And we’re done! The two weeks of the Ponderosa Tanzland Festival 2018 are over — and it has been amazing. We want to thank everybody who came along, who participated, who jumped in, who helped to make it all happen — and, of course, we want to take a look back at how it all went.
It’s difficult to pick highlights — there has really been so much going on — but let’s try. This is a looooong post. Ready? Ok, let’s go.
So, the first week — the Movements · Sessions · Rituals week — began with an opening circle on 12. August. The whole place here was totally packed, and once we had had the chance to introduce ourselves to each other and talk a bit about the place, the festival was underway.
Opening circle, 12. August
In the first week, during the day, we were kept busy-busy-busy with two parallel workshops which were happening in the two main studios: week 1 of Dynamics of Fluids and Sensorial Memories, with Benoît Lachambre, and The Intimacy of Being Human, with Robert Steijn and Ricardo Rubio.
Workshop in the big studio — originally posted by @marumwelt
And then in the evenings, we had rituals, showings, performances, and actions galore!
These included, on the evening of August 14., night-time showings by the participants in the current P.O.R.C.H. Performance and Choreographic Synthesis Module. These showings were presented in various spaces in the Ponderosa gardens and studios, mostly in semi-darkness, indoors and outdoors, as the audience was led in a captivating and uncanny procession from space to space, encountering solo dance, acoustic industrial noise experiments, durational repeating scores, text-based work incorporating a dead tree as a performative readymade, immersive sound experiences, and much more.
Views of P.O.R.C.H. performances and showings, 14. August
The following evening, Wednesday, 15. August, there was a contact improvisation jam with a difference — it was an object jam, facilitated by Peter Pleyer and Michiel Keuper. The space of the main studio was used to reimagine the possibilities of contact improvisation by integrating movement with objects — items which were the props and traces of past performances and choreographic scores.
Object jam, 15. August — photos by Michiel Keuper
The following night, Maria F. Scaroni and Marc Lohr introduced their renowned, legendary, honestly-completely-mind-blowing practice, psychic jogging. This collectively-incantatory, rhythmically-ecstatic, rotationally-durational thing is both utterly simple — we all run together while the drums play — and also a complete revelation. As the process unfolds, the rhythms become relentless, the space becomes both focused and free, and the collective action turns hypnotic and psychedelic.
Psychic jogging, 16. August
It was during this week that the news came through that Aretha Franklin had died, at 76, in Detroit. An impromptu memorial was created in the garden in her honour.
Impromptu Aretha Franklin memorial, 17. August
The following day — in-between workshop times, meals, performances, and more — there was storytelling on the porch with Jessy Layne Tuddenham, as the sun washed over the garden in the late afternoon.
Storytelling with Jessy Layne Tuddenham, 17. August
And the same evening, in the kitchen, there was an anarchist-dinner-and-dance-party — a collective combination of cooking, dancing, partying, and eating, all existing in parallel.
Anarchist dinner and party
And that, in turn, was followed, later that same night, by the showing of Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival — a film by Fabrizio Terranova — in the big studio. The showing of the film was organised and presented by the XenoEntities Network.
Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival — showing in Ponderosa Kuhstahl studio, 17. August
Trailer for Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival by Fabrizio Terranova
On the day after — Saturday, August 18. — Tove Sahlin and Maria Johansson Josephsson performed their work, It Is As It Is, in the speicher studio. The work integrates performance and singing, and so before the performance, during the day, Maria led kitchen-choir singing sessions.
Kitchen choir singing with Maria Johansson Josephsson
It Is As It Is — Tove Sahlin and Maria Johansson Josephsson — Ponderosa, 18. August
Video trailer for It Is As It Is — Tove Sahlin and Maria Johansson Josephsson
Later that night, the Berlin Lecken party peeps took over, and we were treated to Paartanz and DJ Marum playing thudding beats right through the night, until the sun started to peek over the horizon.
Paartanz live at Ponderosa, 18. August
The following day, Sunday, August 19., was the last day of the first week of the festival, and there were two main events.
The first was an oil action, facilitated by Keith Hennessy, of which no photos were taken. So if you want to find out what the hell it was all about, ask around, and hopefully someone will tell you.
The second event was a performance by Jeremy Wade, which began indoors and then moved out into the garden, for a final participatory crescendo in which the audience ran in circles of different speeds as the music swirled around them.
Jeremy Wade performance, 19. August, Ponderosa
And then we were on to week two! The workshops week, to be exact. It began with another big introductory circle where everyone got to be able to say hello.
Opening circle, 19. August
The workshops that were running throughout the second week of the festival were week 2 of Dynamics of Fluids and Sensorial Memories, with Benoît Lachambre, and Technosomatics with Frédéric Gies.
Through Technosomatics, we got to be able to feel the true physical and bodily effects of four-to-the-floor pounding beats — how techno can help us feel our glands, our bones, our organs, our muscles. All accompanied by plenty of relentless dancing, of course...
Frederic Gies — Technosomatics
On the evening of Tuesday, 21. August, there was a participatory dinner meditation ritual-performance in the front courtyard, organised by participants in the P.O.R.C.H. Performance and Choreographic Synthesis Module. Dinner was a contemplative experiment, as the late-evening sun bathed us all.
Later that same evening, The Geyger Girls (Wanda Vrasti and Heather Purcell) performed a work based around explaining survival strategies for a rapidly-gentrifying Berlin. It integrated projections of live drawing, Tae Bo fitness dancing, face massages, talks about the history of Berlin as a site of radical social resistance to capitalist exploitation, and hardcore techno.
The Geyger Girls — Ponderosa, 21. August
While all these conceptual and political activities were going on, there were still some more practical approaches to aesthetics occurring in parallel — perhaps foremost among them, the digging of our new pond in the garden!
Marc Lohr and Doreen Markert led the way in designing, excavating, arranging, filling, and decorating a brand-new pond, which will not only look fantastic in the garden, but will also make it easier to irrigate plants in future — so, all going well, this spot will not just be a place to gaze across, but it will also nourish the salad that you munch as you gaze.
The new pond, slowly taking shape over the course of the festival
And, of course, the other amazing garden-related activity was being able to collect abundant piles of fruit — apples, peaches, berries, plums, grapes, and more. The summer has been hot and dry, which is perfect for the trees to push out edenesque quantities of fruit, and we have been making and eating giant fruit crumbles on plenty of recent evenings.
On the evening of August 23., the participants in the P.O.R.C.H. Performance and Choreographic Synthesis Module were presenting work that they have been developing and researching during their time here — including Burong’s dinnertime human-scarf performance Warmth, or My Scarf, Sam Parfitt’s durational score, and Mel Nehrkorn’s installation-performance in the big studio.
P.O.R.C.H. showings, 23. August — Warmth, or My Scarf by Burong
P.O.R.C.H. showings, 23. August — installation-performance by Mel Nehrkorn
One of the more enigmatic occurrences of this year’s festival was Yoshiko Chuma’s Secret Mystery Midnight Workshop, which took place, somewhat counterintuitively, at all sorts of times during the day, not just at midnight, and also occurred both indoors and out. As to what happened in the workshop, Yoshiko has sworn us to secrecy.
Yoshiko Chuma — Secret Mystery Midnight Workshop
During the day on August 24., there was a showing of a film presenting work from the Augustine Collective, an artistic cooperative one member of whom is Ayelet Yekutiel, who will be teaching at Ponderosa next month.
Augustine collective film showing
Later on in the evening of August 24., there was a showing of the film Iuventa, organised by our neighbour, Kristof Deneke, in the Cosmic Pizza Shack — just at the other end of the garden from us at Ponderosa. (The showing was accompanied by delicious hand-made pizzas, served outdoors under the moonlight — amazing.)
The film tells the story of a group of young Germans who organised to buy a boat to participate in the process of rescuing people at risk of drowning in the Mediterranean, during the peak of the European refugee and migrant crisis and its aftermath. The evening doubled as a solidarity event for Jugend Rettet, the organisation whose story is told in the film. The film was followed by a question-and-answer session and discussion, which ran until long past midnight.
Kristof has been actively involved in refugee solidarity work over the last few years, and this event was a fascinating and sobering view at the reality of how the outer borders of the European Union are policed, and the differences in privilege and freedom that can result from being born on one side of a line on the surface of the earth or the other.
The showing of Iuventa in the garden of the Cosmic Pizza Shack, 24. August
Cinematic trailer for Iuventa
One of the final events of the festival was Alan Prohm’s Everyone is part of the pattern, a durational social sculpture and collective forest tubular loom construction. It emerged over the course of a day’s work, in a clearing by the edge of the trees, and it resulted in a surreal construction that could be clambered on as much as looked at.
Constructing Everyone is Part of the Pattern
For the final evening of the festival, there was a barbeque dinner in the garden (with accompanying outdoor haircuts, dances, coloured wigs, loom-climbing, and more), followed by two events in the big studio — a performance by Marc Lohr and Mor Demer, and a concert by Beute that showered us in electrosynthpop swagger. And this, in turn, was followed by a sauna, and garden technosomatic dancing until the wee hours.
Garden dining — and hairstyling — on the last evening
Beute in the big studio, 25. August
Beute — ‘Mr. Americano’
Loom-climbing, and more, on the last night
The following morning, there was a slow and delicious long breakfast-brunch to soothe sore heads and fill rumbling bellies, before final goodbyes and trips to the Rufbus to get the train home.
But that’s not all! Nope. There was also another, parallel artistic undertaking occurring this August, throughout the festival — and it is still ongoing, right now. It was Stephanie Maher’s museum score.
Steph has previously been the longtime artistic director at Ponderosa since the very beginning of its existence; she is the current main mover in Tipping Utopia; she has lived at Ponderosa for most of the last twenty years. Steph decided that, for three weeks this August (or, to be more exact, for the duration of the Ponderosa Tanzland Festival 2018 and the P.O.R.C.H. Performance and Choreographic Synthesis Module 2018), she would declare her personal bedroom at Ponderosa to be a museum, open to visitors. The bedroom is an archive of all the private moments that have occurred in that space, and visitors are encouraged to come in and look, rummage, and add to the archive. And, in order to complete the reversal, Steph has been living and sleeping in the open, in the public space of the main Kuhstahl dance studio at Ponderosa, as the festival unfolds around her.
In this video below, shot at the beginning of the score, Steph talks about inverting her life as an extended performative score — making the private public, and making the public private — as she moves her bedding, in a wheelbarrow, from the bedroom/museum to the studio/bedroom.
Stephanie Maher’s museum score — introduction
Stephanie Maher’s museum score — views of the museum
See more museum images here
Stephanie Maher’s museum score — inverting public and private
View of Steph’s public living space originally posted by Tove Sahlin
And, finally, of course — no Ponderosa Tanzland Festival would be complete without the spectacular meals that our kitchen has been making all through the summer. Our cooks and kitchen helpers are incredible miracle-workers, and we have been able to relish some truly amazing meals, made with fresh, healthy, organic produce — including, where possible, ingredients taken directly from the garden and greenhouse. The salads, in particular, are daily ephemeral artworks that are a delight for the eyes as much as the tastebuds.
Food! Delicious food!
And that was this year’s festival! Whew! It’s been an incredible time, and we’re all pretty blown away by how it all went. If you have any thoughts you’d like to share with us about your time here, please send them our way! And if you have any great photos, videos, or the like, we’d love to have them. It’s been amazing. We love you all.
But this is not the end of what we have going on out here this year. After a few days of well-earned rest, we’ll be starting with the workshop program that we have for September, the details of which are all available over on our full program page. And although P.O.R.C.H. 2018 is also wrapping up soon, P.O.R.C.H. 2019 is on the way! So regardless how you wind up out here, we’ll hopefully see you out here soon — we’re looking forward to it. ❤️
The Ponderosa Blog is an ongoing experiment in putting one foot in front of the other, and one word after another, to transfer ideas in ones and zeroes to minds around the world and beyond. A rumble from a ruined speaker to maybe bring the gov’t. down, one sorry heart at a time. xo