By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
A new dance / video art production titled “bodyRealities – cityCodes” – which deals with the complex structures of Accra and its inhabitants – will in September 2017 premiere at the Tanzfaktur, which is located in the German city of Cologne.
Featuring Ghanaian dancers Mark Lomotey / Alfred Quarshie and produced by DIN A 13 Dance Company (Germany), it examines the impact that places, landscapes, locations as well as personal experiences have on individual body memories and how these spaces are reflected in physical movement.
The piece further scrutinizes the human body as a living sign of its culture and architectural habitat – what we do with our bodies, how we deal with it, how we use it, what attitudes we exhibit from it, how we evaluate it, how it feels and what significance we attribute to it – are shaped by the society and culture we live in.
Together with German filmmakers Miriam Jakobs and Gerhard Schick, choreographer Gerda König managed to trace these contexts in parts of Sri Lanka in 2016. Currently, the research has led the artistic team to various parts of the Ghanaian capital, Accra.
In Accra, they found rural structures in informal settlements and slums that extend along a river front, a railway track, a street with high-rise buildings where the values and products of globalization seem unattainable for a majority of the population behind these shiny glass façades.
The attempt to understand a city and its people inevitably leads to a confrontation with past and modern-day slavery – undeniably, the consequences of colonization and globalization. Accra is indeed a melting pot of the past and present consisting of different ethnic groups, languages and cultures.
The sociology of the human body, as a sub area of sociology, deals with the interpenetration of body and society. Although the body is part of nature and as such subject to its laws, the way in which this natural side of the body is perceived, valued and lived depends on the epoch, culture, and society.
The basic goal of the sociology of the body is to work out how the human body is to be understood as a social phenomenon. Consequently, the project analyzes the processes in which the body becomes the product and the producer of society.
DIN A 13 Dance Company is one of the few dance ensembles comprising dancers with different bodily capabilities. By means of continual artistic and conceptual development of their productions, DIN A 13 has managed to become one of the globally leading mixed-abled dance ensembles.
The artistic approach taken by the company is marked by the exploration and visualization of the quality of movement inherent in “differing bodies” whose diversity forms the basis for the choreographic work.
Gerda König challenges viewing habits and normative ideals found in contemporary dance while enriching it through new impulses. Consequently, assumed frontiers and evaluations between special bodily dispositions and a dancer’s peak performance become dissolved in choreographic pictures, posing questions and inviting one to enter into an artistic dialogue.
She perpetually searches for contrast and provocation in her choreographic pictures, mirroring the human tension between inner and social conflicts. The unexpectedness of another body becomes the aesthetic experience whose expressiveness shows new benchmarks of quality.
“bodyRealities – cityCodes” is being sponsored by Landschaftsverband Rheinland, German Ministry for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sports of the country Northrhine Westfalia, the Cultural Office of the city Cologne, Aktion Mensch, Art Foundation NRW, Kämpgen Foundation, Beatrix-Lichtken Foundation, Goethe-Institut Ghana, iDAS nrw and Fonds Soziokultur, npn.
Pictures:- David Schmenger