Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blind man & Rubick's cube

This week I've been in Berlin again, to set up yet another series of shows of our adaptation of Medea aka "Keep on searching for a heart of gold".

Our venue this time is Theaterdiscounter, which is quite ok place just around the corner from Alexanderplatz, on Klosterstrasse. The first performance will take place tonight and I'm somewhat ready to shoot.

It was a long road to get there, though, but I'm pretty satisfied with the outcome. I was told that the equipment at Theaterdiscounter is a mishmash of old fixtures and they didn't quite have everything I needed. So, eventually I rigged up a variety of different stuff begged and borrowed around Berlin to top up TD's gear. And it looks ways better than I hoped for. How cool is this!

The biggest obstacle turned out to be the light console. Theaterdiscounter has a relatively old console by German manufacturer Transtechnik. Very reliable, real machine-look and lots of possibilities, but... But! But, it speaks Transtechnikian or something similar, so even though I know enough German to get by, I was totally lost with this one!

Usually, in my experience, even with unknown consoles, it's possible to manage, because you can guess which button does what, since the terminology and shortenings are somewhat universal. But, not with Transtechnik. There, for example, normal channel (usually known as CH or CHAN) is called SK (comes from word Strohmkreis) and delete (DEL) answers to a name LOE (löschen, written without o with dots Ö-> oe).

So, I really needed an interpreter with programming. And the manual was in German and didn't have an index, so finding things in it took forever. As the house technician said: "I feel like a blind man with Rubick's cube..." I can soooo second that!

In the end everything turned out ok though and next time I know what to expect. So to live is to learn. Even if it's to learn to solve puzzle blindfolded =)

Design: no-bullshit 70's charm

German X-files aka Akte X, almost

Say whaaaat?


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sequins, chiffon.... fruitsalad

I was asked to design lights for the 25th anniversary gala for a dance studio Semiramis in Basel. This studio instructs people in various dance styles, but the main focus in on oriental dance. As an ending for this semester they wanted to stage a show containing 13 choreographies in approximately 80 minutes. Content stretched from oriental to contemporary through modern variations. Venue was Theater Roxy in Birsfelden.

Technically this was an interesting challenge for me, since one had to keep the concept somehow manageable, since this was not AC/DC tour with hundred stagehands and unlimited technical resources. And still be able to create enough dynamic and variety to keep it interesting to see.

Artistically this was a very joyful and endearing project to realise. I went to see the rehearsals couple of times and discussed the needs and wishes with choreographers. Then when on stage we nailed everything down in an hour per individual piece. Concept was pretty clear and luckily there was no major problems to execute it. Mostly things fit quite well to my original idea, although, when designing, it was difficult to try to see how 15 dancers will find their places in a space that is double the size of the rehearsal studio. For example.

All in all these people, both dancers and the choreographers seem to be very energetic and positive, which made my work all the more pleasurable. Especially oriental dance is somehow filled with lots of emotions and the joy of movement. It's nice to get a chance to make dreams of this kind of people come true. Happy lot... happy designer... happy lights.

If I achieved the goal... Judge for yourselves:

First choreography was a classical oriental dance.
"Leilat Hob"

2nd: very fast paced and energetic modern dance to
the music of Prince.
"It's about that walk"

Third one jumps back to oriental. Duo with cymbals.
"Wala Tinzani"

4th: more classical oriental. Group choreography
"Hawa ya hawa"

5th: Starts with short veil dance and swaps into drum music and
very fast oriental movement.
"Bahia / Kivir"

6th: Modern dance, 10 dancers, 15 minutes. Moods swinging from
blue hour via dawning day to black'n white graphics.
Music by Ensemble L'Arpeggiata
"Traces, faces, spaces, places"

7th: Oriental stick / cane dance.
"El Lilah"

8th: oriental tango, very intimate, subtle and erotic.
"O sensin"

9th: Modern choreography, very geometric and
accentuated movement
music"Night over Manaus" by Boozoo Bajou.
"Grand cru"

10th: oriental veil dance with somehow poetic and romantic music.
"The Mummers dance"

11th: Contemporary choreography, mystical and detached from time.
"Als wär nichts gewesen"
(Freely: As if there was nothing, as it didn't happen)

12th: Oriental group dance to drum music.

The grande finale with all 56 dancers.
And a chaser for 28 toplight Par cans.

And for the end; I add here my light plot, so my colleaques can oggle my set up. It has some fruitsalad color also! =) =)

The light plot for "Nichts als Tanz"

Vihreän joen rannalla - By the green river

While in Bern, I ate dinner in a brilliant asian restaurant, Mekong Beizli, which I already mentioned in the previous post. But it's somehow relevant to this post also, since the fortune cookie I got told me that long walks would be beneficial for both my body and soul.

So this post is about that walk.

I had a day off in Bern and the weather looked finally promising, so I took off for a walk. First I went to Elfenau and from there to the tracks along the Aare river. It was blazing hot Saturday, temperature hovering somewhere around +35*, so most of Bern were barbecuing themselves in the parks by the river. I wasn't into that, so I kept walking and admiring the unbelievably turquoise water of the river. I'm told that this very particular milky color comes from calc that is in the water. Go figure, but it's soooo beautiful!

I spent all afternoon walking down along the river, ever so slowly towards downtown Bern. Lots of people were already happily splashing in the water, but for me it was still wayyyys too chilly, so I settled for just wiggling my toes in it.



Kiikustuolissa istun,
ja sinua muistelen.
Muistini tylsillä luistimilla
luoksesi luistelen.
siihen kesään kauan, kauan sitten
syksyksi kääntyneeseen
ja omaan hahmooni ensirakkauden
poltteessa nääntyneeseen

Siellä rannalla vihreän joen
rakkaudestani kertoen
sanoin eivät kai kukkaset kuki turhaan
nyt poimimme sen, ensimmäisen yhteisen

missä oletkaan ollut kaikki nämä vuodet
ootko muistanut, kuinka silloin rakastin sua
kun tiemme joelle vei, ja joelle sanoin hei
minne meet, minne kuljetit kyyneleet
jotka kauan sitten itkin
kun yksin kuljen rantaasi pitkin, hei hei

silmääni kyyneleen suolaisen,
muistoni toi kai sen
kun aina muistoissani uudestaan
viereesi oikaisen

siellä rannalla vihreän joen
rakkaudestani kertoen
sanoin eivät kai kukkaset kuki turhaan
nyt poimimme sen, ensimmäisen yhteisen

missä oletkaan ollut kaikki nämä vuodet
ootko muistanut, kuinka silloin rakastin sua
kun tiemme joelle vei, ja joelle sanoin hei
minne meet, minne kuljetit kyyneleet
jotka kauan sitten itkin
kun yksin kuljen rantaasi pitkin, hei hei


Pelicans in the Zoo right by the river, everybody's "must have pic"

Bundeshaus as seen from Dalmaziquai


Again Bundeshaus

Kleine Schanze

And yes, I did get a blister on my heel, so the physical benefits can be questioned in the end. Can fortune cookies be trusted?

Friday, June 4, 2010

@ Bern

Since last Monday I have been in the Swiss capital, Bern. A new guest performance, new at least for me, brought me here after only one week in Basel since Zürich. Seems like busy May for me, but that's only good, giving me a chance to patch up my finances after quiet beginning of the year.

The performance I'm doing here now is called "Wann stören wir uns endlich" and directed by Andreas Liebmann. This is a fast take over thing to me, since the guys who'd done it before couldn't come this time. It feels always bit jittery to hop on the reins having only seen the piece on DVD. -Aka, not having any kind of first hand experience on how it need to be. Nonetheless, I seem to be doing all right, we had the premiere yesterday at Schlachthaus Theater and I didn't screw it up =).

After getting the show to the run mode, I have now bit more free time in my hands. That's actually great, because couple of my dear friends are visiting this city at this very moment. So today I spent strolling around downtown Bern with my friend Jari (Oulu, Finland), whom I haven't seen in past two years, give or take some months. He is visiting Bern because his lady, Eija (Glasgow, Scotland), is doing her university thesis on Robert Walser, swiss writer. So what are the chances exactly, to be in the same city and time with these two, be it Finland , British Isles, Switzerland or any given country for that matter? =) =) So cool!

With both of them I also visited the Kunsthalle to see their exhibition about animism. I found it to be bit one sided and scarce, but having yet some interesting ideas, mainly with the video installations. Mostly boring, anyhow. Not really recommended.

In stead I can really wholeheartedly recommend something else. A brilliant Asian restaurant called Mekong Beizli on Kornhausplatz 7. The place is pretty small and very popular, so be prepared to wait a moment in the evening time, if you don't have reservation. But, I promise you, it well worth waiting for. Personnel is friendly and the place is clean and not shabby. Prices are okay compared to the general level in Bern and the food is straightforward and tasty. I was sort of impressed with my portion of chicken with cashew nuts, since this somehow reminded me of the very first dish of such in Phuket some years ago. There is billion recipes for it and this first one in Phuket is always the reference to me. Most ofter I'm somehow disappointed because the versions served are not "quite right". But this one in Mekong was a real positive surprise! Highly recommended!!!

In the evening I hooked up with yet another friend of mine. Kati, Finnish dancer, is doing a student exchange project here in Bern now and we went to have this amazing dinner and then after wards to see a dance performance at Tojo Theater. ojo is situated in former riding school very near to the main railway station and the location has sort of cult reputation of being the hangout scene for the local youth. The show "Run very far to come very close to say very little" wanted to be very cool and trendy, but didn't impress me much. It was nothing compared to the Cathy Sharp choreography "Mr. Budhoo Resigns" I saw last weekend.