for us of Performance Art. You are there and paying attention.

NEW PEOPLE. A CROSS-DISCIPLINARY LOW-FI SCI-FI

M: Now to your new production: “New People“. Could you tell us something about the idea?

G: After re-premiering The Vase last month, we had a really great response, and we weren’t expecting that. Somehow it gave us a whole new lease of life for the company..

Mi: …to trust in the work.

G: What we were trying to say got across and that was huge for us.

Mi: That was especially great because we didn’t make it easy for an audience. We wanted to challenge the audience also. For example we wanted to see how long we can wait before we did an action.

G: There was no music hardly. We weren’t following anything we have seen on stage before. It was really a conglomerate of randomness. It was clear that we had to make another piece!

Mi: Somebody said on the last piece that they felt they were seeing something they haven’t seen, that was something, we worked hard to get that. We are not on the worst track we could be. So let’s make a new piece.

M: And why aliens?

Mi: When we are on stage, we are often seen as a man and a woman, people project ideas like lovers, married..

G: Married lovers. Lovers married.

Mi: We also talked a lot about gender: How people perceive you in public if you are dressed more feminine more masculine. It is a kind of a common topic what we like to talk about. So, we thought, we take all this away.

G: Those things don’t aline with our own ideas of gender. In life we are much more gender fluid.

Mi: And so we just thought, we take gender away from the audience straight away and make these two characters aliens that do not have race or gender or skin color. Actually, we will have a skin color but we not quite sure what color. So, the conversation is not about that. To have a look at the “real thing“ we are doing: not a man or a woman.

M: And what is the real thing?

Mi: Identity. Integration. Power-play. Power struggles. Finding your place in life and then learning to adapt.

G: Having a voice.

Mi: Yes, having a voice. Existing. Having some control over your life in terms of your surroundings and the people around you.

G: And therefore, what is it to be human? Can an alien try to be human?

M: Is there also a wish to fit in?

Mi: Anyone that comes from a foreign place to a new place find that the people around them want them to fit in. Everyone loves the “happy foreigner“ who makes an effort and not the angry foreigner who doesn’t want tochange and adapt. We thought, these aliens would be happy and would really make an effort, who really want to be part of this society. But I think in terms of us: do we want to fit in?

G: Well, I think it is quite prominent in our lives, fitting in, putting down roots.

Mi: To be part of a group. To move to a new place. To able to fit in. To get a house. Or to learn a language. The bureaucratic side of it. It is always so complicated. You can do it with humour, or you can do it with bitterness. We would like to see if you could make a funny piece.

G: I think in life there is a need to touch subjects that are difficult with lightness, in our friendship we like to joke and in our work we use humour to get through things that are hard.

Mi: I think, Australian humour is quite sarcastic, it had a dark side.

G: It is also a new medium for us. You don’t get to explore this too much in dance.

END OF INTERVIEW

 

EAR Productions website

(http://ear.productions/ear-translate-fiction/ear.people.php?dm=1&_l=1)

 


5th June, 2017

 

GALA MOODY & MICHAEL CARTER, CIE.OFEN: THE VASE, AT BÖRSE WUPPERTAL

by Frances d’Ath, www.supernaut.info

 

Photo by Frances d’Ath

 

Six hours on the Autobahn and straight into the theatre to find Gala and Michael hard at it. I reckon they must be near the end, arriving so late as I did, but they keep going, like they were waiting as long as possible for me to get there before they started. In the end I missed maybe 20 minutes of their pre-general on Thursday evening and had the delight of their sweaty hot bodies jumping on me the instant they realised who the tardy arrival was.

Turns out missing the beginning is crucial to understanding what’s going on. Without Gala’s first monologue the piece only has the meaning I put on it; it’s a strong argument for context and against interpretation. So I’ll start with interpretation. A woman in a long, pale-lemon dress, cut just below the half-way line of her calves. Sleeveless, but over a dirty white short-sleeved shirt. A man in Oxford Blue corduroy trousers and a blue-grey unbuttoned shirt over a dirty white singlet. Both bare foot. A stage coated with ash, four wooden chairs, and downstage where the stage manager’s box would be if it were on-stage instead of off, a table, chair, computer, sound and light desks, spaghetti-ing cables onto the floor into a red effects box, and a single microphone on a long cable.

It’s one of the enduring clichés of dance theatre, ballet, contemporary dance and all, the single man and woman on stage, dressed so, performing the clichés of heteronormativity. It would be a comedy, except it’s not. It’s a cliché also of gay male choreographers making such work, almost a compulsion, like having to ‘reinterpret’ Giselle or Swan Lake. I’m watching these two dancers, tall, lithe, strong, who I’ve known for well over a decade in various cities and countries, who have danced together for thirteen years now, who I adore— so let’s not pretend I have any interest in lip service to ‘objectivity’ here — who I love watching dance, especially when it’s their own dancing, especially together. I’m watching them, and without the benefit of that first monologue, wonder how awkward it’s going to be if they fall over into that cliché. And giving them credit here, I know them for mercilessly mocking all the tropes and stereotypes of dance, both with their words and with their bodies. Yet sometimes the piece makes itself, and sometimes even the most caustic find themselves wanting to say something on those roles and identities and selfhood which are real and lived, which we have to negotiate even if we ourselves are not fully part of, even while they are so often used to fill the void of ideas.

The next day I see the whole work. I pay attention. I listen to Gala say, “Have you said any words of love today? There are no words of love today.” Say, whisper, bellow. Her voice is a typhoon blasting the stage, pushing the air before it. Rage, hate, anguish. This is the story ofMedea, who kills her children after her husband’s betrayal. This is the story of Gala. InGenesis, Michel Serres says,

The more I think, the less I am me. If I think something, I am that something. If I simply think, I am no longer anyone. In any case, me thinking am nothing.

[…] Dance is to the body proper what exercise of thought is the subject known as I. The moreI dance, the less I am me. If I dance something, I am that something, or I signify it. When I dance, I am only the blank body of the sign.

When Gala and Michael reference the story of Medea and Jason, the Gods take an interest.Not to say it’s an invocation, but rather to recite the lines from Euripides’ Medea, and to find or thread together multiple variations, be it Euripides, Ariel Dorfman’s Purgatorio, or their own private lives deferred through these variations is enough to reverse the relationship. It isMedea who dances her life through Gala as much as it is Gala who draws on Medea to tell her own. It is a repetition across time, through each work referencing a predecessor, tracing branchings and bifurcations back to Medea. It is a repetition also in their bodies, dancing themselves, dancing each other.

 

Photo by Frances d’Ath

 

I want to diverge from philosophy here and write of the awe I feel seeing these two together.Because this is becoming something of a review and not just photography and a travel document, Gala and Michael first danced together in Leigh Warren & Dancers, coming from Oz Ballet; Gala from WAAPA (by way of me and a couple of pieces back when I actually made dance). Michael went on to Compañía Nacional de Danza in Madrid, whileGala went to Charleroi Danses then Ultima Vez in Brussels. As for why I was seeing them in Wuppertal, Michael joined Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch a while ago. So we’re talking about two highly capable dancer-performers, who have worked across dance, theatre, opera in Europe and Australia while making their own work together for much of that time, and ‘officially’ since 2012 under the name Cie.OFEN. They move, alone and together, with brutal clarity. This isn’t the kind of work you can make in six weeks by throwing together some steps and ideas; it’s a knowing of self and each other down to their bones, worked into their bones. Even if they had gone fully into the cliché, I’d be destroyed by the beauty of them together.

The inevitability in their dancing. They compound that with dialogue, or with just the mundane acts of technical concerns, changing the lights, sound. There’s a moment whereGala is on all fours, around the centre of the work, the light and the energy has gone into a dark place, like blood is going to be spilt — or already has and you don’t even feel it yet —and Michael, barely above a whisper, spits, “Get. Up.” Savage. A slap to the face. Hatred where there was supposed to be love; betrayal and resentment and spite. You want to see work like this. You want the shit mediocrity of the cliché exposed for what it is: violence and abuse. Those saccharine dramatic conceits of the love story rest on the unmentionable bodies of murdered women, and while Medea might have murdered her children, this is projection: it is not women who are the murderers, not terrorists who women must fear, but the men in our midst, the men closest.

It’s a fucking hard, brave work.

It’s a beautiful work. I’ve said that already. Here is the violence of abuse, and here also is something to aspire to, here is a way out. Michael and Gala, Gala and Michael. Maybe a decade and some years is what’s needed for such a work. The care they take with each other, the familiarity, even or especially when they get rough, when it needs to be endured.The matter of fact getting on with it, like digging in the garden, there’s a complete absence of pretence that also doesn’t try and be some shite authenticity, like here’s the genuine, essential, real Gala and Michael for your entertainment. I want to say more, but then it becomes personal, and the point of a performance is to defer biography. So I will end with the end. Michael is back at the table. He and Gala have danced together, separate but together, increasingly apart, the light has increased for this last somewhat third or act, he sits and watches her as she comes from upstage in front of the chairs, dancing, dancing, and fades the lights, she’s smiling. Alone, survived, no longer Medea, Gala dancing, smiling.

 

Gala Moody & Michael Carter, Cie. OFEN: The Vase, at Börse Wuppertal

 


02 June 2017

 

„THERE IS NO FIRE-ESCAPE IN HELL…“

CIE. OFEN MIT „THE VASE“ IN DER WUPPERTALER „BÖRSE“

Von Klaus Dilger, TanzWeb Wuppertal

 

 

Ariel  Dorfman’s  „Purgatorio“  diente  der  „Compagnie  OFEN“  des  Pina  Bausch  TänzersMichael Carter und der früheren Michelle Anne de Mey und Wim Vandekeybus/Ultima Vez Tänzerin Gala Moody als Vorlage und Inspiration zu ihrem Tanzstück „The Vase“, das am2. Juni in Wuppertal in der „Börse“ zur Aufführung gelangte.

Vier  Stühle,  ein  Tisch  und  der  Boden,  überzogen  von  einer  ausgetrockneten  dünnenLehmschicht,  davor  ein  (Regie)Tisch,  auf  den  ein  Laptop,  Lichtsteuerung,  Mikrofon  undTonanlage  gepackt  sind,  nebst  Sampler-Pedal  auf  dem  Boden,  mit  dessen  Hilfe    sichEndlos-Tonschleifen erzeugen und wiedergeben lassen.

Die  karge  Versuchslandschaft  signalisiert  etwas  Prozesshaftes,  lange  Zurückliegendes und  doch  nicht  Abgeschlossenes,  dem  bereits  jede  Flüssigkeit  und  Leben  Spendendes entzogen   wurde,   dem   handelnde   Personen   abhanden   gekommen   sein   müssen, präsentiert in einem Raum, dessen Unwirtlichkeit wenig Hoffnung für „die Frau“ und „denMann“ erwarten lassen, wie Dorfman seine „Purgatorio“-Protagonisten nennt.

Der Chilenische Autor, der weltweite Beachtung vor allem durch sein Drama „Der Tod und das  Mädchen“  erlangte,  das  Roman  Polanski  1994  mit  Sigourney  Weaver  und  BenKingsley  verfilmte,  greift  in  seinem  Bühnenstück  „Purgatorio“  auf  Euripides’  Mythos„Medea“  zurück,  die  ihre  beiden  Söhne  tötete,  nachdem  Jason  sie  verlassen  hatte.  Sie antwortete mit dieser Tat auf das Schlimmste, was ihr von dem Geliebten angetan werden konnte mit dem Schlimmsten, was sie ihm antun konnte.

Dorfman fragt, mit Verweis auf Dante Alighieri’s „Inferno“, ebenso wie Carter und Moody in„The Vase“, ob und wie es hieraus jemals eine Erlösung durch Verzeihen geben kann.

Dorfman  ist  ein  Meister  des  Dialogs,  der  Beobachtung,  der  überraschenden  Wendungen und  der  Spannung,  der  kleinsten  Details  und  der  ihnen  eigenen  Sinnlichkeiten.  SeineSprache  muss  selbst  in  den  erschütterndsten  und  schrecklichsten  Augenblicken  und deren Inhalten noch als wundervoll empfunden werden.

Dies  gilt  auch  für  Gala  Moody  und  Michael  Carter  in  ihrem  Tanzstück,  besonders  dann, wenn  sie  rein  auf  die  Sprache  des  Körpers  und  des  Tanzes  vertrauen.  Mit  feinstenNuancen  gelingt  es  ihnen  immer  wieder,  Hoffnung  aufkeimen  zu  lassen,  dass  vertrauten und vertrauensvollen Gesten, Bewegungen, Berührungen dem Erinnern wiederLebendigkeit  verleihen  möge.  Doch  stets  entpuppt  sich  diese  Hoffnung  als  ein  erneutes, gewolltes  Quälen  des  Anderen.  Es  ist  ein  endlos  scheinendes  infernales  Spiel  umSehnsucht  und  Liebe,  Schuld  und  verweigerte  Vergebung,  das  Moody  („die  Frau“)  stets noch ein wenig meisterlicher beherrscht als Carter („der Mann“). Diese Hölle entzieht sich nach  gut  einer  Stunde  langsam  den  Blicken  der  Zuschauer  und  lässt  sie  im  Dunkel entschwinden. Wir erahnen als Letztes noch das rätselhafte Lächeln der Frau ….

Viel  Beifall  für  die  grandiose  Leistung  zweier  wundervoller  Tänzer,  der  anteilig  sicherlich auch der unter die Haut gehenden Komposition Sascha Budimski’s gegolten hat.

 

 


 

 


24 November 2015

 

From dancer to artist

by Luke Aaron Forbes, Dance Australia Magazine

Photo © by Danny Willems

 

Michael Carter is an Australian dancer based in Europe who began his dance career at theAustralian Ballet after graduating from the Australian Ballet School. Following stints withLeigh Warren & Dancers and the Sue Healey Company, Carter left Australia to join the BalletVictor Ullate in Madrid, Spain, and in 2007, the Compañía Nacional de Danza under the direction of Nacho Duato. For the lucky few who experience such success both at home and abroad, this would typically mark the final stop of a laudable and diverse career. However,Carter found himself disillusioned with being “just a dancer, and not an artist”: a term he associates with having the scope for interpretation and independent decision-making in the creative process, elements more familiar to choreographers and contemporary dancers than dancers in classical and neoclassical companies. His search for fulfilment has now taken him from the relatively warm climate and rich cultural life of Madrid to the Tanztheater WuppertalPina Bausch in German, a company still regrouping following Pina Bausch’s passing in 2009.

When Carter auditioned for the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch he was turned away. On his way home he received a phone call from the confused audition panel wondering why he had left so quickly. Although he did not suit the role they sought to cast on that particular day, they stayed in touch and approximately two years later offered him a contract for the production Masurca Fogo. “It’s a privilege to be there,” he says, not only because he’s benefitting from the extensive stage experience of his more mature colleagues, but also because of the relatively uncomplicated and well-paid working conditions afforded “guest dancers” and freelancers in Germany in comparison to Spain. Although he still calls Madrid home, the bureaucratic minefield associated with freelance work in that country makes him increasingly drawn toward northern Europe.

His career is now at a crossroads. He is faced with the difficult decision of either opting for the financial security and routine of a company, or pursuing his own creative vision as a freelance dancer and choreographer. He “has always been happiest freelancing”, and has tried to keep up that aspect of his career in his spare time. His side projects have now culminated in the founding of Cie.OFEN (www.cieofen.com), a company co-directed with fellow Australian dancer, Gala Moody. The pair have worked together before on Australian soil in productions such as Leigh Warren’s and the State Opera of South Australia’s Phillip Glass Trilogy collaboration. Moody is currently working in Brussels in Wim Vandekeybus’s company, Ultima Vez.

Michael and Gala’s first work as Cie.OFEN, titled One Final Evolutionary Note, premiered in Umeå, Sweden, in 2014, with the support of Aerowaves’s Spring Forward Festival. Aerowaves is a “cross-border dance performance network” and its annual festival provides performance opportunities for young “priority companies”. The experience proved to be a “real learning process”, Carter says. Firstly, “Aerowaves rarely presents premieres, rather tried and tested works”. This meant that despite never having performed their work in a theatre, Moody andCarter only had “a one hour technical rehearsal and at that moment the technicians had their lunch break!” Their lighting designer “did it live, which he had never tried before”.

Secondly, the business aspect of showing at a festival came as a surprise. “One English dance critic was chatting with me after our show and asked, ‘How much does it cost?’ I didn’t understand the question at first, but when I realised he was asking how much it would cost to buy our work. I had to admit I didn’t really know!” After some stern words from the critic Carter was sent off to mingle with dance curators and distributors, which is “what you’re actually there for,” he adds. He and Moody learnt that art works “don’t speak for themselves”,and since then have been trying to “make more noise”. A festival director Carter has contacted confided that she sifts through “hundreds of emails from choreographers every Monday”.Because of the sheer number, “she only replies to those who are persistent”.

With regard to Cie.OFEN’s dance aesthetic, Carter apologises for being “terrible” at talking about his own creations. To get the ball rolling he refers to a “Spanish critic who was surprised our work didn’t look like something by Nacho Duato”. Rather than generating material in a conventional way, as in agreeing upon a fixed sequence of steps, he and Moody try to avoid“just filling space and time”. Instead they work with an eclectic range of tools and techniques borrowed from other disciplines, such as acting.

Unfortunately, in spite of Carter’s desire to show Cie.OFEN’s creations in Australia, until now the performers have received “zero fanfare” back home and funding bodies have advised them, he says, “not to waste their time. We just don’t tick the right boxes”. This lack of interest back home is a reality many overseas Australian artists have to confront when they wish to return. That is a pity, because Australian artists would surely reap the benefits of a creative dialogue between artists on the local scene and abroad – as would Australian audiences.

 

– This article was first published in the 2015 June/July issue of ‘Dance Australia’.

 


6 October 2015

 

Opening Ulti’mates festival

by Ingaline Geldhof, CK Danst Blog

 

 

– English version below –

“Ik tracht altijd mij op hetzelfde niveau te zetten van mijn dansers.” Wim Vandekeybus brengt in het interview zijn geheimen voor een geslaagde voorstelling aan het licht. Wim heeft naar eigen zeggen een goede intuïtie om mensen in te schatten. Hij behandelt iedereen verschillend en voelt intuïtief aan wat ze nodig hebben om het beste van zichzelf naar boven te halen. Hij eist ook inbreng van de dansers zelf. Één van zijn manieren om dat te doen is ze een persoonlijke tekening van hun droom laten maken voor een voorstelling zonder tekst. Met zijn jarenlange ervaring is Wim ook hard voor mensen. Veel jonge mensen houden van anekdotes, geven soms kinderachtige of gewoonweg foute voorstellen, maar dan probeert hij er toch nog het beste uit te halen. Een voorstelling vergelijkt hij met een tuin waarin je gewassen plant. Planten groeien, maar niks is meteen afgewerkt. Binnen de eerste vijf jaar heeft hij plannen om opera te regisseren. Iets vernieuwends trekt hem aan, want hij wil niet enkel doen waar hij al goed in is. Slechts vier maanden heeft hij nodig om een voorstelling voor te bereiden.

Om kwart na acht zitten we vol spanning in de zaal te wachten tot de dansvoorstelling The vase begint. Nog nooit eerder heb ik zo’n voorstelling live meegemaakt. Wel heb ik fragmenten bekeken met oogverblindende dansers. Mijn verwachtingen liggen dan ook niet laag.
Op het podium staan alleen een simpele tafel en twee stoelen. Gala Moody, die broos en breekbaar op de grond ligt, houdt vanaf de eerste minuut mijn aandacht vast. De mannelijke danser in het verhaal, Michael Carter, lijkt op het eerste zicht de gewelddadige echtgenoot die de vrouw onderdrukt. Heel lang wordt er niks gezegd in het begin, wat me een ietwat akelig gevoel bezorgt. Indrukwekkend om te zien hoeveel gezegd kan worden zonder te praten.

In de manier waarop ze dansen is duidelijk te zien hoe het koppel elkaar aantrekt en afstoot. Ze voelen elkaar aan en zijn perfect op elkaar ingespeeld. Hoewel de vrouw eerst broos en breekbaar leek, weet ze zichzelf nu wel te verweren. Een verzoening komt eerder van de kant van de man. De vrouw lijkt haar relatie geen kans meer te willen geven. De lifts in de voorstelling vind ik zeer indrukwekkend. Het gaat zo vlot dat het gemakkelijk lijkt, maar zelf zou ik er natuurlijk niks van bakken.

Doorheen de volledige voorstelling wordt weinig tekst gebruikt, maar langdurige gesprekken zijn totaal overbodig. Het eerste dat de man zegt is ‘There were two chairs’, wat volgens mij verwijst naar de gelukkige tijden van vroeger, wanneer ze nog zonder problemen samen aan tafel zaten. Ook het zinnetje ‘Are you stuck?’ komt vaak terug. Hierdoor wordt duidelijk dat het koppel lijdt en dat ze elkaar geen hulp bieden. Op een gegeven moment is de man op zoek naar bloemen, wat me doet denken aan de romantiek die niet meer te vinden is. De metaforen waren zeker een meerwaarde aan de voorstelling.

De muziek in het stuk bestond uit geluiden. Gala Moody en Michael Carter stonden zelf in voor de bediening van het geluid. Op een gegeven moment werd ik zo in de voorstelling meegesleept dat ik bijna gek werd van een bepaald deuntje, omdat ik het associeerde met het geweld dat erbij kwam kijken.

The vase heeft me zeker overtuigd om na het Ulti’mates festival mijn ervaring met dansvoorstellingen nog uit te breiden. Ik was enorm onder de indruk van de expressieve dans en bewegingen van Gala Moody en Michael Carter. Iedereen moet in zijn leven minstens één keer zo’n indrukwekkende dansvoorstelling meegemaakt hebben. The vase is en echte aanrader!

Opening Ulti’mates festival

 

English version:

“I always try to put myself on the same level of my dancers.” Wim Vandekeybus brings in the interview his secrets for a successful performance. Wim said in itself a good intuition to estimate people. He treats everyone differently and feels intuitively what they need to get the best out of themselves. He also demands input from the dancers themselves. One of his ways to do that is to let them make a personal drawing of their dream for a performance without text. With his years of experience, Wim is also hard for people. Many young people love anecdotes, sometimes give childish or just wrong suggestions, but then he still tries to get the best out. He compares a show with a garden planting your crops. Plants grow, but nothing is done right away. Within the first five years he has plans to direct opera. Something innovating attracts him, because he does not just want to do what he is good at. Just four months he needs to prepare a performance.

At quarter past eight we are waiting for the dance show to start the vase. Never before I have had such a live show. However, I have watched fragments with dazzling dancers. My expectations are therefore not low.

On the stage there is only a simple table and two chairs. Gala Moody, who is fragile and fragile on the ground, keeps my attention from the first minute. The male dancer in the story, Michael Carter, seems at first sight the violent husband who suppresses the woman. Very long, nothing is said at the beginning, which gives me a somewhat awkward feeling. Impressive to see how much can be said without talking.

In the way they dance, it is clear how the couple attracts and repels each other. They feel each other and are perfectly matched. Although the woman seemed fragile and fragile, she now knows how to defend herself. A reconciliation comes earlier from the man’s side. The woman does not seem to want to give her relationship anymore. The elevators in the show I find very impressive. It’s so easy that it seems easy, but of course I would not mind it.

Throughout the performance, little text is used, but long-term conversations are totally unnecessary. The first thing the man says is ‘There were two chairs’, which I think refers to the happy times of the past when they were still sitting at the table without problems. Also the sentence ‘Are you stuck?’ Often comes back. This makes it clear that the couple is suffering and that they do not offer any help. At one point the man is looking for flowers, which reminds me of the romanticism that is no longer available. The metaphors were definitely an added value to the performance.

The music in the piece consisted of sounds. Gala Moody and Michael Carter were in charge of the operation of the sound. At one point, I was dragged into the show that I became almost crazy about a certain tune because I was associating with the violence that came with it.

The vase convinced me to expand my experience with dance shows after the Ulti’mates festival. I was hugely impressed with the expressive dance and movements of Gala Moody and Michael Carter. Everyone must have experienced such an impressive dance show at least once in his life. The vase is highly recommended!

Opening Ulti’mates festival

 


5 October 2015

 

The Vase gezien vanuit mijn oogpunt (The Vase seen from my point of view)

– English version below –

Altijd spannend wanneer je de schouwburg binnen wandelt en het podium ziet. In het midden een tafel en 2 stoelen. Zullen ze rond de tafel dansen dan? Wat zouden die stoelen betekenen in de voorstelling? Op de grond ligt een vrouw en op de achtergrond staat een man.

Het decor straalt niet uit dat dit een dansvoorstelling wordt. Het licht in de zaal verdwijnt en er komt beweging…Ze beginnen rustig naast elkaar, maar na de eerste lift voel je dat deze dansers enorm goed op elkaar ingespeeld zijn. Er hangt een duistere sfeer. Stof op de grond en de dansers versterkt dit effect – hierdoor worden ze grouw. Er vindt mooi duo-werk plaats op het podium waarin de vrouw en man afwisselend de leidende functie nemen. Deze voorstelling toont twee mensen die proberen te achterhalen waarom hun relatie fout liep, dit las ik vooraf. De dans straalt inderdaad discussie uit. De dansers dansen fantastisch samen maar niet altijd even liefdevol. Er wordt soms zelf bijna gevochten op het podium waarbij de vraag ” Are you stuck?” valt. Er is een constante afwisseling tussen haat en liefde. Hierbij worden vaak bewegingen herhaald. Wanneer het wat stil viel, pakte de choreografe uit met een lift of een bruuske val, waardoor de voorstelling dan toch weer herneemt net op het moment dat je de neiging hebt daaraan te twijfelen. De duistere sfeer met de eenvoudige geluiden houdt niet de hele voorstelling aan. In een kantelmoment naar het einde toe wordt plots in vol licht en op abstracte muziek gedanst. Net wat ik gehoopt had, een laatste boost. Zonder dit einde zou ik deze voorstelling een pak minder goed gevonden hebben. De laatste phrase zorgt voor het totaal plaatje. Wat deze voorstelling ook nog bijzonder maakt is dat de dansers zelf instonden voor licht en geluid. Ik heb genoten van deze première van The Vase.

Door: Margot Croubels

 

English version:

Always exciting when you walk in the theater and see the stage. In the middle a table and 2 chairs. Will they dance around the table then? What would these chairs mean in the performance? On the ground is a woman and in the background is a man.

The decor does not seem to be a dance show. The light in the hall disappears and there is movement … They start quietly next to each other, but after the first lift you feel that these dancers are very well-matched. There is a dark atmosphere. Dust on the ground and the dancers reinforces this effect – making them growl. Beautiful duo work takes place on stage in which the woman and man alternately take the lead. This show shows two people trying to figure out why their relationship went wrong, I read this beforehand. The dance is indeed the subject of discussion. The dancers dance fantastically together but not always as lovingly. Sometimes it is almost fought on stage with the question “Are you stuck?” Falls. There is a constant change between hate and love. Frequently, movements are repeated. When it fell silent, the choreographer took off with a lift or a creepy trap, which recalls the performance just the moment you tend to doubt it. The dark atmosphere with the simple sounds does not hold the whole show. In a tilting moment to the end, suddenly dancing in full light and abstract music. Just what I hoped for, a last boost. Without this end I would have found this show a lot less well. The last phrase takes care of the total picture. What makes this performance even more special is that the dancers themselves introduced light and sound. I enjoyed this premiere of The Vase.

By: Margot Croubels

 

The Vase gezien vanuit mijn oogpunt


9 August 2015

SYMBIOSES MET DE NATUUR

by Moos van den Broek, Theaterkrant.nl

 

– English version below –

Festival WhyNot toont voorstellingen op bijzondere locaties in de stad Amsterdam. De derde editie gaat een dialoog aan met de natuur en vindt plaats in de tuin van de Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam-Noord. De sfeer is retro hippie, leidraad in de programmering is de versmelting van disciplines.

Op het geïmproviseerde podium tussen twee oude bomen in de tuin is op de tweede avond van het bescheiden festivalletje het duet One final evolutionary note van Cie. OFEN te zien. Twee dansers, Michael Carter en Gala Moody, nemen de tijd en beginnen stapvoets, ieder aan een kant van het podium. Daarna draaien ze cirkels om elkaar heen en ontstaat langzaam het lichamelijk contact tussen de twee. Het duet is geïnspireerd op de theorie van Darwin en wordt met grote ernst gedanst. Het is vooral het prachtige strijklicht dat aan het begin van het duet door de bladeren van de bomen schijnt en de performance iets magisch meegeeft.

 

English version:

Festival WhyNot shows performances at special venues in the city of Amsterdam. The third edition is a dialogue with nature and takes place in the garden of the Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam-Noord. The atmosphere is retro hippie, guidance in programming is the fusion of disciplines.

On the improvised stage between two old trees in the garden, on the second evening of the modest festival, you will see the duet One final evolutionary note of Cie. OFEN. Two dancers, Michael Carter and Gala Moody, take the time and start stepfoot, each on one side of the stage. Then they rotate circles around each other and slowly create physical contact between the two. The duet is inspired by Darwin’s theory and is danced with great seriousness. It is especially the beautiful beam of light that shines through the leaves of the trees at the beginning of the duet and gives the performance something magical.

WhyNot

 


April 2014

 

Aerowaves 2014 – Spring Forward festival

by Sanjoy Roy

Whiteish costumes, whiteish floor, whiteish lights, whiteish noise. You could call the choreography white-on-white too: there’s no colour contrast in Gala Moody and Michael Carter’s duet, only the inexorable blending of monochromes. A slow circling of the stage perimeter shades into inward spirals, which morph into cyclical shifts of place and plane. It’s like watching the orbits of planets, or particles moving in some magnetic forcefield. Eventually, the dancers seem to become sentient, though only distantly conscious of each other. Moody seems to struggle and expire; Carter carries her dead weight. They cross paths but don’t connect; they chase each other, but to no end. If the duet as a whole is rather overextended, its individual sections nevertheless show both compositional rigour and a stark, sometimes haunting beauty.

 

One Final Evolutionary Note – video