Ponderosa is a difficult thing to describe. We once wrote a poem about all the things it is not.
Ponderosa is an art centre, a community, and a place to gather and exchange. It is located in the German countryside, in the village of Stolzenhagen, around an hour on the train from Berlin, close to the border with Poland.
There are a few recurring things that Ponderosa is well-known for. These include the P.O.R.C.H. summer school, the Ponderosa Tanzland Festival (with its events and workshops, concerts, performances, artists and teachers, and lots more), the Ponderosa Artists-in-Residence program, and the Ponderosa kitchen and gardens. Ponderosa also has a history of deep involvement with contact improvisation, yoga, and international and regional exchange.
Legally, Ponderosa is a members association, and, yes, you can join and become a member!
Stephanie Maher, Artistic Director of Ponderosa, talks about the project’s history and future. Interview by Jens Wazel, 2019.
Ponderosa has almost twenty years of history since it first emerged from the depths of K77 in Berlin. Ponderosa also has many wild and wonderful dreams about future possibilities, which you can support!
What else? Well, we also offer studio rentals and performance venues. We work hard at making this place be both accessible and internally sustainable — through things like organising work exchanges, providing funding information, and creating accessible community events. We have a tradition of sorts of having a weekly contact improvisation jam on Wednesday evenings. We have saunas. We have compost toilets and solar showers. We have an office that doubles as a cosy co-working space. We have a cat. The view from the back porch down into the garden at sunset on a summer’s evening is worth more than any billionaire will ever know.
Ponderosa belongs to the larger co-operative Genossenschaft of Gut-Stolzenhagen. We come from varied and wide-ranging backgrounds, but share a common experience of embracing the arts, living as a community, and working to improve the area around us, as a small contribution towards changing the world.
Ponderosa is a team of artists, teachers, builders, gardeners, performers, cultural managers, producers and cultural hosts who depend on a form of life-as-improvisation to help create structures and solutions and to encourage the curation of events that inspire creativity and fearless exploration.
We work towards bridging gaps between young and old, and borders between people and nations — whether they are in the surrounding villages, between Poland and Germany, or in the wider international community. We try very hard to create a place that is extraordinary, original, inviting and stimulating.
Stephanie Maher’s Reflections — a book about Ponderosa
Stephanie Maher walks us through metaphysical reflections and an historical journey around the innovative making of life, love, art, and dance, at Ponderosa.
This book, widely illustrated with multi-layered photos by Sandra Wieser, sketches in some of the history of Ponderosa, but more importantly takes the reader through a number of visionary meditations around art and art-making, eco-art and the environment, collective decision-making and behavior, as well as sustainability, the german countryside, and more.
Stephanie's many students and followers will love the journey, newcomers to her world will be bewitched by its spontaneous magic and the provocative quality of her vision.