Rituals often serve as a special source of inspiration in my work. The starting point for THR (O) UGH was the Japanese ritual Onbashira. It takes place every six years near Lake Suwa in Nagano Prefecture (Japan) for the symbolic renewal of the great shrine of Suwa. For this purpose, men ride on steep tree trunks down steep mountain slopes and expose themselves to a mortal danger. Onbashira is considered the most dangerous religious ritual in Japan. For me, this event sparked thinking about the power of rituals, devotion, the boundaries between consciousness and subconscious, about states of danger, and about gravity as the connecting dimension. In addition, I have always been fascinated by everything cyclical, circles, forms of infinity, the centrifugal force. With New York installation artist Jim Hodges, I began developing a concept for a piece in which a huge cylindrical object dominates the stage space and interacts with the dancers. Through its shape, it allows a variety of different readings, such as the image of a tunnel, a passage between two worlds. Inspired by this interpretation was a unique feature of the traditional Japanese Noh theater, the Hashigakari, a narrow bridge on the right side of the stage used by the actors for their performances. Hashigakari means "suspension bridge" and stands for something supernatural that connects two different worlds on one level. The bridge symbolizes the mythical nature of the Nô play, in which often otherworldly spirits and ghosts appear. Jerome Bosch's The Ascension to Heavenly Paradise, a painting that I kept constantly in mind during the artistic process, also represents a path to the hereafter. From the beginning, the stage was for me a place of connection between two worlds. Then the mythological undertone was met by a harsher reality ...
On November 13, 2015, , I found myself standing less than three meters to the right of one of those terrorists in the Rue de Charonne who suddenly began to fire on just about everything. I certainly owe my life to the fact that I listened to my instincts, which somehow released me from the numbness that had plunged me into the scene that was playing before my eyes. I ran as fast as never before in my life. 19 people who had been sitting in a café across the street died while I ran. The next day, I saw two bullet holes right in the window that I had stood before the shooting started. That's when I realized how accidental the fact is that I'm still alive. It is probably only a matter of seconds that I am still here, standing at a 90-degree angle to the firearm.
Since that experience, shattering and unsolvable questions relentlessly occupy my thoughts. How can one be absolutely present in one moment and disappear so abruptly in the next moment? Where does the soul vanish? Where would I be now, would not I have understood in time what is happening? Why did I survive and others did not?
It became completely impossible to exclude all these questions from the creative process, so I decided to consciously integrate them into this piece. Just as mythology has always been a means of explaining mysteries, so has this creation become my means of representation. Like a catharsis, I used them to process these non-erasable images and appease a shattered mind to bring the darkest memory of my life into another light. The tunnel that we originally created for this piece should now become a beacon that points the way to tormented souls in the storm, a wave that can break above you or save you.
In TRH (O) UGH, immobility becomes a synonym for death. The dancers rely on each other as if their movements carry a flame that can not be extinguished by the storm in which they find themselves. As during an Onbashira ritual, the stage becomes a place of danger, manifesting itself more and more in artistic means. The composer Christian Fennesz has created a nervous sound world that evokes an atmosphere of emergency. Like adrenalin or an electric shock, the music influences the rough movements of the dancers. They combine an energy that comes close to those in life-threatening situations. Their corporeality alternates between crash-test dummy and ghost-figure. Virtuose, random, incandescent and always on the verge of control and derailment, they are ecstatic in the face of gravity. Their clothing (Jean-Paul Lespagnard) is testimony to an intense experience that has left its mark, testimony to what they have lived through together - what they went through.
Nina Simone sang "Who Knows Where The Time Goes.” ... time moves on, and Paris has sensitively changed the approach of my original idea of exploring the relationship between gravity and the subconscious.THR (O) UGH is filled the energy which is set free to escape an unpredictable life-threatening situation, the moment when the connection of time and place determines our existence.
Performances are rituals and rituals have a function. On a personal level, Thr(o)ugh has this one: it's my first attempt to articulate something through the body that I still can not put into words.
I dedicate this piece to commemorate the victims of the November 13 raid in Rue de Charonne and Joanna My Altegrim, killed on March 22, during the terrorist attack at Maelbeek Metro Station in Brussels.
"Thr(o)ugh’ was nominated best choreography at German national performing awards “der Faust” in 2017
Creation for the Hessiches Staatballet
Set by Jim Hodges with Carlos Marques da Cruz
Costumes by : Jean Paul Lespagnard
Lights by Jan Maertens
Choreographic advisor : Aimilios Arapoglou
World Premiere the 26 of may 2016
"Impressively beautiful and terrifying at same time" F.a.z regional
"Sensational performances... Magnificent choreography"
Frankfurter Allgemein zeitung international
"The artistic performances of the ensemble are enormous..."
...At the end of almost forty minutes of sensational performance, the ensemble stand in a line in the cylinder. Arms and legs of the dancers, their whole bodies overlap, merging into one, as if the "Vitruvian Man" by Leonardo da Vinci would have suddenly come to life. Apotheosis of the human in a magnificent choreography."