“Embarrassment is a good thing
Constanza Macras with I’m Not the Only One in Berlin”
“The joint is always jumping whenever Constanza Macras, mega in-demand Berlin-based choreographer, presents a new “piece.” No matter where. Macras is the Joker of the scene; today at the Volksbühne’s Prater, recently she whisked a dozen Neukölln hip-hop kids through HAU and most recently presented the best of the last eight years of her company, Dorky Park, in Bordeaux. Constanza Macras, the Argentinean with the smoky voice, has no fidelity for theaters. She recently staged Sommernachtstraum (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) with Thomas Ostermeier at the Schaubühne as a co-production composed of theater and dance. And with her new piece I’m not the Only One at Prater, she has attracted genuine young people to Berlin’s pseudo-young Prenzlauerberg neighborhood. This is because Macras knows about the embarrassment that all the misunderstood youngsters’ experience – young people who, as a demographic minority, soon won’t even count as a target group in advertising.
Zero future. Having made staying young her job, Macras understands embarrassment to be genuine pain and trashes stale rules (line separation, for example) in her new piece. Yes, drama doesn’t happen any more, as we know from theater. The cult band on the starboard of her stage doesn’t have to be called London Sinfonietta to be cult. It is rather an example of surviving noble dilettantism. The unfinished, unembellished, and fragile is celebrated in purely meaningless scenes behind Star-Wars masks. Jill Emerson, the super-blond American dancer, cries when she orders a French cheese which she pronounces “Cryer.” She conveys her frustration of having to celebrate new years with her parents via video-message. Whomever the script reminds of children’s birthday parties will find out that Jill Emerson earns money as a dancer at – of all things – children’s birthday parties. Believability strikes precisely when foolishness can no longer be sustained.
Jared Gradinger, a stage maniac, twisted up into the back of a stool, wrapped up in a table cloth and hovering under the kitchen table announces – and here is the only concrete thread – the joyous message of the good life from a scientology brochure: “Bad times are a good time to change yourself positively.” On stage, these are obviously bad times.
Because she is expected to put together a business plan for a sushi restaurant, the dancer Hyoung-Min Kim, who, as a Korean hates sushi, flips out because, in reality, she is a really good dancer. Dance is the hissing valve head through which this theater-pressure cooker lets off the excess steam generated by all the dim-witted anecdotes. Dance, a medium liberated from meaning, takes on exactly such a meaning: as liberation that allows even higher nonsense to sweep through the theater like a storm wind. This at least has a purifying effect. And isn’t the fatuous script a hundred times better than those of musicals? Yes, it can be said that the appearance of authenticity is preserved in it. Part of Constanza Macras’ success story is that, together with her artistic director Carmen Mehnert, she beads together all things lapidary from her neo-musical with as much precision as any soap opera – indeed so much that she can deliver a sequel: I’m not the Only One Part II premieres on January 27th.” Süddeutsche Zeitung, January 2007
“Shake those hips, baby!
Berlin’s Prater: Dance piece by Constanza Macras”
“One can say a lot about homeland and foreigners. Which explains why Constanza Macras has split up her investigation of cultural identity into two evenings with different casts. In the second part of I’m not the Only One at Prater in Berlin, the internationally acclaimed young Berlin-based choreographer from Buenos Aires shifts into high gear. It has become a very dancerly evening – the actors in her multinational cast pump enough energy and emotion onto the stage to make you dizzy. They live out the clash of cultures hands-on. When a Korean meets an Israeli, a Palestinian butts in and then a Latina chimes in, crash tests with aggressive comedy result. Macras always seeks confrontation – and this is more honest than any immigrant ring-around-the-rosy.
Her inviolable dancers don’t go easy on themselves; they demonstrate a modern Babel and are armed for any clash, any offensive self-assertion. Musically, this leads to disarming comedy, as with the gruff singing contest, where at first all the actors practice a Hebrew song and then Hyoung-Min Kim yells them down with her Asia-pop song. The furious solos revolve around the theme of self-alienation. They show how it feels to be in a stranger’s skin, in a body that eerily changes. One can marvel at the grotesque metamorphoses. Hyoung-Min Kim, shut up in a glass case, mutates into a twitching fly that just as quickly starts her Kamikaze flight.
The beauty queen Gail Sharoll Skrela transforms into a greedy bird of prey. When the Mexican Yeri Anarika Vargas Sanchez goes from cleaning-crew member, scrubbing the floor, to Incan princess thirsty for revenge, she lets her gold-bejeweled hips circle like Shakira – here the move is anything but trashy. It is really quite sinister how patriotic feelings are revealed here to be cheap folklore. Constanza Macras has succeeded in producing a very personal work that creates its power through the autobiographical experiences of the dancers. The most beautiful image is the yearning Latina who has made it up to the cold North and dons Moose antlers. These stories of foreigners; so deeply sad and desperately funny.” Der Tagesspiegel, January 2007
„Frida Kahlo’s Antlers
Constanza Macras presents Part II of I’m not the Only One”
“North Korea has the bomb, South Korea Hyoung-Min Kim. She started warming up a week ago at the Volksbühne-Prater in the first part of Constanza Macras’ I’m not the Only One. Now, in the second part, she’s getting even warmer, attacking men twice as tall until they apathetically capitulate, and mistreating chairs until the audience wants to cry out for mercy. She throws cakes and, towards the end of the show, sings and sings and sings with a never-ending energy until the well-seasoned accompanying band – which has made it through many shrill Macras works – just starts to play. If there were a third, fourth, and fifth part, or if the performance lasted three or four or five hours instead of two, it would probably make no difference to Hyoung-Min Kim.
Why does one leave one’s homeland? And what is it like in nowhere, where one finally finds oneself again after hitting the road? What is it like when nowhere doesn’t end? These are the questions that drive the five performers in the second part of I’m Not the Only One. With her misguided longing, Yeri Anarika Vargas Sanchez from Mexico mutates into a sort of Incan bride. On a video recording she wanders around local markets with a crown that has slipped to cover her eyes. Gail Sharkrol Skrela sobbingly sings a marketing jingle from her childhood that means home more to her than almost anything else. And letters about dogs come from her homeland. About dog joys, but mostly dog sicknesses. Everything unsaid finally finds a voice in unhindered depictions of a new tumor.
There are some good solos in I’m not the Only One, and wonderfully bizarre deer antlers that, in a way, recall Frida Kahlo and are constantly changing ownership. There is the unassailable fury of Hyoung-Min Kim, who in the beginning rises up out of a telephone-booth-sized glass case filled with flies (Sartre!). It is all likeable and funny and quite intelligent, but at points seems to coast too much. With two works in only a few weeks, Constanza Macras has simply taken on too much.” Berliner Zeitung, January 2007