SKY CITY Theatre, Auckland

20/03/2009 - 21/03/2009

Auckland Festival 2009

Production Details

Completing the Festival’s dance programme is the New Zealand debut of European dance icon Susanne Linke. A pioneer of German dance theatre, Linke has danced with Mary Wigman, Pina Bausch, Limon Dance Company, Paris Opera and others – and accumulated accolades that reflect the calibre of this extraordinary dancer and choreographer.

Solos is a unique opportunity to experience one of the world’s great contemporary artists; a living legend of contemporary dance.

In Auckland for just two nights, Susanne Linke and guest dancers, Urs Dietrich (Flood) and Mareike Franz (Transfiguration) present an overview of her artistic repertoire through four chosen solo works, including the legendary choreography ‘Im Bade Wannen,’ in which the bathtub becomes an object of fantasies, fears and desires.

Choreography Susanne Linke
SKYCITY Theatre, Fri 20 – Sat 21 March, Tickets: $30 – $55 
Bookings: Ticketek 0800 842 538   

Art and beauty in movement

Review by Bernadette Rae 24th Mar 2009

Susanne Linke is 64, a pioneer of German dance theatre, an icon who has collected many accolades. The four solos presented in this New Zealand premiere range from Transfiguration, made in 1978; Bathtubbing, perhaps her most famous work, from 1980; Flood from 1981 and Transmigration, created in 2008. It is a selection to illustrate the span of her career, and her modus operandi of "letting the body speak directly about oneself." Linke herself performs the first and last items on the programme.

Bathtubbing (music by Eric Satie) is a most intimate study in which we first meet her – sitting on the loo. It is a far from vulgar or explicit or confrontational point of introduction, but intensely personal and takes us straight to a place of dreamlike introversion. Dressed in a silky gown of palest hue which reveals her slender strength and emphasises her hypermobile feet and expressive arms, she dethrones with utmost elegance and approaches her bathtub, rose coloured towel to hand. [More]


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Enormously satisfying insight into an entire dance lineage

Review by Jan Bolwell 24th Mar 2009

On Sunday afternoon March 22nd, at TAPAC, Susanne Linke and fellow dancer Urs Dietrich sat in a circle and engaged in a casual but fascinating conversation with a small group from the New Zealand dance community.

Organised by The Goethe Institute and DANZ, this forum provided a unique opportunity to gain insight into the work of a renowned European dance artist. Questions instantly came from the group about the solo works we had just witnessed in performance.

Im Bade wannen / Bathtubbing, a 15 minute solo created in 1980, is something of a signature work for Linke, although she confessed that it is not one of her favourites. The gleaming white bath provides the focal point for the dancer as she cleans it, pitches herself into it, tips it and leans against it – but doesn’t – her body seemingly suspended in space. In discussion Linke talked about the physical dangers of this work. Huge and controlled core strength from her back and buttocks and abdomen and centering the body perfectly against this large heavy object, are essential in averting disaster.

Linke revived Im Bade wannen after a ten year gap; it raises the question of how this slightly built 64 year old can continue to perform demanding solos that require such strength and control. Linke demonstrated the answer by jumping up out of her seat and doing a freestanding ballet barre, completely subverted for her own purposes, and devised to give her leg and torso strength so that the arms look relaxed in motion. She then gave an amusing demonstration of how a dancer of her age gets gracefully up off the floor from a prone position. That happens with a great of attention to technique of lengthening the limbs and impeccable timing!

Linke was asked to bring works that showed the full spectrum of her career. The 1978 work Wandlung/ Transfiguration is a 10 minute solo performed exquisitely by young dancer Mareike Franz to Schubert’s Death and the Maiden. The body is always slightly reaching and lengthening, never giving in to gravity even when on the floor.  This is a dance that Linke dedicated to her teacher Mary Wigman.

Wigman, the famous German expressionist dancer, created memorable solo dances, and while that whakapapa is obvious in Linke’s work, she admitted in discussion that the greatest influence on her dancing was the artist Dora Hoyer. Hoyer was one of Wigman’s early and largely self taught pupils who became an extraordinary soloist. In a not completely irrelevant aside, the American dance artist and teacher Joan Woodbury of the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, also trained with Wigman and she too was deeply influenced by Hoyer: ‘She worked totally as a soloist and had developed her body to the extent that it looked like a man’s – wide shoulders, no boobs, small waist, no hips, and long muscular legs. She gave a solo concert that knocked my socks off.’ Woodbury in turn trained Dunedin dancer Suzanne Renner, now in her mid to late 50s, who continues the tradition of a strong lyrical solo dancer.

The third work on the programme, Flut /Flood  is an 18 minute solo choreographed by Linke in 1981 and danced on this occasion by colleague and director of the Bremer Tanztheater, Urs Dietrich. In a single shaft of light the dancer enters facing backwards mid stage right, and begins a rigorous repetitive journey pulling with his leg a bolt of material across the stage. As the ‘river’ unfolds we hear the voice of Pablo Casals rehearsing the music of Faure. The fractionated music – we never hear more than a few bars – is matched perfectly by a journey across stage towards the source of light, which is striven for, but never reached. Finally the material, now completely unfurled, opens out into a flood which the dancer releases with the whole of his body.

The 50 year old Urs Dietrich is a strong, singular performer; it was interesting to hear him talk about performing a Linke work where he was challenged to simply ‘be’ in the space, and where less is always more.

In the final work Linke dances Kaikou-Yin (Transmigration), an 11 minute solo which brings us up to the present. Choreographed in 2008 for a Russian ballet dancer to the Adagietto from Mahler’s 5th Symphony, she recounts the difficulties of coaxing a highly trained ballet dancer to go barefooted down onto his hands and knees, and then move like a panther. Placed upon the slight, lithe frame of Linke, the dance becomes a very beautiful and mesmerising study on the theme of transmigration where human and animal become inter twined. The dynamics are both subtle and electrifying as she stalks and prowls around the stage to finish standing centre stage in a completely human state at the end. 

It is unusual to see a concert of solo dances in New Zealand, but not uncommon in Europe. This was a ‘dancer’s’ concert and one which gave enormous satisfaction, not only for the quality of the performances and choreography, but also because it gave a rich window into an entire dance lineage. 


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A wonderful experience

Review by David Zeitner-Smith 21st Mar 2009

Solos, Susanne Linke’s New Zealand debut performance, promised to be one of the highlights of Aucklands 2009 Arts Festival. The opening night at the Sky City theatre did not fall short of this promise. Susanne Linke and her dancers Urs Dietrich and Mareike Franz performed four dance works for lovers of contemporary dance in front of an enthused audience.

The first sight we get of Linke, in Im Bade wannen / Bathtubbing, is the artist sitting on toilet. This seems to bring the audience to an unusual silence once the curtain opens. What follows however is a dance work that carries us to the remembrance of thoughts we sometimes forget to confront in our busy urban lives. The dancer describes her feelings and thoughts through simple movement patterns. Dressed in a long and elegant costume and carried by Eric Satie’s wonderful music, Linke invites us to involve ourselves; to be part of her danced dream fiction. The piece was first performed in 1980. It is timeless.

Mareike Franz presents Wandlung / Transfiguration, the second Solo piece of the evening, to Schubert’s ‘Death and the Maiden’ music. This choreography of ever transforming, evolving and disappearing sculpture-like movement figures is amazing. Mareike Franz reminds me of a young butterfly experiencing its first hours of life. The beauty of her movement abilities in either flowing or contracting dance vocabulary exposes this young dancer’s outstanding talent as performer. I hope we get to see more of her in the future.

Diverse dynamics abound and Urs Dietrich seems to enjoy the opportunity to take each of Linke’s dance moves and make it his own. Dietrich, with his incredible physical capacity, keeps the audience electrified throughout the 18 minute Solo Flut / Flood. The choreography describes the tense situation that people experience when they don’t see the horizon. A taped orchestra rehearsal of Gabriel Faure music and the use of a large silk like fabric has assisted the choreographer in developing this creation.  Very interesting and magnificent to watch.

The evening concludes with Kaikou-Yin / Transmigration, danced by Susanne Linke. Whilst I watch her dance about the animalistic aspect of humans and the human element of animals, and throughout the whole performance, I feel relieved. We don’t need to be loud to move or incite. There is power and beauty in simplicity. Linke’s work is an example.

Strong audience applause greets the closing of the performance. The organisers of the Auckland Arts Festival 2009 have invited one of the most important internationally recognised German contemporary artists to share her creations with New Zealand audiences. Susanne Linke has choreographed since 1972 and has worked with the greatest icons of German dance theatre, Mary Wigman and Pina Bausch, and also with the Limon Dance Company New York, the ballet of the Paris Opera and the Netherlands Dans Theatre. Thanks to the Goethe Institute New Zealand, we were able to witness her work in this part of the world.

A wonderful experience.


John Smythe March 21st, 2009

I just wanted to note that this review is 184th posted this year. In the 10 weeks since 11 Jan, when the first review of 2009 was posted, Theatreview has covered 104 theatre and dance productions staged throughout NZ. That is an average of just over 10 openings per week (thanks largely – but not only – to the NZ Fringe Festival in Wellington, the Auckland Festival 2009 and the Auckland Fringe 2009)!

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