Baukastenspiel - Oskar Schlemmer's Bauhaus DancesJeux de construction
Oskar Schlemmer (Stuttgart, September 4th 1888 - Baden-Baden April 13th 1943) was a German painter, sculptor, man of the theatre and choreographer. He was one of the most innovative creators of the Bauhaus. He imagined a "mathematics of dance". One of his best known works is Triadisches Ballett.
Debra McCall is Associate Director of the Ross Institute Academy and former Dean of Cultural History and Director for Curriculum at Ross School, East Hampton, NY where she also taught World Dance, Choreography and directed Senior Projects. A Certified Movement Analyst, she is a Senior Research Associate at the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies, NYC and an Honorary Board Member for Art Therapy Italiana, Bologna, Italy. McCall has served on the graduate faculties of New York University, Adelphi University, Prescott College and Pratt Institute where she was also a Mellon Lecturer. She has been awarded National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and New York State Council on the Arts fellowships in choreography, dance-film, and historical research. Her reconstructions of the 1920s Bauhaus Dances of Oskar Schlemmer, produced by The Kitchen, Goethe House New York, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, toured the US, Europe and Japan to sold out venues including the first international Biennale de la Danse in Lyon, France. With Robert Leacock, she directed a film of her reconstructions of the Bauhaus Dances, which was selected for the American Dance Festival’s first annual International Festival of Film and Video Dance. The Labanotation of the reconstructions, and the film, reside in the Library of Congress and in the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. McCall’s writing on the subject is included in the International Encyclopedia of Dance, Oxford Press, and in the catalogue for the international exhibition, Oskar Schlemmer. As a Rome Prize Fellow in Advanced Design at the American Academy in Rome, she researched ancient mystery rites to choreograph “Psyche’s Last Labor.” Her “Body of Myth” workshops on archetypal movement led to collaborations with the analyst/author James Hillman and the poet Robert Bly. McCall’s kinesthetic lessons on Roman architecture were included in the Smithsonian Institution/Annenberg documentary “The Mind’s Intelligences” with Howard Gardner. McCall studied dance with Jerome Robbins, Merce Cunningham, Alwin Nikolais, Hanya Holm, Consuelo Atlas, Finis Jhung, Zena Rommet, Anna Halprin, Kei Takei, members of the Grand Union and Natural History of the American Dancer, The Performance Group (Wooster Group) and Richard Schechner, amongst others. She has also studied a variety of world dance styles--with the Whirling Dervishes in Konya, Turkey to Bharat Natyam with Indrani Rahman, West African dance and drumming with Oko Ardyfio from Ghana, Butoh with Eiko and Komo, hula on the island of Hawaii and Middle Eastern dance. She has served on the Educational Committee of Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center.
Source: Biennale de la danse
Author, filmmaker and video artist Charles Picq (1952-2012) entered working life in the 70s through theatre and photography. A- fter resuming his studies (Maîtrise de Linguistique - Lyon ii, Maîtrise des sciences et Techniques de la Communication - grenoble iii), he then focused on video, first in the field of fine arts at the espace Lyonnais d'art Contemporain (ELAC) and with the group « Frigo », and then in dance.
On creation of the Maison de la Danse in Lyon in 1980, he was asked to undertake a video documentation project that he has continued ever since. During the ‘80s, a decade marked in France by the explosion of contemporary dance and the development of video, he met numerous artists such as andy Degroat, Dominique Bagouet, Carolyn Carlson, régine Chopinot, susanne Linke, Joëlle Bouvier and regis Obadia, Michel Kelemenis. He worked in the creative field with installations and on-stage video, as well as in television with recorded shows, entertainment and documentaries.
His work with Dominique Bagouet (80-90) was a unique encounter. He documents his creativity, assisting with Le Crawl de Lucien and co-directing with his films Tant Mieux, Tant Mieux and 10 anges. in the 90s he became director of video development for the Maison de la Danse and worked, with the support of guy Darmet and his team, in the growing space of theatre video through several initiatives:
- He founded a video library of dance films with free public access. This was a first for France. Continuing the video documentation of theatre performances, he organised their management and storage.
- He promoted the creation of a video-bar and projection room, both dedicated to welcoming school pupils.
- He started «présentations de saisons» in pictures.
- He oversaw the DVD publication of Le tour du monde en 80 danses, a pocket video library produced by the Maison de la Danse for the educational sector.
- He launched the series “scènes d'écran” for television and online. He undertook the video library's digital conversion and created Numeridanse.
His main documentaries are: enchaînement, Planète Bagouet, Montpellier le saut de l'ange, Carolyn Carlson, a woman of many faces, grand ecart, Mama africa, C'est pas facile, Lyon, le pas de deux d'une ville, Le Défilé, Un rêve de cirque.
He has also produced theatre films: Song, Vu d'ici (Carolyn Carlson), Tant Mieux, Tant Mieux, 10 anges, Necesito and So schnell, (Dominique Bagouet), Im bade wannen, Flut and Wandelung (Susanne Linke), Le Cabaret Latin (Karine Saporta), La danse du temps (Régine Chopinot), Nuit Blanche (Abou Lagraa), Le Témoin (Claude Brumachon), Corps est graphique (Käfig), Seule et WMD (Françoise et Dominique Dupuy), La Veillée des abysses (James Thiérrée), Agwa (Mourad Merzouki), Fuenteovejuna (Antonio Gades), Blue Lady revistied (Carolyn Carlson).
Source: Maison de la Danse de Lyon
Choreography : Oskar Schlemmer, Debra Mc Call
Choreography assistance : Andreas Weininger
Original music : Craig Gordon
Lights : Jeffrey Mc Roberts
Costumes : Lori Abramson, Suellen Epstein
Other collaborations : Bos Rus (accessoires), Elliot Schnartz (masques)
Production / Coproduction of the video work : Biennale de la danse - Charles Picq, 1984
Oskar Schlemmer and Bauhaus
Reconstructed and Directed by Debra McCall
The Bauhaus, an experimental school for the arts and design, was founded by Walter Gropius in 1919, the same year as the Weimar Republic. Uniting the arts, crafts and technology in a gesamtkunstwerk (total work) of design, Gropius envisioned an architecture that would fuse the newfound technology of mass production with beauty and functionality. One of the more successful Bauhaus workshops, embodying Gropius’s concerns for unification and standardization of form, was the Stage Workshop, led by Oskar Schlemmer. While the Stage Workshop pioneered new abstract forms of performance, it also served as the catalyst for Bauhaus social happenings such as the famous Metallic Party.
The Bauhaus Dances were delivered as a series of lecture dances between 1927-29. They were directly inspired by the architectonic cubical stage space Gropius designed for the Dessau Bauhaus, which opened in 1926. Preoccupied with simple gesture--walking, sitting, jumping -- and influenced by
Heinrich Kleist’s widely read essay on the marionette, Schlemmer aimed to create figures that would symbolize the new technology’s potential, but whose human element would supersede the mechanical. In fact, standardizing and unifying the human body through padded costumes and masks exaggerated the stylistic idiosyncrasies of the dancers. Each dancer was assigned both a primary color and a tempo to symbolize a psychological temperament; thus, Schlemmer entered the ongoing color theory debate with the Bauhaus faculty—including Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Johannes Itten—on whether the circle was red (medium tempo), the square blue (slow tempo), and the triangle yellow (quick tempo). In both Formentanz (Form Dance) and Reifentanz (Hoop Dance), Schlemmer investigated the impact of geometric props or forms on the human figure. Baukastenspiel (Block Play) was a parody of the Bauhaus architects and der Bau, "creative construction." In Stäbetanz (Stick Dance), by extending the human limbs and torso via twelve poles, the inherent geometric proportion of the dancer engages the mathematics of abstract space in a dance of the Golden Section. The Nazis forced the closure of the Dessau Bauhaus in 1932, but its design influence is felt to this day. Likewise, the avant-garde legacy of Schlemmer and his Stage Workshop students would eventually influence the performance theory and work of John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Alwin Nikolais, Robert Wilson, Meredith Monk, the Judson Dance Theater, Laurie Anderson and David Byrne, amongst others.
Debra McCall recovered Schlemmer’s original notes and sketches during a research trip to Germany in the 1980s. After a year of translation and reconstruction with the assistance of the last remaining performer from the Bauhaus Stage Workshop, Andreas Weininger, and with the support of Mrs. Ise Gropius, the Bauhaus Dances premiered at The Kitchen, New York. This was followed by sold-out tours of the US, Europe and Japan, including the inaugural Biennale de la Danse in Lyon; the 1984 exhibition “Kandinsky: Russian and Bauhaus Years, 1915-1933” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the “Oskar Schlemmer” exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center, the Art Institute of Chicago and the IBM Gallery of Art and Science. McCall’s reconstructions returned to the original Dessau Bauhaus in 1994, presenting the Bauhaus Dances on that stage for the first time in sixty-five years.
The film of the reconstructions, directed by Robert Leacock and Debra McCall, premiered at Goethe Institut-New York and was selected by the American Dance Festival for its first Dancing for the Camera: International Festival of Film and Video Dance. It also was included in the Museum of Modern Art “Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity” Bauhaus Lounge exhibition 2009-10, and in the “100 Years (Version #2)” Performa 09 exhibition at PS 1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York. The film and Labanotation for the dances reside at the Library of Congress and the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, New York.
More information: bauhausdances.org