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Feeling at home @ Lofft

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I came to Leipzig from Berlin for a temporary project, and I stayed  because I found 200 square meters for 200€. My then partner and I spent the next seven years pouring every spare minute and euro into renovating it. Long story short, one day we got a letter that it would be demolished. Since then, my studio experience has been stressfully nomadic. On the upside, this has given me the exposure I needed to bring my work to a greater audience. And I didn’t have to sell out to do it. Perhaps this is why I feel such a strong connection to the home of Leipzig’s most experimental Independent theatre, the Lofft.

For the last five years Lofft has been looking for a new space because the Theater der Jungen Welt needs the whole building which they now share. During that time, at least four new construction projects were proposed, but none came through. After 24 years it was feeling like the Lofft would have nowhere to go and would therefore cease to exist. This would be a mortal blow to Leipzig’s independent theatre scene. Finally, on 20 Jan this year the City Council voted to develop a theatre centre in Halle 7 at Spinnerei, ending a year of dizzying dilemma.

Dirk Förster, artistic director and manager of LOFFT, “This is a landmark decision, a milestone for the LOFFT. Leipzig independent theater will finally have the opportunity to development in an international context. Spinnerei is the best partner for our art we can imagine in Leipzig. I am relieved that my years of working on this project can finally bear fruit and thus a good future for the LOFFT is secured. ”

Besides the Lofft, Leipzig Tanztheater (LTT) will be housed in the space, also giving it a more permanent home. Within Spinnerei’s creative energy, two focuses on dance in one shared space look to form a healthy synergy.

Gundolf Nandico, CEO of Leipziger Tanztheater (LTT) is convinced: “The common location with the LOFFT, connected to a theater center, creates better opportunities for cooperation between our institutions that will lead the artistic to mutual impulses and organizational facilities. Therefore we not only have the solution to our room situation, but will be in a new creative environment. ”

Hurray for the end of 2017! Meanwhile, I spent a lot of my time there last week.

As my good friend said, “Really interesting people come to the dance  performances at the Lofft.”

Why is that? Non-apologetic dedication to the enrichment of International independent theatre. Lofft has long been my favourite venue in Leipzig.

Violence and Learning

Born from the inner conflict of how to reconcile personal political opinions with how to best actualise change, Violence and Learning explores the endless affect of our actions on those around us and the greater society. Inspired by true events, the Swedish company created scenarios, in which we took part. In our current environment, this was very relevant. We started at a protest rally, much like our Legida demos. We were split into camps; pro and contra. Pro what and contra what? In the end it didn’t matter. What mattered was where to draw the lines. How much is too much? Does pushing people to react make you right or does it make you a bully? This was the first time I had been part of such an immersive process. I especially liked how every act, no matter how violent, had rational reasoning behind it.

Afterwards there was a group discussion. The company says the discussions are all quite different and this is part of the process of understanding for them and for the audience. They play in all kinds of venues and situations, including Antifa house projects. Very enlightening.

Blind date

Like Sebastian Weber, who came up with the concept of Blind Date, I was intrigued to see how this would go. Personally, I love improvisation. I find it freeing. In my experience non-dancers often come up with more interesting movement. They haven’t been trained and are able to feel the environment with more concentration. I wondered how a contemporary dancer, a break dancer and a jazz pianist would interact. I wondered how the audience would receive them. Would those who had experienced improvisation perceive in another way to those who hadn’t?

In the end, it involves a lot of trust. This was there for sure. I found Czech dancer MARTINA HAJDYLA LACOVÁ quite free. RAPHAEL HILLEBRAND was more of a crowd pleaser. STEPHAN KÖNIG interacted a bit, but stayed safe. I must admit I was not totally surprised by Martina and Raphael. In my experience, contemporary dance regularly makes use of improvisation to find new choreography. The only way to break the learned behaviour is to find boundaries and skirt, cross, ignore them. I’m sure this is not true of everyone in the break dance scene, but with most workshops I’ve been to, the improvisation was more of a battle, with each person trying to one up the last. Where contemporary pulls from within ones self, break seems more about the view from outside.

My surprise was Stephan. But in retrospect, maybe it shouldn’t have been one. Jazz is a complex thing. I come at it from watching the battle, much like hip hop. But it’s different because people are in the same groove and then they have little solos where they shine. Then come back together in a wave of mutual respect. I don’t think you learn jazz. I think you live jazz. Otherwise it’s classical masquerading as jazz. I would have liked to see more abandonment.

Like all true improvisation, Blind date had moments of great choreography and moments of figuring it out. That’s the nature of it and I was happy to witness the coming together of three great talents who were open to experimenting. I wish they had had more time. 45 minutes is just kind of a warm up. Of course, like many of Merce Cunningham’s experimental works, making it longer  may made it more difficult for the audience.

I think most of the audience left with a very good feeling. It was an evening of light heartedness and laughter. I’m sure the mixer didn’t hurt. When we arrived we were given name tags. After the performance we could claim our free glass of sekt if we found our partners. This Yoko Ono was happy to have found her John Lennon.

Next week they will announce who’s participating in the next Blind Date 25 June. Can’t wait!

Maeshelle West-Davies gleans her varied life experiences to expose a personal perspective through a multitude of mediums. Sound, video, photography, dance, performance and public art are the tools she uses to convey her message. Her work is a response not only to a physical journey, but an emotional one, as with all of us who walk along or beside our individual paths.

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