visits on art, design, architecture and literature


Münchner Kammerspiele: Daina Ashbee ‘s new dance piece “Unrelated’

Artistic Direction, Concept, Choreography and Scenography: Daina Ashbee
Interpreters and Performers: Paige Culley and Areli Moran
Lighting Design:  Timothy Rodrigues
Music: Bashar C#
Length: 70 minutes
Production: Daina Ashbee, supported by the Canada Council for the Arts; the British-Columbia Arts Council; the First Peoples’ Cultural Council; the MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels); Circuit-Est; and Studio 303.
photo@Sarah Marie (courtesy  of the Int’s Dance Festival press office

Last Sunday afternoon, entering  the Kammerspiele theater,  a dancer welcomed us lying on her back, naked, arms and legs slightly stretched.  She looks relaxed, breathes quietly, palms up;  her skin is adorned with a her skin is adorned with a variety of tattoos, …..a deep roar creeps out of nowhere into the room, becomes louder and lays down over us.

photo @Venetia Kapernekas

….The white wall in the back of the stage becomes a place of refuge and the object of the aggressive unloading and recharge when the performer throws at her with all her strength. Her body becomes a place of ambivalence between anger, self-assertion and self-hatred – the hair to the curtain behind which she hides her face. The good news: everything that the two dancers suffer during the Munich Kammerspielen during this hour is choreographed and staged. The bad news: the stories behind Daina Ashbee’s production are true. The choreographer, living in Montréal, deals with the disappearance of indigenous women and girls in North America in “Unrelated.”  The gravity and brutality that such a theme brings with it is not a trivial task. Daina Ashbee finds a language which satisfies the seriousness of the matter and is at the same time poetic enough not only to shock us but also to touch us (in translation, Karen Kovacs, dance-muenchen blog)

photo @Daina Ashbee (courtesy of the Int’s Festival press office)

photo @Sarah Marie (courtesy of the Int’s Festival press office)

photo @Venetia Kapernekas

…the audience towards the 2/3 of the performance is involved in small, ritual actions with the two performers, a  piece of fur goes through the ranks, a hand touches me, all  happens very slowly, slow motion, with great caution,  direct and honest…


photos @Venetia Kapernekas

“Unrelated” is a dark work that expresses the cruelty and vulnerability confronted by Aboriginal women in Canada, while exploring the self, cultural destruction, violence and self-destruction. With a disconcerting lucidity, “Unrelated” boils with feelings of emptiness and erupts with violence suggesting the loss of culture, identity and community.  (Daina Ashbee  website ) 

In Unrelated, the first decision we needed to make was that the dancers needed to be nude. No question about it. That for me was the first layer of vulnerability the performers need to have in order to represent how vulnerable aboriginal women are. A lot of my stuff is about insistence and duration and repetition. With a time constraint, you can accentuate something that is really insistent. (Daina Ashbee on interview on Cult Montreal,)

Photo: Annik MH de Carufel Le Devoir (published at Le Devoir)

Dans Unrelated (2012), la chorégraphe abordait la violence présente dans son propre corps et la tendance à l’autodestruction tout en dépeignant la vulnérabilité et la cruauté auxquelles les femmes autochtones font largement face. Toujours personnelles et teintées de son expérience de jeune femme d’origine crie et métisse, ses créations troublantes ne manquent pas de faire leur marque dans les esprits. (‘Les séismes intimes’de Daina Ashbee, Le Devoir, Libre de Penser)

Daina Ashbee & the performers Paige Culley and Areli Moran; photo@Venetia Kapernekas

My choreography is an investigation of the body in order to address the subconscious. A deepening of my own consciousness. The art of dance brings me closer to my own body and to the awareness of my own thoughts and processes. Articulating this awareness through choreography helps to uncover my connection to the environment, the earth and to my ancestors. (Daina Ashbee statement) 

…In a mixture of contemporary and traditional dance she contrasts the terrible aspects of the history with an inner powerfulness, vulnerability, and sensitivity. In a disturbing and expressive piece two dancers embody how unknown physical strengths in the body can manifest themselves. This is a recurring theme, like a thread, in the work of this artist living in Montreal. She became known internationally following an invitation to Geneva, where she presented her work in 2015 at the Global Alliance Against Female Genital Mutilation at Musée d’ethnographie de Genève (MEG). (press release of the Int’ l Festival Tanz, Munich) 



Delphi and Ithaka:a spring pilgrimage

photo @VK Feb.24th,2017_ 10 am


Departing Munich with my daughter that rainy morning on February 23rd and arriving to Athens on sunny afternoon and  driving directly  to Delphi it was  indeed a pilgrimage to Light.

Delphi was an important ancient Greek religious sanctuary sacred to the god Apollo. It is located on Mt. Parnassus about 178km northwest of Athens

Delphi at a very early stage was a place of worship for Gaia, the mother goddess connected with fertility and also home to the panhellenic Pythian Games.  The sanctuary was home to the famous oracle of Apollo which gave cryptic predictions and guidance to both city-states and individuals.

Architecture: The first temple in the area was built in the 7th century BCE and was itself a replacement for less substantial buildings of worship which had stood before it. The focal point of the sanctuary, the Doric temple of Apollo, was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 548 BCE. A second temple, again Doric in style, was completed in c. 510 BCE with the help of the exiled Athenian family, the Alcmeonids.

The oracle of Apollo at Delphi was famed throughout the Greek world and even beyond. The oracle – the Pythia or priestess – would answer questions put to her by visitors wishing to be guided in their future actions. The whole process was a lengthy one, usually taking up a whole day and only carried out on specific days of the year. First the priestess would perform various actions of purification such as washing in the nearby Castalian Spring, burning laurel leaves, and drinking holy water. Next an animal – usually a goat – was sacrificed. The party seeking advice would then offer a pelanos – a sort of pie – before being allowed into the inner temple where the priestess resided and gave her pronouncements, possibly in a drug or natural gas-induced state of ecstasy.( Mark Cartwright at Ancient History Encyclopedia) 

photo @VK Feb.24th,2017_ 11 am

“…The oracle of Apollo at Delphi was famed throughout the Greek world and even beyond. The oracle – the Pythia or priestess – would answer questions put to her by visitors wishing to be guided in their future actions. The whole process was a lengthy one, usually taking up a whole day and only carried out on specific days of the year. First the priestess would perform various actions of purification such as washing in the nearby Castalian Spring, burning laurel leaves, and drinking holy water. Next an animal – usually a goat – was sacrificed. The party seeking advice would then offer a pelanos – a sort of pie – before being allowed into the inner temple where the priestess resided and gave her pronouncements, possibly in a drug or natural gas-induced state of ecstasy.” (Mark Cartwright at Ancient History Encyclopedia)

The ancient theatre at Delphi was built further up the hill from the Temple of Apollo giving spectators a view of the entire sanctuary and the valley below ; photo@VK

  Archaeological Museum of Delphi, designed by Alexandros Tombazis, photo@VK

The site was ‘re-discovered’ with the first modern excavations being carried out in 1880 CE by a team of French archaeologists…all survive as testimony to the cultural and artistic wealth that Delphi had once enjoyed.

(from left to right): “Column of the Dancers “,the three  daughters of Cecropos, about 13 m_”Aghias”, son of Agonios, champion at many Panhellenic games in the 5th century BC _ the twin marble archaic statues – the kouroi of Argos (c. 580 BCE) and the marble Sphinx of the Naxians (c. 560 BCE), (in museum) ;photo@VK by permission
splendid metope sculptures from the treasury of the Athenians (c. 490 BCE) and the Siphnians (c. 525 BCE) depicting scenes from Greek mythology ; in museum , photo@VK by permission

Staying in Delphi for 2 days, we continue driving to Astakos to catch the ferry for Ithaka.. An incredible island this time of the year  as the spring arrived early.  The island has been inhabited since the 2nd millennium BC. It may have been the capital of Cephalonia during the Mycenaean period and the capital-state of the small kingdom ruled by Odysseus. The Romans occupied the island in the 2nd century BC, and later it became part of the Byzantine Empire. The Normans ruled Ithaca in the 13th century, and after a short Turkish rule it fell into Venetian hands (Ionian Islands under Venetian rule). more here… 

I rest for a moment on the  poem “Ithaka” by C.P.Cavafy, 

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard (C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

We stayed for a week at the most beautiful yoga retreat in Greece and beyond. http://itha108.com/gallery/

Ana-Nefeli saving a 3 week baby goat from the sea

Megaro Drakouli at Vathi

Athens “Young Lear” by Ioli Andreadi at Thissio Theater

“Young Lear” directed by Ioli Andreadi
Based on William Shakespeare’s King Lear ; written by Ioli Andreadi and Aris Asproulis

An old, very old tale
About a naked King who, giving away his heavy duties,
Was devoured by the snake of Life
And found out everything the man knows when he succumbs.


I read about the success of the “Young Lear” presented for the first time on the 17th and 18th of July 2016 at the Athens and Epidaurus Festival.  Unfortunately I was not in Athens to experience this play but I was gladly informed by Ioli and Aris  that it will be presented on limited engagement this  October at Thissio theater. October 1st, in Athens, opening night.  Joy and admiration for this young and much promised new voice in theater, Ioli Andreadi.

I met Ioli Andreadi and Aris Asproulis a hot August afternoon  in Sifnos island; they brought me a small gift the book “Young Lear”(Kapa Ekdotiki); enjoying a glass of cold greek wine, I enjoyed listening their future plans and  talking to me about the play… later that night I read in one breath the book;  I was trying to imagine this beautiful young woman, Ioli Andreadi, a fragile figure like Audrey Hepburn, how she managed to engage herself in such a  difficult play and bring it  under a modern light.  Indeed, Ioli  has done it.


photo@Panos Michail

‘Young Lear” is honest, clear and bold.  A strange, imaginative dual narration begins. A new ‘postmodern’ rapprochement.  Ioli and Aris  selectively transfer parts  of King Lear, creating two levels, one that is written  now, at present, and the other inhaling  thru the Shakespearean chosen text(s). Having as a guide the King Lear, they brilliantly bring the audience to experience a modern family tragedy.  The dramaturgy of the actors in equal levels alters from the spoken words of the careful text  to the well orchestrated  actors’ movements expressing and indicating  their intentions.  The balance is superb.   The minimal and  austere set design  (waiting room of  a hospital) by Dimitra Liakoura  is managed  miraculously by the actors;




photos@Kiki Papadopoulou


Ioli Andreadi and Aris Asproulis are determined to question bold questions : Are the protagonists of King Lear depositaries of family structures and conflicts? Representatives of good or evil? Archetypes for the characters we invent for our ancestors, whose fulfillment burdens us our whole lives long? And what about these fears that seem to be ours but are not? Can the Shakespearean language serve as a substitute for what is left unsaid at the dinner table? Can poetry return what was never fulfilled?




photos@Kiki Papadopoulou


Concept – Direction – Translation – Movement: Ioli Andreadi
Text: Ioli Andreadi & Aris Asproulis
Set & Costume Design: Dimitra Liakoura
Sound Design: Yiannis Christophides
Lighting Design: Christina Thanasoula
Constructions – Artwork: Pericles Pravitas
Photos: Panos Michail and Kiki Papadopoulou
Production Design: Art Minds
Cast (in an alphabetical order): Christina Garbi, Eleana Kafkala, Thimios Koukios, Maria G. Proistaki, Nektarios Smyrnakis, Miltiadis Fiorentzis
2016. At a hospital. Somewhere.
synopsis: In the waiting room of the surgery, five brothers and sisters are waiting, while their father is going through a high-risk surgical operation. The hours go by. After many moments of fear, silence and agony, one of the sons starts speaking. He takes over the ‘part’ of the father. His are King Lear’s words. His siblings are hesitant. Why should someone want the ‘part’ of the father? Gradually, they give in and follow his lead. They undermine him. They provoke him. Young Lear is a new play based on the well-known tale of the King of Britain who divides his fortune to his two daughters who do not love him, but know how to win, and disowns the third daughter who loves him but does not know how to show it. This is the renowned story of the king who was fooled and became vulnerable, who lost his mind and became wise. (Young Lear, press ) 



photos@Kiki Papadopoulou
Ioli Andreadi was born in Athens. She studied directing at RADA and King’s College London (MA), where in 2014 she completed her PhD on Theatre and Ritual as an Alexander S. Onassis Foundation grantee. She lived in London and New York for seven years. She is a graduate of the Art Theatre Karolos Koun and the Theatre Studies Department of the University of Athens (BA) and holds an MA in Cultural Politics, Communication and Management from Panteion University. She has directed more than 25 productions in Athens, London, Edinburgh, Berlin, Rome and New York. She was a founding member of the international platform of theatre directors “World Wide Lab” that was created at Bob Wilson’s Watermill Center in 2011 and served as Artistic Director in New York in 2013 and in 2015 – the year when with her own initiative the Lab was hosted and organized at the island of Syros. Since then, Ioli works intensively in Greece. She has written with Aris Asproulis and directed in Greece the following shows over the past two years: “Artaud-Van Gogh / avec un pistolet”at Theatre Semio, “Cenci Family” at the Michael Cacoyiannis Foundation, “210.000 oka of cotton” at the Historical Archive of the Pireaus Bank, “Young Lear” at the Athens and Epidaurus Festival and “Murder in the Cathedral” at the Filippi Festival.
A first draft of Young Lear was staged by Ioli Andreadi in October 2014 at Teatro Due Roma, with the help of American director Annie Levy, as part of the international platform of directors “World Wide Lab”




Ειναι οι ηρωες του Βασιλια Ληρ θεματοφυλακες των οικογενειακων δομων και συγκρουσεων? Εκπροσωποι του καλου και του κακου? Αρχετυπα των χαρακτηρων που επινοουμε για τους  προγονους μας και που η εκπληρωση τους μας βαραινει μια ζωη? Κι αυτοι οι φοβοι που μοιαζουν δικοι μας κι ομως δεν ειναι? Μπορει, αραγε, η γλωσσα του Σαιξπηρ να υποκατστησει οσα δεν λεγονται στο οικογενειακο τραπεζι? Η ποιηση να επιστρεψει οσα δεν εκπληρωθηκαν ποτε? Κι αν ειναι η συγκρουση του παροντος με το παρελθον η αδιαφιλονικητη καθημερινοτητα μας  ? (Ιολη Ανδρεαδη,  Μια πρωτη σκεψη, Λονδινο, 2013) 



Ioli and Aris, Sifnos, August 2016     photo@Venetia Kapernekas


……σπεύδω να τονίσω πως η ιδέα και η γραφή της Ιόλης Ανδρεάδη με συνεργάτη τον Αρη Ασπρούλη είναι τίμια, διαυγής και τολμηρή. Εκαναν επιλεκτική μεταγραφή μέρους του Βασιλιά Ληρ, υπηρετώντας τη δική τους επαναπροσέγγιση με όρους οικονομικούς και ματιά κοινωνικο-ανθρωπολογική. Τα δύο επίπεδα στα οποία γράφτηκε το έργο, ένα σημερινό κι ένα μέσα από τα σαιξπηρικά αποσπάσματα, λειτουργούν και συμπορεύονται τόσο νοηματικά όσο κι ερμηνευτικά κερδίζοντας το δύσκολο στοίχημα.  (Αννυ Κολτσιδοπουλου στη Kathimerini, ” Παλιοι μυθοι σε νεα μορφη” )

Ο “Young Lear” δεν είναι μια κατά γράμμα μεταφορά του γνωστού σαιξπηρικού έργου, ωστόσο είναι πανέξυπνος ο τρόπος που ο Σαίξπηρ κουμπώνει με μια σύγχρονη οικογενειακή τραγωδία, ακόμη πιο ιδιοφυής είναι ο συμβολισμός που οδήγησε στη δημιουργία αυτής της παράστασης: όταν χάνουμε τους γονείς μας, αλλάζει η ταυτότητά μας, ολόκληρη η ύπαρξή μας, σταματάμε να είμαστε ο γιος ή η κόρη και περνάμε σε ένα άλλο στάδιο, αυτό της οριστικής και αμετάκλητης ενηλικίωσης – και τότε καλούμαστε να ανταπεξέλθουμε σε αυτή τη σκηνή, την γεμάτη τρελούς, απροστάτευτοι και μονοι. Το αποτέλεσμα, ωστόσο εδώ, είναι φρέσκο και απρόσμενα διασκεδαστικό. Η δραματουργία είναι εξαιρετικής σημασίας στην παράσταση, γιατί εφόσον τα αδέρφια χρησιμοποιούν τα λόγια του Σαίξπηρ για να εκφράσουν τα πάθη τους, οι κινήσεις τους είναι που μας κάνουν να βλέπουμε τις προθέσεις τους. Σε αυτό το επίπεδο, είναι δύσκολο να διαχωρίσεις τη σκηνοθεσία της Ιόλης Ανδρεάδη από την δραματουργία γιατί είναι ένα και το αυτό. Η κίνηση αποκτά λόγο Γιαννης Μοσχος clickatlife.gr 

Θεατρο Θησειον, Τουρναβιτου 7, Ψυρρη

“The Return of the exile” (2011)  Devised and directed by Ioli Andreadi;  The Yard Theatre, London,  Review by Howard Loxton



Munich; “Elektra” at Bayerische Staatsoper; a tragedy in one act of violence and darkness

It was through ‘Elektra’ that Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal met in 1906. Already famous and mid-way through their careers, both were recognised as heirs of the great Germanic tradition. On April 22, 2016 I had the honour to watch a  fabulous performance “Electra “with the amazing soprano ladies, Gabrielle Schnaut and Evelyn Herlitzius conducted by the fantastic orchestra conductor, Ms Simone Young. 

Composer Richard Strauss , libretto Hugo von Hofmannsthal , stage design-costumes and lighting  by Herbert Wernicke 

Players: Gabriele Schnaut, Evelyn Herlitzius, Anne Schwanewilms, Ulrich Reß, René Pape, Christoph Stephinger ( In German without surtitles- Duration: 1 hours 50 minutes)

csm_04_beed1dd134Elektra: Evelyn Herlitzius (Elektra), Gabriele Schnaut (Klytämnestra), photo@Wilfried Hösl


“Over the course of a slow twilight.” This is the scenic indication which Hofmannsthal gives for Elektra, a tragedy in one act of violence and darkness.

“Elektra” is a difficult, musically complex work which requires great stamina to perform. The role of Elektra, in particular, is one of the most demanding in the dramatic soprano repertoire.  The evening I attended the opera, April 22nd, Electra was Evelyn Herlitzius and Gabriella Schnaut as Klytaemnestra  who celebrated  her 40th anniversary on stage this year.

Despite being based on ancient Greek mythology, the opera is highly modernist and expressionist. Hofmannsthal and Strauss’s adaptation of the story focuses tightly on Elektra, thoroughly developing her character by single-mindedly expressing her emotions and psychology as she meets with other characters, mostly one at a time. The other characters are Klytaemnestra, her mother and one of the murderers of her father Agamemnon; her sister, Chrysothemis; her brother, Orestes; and Klytaemnestra’s lover, Aegisthus. These characters are secondary, and typically remain one-dimensional.

Elektra_Schnaut (c) Wilfried Hösl

Elektra: Evelyn Herlitzius (Elektra), Gabriele Schnaut (Klytämnestra), photo@Wilfried Hösl


Synopsis: On his return from the Trojan War, King Agamemnon was murdered by his wife, Clytemnestra, and her lover, Aegisthus. Electra, the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, wishes to avenge her murdered father. She is awaiting the return of her brother, Orestes, who was removed from the court as a child after the murder of his father…..

csm_07_cc9837c0c6Elektra: René Pape (Orest), Evelyn Herlitzius (Elektra);photo@Wilfried Hösl

…….Her sister, Chrysothemis, warns Electra that their mother, Clytemnestra, is planning to have her locked up. Chrysothemis, who longs passionately for love and a life of fulfilment, is afraid that she might meet with a similar fate.

……..Electra is  determined to carry out her plan for revenge on Clytemnestra and Aegisthus with the sole help of Chrysothemis. But Chrysothemis refuses to become involved.

csm_10_7e6e1a83e7Elektra: Edith Haller (Chrysothemis), Evelyn Herlitzius (Elektra); photo@Wilfried Hösl
csm_01__2__779f0fc4e6Elektra: Golda Schultz (Fünfte Magd), Evelyn Herlitzius (Elektra);photo@Wilfried Hösl
csm_01_3_b4f7efa6eeElektra: Anna Rajah (Die Schleppträgerin), Gabriele Schnaut (Klytämnestra), Maria Marzo (Die Vertraute); photo@Wilfried Hösl


impressive stage design-costumes and lighting by Herbert Wernicke

………Aegisthus now returns. Electra greets him with feigned friendliness, confirms the news of Orestes’ death and accompanies Aegisthus into the palace, where Orestes awaits him.

………In her joy at the vengeance which has been wreaked, Electra is hardly aware of Chrysothemis when the latter comes to tell her that Orestes has arrived and has killed Clytemnestra and Aegisthus.

(Bayerische Staatsoper/translation: Susan Bollinger)

“A gigantic orchestra, vocals pushed to their limits, post-Wagnerianism reaches its extreme limits and bursts into flames once and for all in this lyrical work.”

 Gabriele Schnaut celebrates her 40th anniversary on stage this year…. In the premiere of Herbert Wernicke’s iconic production by 1997 and in many subsequent performances, she sang the title role. …Gabrielle Schnaut states that “Electra is my role identification”  She was Electra on the original premiere recording on October 27,  1997 at the Nationaltheater in Munich.  here on the Bayerische Staatsoper Blog, you may listen the original recording from that time.   On this occasion of its fortieth stage anniversary leading  dramaturgist  Rainer Karlitschek held a small audience discussion by  the central box in Tier 1 and invited the audience  of the April 22 evening.

csm_SOP-DR24616041813040_eefdff9088Tochter und Mutter: Gabriele Schnaut als Elektra und Marjana Lipovsek als Klytämnestra ..
csm_9C2A1515_87b43d6203Elektra: Evelyn Herlitzius (Elektra), Gabriele Schnaut (Klytämnestra);photo@Wilfried Hönl;  source:staatsoperblog

Elektra vs. Klytämnestra: Sie haben beide Rollen bereits verkörpert. Inwiefern können Sie sich mit beiden Charakteren identifizieren?
Gabrielle Schaut  Es ist meine Überzeugung, dass jede Sängerin und jeder Sänger eine “Identifikationsrolle” hat. Das war bei mir definitiv die “Elektra”. Der Schritt von der Tochter zur Mutter ist mit zunehmendem Alter und veränderter körperlicher Disposition folgerichtig.

Elektra vs. Clytemnestra: You have embodied both roles already. To what extent you can identify with both characters?
Gabrielle Schnaut :  It is my belief that every singer and every singer has a “role identification”. This was definitely with me the “Elektra”. The step from the daughter to the mother is consistent with age and altered physical disposition.


Elektra: René Pape (Orest), Evelyn Herlitzius (Elektra);photo@Wilfried Hösl


New York; guest writer;Wayne Northcross on “The Most Incredible Thing’ at New York City Ballet

February 2, 2016, David H. Koch Theater
Original Cast: Taylor Stanley, Sterling Hyltin, Amar Ramasar Ask la Cour, Russell Janzen, Tiler Peck  ;  Length: 45 Min
Costumes by : Marcel Dzama, supervised by Marc Happel
Set by: Marcel Dzama
Lighting by: Brandon Stirling Baker

Justin Peck’s  “The Most Incredible Thing “premiered on February 2, 2016, at NYCB’s annual New Combinations Evening.  Peck and composer Bryce Dessner (The National) had invited visual artist Marcel Dzama to collaborate with them on a new work for New York City Ballet; Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Most Incredible Thing”is  a lesser-known fairytale by the Danish author published in 1870.

I had the honour to be invited by my dear friend and wonderful writer Wayne Northcross to enjoy  this fabulous performance.  Wayne Northcross had been commissioned to write for the New York Observer, but few days ago  he  delivered to me a splendid text to be  hosted at VKblog.


“I have been following visual artist Marcel Drama and ballet choreographer Justin Peck for months leading up to premiere of the New York City Ballet’s The Most Incredible Thing, their collaborative ballet based on the 1870 story by Hans Christian Andersen. I hadn’t been hanging outside the David Koch Theater trying to sneak a peek backstage at the dancers, sets and costumes I’ve heard so much about. No. I have been following Peck and Dzama on Instagram, marveling at how much I could preview of Dzama’s highly detailed and beautiful sketches for the costumes and sets as well as at Peck’s posts of dancers en pointe, executing jetes or arabesques. My favorite image is one Peck posted a few weeks ago of him and Dzama, smiling and sitting cross-legged on stage in front of Dzama’s painted backdrop of a double-headed firebird. This image got me thinking about how collaboration among artists from various disciplines can either ignite or spark a mutually creative enterprise or how competing and highly unique abilities can make partnering go up in flames. Then I attended a dress rehearsal after which I stopped looking so much at Instagram. Seeing the ballet in person or gleaning aspects of it on my phone, two things became quite clear: the production is stunningly beautiful and fully realized, full of visual and technical complexities; Drama and Peck have arrived at a seamless, mutually beneficial collaborative style.



Sterling Hyltin and Taylor Stanley in Justin Peck’s “The Most Incredible Thing” Photo credit @ Barbara Anastacio resource: NYC Ballet Photo blog


Tiler Peck in Justin Peck’s “The Most Incredible Thing” Photo credit @Barbara Anastacio,                                               resource: NYCBalletPhotoblog

Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale of a king who declares that whoever in his kingdom creates the most incredible thing in the world will be awarded the hand of the princess and half the kingdom could be seen as story ballet primer. All the dramatic elements are here. Fantastically costumed characters, a battle between the forces of good and evil, magic, and frustrated romance. In Peck’s adaptation the main characters have been tweaked a little but still include The Creator of the most incredible thing, a large magical clock, The Princess, The King, and The Destroyer of said clock. The cast grows to accommodate 45 dancers and 11 children who make up the allegorical and symbolic figures and who emerge from the clock: Three Kings, Adam & Eve, The Cuckoo Bird, Four Seasons, Five Senses, Nine Muses. A lot of bodies for Peck to choreograph—at one point all the dancers are on stage at the same time. For Dzama this requires a lot of patterned tights, feathers, headdresses, masks, swords, and spears. 37 costumes in all. Not as easy as it looks, but a seamless collaboration between the two makes it seem so.

New York City Ballet The Most Incredible Thing, costumes Photographer: Erin Baiano 646.228.5917

“The Most Incredible Thing”; costumes, photo@ Erian Baiano


Gonzalo Garcia, Jared Angle, and Daniel Applebaum The Most Incredible Thing, costumes New York City Ballet Photographer: Erin Baiano 646.228.5917Three O’Clock: The Three Kings, dancers Gonzalo Garcia, Jared Angle, Daniel Applebaum. Photo @Erin Baiano

You are meant to see the creation and destruction of this most wonderful thing by the Destroyer in the ballet as an allusion to the artist’s struggle to create and express his or her artistic genius in a fickle and easily distracted world. You could also push the story’s symbolism further to include the push-pull dynamic of collaboration that Peck and Dzama had to go through to create and destroy a little piece of their own unique vision, sublimating autonomy in service of the In a collaboration consensus and integrity are key goals. Dzama developed the costumes over time, downscaling his initial ideas to fit Peck’s choreography. For his part Peck had to give more room to accommodate Dzama’s version, which for him was a new way of working. (Wayne Northcross) 


Indiana Woodward backstage wearing a costume from Justin Peck’s “The Most Incredible Thing”,photo credit@Barbara Anastacio; resource: NYCBalletPhotoblog

Marcel Drama, is represented by David Zwirner Gallery, New York/London

Munich; Bayerisches Staatsballet Premiere ; A piece by Pina Bausch “For the Children of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”

Sunday evening I was honoured to be at the Premiere “Für die Kinder von gestern, heute und morgen ” (For the Children of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow) a piece by Pina Bausch, one of the most significant choreographers of our time. Indeed  an extraordinary and compelling performance by  Bayerieshes Staatballet which combined  all elements that made up the unparalleled quality of Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater.  This performance is one of the projects of Ivan Liška, artistic director,  for the 2015/2016 season at Bayerisches Staatsballett.

A co-production by the Bavarian State Ballet and the Pina Bausch Foundation in cooperation with the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch

photo@Wilfried Hösl
Für die Kinder von gestern, heute und morgen_Zuzana Zahradníková, Jonah Cook_©Wilfried Hösl_9C2A7663photo@Wilfried Hösl
Direction and Choreography:Pina Bausch
Stage:  Peter Papst
Costumes:  Marion Cito
Musical collaboration:  Matthias Burkert, Andreas Eisenschneider
Cooperation:  Marion Cito, Daphnis Kokkinos, Robert Sturm
Musik : Felix Lajko, Nana Vascobncelos, Caetano Veloso, Bugge Wesseltoft, Amon Tobin, Mari Boine, Shirley Horn, Nina Simone, Lisa Edkahl, Gerry Mulligan, Uhuhboo Project, Cinematic Orchestra, Goldfrapp, Gotan Project, Guem, Hughscore, Koop, Labradford, T.O.M., Prince und Marc Ribot
Für die Kinder von gestern, heute und morgen_Joana de Andrade, Jonah Cook_©Wilfried Hösl_5M1A4872photo@Wilfried Hösl

Created in 2002 in Wuppertal during the latest creative period of Bausch – a period where her work became more dance-centric. It is the pinnacle of the series , Tanzland Deutschland, which showcased highlights of the choreographic work happening in Germany: from Schlemmer as representative of the Bauhaus, to Kandinsky’s synaesthetic concepts at the beginning of the 20th century, to Ausdruckstanz, neoclassical finds and the full-length narrative ballet of John Cranko and John Neumeier all the way to contemporary creations from Forsythe and Siegal.

performers: Joana de Andrade, Jonah Cook, Matteo Dilaghi,  Léonard Engel,  Séverine Ferrolier, Nicholas Losada, Marta Navarrete Villalba,  Gianmarco Romano,  Nicola Strada,  Robin Strona,  Daria Sukhordukova,  Shawn Throop, Alexa Tuzil, Matej Urban and  Zuzana Zahradniková

Für die Kinder von gestern, heute und morgen_Mia Rudic_©Wilfried Hösl_9C2A6166

photo@Wilfried Hösl
Für die Kinder_Séverine Ferrolier, Robin Strona_©Wilfried Hösl_5M1A8928photo@Wilfried Hösl

Für die Kinder_Nicholas Losada, Daria Sukhorukova, Séverine Ferrolier_©Wilfried Hösl_5M1A8552

photo@Wilfried Hösl

Pina Bausch was born 1940 in Solingen and died 2009 in Wuppertal. She received her dance training at the Folkwang School in Essen under Kurt Jooss, where she achieved technical excellence. Soon after the director of Wuppertal’s theatres, Arno Wüstenhöfer, engaged her as choreographer, from autumn 1973, she renamed the ensemble the Tanztheater Wuppertal. Under this name, although controversial at the beginning, the company gradually achieved international recognition.

Für die Kinder von gestern, heute und morgen_Jonah Cook_©Wilfried Hösl_9C2A6457

photo@Wilfried Hösl

a fabulous Joana de Andrade

Für die Kinder von gestern, heute und morgen_Joana de Andrade_©Wilfried Hösl_9C2A6670
 photo@Wilfried Hösl

IMG_3599 (1)

photo@Venetia Kapernekas

…….in 1973 Pina Bausch was appointed director of dance for the Wuppertal theatres and the form she developed in those early years, a mixture of dance and theatre, was wholly unfamiliar……

……Dance theatre evolved into a unique genre, inspiring choreographers throughout the world and influencing theatre and classical ballet too. Its global success can be attributed to the fact that Pina Bausch made a universal need the key subject of her work: the need for love, for intimacy and emotional security.

17_2_pina_bausch_kruegerPina Bausch 1940 – 2009
Foto: Wilfried Krüger

….Over the thirty-six years in which Pina Bausch shaped the work of the Tanztheater Wuppertal, till her death in 2009, she created a an oeuvre which casts an unerring gaze at reality, while simultaneously giving us the courage to be true to our own wishes and desires. Her unique ensemble, rich with varied personalities, will continue to maintain these values in the years to come… (Norbert Servos, Tanzeather Wuppertal, translated by Steph Morris) 



Kochel am See; Franz Marc Museum “Das arme Land Tirol” & Annika Kahrs ‘Playing to the Birds’

Franz Marc Jahr 2016 “Das arme Land Tirol”
06. März – 05. Juni 2016

A visit  last Sunday morning at the Franz Marc museum at Kochel lake to a special exhibition as the centenary of Franz Marc’s death falls on 4 March 2016.  A magical day..  This special exhibition is a Trilogy  ‘Franz Marc – Between Utopia and Apocalypse’

02-marc-in-ried-am-kaffetischFranz Marc am Kaffeetisch in Ried, 1914
Foto: Franz Marc Museum, Kochel a. See, Stiftung Etta und Otto Stangl


The Franz Marc Museum is commemorating the painter, one of the most important German Expressionist artists, with three major exhibitions and a number of different events. Three of his main works will be coming (back) to Kochel, to the museum dedicated to the painter, as loans from prominent collections in Europe and the USA and, as such, to the area Franz Marc loved so deeply and from which he drew inspiration. In dialogue with the museum’s own substantial holdings the special aura of these pictures will once again be felt in the place they were first created.

Franz Marc, Das arme Land Tirol, 1913
Öl auf Leinwand, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
© Salomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

“Das arme Land Tirol” (The Unfortunate Land of Tyrol)  is one of Marc’s major
works. It was painted in early 1913 at a time when the
artist was optimistically making plans for the future.
 Nevertheless this landscape, inspired by a trip Marc 
made through Tyrol, is imbued with an inexplicable
 melancholy and a remote sense of danger – a mood 
that also found expression in the sketches and
 watercolours he created at the same time and which
 seems like a premonition of the impending World War.

02-marc-armes-land-tirolDas arme Land Tirol, 1913, Aquarell und Tusche
Franz Marc Museum, Kochel am See
Dauerleihgabe der Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, München
04-marc-liegende-hyaeneFranz Marc, Liegende Hyäne (Liegender Wolf), 1913, Aquarell
Franz Marc Museum, Kochel am See, Stiftung Etta und Otto Stange © Bayer & Mitko, München

the surrounding  landscape; magical place;  Kochel am See.



photos@Venetia Kapernekas


a beautiful video  installation in the ground floor of the museum “Playing to the Birds” by Annika Kahrs  captures the moment and the beauty;  on view  (6 March-5 June 2016); pianist: Lion Hinnricks; camera:Lars-Peter Prigge

09-kahrs-Still_4Annika Kahrs, Playing to the Birds, 2013
HD film, colour, sound (14 mins), courtesy of the artist and Produzentengalerie Hamburg

This  video installation shows a pianist in a bright room playing “Legend No. 1, St. Francis of Assisi’s sermon  to the Birds” by Franz Liszt, surrounded by birds in cages. With this image of birds listening to music (or the sermon) Annika Kahrs references St. Francis directly. “….Since his death on 4 March 1916 in Wold War I the artist has been compared to the saint. The legend of St. Francis who withdrew from the world to live close to nature, attuned only to god and his creatures, is equally  applicable to Franz Marc.  He too withdrew from the ‘blighted’city of Munich to the ‘Blue Land’ of Upper Bavaria to lead a simple, ‘pure’ life in natural surroundings close to the animals he loved so dearly. “(museum press text) 



Umberto Ecco: literary critic, author and essayist “The Name of the Rose” to be remembered


Last week in New York, “The History of Beauty” edited by Umberto Ecco, kept me wonderfully busy till last night I heard of his death in Milano.

He was “an extraordinary example of a European intellectual, combining unique intelligence of the past with a limitless capacity to anticipate the future”, said Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi. “It’s an enormous loss for culture, which will miss his writing and voice, his sharp and lively thought, and his humanity,” 


What is beauty? What is art? What is taste and fashion? Is Beauty something to be observed cooly and rationally or is it something dangerously involving?  So begins Umberto Eco’s intriguing journey in which he explores the ever-changing concept of the beautiful from the ancient Greeks to today and questions the values that accompany the  way we register  beauty, both past and present. (publisher’s note, ‘History of Beauty’) 

 While closely examining the development of the visual arts, and drawing on works of literature from each era, he broadens his inquiries to consider a range of concepts, including the idea of love, the unattainable woman, natural inspiration, versus numeric formulas, and the continuing importance of ugliness, cruelty, and even the demons. 

Professor Ecco here takes us step by step through many historical eras, from Classical Antiquity to the present day, dispelling many preconceptions along the way and concluding that the relevance of his research is urgent because we live in an ager of great reverence for beauty, “an orgy of tolerance, the total syncretism and the absolute and unstoppable polytheism of Beauty.” (notes from the publisher, ‘History of Beauty’) 

to be continued on my reading.. “On Ungliness”


‘On Ugliness’ is an exploration of the monstrous and the repellant in visual culture and the arts. What is the voyeuristic impulse behind our attraction to the gruesome and the horrible? Where does the magnetic appeal of the sordid and the scandalous come from? Is ugliness also in the eye of the beholder? (publisher’s note) 

This morning I am   listening to the most wonderful conversation of Umberto Ecco with Paul Holdengräber which took place in Kensigton Town Hall on 19th November 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuGpw0-B9-s


Umberto Eco on conversation with Chicago Tribune cultural critic Julia Keller  discusses his work “The Prague Cemetery”. In this conversation  he discusses the contemporary world and the span of human life .  The Prague Cemetery (Italian: Il cimitero di Praga) is the sixth novel by Italian author Umberto Eco. It was first published in October 2010; the English translation by Richard Dixon appeared a year later.

The main character in ‘The Prague Cemetery’ is Simone Simonini, a man whom Eco claims he has tried to make into the most cynical and disagreeable character in all the history of literature.


“When we consider a book,” he wrote in The Name of the Rose, “we mustn’t ask ourselves what it says but what it means.”


Numero Zero’ Reprises Umberto Eco’s Fascination With ‘Losers’ (published November 1, 2015) 

…….SIMON: Colonna, your journalist, says I dreamed what all losers dream, about one day writing a book that would bring me fame and fortune. Does being a loser make him vulnerable to saying yes to the schemes of the publisher?


ECO: No, well, all the characters of my novel are losers (laughter). Obviously, you must be a loser in order to work for a newspaper like that. I’m always fascinated by losers, also. Also, in my “Foucault’s Pendulum,” the main characters, who are in a way losers, they are more interesting than the winners.

Pierre Bayard & Umberto Eco with Paul Holdengräber in New York Public Library, 2011 (live) 


Munich; Jorinde Voigt ‘Now’ at Klüser galleries

november 19, 2015-february 13, 2016; at Galerie Klüser -Georgenst. 15 & Galerie Klüser 2 – Türkenstr.23

‘..extraordinary, dynamic ‘drawings’

Jorinde Voigt is known for her lyrical sensibility as well as her calibrated approach to creating artwork. She is a classically trained musician from a family of scientists….

At nine years old Jorinde Voigt  began to play the cello, learnt to read music and matured into a gifted young performer. In 1996 she went to Göttingen’s Georg-August-Universität to study literature and philosophy. To help her understand the subjects she drew diagrams for herself, transforming words into idea maps. (interviewed by Rory McLean, february 2010) 


installation view “Jorinde Voigt Now”, Klüser gallery, photo@Jamie Fischer

In her new exhibitions at both Klüser galleries, Jorinde  Voigt (b.1977)  shows three new groups of works; you may see the series “Now, Hauro and Synchronicity”. ….” It is getting very difficult to call Jorinde Voigt’s current works drawings; in more general terms, they should perhaps be seen as pictorial and imaginary worlds. … Voigt’s typical grid of lines, numbers and written words creates the base for emergent, exuberant, scarcely assignable constellations of colours and forms. The method of depiction varies from rough to fine, abstract to representational, painterly to plastic. The wealth of materials here seems to know no bounds: gold leaf, white gold, ink, poster paints, oil chalks, pastels, pencil, and feathers dyed black.” Lisa Sinterman, Nov. 2015)


installation view “Jorinde Voigt Now”, Klüser galleries, München, photo@Jamie Fischer


installation view “Jorinde Voigt Now”, Klüser gallery,München,  photo@Jamie Fischer

Voigt is best known for her graceful spiralling arcs and parallel looped lines, stretched and interwoven, bursting across the page as if caught up in a strange temporal chain reaction.

“…..her imagery has specifically conjured graph-like linear systems—based on such exact references as musical scores, sound waves, linguistic structures, and mathematical algorithms—then these new drawings, inspired by Luhmann’s nonlinear writing, evoke a more biological take, as they track the evolution from one literary moment to the next. Voigt collages metallic leaf in varying tones alongside swaths of marigold, coral, and azure to create unusual floating forms with an illustrative impishness; the resulting pictures resemble space-age landscapes occupied by mercurial creatures. Her works are innately didactic: She carefully structures the bulbous shapes, framing each with a draftsman’s delicate, curved lines and handwritten text annotations. Ultimately, her drawings function as cognitive maps, as meaning multiplies from passages of text and grows into webs of association. As Voigt regards Luhmann’s discourse on societal structures enabling love, her drawings delineate her own way of reconciling information through whimsical interpretation, shaping an elegant visual reality from the tangles of language”. (Artforum- June 13th, 2014
Critics’ Pick, By Anne Preintnieks)

I have been admiring Jorinde Voigt  some years back when David Nolan, a wonderful gallerist/New York was explaining to me her amazing drawings  at Basel art fair, as one could read as music compositions.  Since I moved and live in Munich and go often at the opera, I am once again mesmerised  with Jorinde’s great   drawings in  the Bayerische Staatsoper books , created in the most elegant way by  Mirko Borsche,  Germany’s most respected art directors. I love Jorinde Voigt’s work.


Jorinde Voigt ‘Beobacktungenim Jetzt (2) Berlin 2015 -(front cover) on the book (Bayerische Staatsoper 2015/2016 Vermessen)
Jorinde Voigt, ‘Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel , Escher, Bach,”Die Air in G”, Berlin 2013 (back cover) on the book  (Bayerische Staatsoper 2015/2016 Vermessen)

Metropolis/ArteTV steps in Jorinde Voigt’s studio in Berlin (april 2015, published september 2015)


Atelier: Jorinde Voigt © ZDF/Kobalt


…Peculiar, sometimes breathtaking forms, from a gold-and-red double helix to floating clouds and virus-like spiky balls, are ringed by obsessive glosses on what Voigt, following Luhmann, calls the “codification of intimacy.” You won’t make out every detail, but her superb drawings are far more than the sum of their sometimes inscrutable parts. (The New Yorker- June 3rd, 2014, for the exhibition at David Nolan in New York) DSC_0027

 installation view “Jorinde Voigt Now”, Klüser gallery,München, photo@Jamie Fischer


14/11/2015 – 21/02/2016  exhibition of Jorinde Voigt at Kunsthalle Krems in Austria curated by Stephanie Damianitsch.  ….. Pop songs or pieces of classical music, temperature profiles, wind directions, arcs of light are systematically analyzed by the artist, as are acoustic impulses, angles of view, or colors of individual plants and the contents of philosophical texts.


… a new film about love “Carol” UK cinemas release on 27th November

……extraordinary performances we have come to expect from Cate Blanchett, who is paired with the no less impressive Rooney Mara as Therese in the director Todd Haynes and the writer ­Phyllis Nagy’s mesmerizing and moving film adaptation of  Patricia Highsmith’s anxiety-laced romance “Carol“. (Frank Rich,’Loving Carol‘) at  New York Magazine,  November 15, 2015)

In early December 1948, Patricia Highsmith took a Christmas-season temp job as a shopgirl in the children’s toy department at Bloomingdale’s. Highsmith, a 27-year-old native of Fort Worth, Texas, and a 1942 Barnard graduate, was a budding novelist who had been supporting herself for five years as a freelance action-comic-book writer, concocting stories for lesser superheroes like Spy Smasher and Black Terror — a rare gig for a woman in the golden age of comics. 

Pathigh                                   Patricia Smith, publicity photo, 1966

Patricia Highsmith (19 January 1921 – 4 February 1995) was an American novelist and short story writer, known for her psychological thrillers, which led to more than two dozen film adaptations. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train, has been adapted for stage and screen numerous times, notably by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951. In addition to her series with Tom Ripley as protagonist, she wrote many short stories. Michael Dirda observed, “Europeans honored her as a psychological novelist, part of an existentialist tradition represented by her own favorite writers, in particular Dostoyevsky, Conrad, Kafka, Gide, and Camus.”[2]


The Price of Salt (later published under the title Carol) is a 1952 romance novel by Patricia Highsmith, first published under the pseudonym Claire Morgan.


“Carol’  is certain to bring new readers to Highsmith, and once they dig in, they will be ravenous for more.

Highsmith was a lifelong diarist. She left behind eight thousand pages of handwritten notebooks and diaries.[6] After graduating from college, she started applying for work in various magazines, such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, The New Yorker, Mademoiselle, Good Housekeeping and others, carrying “impressive” recommendations from “highly placed” professionals, and was getting rejected.[4] Her short stories started appearing eventually in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, in the early 1950s.


The simple use of color for Blanchett and Mara’s clothing says plenty about the characters, especially in the silences the movie wanders into for extended periods. If there’s one complaint, and it’s just a personal preference, it’s the use of filters. (Lesley Coffin, movie Review, ‘Carol’ is a Beautiful, Composed Slow-Burn)

….But then you look at a film like Carol, and peer through the windows it opens onto both cultural history and actual history, and you realize how much we don’t know about a past that unfolded in the shadows until not very long ago. You also start to wonder how many cultural treasures and figures are buried in that antiquity, invisible to most of heterosexual America and perhaps to much of younger gay America, too. Highsmith’s “lesbian book,” its million paperback copies of six decades ago notwithstanding, is just such a case.(Frank Rich, ‘Loving Carol’at New York Magazine,  nov 15, 2015) 

…..Throughout, Haynes’s direction translates Highsmith’s hushed, spare, unnerving narrative voice into visual terms reminiscent of James Stewart’s feverish fixation on Kim Novak in Vertigo. (Frank Rich, ‘Loving Carol,at New York Magazine)


20-minute interview, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, director Todd Haynes and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy talk about making the 1950s-set romantic drama Carol, adapted from the novel by Patricia Highsmith
Anatomy of a scene “Carol” at New York Times/Culture


What Haynes gets so perfectly right with this film really is the very specific sense of time and place, the urban life of those torn between domestic life and beat culture, before public and vocal feminist and LGBT activism. (Lesley Coffin, movie Review)

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Phyllis Nagy, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Todd Haynes and Kent Jones attends a Q&A for the film ‘Carol” during the 53rd New York Film Festival at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on October 8, 2015 in New York City
Rooney Mara, beautifully  photographed by Peter Lindberg at the recent (December 2015/Jan 2016) German  Interview

IMG_9064 (1)


Director Todd Haynes on film Carol/BBC radio /Film Programme,’Radio in Four’, 6min




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