Anna Holmström performs performs Debris
art, Berlin, dance, events, Life in Berlin, theatre, things to do

Pi – Petricore Movement & Zentire Music at Pfefferberg Theater

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing Pi, a modern dance performance at Pfefferberg Theatre. There is something about bodies moving through space in exceptional ways that is both delightful, energising and emotional — and this performance was no different.

Anna Holmström performs performs Debris
Anna Holmström performs performs Debris

As a writer, it always takes me a few minutes to let go of questions of narrative and story and enter the flow of the piece. But choreographer Anna Holmström does an artful job in creating a structured and engaging performance that expresses different characters, theme and conflict through movement.

The first composition, Dim 4, is about time, presenting different views of the same moment. It snakes through various moods and music — from the resonant and conflictual to jazzy and playful. The five dancers convey complex feelings and relationships without the use of flashy extras — a cardboard object and a net are the only props used.

In Debris, performed solely by Holmström, a piece of plastic takes on a sublime, airy quality as she dances with it. The piece is about the beauty of the ocean, which is becoming suffocated by plastics, and indeed we genuinely become worried for the dancer as she becomes more and more entangled in it. But the emotion that lingers is  the one of sadness that we see in the long, still moments on the dancers face.

Pi is on at Pfefferberg Theatre for only one more night, so grab your tickets for tonight!

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Photo of OSMO, a musical performance at Ufer Studio's in Berlin
art, Berlin, events, Life in Berlin, music, people, things to do

OSMO: A musical performance by Sebastian Blasius and the Sonar Quartett at Ufer Studios Berlin

You walk into room at Berlin’s Ufer Studios. Swirls of salt are scattered across the black floor, orange curtains hang from the ceiling, reminding you of segments of an orange, a silver ball, musicians, music stands and chairs are spread across the studio. As you crunch, crunch, crunch your way across the floor, you stop at one of these stands and pick up an envelope. Inside, is a picture and the words: Perform a dance that hardly anyone can recognise as a dance.

Photo of OSMO, a musical performance at Ufer Studio's in Berlin
Photo courtesy of Ralf Ziervogel

With OSMO, where Beethoven’s last string quartet meets an installation meets an audience, Sebastian Blasius has directed a musical performance with Berlin’s Sonar Quartett that hardly anyone can  recognise as a musical performance. Grating sounds, such as a bow across the hollow wood of a violin, are woven into familiar bursts of classical music. Recordings of children reciting the capitals of countries become a metronome. The musicians keep moving around, and so do the audience.

What results is a space where the line between performer and spectator is blurred. There is also a blurring of the lines separating the arts, so one is constantly stimulated in surprising ways. The ever changing constellations of people, lights, sounds and visuals creates something completely fresh and original. An engaging experience.

OSMO was on at Ufer Studios in Berlin on the 22nd and 23rd September 2107.

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Berlin, Life in Berlin, music

Top 10 Berlin Songs

Lots of songs are about or feature Berlin. Here are my favorite!

10. Kaiserbase – Berlin Du Bist So Wunderbar

Berliner Pilsner used this for their advertising campaign and it’s a real Ohrwurm (which literally means ear worm, but also a tune that you can’t get out of your head).

What’s particularly nice is that if your name has two syllables, like mine, you can replace the word Berlin with your name and go around singing how wonderful you are.

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9. Peter Fox – Schwarz zu Blau

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8. Zarah Leander – Berliner Luft

So apparently, the air in Berlin – the Berliner Luft – has a particular quality. Maybe you can smell it, or sense it when you breathe it in – personally I can’t tell the difference. However, it’s a thing. There are many songs about the Berlin air, and this is the most famous. Written by Paul Lincke, it is considered to be the unofficial anthem of Berlin.

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7. Franz Meißner – Im Grunewald (ist Holzauktion)

The Bavarian sings this uplifting little number every time we get on the S7 towards Grunewald. He sings it a lot…

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6. Rainald Grebe – Brandenburg

This song makes fun of the difference between Berlin and the surrounding, depressed area of Brandenburg – unfortunately you have to understand German to get it!

 

5. Nina Hagen – Berlin

I don’t know what it is about Nina Hagen, but I love her. Sorry, but I can’t help it!

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4. Amit Chaudhuri – Motz

Amit Chaudhuri lived in Berlin for a few months, which inspired some of his music. My favorite is Motz, which is the name of a paper sold in Berlin by unemployed and homeless people.

You can listen to it by clicking on the link below.

http://www.amitchaudhuri.com/music/clips/motz.mp3

3. Leonard Cohen

Having seen Cohen perform this at the Waldbuhne twice, it brings back brilliant memories…

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2. Lou Reed – Berlin

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1. Marlene Dietrich – Das ist Berlin

For more, check out Wikipedia’s list of Songs about Berlin.

Life in Berlin, music

MTV Awards in Berlin

Finally, we are being treated the way we ought to be in Berlin; we were invited to watch U2 play live at The Brandenburg Gate from the chic top floor balcony of the Allianz building which is next to the French Embassy and overlooks the Tor.

I have no idea how we achieved VIP status, but assume that either it was some sort of mistake, or else that The Bavarian is indeed a Very Important Person (I suppose I could ask him, but after all these years of not quite knowing what exactly he does, I think it would be rude – a bit like asking someone what their name is after having already talked to them on several occasions).

In any case, being plebs at heart, we behaved in an un-VIP like way – gulping down as much red wine and food as possible and laughing gleefully at the more than 10,000 people gathered below us.

But everything has its price and, in a thoroughly anti-Rock’n’Roll manner, we were subjected to a speech by the lovely people at Allianz (the second biggest insurance company in the world) full of corporate gaga before the gig.

U2 were fantastic, and played 5 songs, starting with One Love during which communist / east-west reunification iconography was projected onto the Brandenburg Gate – you can see it below.

There was much speculation about the mystery guest that would be appearing during the U2 set – the Germans were hoping that it would be David Hasselhoff, which I thought was a joke until The Bavarian told me that I should stop laughing so hard because they were dead serious. Luckily, the special guest turned out to be Jay Z instead, who performed during Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Fortunately for the Germans, David Hasselhoff did make a special appearance at the MTV awards at the O2 Centre later on that evening. Once again I found myself in a conundrum over whether to laugh or not…either he is a comic genius or he’s a drunkard who takes himself much too seriously. You decide.

If you want more, there’s an interesting article in The Spiegal on Germany’s love affair with The Hoff.