Claire Vivianne Sobottke, Michael Turinsky and Teresa Vittucci in We Bodies. Photo © Mayra Wallraff

REVIEW

Teresa Vittucci, Michael Turinsky, Claire Vivianne Sobottke: We Bodies

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Claire Vivianne Sobottke, Michael Turinsky and Teresa Vittucci in We Bodies. Photo © Mayra Wallraff
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We Bodies is an hour-long performative question on monsterhood, exorcism, domination, docility – and more

‘Do you have any questions?’ sarcastically asked Teresa Vittucci at the end of We Bodies, which she had choreographed and performed with Claire Vivianne Sobottke and Michael Turinsky. Yes I did, both before and after. Knowing this would be my last live performance before another German-wide lockdown, I longed for challenges. Indeed, We Bodies feels like an hour-long question. Devised as an exploration of monsterhood, it is in fact open to hundreds of other interpretations and, yes, questions.

The show opens with the trio ebbing and flowing through a slow sequence of hand gestures, glares and enthralling dance patterns on pastel-lit circular white stage. The rhythm intensifies, they don plush costumes and leap gleefully to Tian Rotteveel’s upbeat on-stage soundscore. Quirky wrestling holds and flirtatious locks ensue, bodies plummet onto the stage and each other. Again the pace slows towards a spooky close where tears, sweat and saliva flow, yelling is mimicked, and hands explore armpits, flabs and crotches. One closing kick: quiet mumbles and sighs vocoder-transformed until a faltering ‘Please, release me!’ becomes an unearthly exorcist prayer. This eerie ending comes slightly out of the blue, leaving yet more uncertainties: who are the prisoners and the guards, is release imminent?

Vittucci, Sobottke and Turinsky navigate contrasts: undulatory tableaux and racing joyful scenes, violent locks and hearty giggling, mysterious soundscapes and groovy beats. Naked or clad, they intertwine in lecherous poses only to explode in fast frolics. Each episode and movement is beautifully carved into the show structure, but pile more questions onto the interpretations of monsterhood put forward in the performance booklet. What dynamics underlie the agencies and motions of these ‘monsters’? What about the political backdrop? Where does it lead us?

Despite some haywire transitions and a few overlong episodes, the uncanny back-and-forth between adulthood and childishness, care and brutality, domination and docility is as captivating as it is evasive. Challenging the binaries on which so many shows heedlessly prosper, We Bodies celebrates corporality in all its bluntness, frailty and vigour.

The bottom line: Questions of bodies produce bodies of questions
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30.10.20 Sophiensaele, Berlin, Germany
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Choreography and performance: Claire Vivianne Sobottke, Teresa Vittucci, Michael Turinsky / Sound: Tian Rotteveel / Dramaturgical advice: Sheena McGrandles / Stage: Anna Wohlgemuth, Lilli Unger / Technical direction and light: Lukas Sander / Production manager: groundworkers/Kira Koplin

Co-production: OH DEAR and the Association for Philosophical Practice, with Tanzhaus Zürich, Kaserne Basel, Arsenic Lausanne / In co-operation with: Wildwuchs Festival and WUK Performing Arts, Vienna / Supported by: Pro Helvetia, Stadt Zürich Kultur, Department of Culture Canton Zurich, City of Vienna, Migros Culture Percentage.