Performances, exhibitions, interventions, podcasts
Working Titel: A Wall That Is Not There (performance research)
by artist Britt Hatzius in collaboration with Krishna Washburn (Dark Room Ballet).
As part of her professional dance practice, blind ballet dancer Krishna Washburn teaches dance classes to blind and visually impaired dancers online only (see darkroomballet.com).
“I have to be compassionate in my teaching. For some of my blind students, I compensate for the education and awareness they never received. Imagine I’m talking to someone so highly intelligent, so sensitive, such a beautiful person, and nobody ever thought it was worth telling them what a heel, calf or hip is, nobody ever bothered to teach her those words, to show her what her body could do. And that makes me so sad. We desperately need a culture that helps every body to express itself.” Krishna (2020)
In her online dance classes, she communicates with her students through language, which eventually leads to movement, an audio description that plays out as “self-audio description” without involving the visual.
In “A Wall That is Not There” we would like to take Krishna’s expertise and individual perspective as a starting point to further explore and celebrate the linguistic possibilities of describing movement and finally to make it possible for an audience to experience it in a performative work. This form of representation beyond the sense of sight implicitly ties in with the currently increasing attempts at audio description in the performing arts. But compared to classic audio description, in which a seeing audio descriptor describes for a blind audience, Krishna works in her workshop without reference to the visual sense. Instead of understanding the audio description as a kind of translation of visual information into auditory information, here both emotions and movements are translated into anatomical and associative vocabulary to then be individually interpreted and expressed by the individual body.
In this performance, Britt Hatzius is concerned with making Krishna’s linguistic examination of her body knowledge in her “Dark Room Ballet” workshops tangible for a sighted or diversified audience beyond the otherwise dominant sense of sight in the dark. It is our intention, through the auditory encounter with Krishna’s personal way of perception, to irritate patterns of sensual hierarchies that have become entrenched and to avoid or question possible stigmatization or prejudices with openness and humor as well as seriousness. The audio description here is a guide to a non-visual physical experience.
Research phase: January – June 2023. Funded by Fonds Darstellende Künste e.V., Germany. Premier: Spring 2024.
Regie / Konzept: Britt Hatzius mit Krishna Washburn, Dramaturgie: Charlotte Arens, Recherche Assistenz: Anna Chwialkowska, Choreographische Assistenz: Livia Vogt, Kollaborateure: Thomas Tajo, Gerlinde Sämann, Pernille Sonne, Melanie Hambrecht, Lenka Löhmann, Technische Assistenz: Manu Mitterhuber (OTTOsonic), Künstlerische Produktionsleitung: Katja Timmerberg.