People who have created or presented work at Ponderosa have often been inspired by the potential of this place — and, in particular, quite a few of them have been inspired by the possibility to create chaotic scenes of absurd complication, turmoil, destruction, and mayhem, turning things inside-out, leaving trails in their wake, soaking or destroying things in the process.
And... the time has come, folks! Yes, the moment has arrived for us to take a historical survey of some of the most renowned, legendary, and mythical artistically-motivated messes and mayhem created and witnessed at Ponderosa, over the course of the last decade-plus.
Let’s take a look.
From Tropical Escape, by Csaba Molnár and Márcio Canabarro (11. July 2015)
Some of the most memorable messes have, of course, happened as part of performances in the main Kuhstahl studio.
Of those, one of the most complex and fascinating was Csaba Molnár and Márcio Canabarro’s performance, in the summer of 2015, of their work Tropical Escape. This piece, which was subsequently presented in both Berlin and Budapest, involved blow-up giant ghosts, exploding balloons, paint, fruit, fireworks, a mid-performance lecture on the Guerrilla Girls, flour, hula-hoops, and much more. Take a look at more here.
Another particularly manic moment in the Kuhstahl studio was the performance by Kajanne Pepper in July 2014 — unforgettably combining drag, dance, lip-syncing, plastic, and bursts of paint that slowly transformed from unexpected to uncannily transfixing. See more here.
One approach to making a mess is to create it as an improvised composition, to create it slowly and deliberately, and to create it from the items that are already in the room — items that might otherwise stay hidden, out of view. In 2017, Joy Mariama Smith and the Color Block group performed the piece Brown Things, in the Kuhstahl, starting from an empty stage and slowly filling it with, well, brown things. Shoes, carpets, bottles, clothes, rugs, chairs, bricks — all kinds of brown things.
One reading of the piece is as a real and a metaphorical bringing-to-light. The ‘mess’ was a jumble of things. However, it was also a careful display of items — and, by metaphorical implication, of people, bodies, lives, stories — that otherwise often exist only in the margins. As the piece unfolded — with its mantra-like invocation of the simple phrase, “brown things, brown things, brown things” and rhyming variations — the stage filled with brown things, presented by artists of colour, steadily building a tableau of found objects, transforming the space. See more about Color Block here.
Another Kuhstahl work was a piece that was presented as part of the annual performance marathon, by Alex Crow, Aga Pedziwiatr, Katelyn McCulloch, Siobhán Ní Dhuinnín, Hannah Wasiliewski, and Monika Smekot, in August 2014. From a starting point of all the participants standing in bowls of water, the piece worked through several steps, involving emptying water on the ground, and on each other, slowly but steadily soaking everyone involved. Take a look at more here.
CREAPS Dinner (21. July 2014) — video by Chani Bockwinkel
Many messes have been food-related. Of these, one of the most eventful was the CREAPS dinner in 2014, where the CREAPS group of resident artists had a fairly extraordinary meal. Chani Bockwinkel’s video gives some idea of what was involved — you can also take a look here at how some of the participants looked like before it all began...
Another food-related work was Max Wirsing’s piece as part of the P.O.R.C.H. Performance Module in 2010. Over the course of the performance, a wheelbarrow filled with loaves of bread was slowly reimagined as an absurdist costume, together with gaffa tape and ripped magazine covers — all of it outdoors in the summer-evening sunshine. More photos here.
Not all messes are chaotic — some happen as a result of the patient and determined carrying-through of a defined process. Such as, for example, taking the shoes that you have worn all summer long, and shredding them into tiny pieces, as Kata Kovács did at the end of the summer in 2014. See more here.
In 2014, as part of the performances that accompanied the P.O.R.C.H. performance module, Celine McBride presented a piece that began outdoors, and that slowly brought the audience indoors, crawling, to witness a finale involving mud, flowers, and soap, in a darkened Milk Garden studio. See more here.
Stolzenhagen Princes No. 3 — video by Anne-Sophie Malmberg
In 2009, Anne-Sophie Malmberg made a series of short videos, Stolzenhagen Princes, in which a group of Stolzenhagen men undertook some fine-n-manly tasks, like picnics and naps. The third of these saw our titular princely heroes running naked down the hill into the canal, flapping paper wings on their way, as they flew towards the water. This was possibly the first mess that had to be fished out of the water in order to be cleaned up afterwards...
Be sure to also take a look at Stolzenhagen Princes No. 1 and No. 2, as well!
From Strip Trees, by Shelley Etkin and Sara Anjo (23. August 2014)
In August 2014, Shelley Etkin and Sara Anjo presented the first version of their collaborative work Strip Trees at Ponderosa. The piece is described as “a performative protest, in constant (d)evolution, re-composing in multiple forms.”
Strip Trees is further contextualised as a work that “plays with a perversion of the relationship between two ‘she-trees’. Through physical, written, and vocal states work, a metamorphosis occurs. Working with a decompositional approach, Strip Trees deals with questions of consumption.”
The work was certainly working with a decompositional approach when it was shown here, leaving the room strewn with discarded leaves and branches, along with pages of text typed on a typewriter during the piece. Take a look at more here.
One of the most amazing and committed performances that occurred here was presented by Mariana Medellin-Meinke in 2012. She wanted to create a scene that presented an imaginary superhero crashing head-first into the ground, cape flying out behind them, legs in the air. However, the scene was not just a still image, and it also integrated piles of earth, a pair of blinking-light ‘eyes’, and accompanying live noise-guitar soundtrack by Mangrove Kipling. All presented in the garden, at night.
In 2010, as part of the performance marathon, there was a TV cooking show in the kitchen — complete with cardboard cameras, a mop as a boom mic, and manic show hosts zipping from one feature to the next, which included all sorts of special guests, cooking chaos, and unexpected messes. It including this moment, when, during a break for ‘advertisements’, one of the spots demonstrated just how useful their brand of olive oil is — especially when used as a way to soak yourself in oil from head to toe, as part of a healthy hygiene regimen. See more of the madness here.
In June 2014, Sura Hertzberg and Darcy Wallace staged a performance in the garden, as part of P.O.R.C.H., that was a series of one-on-one encounters — a blessing ritual of sorts — involving flowers, water, baths over fire pits, candles, shrouded characters beckoning, and more, as the sun slowly set behind the trees. Take a look at more here.
Signe Holtsmark and Sandra Wieser presented a performance in June 2014 in which two montrous, masked apparitions went through a surreal baking process, throwing together flour and milk, smashing eggs, dropping utensils. All the while, the mysterious characters whispered and sang in the half-light. See more here.
In 2015, there was an outdoor post-apocalyptic drag fashion show. Because of course there was. Take a look here to survey the smouldering wreckage of the nightmarish-yet-stylish collapse of the existing order of all social relations in the aftermath of unspecified catastrophes. Fun!
Aurora Prelevic presented a piece in the summer of 2015, as part of P.O.R.C.H., in which she slowly covered the floor with seeds. Throwing them, spitting them, rolling in them — all in total silence. Take a look at more here.
And, finally... this wasn’t a performance, exactly — it was a photoshoot, by Agnė, Jade, Susu, and Micheál. In part, it involved shaving Susu’s head and sprinkling powdered coconut on it — all in the name of getting the perfect shot. See more of it all here.
And, apart from everything that’s shown here, there are also the ones that we can’t show you. Not everything can be put online — nor should it. Plenty of crazy stuff has happened that can’t be linked to or embedded — mud-wrestling, peeing, naked everything, jumping into walls, all kinds of things. But, if you’re curious, ask us about them.
And, of course, there are also the ones that got away, or that were never intended to leave traces in the first place. These exist only in people’s memories and recollections, and there they will remain.
We’re sure that there will be more messes coming up this summer. Maybe you’d like to be one of the participants or creators of some future mess that no-one has witnessed yet. Make it happen! Take a look at the full program, and get yourself out here soon. ?
Are you interested in spending some time out at Ponderosa in June? Well that’s just swell, because we’re offering the possibility to spend time here as part of a work exchange — one week working, one week dancing and moving and expanding your mind.
Specifically, we are offering to stay for any two weeks between June 3. and June 22., for one week of working and one week of workshop, in any order.
Work exchange is available for the following weeks:
So: if you are interested in the possibility of undertaking a work exchange during this time, as a participant in one of these events, please email us now to make arrangements for your stay. Please do not use social media for this — only email.
And, if you would like to learn more about work exchanges in general, take a look at our page about exactly that, right here.
Back in 2012, Katelyn Stiles shot a short film about the P.O.R.C.H. Improvisation and Training Module, which gives an insight into the kind of work that was happening during the module then — and the surprising threads of similarity that it shares with what will be happening in this years’ P.O.R.C.H. Improvisation and Training Module. Take a look at a couple of stills here, and the full video is embedded below.
Many of the participants in the 2012 module have ended up being regular return visitors to Ponderosa, and some of them have gone on to teach here, to explore their own artistic goals in greater scope and with broader recognition, to use the experience of P.O.R.C.H. to allow themselves to be able to move to Berlin and dive into the artistic possibilities that the city allows, and much more.
There are a couple of spots still available for the upcoming Improvisation and Training Module of P.O.R.C.H., which runs from 3. June to 1. July. If you find that Katelyn’s video whets your curiosity, it’s not too late to join in — all the details are on the page, and you can apply by sending a CV and a letter of interest up until the beginning of the module. Now is the moment to let things be transformed... ❤️
We mentioned before about the series of interviews that Diego Agulló conducted in 2016 with various people connected to dance, choreography, movement, and performance, in Berlin and nearby.
As part of that series, Diego also talked to Stephanie Maher, in the valley at Ponderosa, about all kinds of questions related to community, art, exploration, decision-making, personal beliefs, and more.
Stephanie is one of the facilitators — alongside Peter Pleyer and Maria F. Scaroni — of the second module of P.O.R.C.H., in August — the P.O.R.C.H. Performance and Choreographic Synthesis Module. And, she will also be one of the teachers in the first P.O.R.C.H. module, in June — the P.O.R.C.H. Improvisation and Training Module, facilitated by Kathleen Hermesdorf.
There are a couple of remaining places available for both modules (and for the full-season immersion of the P.O.R.C.H. Summer Package), so if you’re curious about some of the sorts of ideas that Steph is talking about here — and much more besides — then send along a CV and a letter of interest, and jump on in.
The full interview is right here, and it’s totally fascinating. 🌺
One of the most memorable performances that ever happened at Ponderosa — and one of the most serendipitously-timed — was the performance, with improvised elements, Songs of Innocence and Experience, which was presented outdoors in 2011 by the group of participants in Kathleen Hermesdorf’s 2011 workshop.
Over the course of the twenty minutes that the piece ran, the weather changed — dramatically. And so, what began as an outdoor collective performance in the summer sunshine finished with a soaked-to-the-bone group — still committed to carrying through their work — as the rain poured, the wind whipped, the thunder bellowed, and, occasionally, the lightning cracked around their heads.
The documentation of the full piece is embedded here below. It is not just fascinating viewing, but it also gives an idea of the kinds of ideas that Kathleen and the group were working with — and if you’re interested in similar improvisatory craziness, and explorations of articulation and agency, form and function, materiality and imagination, then take a look at the details of Kathleen’s upcoming workshop, this summer, Corpo-reality, which will be happening over two weeks from June 4. to 8., and 11. to 15., this summer. You might not end up performing in the middle of a thunderstorm, but who knows? Crazier things have happened here...
Songs of Innocence and Experience, Kathleen Hermesdorf and group, 2011
Empathix: Bending Binaries, Bodies, and Building Bridges is a workshop, facilitated by queer movers of colour, which will dig into serious physical research in togetherness, play, love, visibility, coexistence, trust, empathy, and more.
Let’s have all the details, at a glance:
Empathix: Bending Binaries, Bodies and Building Bridges — with Sarra Bouars and Kristianne Salcines
Facilitators Sarra Bouars and Kristianne Salcines will structure Empathix around a series of movement practices and related discussions. As they describe it:
“We will be doing everything together for each other. There will be facilitated discussions around participants’ experiences to build trust and intimacy, which we hope will allow us to work towards a community. Everyday, we will begin with breathing together, practicing qigong, taiji, and meditation practice, then leading to physical exercises and practices that focuses on play, love, visibility, coexistence, trust, empathy and serious sweaty beautifully-ugly inducing moving. Come join us to sweat and heal together.”
Some of the driving questions that have motivated Sarra and Kristianne’s work with Empathix include:
Read more about it all in the full description of Empathix, on our full program page.
The work that has led to the presentation of Empathix emerged in part out of the experiences of Queeries into Collective Feminisms, the residency that occurred at Ponderosa (with related showings in Ausland Berlin) in 2016.
And maybe, just maybe, you’ll get to be able to learn how to sashay down a Berlin street in true empathix style.
Ok, first things first — we have a new logo! Check it out!
It was designed by Gabi Altevers, the long-time designer of Ponderosa flyers, posters, and other visual representations, and it has lots of pink bubbles — a variable amount, depending on what mood we’re in — and we like to think of them as representing all of the various interlocking entities, and parts, and groups, and people, and things, that make it possible for Ponderosa to exist.
And the first use of the new logo is on the brand-new, freshly-printed flyer for the upcoming 2018 season:
What’s that? You wanna see the rear side as well? Ok then:
And to launch the new logo, and the new flyer, and the new tote bags with the new logo, and the pink cocktails, and all the other new things, we had our launch party, at Vétomat, last night. All our heads are still sore. But, ever mindful of our documentarian duties, here are some photo and video reports from the front lines!
And so! Now that everything is all launched — and is freshly flying, through perfumed clouds, on wings of gossamer purity — perhaps now might be the perfect moment for you to peruse our full program, and have a think about paying us a visit sometime in the upcoming months. Come out and get pink and bubbly.
It’s April now, and the summery climes of August might seem like they’re a million miles away, but they’re coming our way, soon — and with them, the Ponderosa Tanzland Festival!
And, as part of the kaleidoscopic smorgasbord of performative prisms presented by the festival, there will be workshops. To be more exact, there will be three interlocking workshops, facilitated by Benoît Lachambre, Frederic Gies, and Robert Steijn and Ricardo Rubio — all vastly experienced teachers, all offering a fascinatingly diverse array of particpatory possibilities.
Let’s get to the all-important details right away:
All three of these workshops will be delving far into fascinating encounters with bodily awareness, performative explorations, and somatic encounters — and we wanted to give a small glimpse into some of the recent work and thoughts of these teachers and practitioners. Let’s jump in...
Robert Steijn and Ricardo Rubio have developed a far-reaching, comprehensive collaboration which often explores elements of trust and intimacy. As they describe it:
“Ricardo Rubio and Robert Steijn found each other in a poetic universe in which silence coexists with the rhythm of life, seriousness finds its alter ego in humor, and nature-culture is questioned from an intimate perspective. They ask themselves if they can redefine male intimacy, detached from the imprint of our cultural upbringings, and if they can redefine tenderness as another way of thinking, behaving, and perceiving reality.”
One of the recent outcomes of this work is their piece Prelude on Love (A research into male intimacy and tenderness). The trailer below gives a sense of the work. It overlaps with the themes of their workshop, which they describe, in part, by saying: “we try to practise tenderness in everything we do, working from the embracing quality of the heart — and we will investigate how to provoke the magic to happen in what we do.”
Benoît Lachambre is returning to Ponderosa in 2018, after last year’s epic month-long workshop. This year, he will be continuing his work exploring the materialisation of presence and relational memory.
Benoît’s work often involves a heightened awareness of the dynamics of fluids, aiming to reconnect with the innermost sensations of the body.
Much of the recent documentation of these approaches is online in French only — such as this interview, below, that Benoît undertook with Corpuscle Danse.
The work of Frederic Gies has often considered the parallels between the ancient, corporeal roots of all dance and movement, and the automated pulse of contemporary techno and club culture. His work from 2016, Dance is Ancient, is one of the works that has investigated this paradoxical overlap. There are longer excerpts from the work available on Frederic’s Vimeo page, and the trailer is seventeen seconds of joyous juxtaposition.
All three of these workshops promise to be transformative encounters, and we’re very much hoping that we’ll be able to see you out here for one — or all — of these events. You can sign up to participate in any and all of them right here. And if you have any questions or comments that you’d like to let us know about, please get in touch. Hopefully we’ll see you out here in the summer!
In 2016, Diego Agulló conducted a series of interviews with dance-related artists and practitioners in Berlin, for a project called Measuring the Temperature of Dance in Berlin. One of these interviews was with Peter Pleyer, and it happened in the garden at Ponderosa, on a glorious summer day.
Peter and Diego discussed what it means to be working with dance in Berlin, how community and artistic commitment overlap, what to do with dreams and visions, and much more.
Peter’s upcoming workshop at Ponderosa, Magical Release Ensemble (25.–29. June), will be an investigation of some of the starting-points outlined in this talk. The early-bird deadline for booking a place is 18. May, and Peter describes it, in part, as being grounded in what is left half-hidden in considering dance history.
As he explains, the workshop bases itself on “the foundation laid out by fierce and magical women and queer men in dance-history, for us to grow into unknown shapes and stories — individuals that are not afraid of their differences, and who are willing to risk to share themselves physically in the dance.”
Take a look at the full details, and check out the interview below.
Hello, dear amazing members of the Ponderosa Verein! (And everyone else!)
This is a quick update for you all — which some of you will have already received by email — about Ponderosa, about your membership of the Ponderosa non-profit association, and about our future dreams. :)
It is only through having an active membership that it is possible to keep Ponderosa moving forwards, growing, exploring our future artistic and social possibilities in all their technicolour strangeness. You make it all possible!
Ok, and now the practical details — here are all of the ways that you can update your membership:
A note on membership fees:
In 2017, as part of our call-for-members campaign, we asked for an annual membership fee of €36. This year, we are asking for a contribution of €50 — which is the total that all newly-joining members will pay, and which is accompanied by our return gift of our hand-made new free cotton tote bags.
If any member would prefer to continue paying €36 per year, and not €50, this is an option that we can provide for these members. However, in this case, we cannot also additionally provide a gift. If you would prefer to keep paying €36 per year, and not €50, please contact us and we can arrange the necessary steps directly with you.
Why are we asking for €50? This is for a couple of different reasons.
The first one is that we want to offer the possibility of different tiers of support, starting at €5 per year for basic support, and then also offering €50 per year for full membership, €500 per year for those fortunate souls who can afford a deeper commitment, and €5000 per year for all the local millionaires. We will have more information about these tiers of support online soon, and we’ll be posting more about them then.
The second one is that we want to offer a membership that broadly corresponds with the equivalent fees proposed by similar Verein organisations. In general, €50 per year is a common and widespread total for membership fees, and we would like to align our longer-term planning with the conventions followed by similar organisations.
Thirdly, we ask for this new total in order to be able to do more things at Ponderosa — we want to be able to present a more diverse and widespread array of teachers, facilitators, and artists, we want to allow for the place to be more accessible while also remaining sustainable, and we want to ensure that there will be plenty of amazing and cool things happening here in a viable and ongoing way. Your support makes this possible!
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