Six performers enter a space. It’s dark. They look exactly like you, and yet there is something unfamiliar in their appearance. They want nothing from you, cause they are lost in oblivion, and yet they want more to feel. A hand comes out of a pocket searching eagerly for a touch.

“Ah! Oh! A contemporary Ritual” is the second piece of the series “The marginal Sculptures of Newtopia”. Similar to the previous work “GLAND”, the bodies are entering a utopian landscape.

Inspired by the idea of native rites, “Ah! Oh! A contemporary Ritual” is a reflection on the origins and traditions of circle dances. In a post-apocalyptic atmosphere six performers recall the memory of dancing together by holding hands. Relating the frowned upon idea of ritualistic circular dances, the choreography reveals fragments of a gesture that shaped our commonality at the annihilation of times.

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Concept and Choreography: Kat Válastur/ Light designer and construction: Martin Beeretz/ Music and Sound: Lambros Pigounis/ Costumes: Lydia Sonderegger/ Dramaturgy: Thomas Schaupp/ Text: Yiannis Papachristos/ Video: Sandra Merseburger/ Performance: Shahar Levi, Leyla Postalcioglu, Annegret Schalke, Romain Thibaud-Rose, Enrico Ticconi, Marysia Zimpel/ Production management: björn & björn

A production by Kat Válastur/ Co-produced by HAU Hebbel am Ufer Berlin, Théâtre de Nîmes, Fabrik Potsdam, CDC Uzès Danse/ Supported through ETAPE DANSE/ Initiated by the Institut Francais Deutschland/Bureau du Théâtre et de la Danse, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication/DGCA of the SACD and the city of Potsdam/ Funded by the German Capital Cultural Fund

“…oblivion seems to be the only way out, to touch the bottom and start from scratch. Small aberrant gestures signify a new plan for the body. Choreographer Kat Valastur invites us to imagine other fictions of the body, everything remains to be reinvented. Here is a beautiful, bold way to close this 2015 edition of the June Events festival, which raises more than ever being together in the centre of the debate, in the heart of a shared imaginative effort.”

AH ! OH ! A RITUAL DE KAT VALASTUR, Smaranda Olcèse-Trifan (2015), abraslecorps.com

“Sentimentality is a malfunction of emotion“ was one of Wallace Steven’s credi and maybe he was right. The performative dance usually wraps time-diagnostic empathy into exuberant irony – out of sheer fear. For me, Kat Válastur’s fantastic-dystopic rave “Ah! Oh! – A contemporary ritual” is the best exception and the strongest emotional piece in 2014.”

Highlights 2014, Astrid Kaminski (2014), blog.frieze-magazin.de

“Indeed it was a force of load which the mixed, rather young audience encountered in tense silence, with keen attention and reciprocating with rounds of applause. Ahwell, oh indeed – a quite contemporary ritual! Contemporaneity though was not splely established in the way of dressing or by the stage design, though they were part of it, but even more through the sort of body language. The choreographer defines it as ‘kinetic’ – to my mind came the phrase ‘affective dance’. Though one that addresses affectivity not as a sheer bodily response to influences, but as a complex interplay between body and expressions.”

As if blown-up cheeks could drag you down…, Monika Jaeckel (2014), mindgap.org

“Kat Válastur constructs her “post-apocalyptic atmosphere” with a very precise work on movement – vocabulary and – execution in interaction with light, sound and costumes. Its tension remains vivid over the entire course of the performance and sets me into a trancelike state. Even if recognizable relicts of archaic rituals pervate the performance quite obviously, dancing in a circle, the soundscape, the give and receive, the witnessing of spectators to name a few, the evening appeals less to the intellect. It rather develops its own suction force and creates an atmoshphere that must be experienced.”

POST – APOKALYPTISCHER REIGEN “Ah! Oh! A Contemporary Ritual” von Kat Válastur im HAU2, Ronja Ruppert (2014), tanznetz.de

“Die Tänzer strecken die Hand nacheinander und zucken zurück. Berühren sich nur für eine Sekunde mit spitzem Ellenbogen. Doch immer wieder bilden sie einen Halbkreis oder deuten einen Reigen mit gekreuzten Schritten an. Es hat den Anschein, als ob die alten Ritualmuster tief in der Erinnerung stecken und verschüttete kollektive Erfahrungen mühsam reanimiert werden müssen. Überraschend ist es nicht, dass die Akteure sich schließlich zu stroboskopischem Flackern in eine Art Trance tanzen. Die wogenden Bewegungen bekommen durch die Zeitlupe etwas Weiches und Gelöstes. Klar, dies ist eine Ästhetisierung und Überhöhung der Clubkultur mit ihrem Versprechen auf Ekstase und Entgrenzung. Doch Kat Válastur lässt es dabei nicht bewenden.”

Kat Válastur im HAU Techno kann helfen, Sandra Luzina (2014), tagesspiegel.de

“Kat Valastur has designed a karstic world in which the dancers can be seen only as grey spots in front of a black wall, as shadowy apparitions that occur hesitant out of the darkness into the diffused light, donated by a large circular chandeliers in the centre of the stage, a wreath made of neon lights, a flickering, glowing light crown. There is apocalypse but also revelation, because the hidden unveils and exposes itself. […] This choreography is captivating, disturbing and oppressive, […] strongly existentialistic and adamantine in the form. […] It is a choreography that goes far beyond the average in the Berlin dance scene, in terms of topic, style and effect.”

HAU2: “Ah! Oh! A Contemporary Ritual” UA, Frank Schmid (2014), kulturradio.de

…An intense sound accompanies the ritual, which freezes time. The details gradually shift. Slowly the hands get out of the pockets and someone is touched or grabbed by the hand. The six steal each other’s breath with mimic hand gestures, an almost comical gesture in this dark landscape.  The soundscape sets a different tone, the dancers make sounds. After that break, the ritual continues with a certain relaxation and a new spatial planning. Ah! Oh! A contemporary ritual  is not an easy idea, but it follows its own logic. The atmosphere is imposing and Válastur’s images remain on the retina for a long time.

Moos van de Broek, Theaterkrant ( 2016)

29 March - 2 April 2017HAU Hebbel am UferBerlin
23 February 2017STUKLeuven
9 - 10 February 2016FrascatiAmsterdam
17 - 18 NOVEMBER 2015Théâtre de NîmesNîmes
20 JUNE 2015Atelier de ParisParis
18 JUNE 2015Uzès Danse FestivalUzès
5 - 7 DECEMBER 2014 (PREMIERE)HAU HEBBEL am UferBerlin