Fragile Ecologies

a Response to One Events, 26 May by Liesbeth Groot-Nibbelink

....... wait and see, performed by christina ciupke, nik haffner and mart kangro. the subtitle to this performance is ‘a trio’, and that is exactly what we see: three people, entangled in a tight knot of arms, legs, torso’s, moving about the performance space, with the audience at close distance. or more accurately, we continuously see a ‘2 and 1 makes 3’ dynamics, but it is hard to pinpoint the ‘1’, as the interrelations evolve so subtly and quickly that the 2-and-1 pattern above all emerges as the distinctive texture of threesome-ness. it is fascinating to see the movements within and generated by this mobile, bodily ecology. the internal play of forces, marked by alternating rhythms and a variety of spatial patterns, ‘wrinkles’ the audience body - somewhat similar to how a stone thrown into the water crinkles the surface - and produces a group choreography of swarming, hurdling, regrouping, and blocking. occasionally an audience member who does not step aside becomes part of the micro-ecology, and is as easily left after passing, as he is taken in. meanwhile the trio is engaged in a conversation, sharing their everyday lives. there is talk about the weather (“it’s so bad that i don’t even like to talk about the weather”), cars, gift-giving, hobby’s (nice quote: “i am afraid of collecting”). the atmosphere is very laid-back, as if we are witnessing a talk at the end of a very lazy sunny afternoon, or after a very pleasant sexual encounter. it is interesting that this mundaneness bypasses the risk of being too self-centered, or too closed-off, or too un-important. instead, we see people who are sharing time. it reminds me of henri lefebvre’s remarks, in the production of space: “with the advent of modernity time has vanished from social space. it is recorded solely on measuring-instruments, on clocks, that are as isolated and functionally specialized as this time itself. lived time loses its form and its social interest - with the exception, that is, of time spent working.” (1991, 95). somehow this act of ‘making space for lived time’ puts me fully at ease. my relaxedness increases as the performance unfolds, and even after it has ended i feel connected to the other people in the room. at the same time i feel free to go, sit, and stand wherever i like, without feeling the need to talk to someone. baz kershaw relates such two-fold experience to the ecology of performance, a simultaneous confirmation and transcendence of the self, which increases awareness of social and environmental connectivity. of all three events, this presentation was perhaps the least participatory, as i was not directly or individually addressed, yet at the same time i felt the most inclined to take part.



Erin la Cour / Response / One Events / AMCh Final Presentation / 26 May 2013

…. the evening ended with the piece ”wait and see”. again in the larger room, and by this time far more comfortable with their involvement in the works, the audience spread out, venturing closer to the center, and mostly sitting on the floor. christina ciupke, along with nik haffner and mart kangro, began talking to each other, intertwining their bodies in, at times, a very awkward and nearly painful embrace. talking about the most mundane of things, from the weather to music to driving, the three took turns asking questions and answering, mostly encouraging dialogue, even if offering a differing opinion. as their conversation progressed, the three stumbled around the room, adjusting their embrace to maintain both balance and movement. as their movement became more frenzied, and verging on violent, they took more space so that the members of the audience were forced to move out of their way, or else, as it happened once, become entrapped against the wall.

because of the mundaneness of the conversation, the intensity of the embrace and the movement evoked an intense sadness. in between being socially included in dialogue and the desperate physical closeness, the piece worked to highlight an exclusion from intimacy, a lack in meaningful connections in our everyday lives. underscored by the audience who was at once witness to the intimacy, yet excluded from it as eavesdropping voyeurs (as was evidenced when members of the audience spoke out and affected communication, but were not acknowledged by the threesome),

the piece brought to mind larger ideas of modern sociality, from the critiques of social media's false pretense of intimacy to our reliance on video chats in an age of migration, the constant negotiations of closeness we are all subject to in contemporary times.

”wait and see” lent itself well to a rounding off of the evening, particularly because of her exploration of how we act individually can become a collective effort. indeed, overall, the evening delivered exactly what it aimed to do, for the three artists to “express themselves now in ‘plural singularity’ as a new generation of choreographers.” through their common interest in pushing the boundaries between performer and self, performer and audience, their individual discourse on (dis)location and (dis)locution became a collective enunciation, prompting their audience to understand that there is no finality to what we have seen, but rather a productive plurality.



Berlin-Tallinn. A small Yet Intensive Turbulence

Kairi Prints

„wait and see” by and with Mart Kangro, Christina Ciupke and Nik Haffner. Performed on may 3-5 2013 at the festival „German Spring 2013“ at Kanuti Gildi Saal

I had no time to wait until „wait and see“ finally reached to estonia. Yet all of the sudden there was the last performance in Tallinn, and i had to hurry to see it. Having no time to wait is a big problem in the contemporary world. But the main thing is that there would be enough time to see – and consequently you'll also have time to wait. If you see, you'll also find out what you are waiting for. What you have been waiting for all along, without knowing it yourself. And suddenly it's there. Such moments of clarity – amidst a world that is rather vague – are the best there are.

Pikk street is already bustling with people and on the stairs across the street from the theatre, people are tanning in the sun. Also, spring is the best thing there is. I hadn't noticed it yet. I hadn't expected it, yet now i see it. The theatre's door is wide open – the spring season has in the meanwhile also started, quite without my notice. And it is with the same unexpectedness that the show starts.

Mart kangro strolls along around at the ticket counter and when some people have gathered, he shows a bunch of them the way to the rehearsal space of kanuti gildi saal. During the short walk there he manages to mention that one should feel free to walk around in the space and that, on the whole, everybody should feel free to feel free. Yet don't sit down on the floor because that might make the experience a little uncomfortable. After taking a minute to exitedly take off your shoes, pick a pair of socks and say hello to acquaintances, every member of the audience is sitting down with mart kangro, christina ciupke, and nik haffner gathered in the middle of the space, forming a brownish-greenish lump. Suddenly three stories start to evolve that actually are one single story.

1. The story of the dancers. In the programme there is talk of how and in what order, these three people met. This is important, as much of performance consists of them discussing among themselves casual everyday social topics such as the weather or what happened to one of them during holidays, or at some social event, or on the frontlines of the curiosity of relationships or whereever else. Or it could be just remembering things that the three of them know or don't know about each other. The form of how these scenes are presented is one of the simplest and wittiest i have ever seen. The dancers are in a tight and constant physical embrace with each other and get hold of each other again every time the grasp slips loose. And then they just – sorry for using such an undancely word here – totter around the space. I have noticed the same kind of pattern of movement when a down feather or plastic bag floats in the wind, but me probably not having a poetic enough of a soul, i have not cared to observe them for very long. Yet this lump of dancers is endlesly spellbinding and this is especially so because of the contradiction that arises with the realisation of this very simple idea. This doddering along the small rehearsal space of kanuti gildi saal is both so natural and so unnatural, and suddenly the space feels several times bigger than ever before.

The dancers are telling us their story just the way they want to. The movement is on a totally different track. And yet they are very natural doing it, in the sense that for example a tram might also shake under one's feet but if you are in an interesting conversation, you don't notice it, although you are aware of it. The forces of nature move the dancers in their own rythms, but the talking flows right through it from tottering around through to the tornado and to until the movement has become just lying on the floor.

2. The story of the spectators. Yet – as i slightly hinted at the end of the last paragraph – the wind is rising. The more chaotically it tosses this brownish-greenish bundle around, the more alert becomes the audience that is left at the mercy of these unpredictable forces of nature. The triple-headed tornado that bounces against walls does not look ahead, but is focused on its own center, where the barometricc pressure is much lower than in the normal air. If at the beginning the audience is slightly tense – they weren't encouraged to sit on the floor, were they – the tension was relieved a bit during the first five minutes and people fell back to cosy poses at various crooked angles leaning along the wall. But not for long. The more the wind rises and pushes the tornado around the space, the more the audience gets tense and the more will the poses of the audience remind you of the starting positions of sprint runners. This is especially interesting to observe, as again by very simple and actually barely noticable means, a complicated process of rearrangement is taking place. The rearrangement goes so smoothly that the spectator is having a hard time facing the new situation as a reality. You are aware that the tornado will not spare you, yet you still observe with eyes filled with interest the chaotic bundle moving towards and you will not make a move until the very last moment, even if your brain is giving your leg muscles signals to start moving, and does so already with some urgency. Quite a few people among the audience – myself aswell – find his or herself with three people sitting on their head or in their lap. Little by little the collective brain of the audience manages to adapt to the situation and after some time the audience looks like a field full of green frogs staring intently at the movement of cranes and performing beautiful leaps when the red beak is closing in on them.

The tenseness of the audience dissapears at the moment when a video is projected onto the wall and the dancers walk around the hall just like that, buy drinks at the bar and talk with friends.  All the people slide on their bellies or their backs with a sigh of relief. If you wish to have a chat with your friend at the other end of the space, you move closer to each other little by little, as simply standing up feels somehow too dissonating. It is then that a nice pattern of springly arthropods develops on the floor: everybody understands already that the performance is actually over, but somehow everybody now has time to loaf around on the floor and just talk.

3. The story of human relationships. The first charming contradiction in terms of illustrating human relationships appears rather early on. The three dancers have clung on to each other, they are very close to each other and ... They talk about the weather. What's the weather like in tallinn and what's it like berlin, what it was once like in turkey and what emotions some of them had had in connection with various types of weather. The tone of it is also that of a pure and easy small-talk, but at the same time the body language speaks a totally different tongue. It is a beautiful metaphor for the common „i think it, but i won't say it out loud“ syndrom of the contemporary world. You can only say things between the lines, as it is only like this that you can remain between the lines yourself and will not have to die of shame in case of a rejection. If something has to happen, let it happen by accident. If eventually nothing happens, then no-no, nobody would have wanted anything to happen in the first place. This sort of playing around has become a habit to such an extent, that you do not really see it for what it is. But wait, and you will see what you are waiting for.

The other charming contradiction is that when you go to theatre and see a performance, it seems somehow logical that you should hear what the actors – well, the dancers – are saying. In this instance, you don't really hear much. And you find yourself pondering whether the problem is your ears or your command of the language or some technicality of the production. Or whether it is meant to be like that. When the triple-headed bundle is close, you understand their speech. When they are neither close nor far, you distinguish words and sentences, but still don't understand the whole of it. When they are far, you lean forward but fail to hear anything more than just mumbling. A metaphor nicely and simply played out, once again. We say that it doesn't interest us, but it clearly does. Even it is not about us. This makes one especially glad.

The whole triple-headed natural phenomenon that was this performance, made me glad all over. This greenish-brown feeling – not ghastly khaki but the colour of soil and buds of grass rising up in it –  followed be long after and suddenly there it was, hope, something that i wouldn't have waited for.



Irene Sieben, Catalogue Tanzplattform Deutschland 2014

„wait and see“: with this words, the petite, slender and strong Christina Ciupke invites her long-term sparring partners Nik Haffner and Mart Kangro to a three-way wrestling match. (...) The alliance is intricate - and yet delicate, because the trio tests skin-to- skin grappling, with open pores, complete commitment and wedged in one another, often on the verge of falling. The crowd of guests wander along, amused, watching and listening closely to the events when the melted and interlocked single-cell organism staggers through the space accompanied by small talk about anything and everything. What we avoid and how we deal with one another, consciously our subconsciously, also influenced earlier duets between Christina Ciupke and both colleagues. She practiced versions of intimacy and loss of control with Nik Haffner from gentle whispers, blowing at one another and falling - up to the point of crash landings. They force the desire and weight of elementary measures of power to be realised, and mutate into experimental test dummy in the frenzy of storming at and adhering to one another. She shared fitness efforts and the common addiction to endurance, euphoria and physical borderline experience with Mart Kangro. „wait and see“ is the concrete attempt at binding all forces into a unity, at tangling all threats into a knot - and, in the process, humorously declaring their trust in one another.