Thursday, February 19, 2009

The tall man fights for the little people

This is Ben. Ben is 6'5"....

And he's the first dancer in 50 years at the Staatstheater Kassel to be an elected member of the Personelabteilung, the board that represents all employees of the theater. He is one of two members who represent all the artists in the theater, sharing the position with an actress.

The Tanztheater has 9 dancers, one choreographer, one rehearsal director, one dramaturg, and one assistant for each production. Compared to the actors and singers, who have over 20 artists, multiple dramaturges and assistants and a new director for each piece - not to mention the orchestra or choir, with over 35 members each - we are by far the smallest part of the theater. We have the smallest budget, the lowest salaraies, and the fewest productions per year. We also, as everyone knows, have the shortest careers.

The body doesn't last forever, and the kind of dancing we do takes its toll. Joint pain, muscle aches, little injuries that leave traces in the body for years afterwards...these are all part of the job. But while this wear and tear can't be prevented altogether, there are things that can soften the blows.

This is our dance floor in the big rehearsal studios in the theater's big space 20 minutes outside of Kassel. It's where we build the pieces before bringing them to the stage. Three times bigger than our dance studio in the theater, it's where Johannes is able to structure the pieces in space, and where we're able to dance full out without smacking each other.

Until one month ago, we danced on cement. More specifically, we danced on a linoleum dance floor layed over wood layed over cement. This hurts. We had all noticed. For years. So we decided to fight for a sprung floor. Late last season, we brainstormed as a group. Johannes was in full support, and all the dancers contributed information on injuries, and ideas on how to best convince the theater that the little Tanztheater needed a 25,000 Euro floor.

But it was Ben who went into the trenches and fought for all of us. He went to the head of the theater, to the technical director, to the Personelabteilung. And he did it. Through a mixture of good timing, persistence, and a strong persuasive argument, the theater approved the purchase of a brand new removable sprung floor. It was delivered and assembled in time for this production.

It's soft, it's springy, and it comes in many sections that can be transported and re-assembled to fit whichever stage or studio we are working in.

Which means it can also come with us on tour.... in April, when we do our first one. We're only going 50 minutes down the road to Göttingen, but we'll be jumping high and landing softly.

1 comment:

lisa said...

always good to have the proper equipment.