20 years of deufert&plischke an Interview by Olga Tarakanova

For a start, it feels right to let you know that this is a very delightful interview. It may be even one of the best interviews you will read in 2020. Because deufert&plischke, a German family and dance couple, talk about living, working and just being together.

Ok, also, they bitch about mass market clothes, Romeo Castelucci, American postmodern dance, oral discussions and the ambition among directors to ‘create images’. Yet, their criticism is the nicest you can think of. Kattrin Deufert and Thomas Plischke met 20 years ago, and they have been doing not director’s, but collaborative theatre ever since. They are not as famous as Rimini Protokoll or She She Pop, but they are so precise in describing their artistic methodology, that their so-called protocols can in fact be used by anyone in their respective artistic or other work, or actually anywhere.

Konsequenzen 2017 Berlin

The interview was conducted and translated by Olga Tarakanova, edited in Russian by Nastya Nikolaeva. First published at Teatralium.com. The English version was edited by Barbara Wittmann.

‘Writing a letter is political action’

OT: I read your interview and it was obvious that sometimes Thomas was speaking, and sometimes Kattrin was speaking. Yet, all the answers were labeled as d&p. Would you like to be present in this interview as Kattrin and Thomas, or as an artistwin, as you call yourself?

d&p: As d&p!

OT: Let’s start with the subject 'collaboration' then. You work in a collaborative way, yet I’ve read your consistent criticism of the common understanding of collaboration as a communal, or consensual process, in which everyone blends in with others. In Russia, we are experiencing a surge of interest in collaborative production right now, as well as a noticeable wave of criticism of the director’s theatre. What do you think are the limits of collaborative practice? Is there anything that cannot be achieved if working collaboratively?

d&p: I think you cannot push the limits if the collective has the director’s theatre still in mind, and therefore acts like a director. But if we think that theatre is practicing society then it’s different. I think there are no limits, but there are a lot of observations we can make, and of course mistakes and things that can go wrong, or are difficult or complex. But there is just no need for consensus, since the society itself has to deal with its complexity. There should be more than two voices. Everybody’s like, ‘You have two options, you’re part of either this team or that’. But art is not necessarily a mirror of society. It can also create society. Art produces the social imaginary, it enables what we can think tomorrow.

As a matter of fact, you should not be disappointed if your original idea is not being realized in a collaborative work. It’s more about learning how you can be responsible as a group for something that is happening. The artistic action that creates a social space may be more important than, let's say, the ideas, or the motivations, or the singular will of any of the participating artists. We need artists who are much more interested in the life of society than in themselves. If this is a given, then I think, collaborative ways of working have much more possibilities than the director's theatre.

In 2002 deufert&plischke teamed up with Jeroen Peeters and Barbara Raes to organize a 96h non-stop queer symposium. The main stage was the place for sleeping, and watching people sleep. All the spaces of the Kunstencentrum Vooruit in Gent (Belgium) were used to test the term queer in order to question artistic and scientific practices. Photo: Florian Malzacher

OT: Let’s talk about the protocols you have for creating work. Could you walk me step by step through all the important methods you use, and connect them with your big idea of the new epic theatre?

d&p: We have known each other, and been working together for almost 20 years. We met in 2001 and were almost instantly separated, since Thomas had had to work on an artistic project in Brazil for three months. There was no Skype yet, no Zoom, and the mobile phones were very expensive. So we wrote each other an email letter every day. The letters were long, and, thanks to this old fashioned form of communication, we got to know each other very well. We talked about issues like gender, collective authorship, and, most importantly, whether there was a future for the two of us, even though we came from very different fields of work and we didn't have many things in common. Writing a letter is always political action, since letters can be written from exile, or from prison. Letters connect people from different areas. Besides, you often write letters even if you are not a skilled writer, since you start with letters at a very early age (if you are allowed to write at all). After these three months we got to know each other very well without actually talking to each other. The relation between choreography and writing provided a good basis for our future work, and we developed reformulations.

Reformulations evolved out of our work on a project dealing with the so-called ‘Eastern-Western relationships’. Bulgaria and Romania had just joined the EU at the time, so there was a lot of money for these kind of projects. Everybody was doing one. We decided to work with our friends whom we had never considered as friends from the East. They were just friends, performers, and like minds. We got the money, and then we said, ‘Let’s not make this about differences, but about the things we share’. We were writing a lot. We asked a lot of questions, like, ‘Describe which spaces were your favorite during childhood’. People would write about their grandmothers’ gardens, or about some empty buildings. Everybody can relate to these writings because those spaces are everywhere. Even if my grandmother's garden is not the same as yours, I think the whole attitude we have towards these spaces is pretty similar. We developed a choreography out of all the different states and the memories of movement that we were coming across while reading those texts.

During oral discussions, some talk more, others talk less. When writing, everyone has the same amount of time. We just distribute the notebooks, then we pass them around. Everyone adds to or reformulates the idea that has been stated by the participant on the left. Once, we did more than 200 rounds. The greatest thing in reformulations is that you can always go back to the beginning, and check what the first idea has been, and how it has developed. After discussions, a lot of things vanish. You’ve been verbally fighting for two hours, and then you have no idea of what has been said. With reformulations, it’s like a huge document is created that archives all the emotions and all the different states of the participants.

Reformulations brought us to develop one more method which we call anarchiving. It’s like anarchy and archive combined in one word. Some of our works derive from the idea that an artist is a living archive. Everything they remember is like a document, organized in a very chaotic and emotional way. We started the Anarchiv series years ago. In times of the Covid-19 crisis, it’s gotten even more important. If things cannot happen live, we need other methods of producing art.

In 2018, we’ve started the Just in Time project. For this project we collected letters to dance all over the world. We taught workshops in more than 10 cities. We collected more than 2000 letters. We invite everyone to write these letters, not only dancers. Now, we are thinking on how to make this archive accessible in a very haptical and sensual way.

Anarchiv also came as a response to the hype around reconstructions in art. We always try to… I’ll let you in on a little secret. We always try to misbehave gently, just a little bit, not very loud, but always a little bit. All these procedures are about writing, because one of our biggest criticisms of theatre and choreography today is that most people work with images and they try to create images on stage. These images say: ‘This is postdramatic theatre, because there you see all these elements’. We always wanted to work with a text. Even if in the end an image is produced, it comes from a text and it always surprises us, sometimes in a negative way. For us, handwriting and gestures are important, as well as any misunderstandings that come from not being able to read what is written.

New epic theatre came up when we thought, ‘If only we and our co-performers do all these procedures, it’s not enough’. We had to invite the audience. We wanted the audience to think with us, to feel with us, to breathe the same air, and to be active so we could co-create these artistic environments. It was happening very slowly, bit by bit. We made many mistakes, and lots of funny things happened. Then, there was some balance. We call these procedures somatic gardening. We invite everyone to choose an object, a picture, or a text they are interested in. Then they have 10 minutes to spend with this item, looking at it, observing it, breathing it in, but never taking any notes. Then they have 5 minutes to lay down with their eyes closed. From there, they write down what pops into their heads in one go, and stick this note to the item. There’s this slow process of growing, in which many very different perspectives on the same things are collected.

OT: I was just going to mention that most of your performances now are like workshops. Often, the space looks quite messy, even childish. Have you been met with skepticism or refusal? How do you deal with such reactions if they happen?

d&p: Yeah, we receive lots of criticism. I can quote my parents who saw a video of our work and said like, ‘Oh, we can do that, why are you doing this if you call yourselves artists?’

So how do we deal with it? I think we create environments which are safe spaces, and we really try to approach everyone on a very personal level. People can enter and bring some of their belongings, or tell something which they maybe would not tell in other circumstances. It might be something very small, yet embarrassing. Once they have gone through this process, and their story has left an artistic trace in the space, it transforms, and grows, and people get very happy. It's a childish happiness. It's like, ‘Wow, I draw a circle and then a car appears, or a tree, or the sun, or the sunrise’. I think this is what art does, transforming simple things into other simple things. But this process of transformation makes people very happy. It’s a safe space, there is no political interest, no ideology… Well, a little bit of ideology, I would say. (Laughs.) But I’m sure it’s not an imposing one. So people tell these personal stories that they would not have told their friends, or their lovers. There seems to be something in these environments, or these situations, that makes people feel different from how they feel in the environment they know. We create unknown spaces that are safe, which I think is very important in our society.

I think all this criticism comes up because we live in a very male world. Here, even art needs to be super technical and super cool. But we're trying to establish something with this playful stuff. It can happen, for example, that somebody comes in and says something like, ‘Oh yeah, I did this when I was a child’. That's usually the moment when we're like, ‘Oh yeah, let's sit down’, and we glue the person a bit to the chair. At a certain point, a story is told of what he or she did as a child, say, they made something, and parents lost it, and it was a tragic moment. All these sudden memories evoked by these little things are quite important. People recall something that’s been forgotten for 20 years or even longer, and all of a sudden this memory brings others to the table and they say like, ‘Oh yeah, we feel the same’, and then the social situation evolves around something that’s been buried for 20 years because it doesn't fit our times. From there, normally, conversations about the present start.

People enter these spaces with certain prejudices. They think that we live in a very free world where everything is possible. Thanks to these memories, it transpires that there’s a lot of restrictions and self-restrictions and self-censorship today, in art and in dance as well. Like, my god, we are still doing works for the 60s in the US. I mean, we still haven't come up with any new ideas. That's a question mark. What will the new ideas be? Where do we want to go? Back to the skepticism, usually we try to fight it with charm, and with being friendly. Being seductive, maybe!

We don’t want to illustrate theory, but to make a contribution to theory by means of performance.

OT: You often point out your philosophical and theoretical inspirations in interviews. Which theories are you inspired by right now?

d&p: We have many friends who are philosophers. We sit together and drink together, and we are influenced by each other and they recommend books to us. Yet, we are not theorists or academics. Nowadays we try more and more not to exclude non-academic people from our work, or people who didn't have access to proper education. I think you can only reach these people if you don't mention keywords like decoloni... sorry, here comes the exclusion... emm, rather, words like polarization and protocols. Ok, we read books, but we’re interested in making our works accessible, therefore, we have to change the language a little bit.

What we read is, of course, in the frame of the 4th wave of feminism. It may seem like women have equal rights now, but things are really so much more complicated. One of our main interests is clothes. What do we wear on our skin? How do we share what we wear with other people? We read texts on the history of fashion written by feminist scholars. But our approach is, once again, to misbehave a little bit. It was a symptom of the 2000s that many artworks illustrated theory. We got self-critical at a certain moment, and we thought like, ‘Oh actually that's not what we want. We want to make a contribution to theory by means of performance’.

We see that men are somewhere up there, and women are somewhere beneath them. But we do not want to help women come up to the men’s level. Instead, we want to bring men back down to the community of women and kids. It happens at some point during puberty that men put themselves 'above'. They isolate themselves, while women and kids remain together. If we welcome men back into this community with a wink, then we can think of a future that is really different. I don't think that women have to behave like men. That would bring total destruction to the world. We would have Mr Trump and Ms Trump. (Laugh.)

OT: Can you explain how you do this in a performative way?

d&p: Yeah, we should be talking practically, otherwise people think we are crazy. Once again, it’s a question of how to equip spaces and what kind of situations to create. In Spinnen, which is a German word for spinning a thread and going nuts at the same time, we invite people to sit around a table with a lot of wool, threads, pictures, and needles, and other stuff. People sit there talking while doing something with their hands, like women were sitting a hundred years ago, sharing both a conversation and a craft.

Spinnen / Spinnerinnen (las hilanderas) first took place at the ifa Gallery in Berlin as part of "What does it take to cross a border".

Our kids love to participate ...

In Berlin we collaborated with the artist Kike Garcia Gil (next to Moritz).

We are also working on a new project right now, called Familienangelegenheiten (family affairs). We have two young kids, six and seven years old. We begin to move slowly from an artistwin to a family. But once again, we are misbehaving a bit. We create these playful installations which we call female spaces, or family spaces, where people can dress up, wear makeup, play, care for each other, make sure everybody’s ok. To sum it up, they are allowed to waste time. These playful situations are a model for what we want to do in the future. In the moment Family Studies is a photo project, but we are going to invite many families into these choreographies as well.

Familienangelegenheiten (2020)

We call these installations choreographies, since they impact our bodily behavior, and our body language. But this idea of female spaces is not linked to the female body. They are just spaces for playfulness, and for caregiving. They are safe spaces. There is no place for violence, or for an exhibition of violence in them. Theatre has become such a space for an exhibition of violence. All these Jan Fabre and Romeo Castelucci, with all this terrible violence. Everybody is so excited about their shows, but we're like, ‘For what reason? Why can’t art embrace a different way to be together?’ If art is a safe space, it may be perfect to open more and more art spaces for us to play with each other, and dress up in costumes, and to be a bit loony. In other words, to work on our common collective imaginary.

Family is the smallest political constellation where we really have the power to build a tomorrow that's different.

OT: Speaking of Spinnen, I’ve got interested in the idea of the abolition of family recently. As Sophie Lewis puts it in Full Surrogacy Now!, family blackmails us into mistaking the only sources of love and care we have is family at the expense of all the other possibilities we have. <...> We deserve better than the [nuclear] family. Yet, these ideas seem frightening even to some of the most radical thinkers. Aren’t the participants of your workshop afraid of changing their ways of how they envision living in families?

d&p: We have to reinvent the idea of family. Very early on I studied Walter Benjamin, who thought of the family as the basic unit of history and politics. Benjamin said, If you see a repetition of disaster in history, you also see a repetition of disaster in families. This is because of the heteronormative traditions. We invent so many technologies for our future, but we haven’t invented the artificial uterus yet. If men could give birth, so many problems would be solved. The problem is not, in fact, that men are somewhere up there, and women are somewhere beneath them. The problem is that only women can give birth, so they are somehow stuck in this circle of caregiving and physical transformation. As long as we’re confined to this biologic process of giving birth, we’ll keep having a lot of family issues that we cannot overcome.

However, I think the abolition of family is not a solution either. There is something very unique about family. Family is a very intimate space where you can do anything, from wiping tears, to being sick, to cuddling. You can learn about the body and be naked amidst others. There are a lot of things that you wouldn't do so easily outside of the family. If we seriously think about it: family is the smallest political constellation where we really have the power to build a tomorrow that's different. It’s the smallest cell, but it’s not necessarily a traditional family. It can also include your friends, if they are not just your friends but they behave like family when you’re around. Our society is going through such a conservative trend right now, so I can totally understand why we may want to abolish the family. But before we abolish it, it would be good to identify all the possibilities for transformation it has. Like, our son often wears a skirt or a dress to school, and now other boys want to do the same. They see that he has a good self-esteem, and that he’s not afraid, so they want to try it too. Kids start to be very political at school even though they are only seven years old.

One truly big step to abolish families would be not leave the family but to stop buying clothes, and to start making clothes. Lots of family concepts are set in the fashion industry. Like, the working dad has to wear this, the yoga exercising mom has to wear that, the boy has to wear this, the girl has to wear that. We buy a lot of trash, and then we look like trash. Sorry! That's why we create these kinds of artistic spaces where we exchange stories from childhood and we sew and knit and practice imagining some clothes that are self made, and not produced in a politically suspicious way.

The Worn World project just started last year in Kuopio.

audience, dancers, designers all work together. Starting from collecting personal stories about clothes ...

... to knitting and sewing them.

To play with phantasy and desire ...

... and in the end to take the clothes for a dance in a club!

OT: Let’s talk about Liebestod, which is a performance not about family but about love. You are a heterosexual couple, yet I've read in one of your interviews that both of you have had queer experiences that define your current relationship. How did you decide to work on the subject of love in 2019 and how did you reinvent or expand the concept of love?

d&p: The topic of love, or rather of the relation between love and war, was already present in two works that we did in 2006 and in 2011. We called these works Songs of Love and War. We worked with a composer who delved into the history of music looking for pieces where love and war met, while we were combing through the history of literature. Of course, we found them everywhere. It's a very large topic. In 2019, we thought, ‘This relation of love and war is a very male concept, let’s just focus on love’. On love fuck ups, in fact. So we went to meet all sorts of people, being in Berlin at the time, and asked them about their love fuck ups. We created the safe spaces, and in two months we had more than a hundred stories collected, even though it was not at all easy to make people talk about love. Based on these stories, we created a choreography with dancers, and we had a singer and a pianist-composer who made music for the love songs.

But there we had a classic example of a performance that didn’t work. We failed. Our first idea had actually been to collect the stories and then to sing love fuck up songs together with the audience. We should have stuck to that first Idea. I mean, we should re-do the performance this way. But there was that big Tanz im August festival commissioning the work, and we had just quit university, so we were like, ‘Oh, we want to do a “real choreography” again’. But the method of translating texts into movement just didn’t work out, resulting in everything that we never liked. We wanted to create the safe space where we could come together and have a fun evening, singing about fucked up love, but there we were directing instead. We started to direct. That's definitely not what we we are good at. The performers were amazing, all the preparatory work was outstanding as well, but we work best in very simple setups close to the audience. We should have just collected the stories to create some simple tunes from it and then sing them with the audience. I think we will do the performance again, and we will do it locally, as usual. We will go somewhere, do the workshops and then do the performance.

OT: What was that method for translating stories into choreography?

d&p: That was interesting, since the two of us were choreographing with a different approach for the first time. I looked through the stories we had collected for the physical states mentioned. I also looked at the texture of the material, whether it was fluid, or itchy. Out of this the movement was developped. Kattrin created poetic instructions for the performers based on the stories. Those were not instructions to simply do this or that, but something more poetic which called for a reaction. The instructions were never vertical. First, that made people react like, ‘What does she mean?’ But I didn't create those instructions out of nothing, but moreover from observing the movement material. So we had lots of poetic expressions which were linked to certain scenes, and then we tried to make people move according to these poetic instructions.

We had some songs as well, they were great. But the guitarist injured her hand just before the opening night, so she couldn't play. We had to scrap the first scene which was basically her singing with the audience. Instead, there were a woman and a man at the piano, which made everything look glossy and cabaret-ish, the opposite of what we had intended to do. But we still love the idea anyway. So maybe after the songs of love and war, and then love songs, we have to do the war songs. Maybe that will be better. (Laugh.) Let's hope the audience doesn't kill each after singing a lot of war songs. And here we go back to Castelucci... Well, why not?

OT: In "NACH DEM BEAUFSICHTIGEN DER MASCHINEN", curated by Florian Malzacher, you, and nine other artists, will have to answer the question, What comes after work - at least after that kind of work that prevents us from "occupying the mind with other things"?

(The interview took place on August, 25. The festival we were talking about started in September.)

d&p: It’s a curated project. The topic of work was suggested by the curator as a response to the 200th birthday of Engels, who was born in this town Engelskirchen where the festival would take place. For us, the notion of work is very interesting from a feminist perspective. What Marx was calling labor was only male labor. You go to work at 8 a.m., you come home at 6 p.m., and you're standing at machines. Childcare, and taking care of your grandmother, and cooking meals was not called labor, even though it is labor. Before thinking about what comes after work, we have to consider or redefine what we call work.

Once again our emphasis in the project for the festival is to embed some female marks in the male history of labor. We invented an artist who had died in this town Engelskirchen. She created amazing works, but nobody had seen them yet. Together with 8 local artists, we will hold the first retrospective of her work, consisting of poems, and performative actions, and visual art. Whatever the invited artists suggest, forms the archive of Felicitas P. Berg.

Felicitas is the second female artist we have invented and deliberately snuck in the history of art. Now, there are not Kattrin and my name on the website, only the name of Felicitas. Our approach is, as usual, very playful. We are doing something very childish. We are basically inventing a person. We are looking for notebooks from the 40s that are still empty so we can write “her” notes in them. We have some people working with old video equipment so that it looks as if she did some experimental video in the 80s. There is a lot of playfulness in these fakes, but it contails also some substantial truths. Even if she had lived, she would not have been mentioned in art history necessarily. But we don't want to do a lecture on her and say, ‘Oh, this is so bad’, and then show pictures of tortured women. That would be the approach in theatre studies. But that’s a very male one, as well, like, I write [on the history of art], I have a mission. With our work, it seems like a children's game, but the intention is to make the audience think. At first sight, you can think that she is real, but if you look a tiny bit closer you find out the truth, or you start to have doubts at least. And with the doubts come the questions. Was she alive? Was she real? If not, what is this for? We show the paintings from her time, the drawings, we even have electronic music recorded on cassettes. There will be a reconstructed concert of hers. I'm curious what the press is going to say. Will they call her “a forgotten daughter of the city?” However, the most important thing for us is to do it with this playful approach.

Felicitas P. Berg as a child.

OT: The topic of 'post work' seems to be even more urgent during the pandemic times.

d&p: Labur is one of these things which we used to think of as very old fashioned, and suddenly it became so urgent. The need to organize labor in the pandemic era raised such questions as, How do we live together? How do we make decisions together? How do we distribute and redistribute the resources we have? A lot of artists are complaining about the situation right now. Of course, we are confronted with a lot of difficulties, but at least we have lots of people who say that art has to continue. It was so funny, how there suddenly was so much money from the state! In which basement were they keeping all that money? But here we are now, with everyone talking about overproduction, and the shorter work week, saying for the first time, that maybe 4 days of work is enough. Our kids stopped going to school, so what we did was play all day long, and that time was really important. We trusted the concept of production so much, but we don’t believe it anymore, that a person is only trustworthy if he or she produces something.

We also applied for money from the state, in order to be able to explore what we can do via Zoom. Our project "What Are you Afraid Of?" with Liza [Spivakovskaya, curator] at the Theatrum festival was an amazing example of what you could do without being together. Liza was our ambassador there. She was not a director, but our collaborator.

OT: How did you like that remote way of working?

However, what we did with Liza was very different from working with somebody who assists you in a conventional way. We had to go through all the elements and explain why they were needed, so that if a question came from the actors she could easily answer it. Or, rather, from the museum staff, since we had to fight for using markers in the museum space, ensuring that we would not do any damage to the paintings. I think the most valuable benefit of all our pieces derives from those discussions. We discussed our approach to feminism with the performers, Liza contributed to that as well. Every performance isn’t just the production that the audience attends. There's a lot of these little things happening throughout the process.

The first performance of what are you afraid of? happened in collaboration with Liza Spivakovskaya in the Museum of Russian Impressionism for the THEATRUM Festival 2020 in Moscow with the actors of the Youth Academic Theatre.

OT: What was the idea behind the poems? (Performers recited poems to the audience members after asking them about their fears. I listened to the poems written by Mayakovky and Brodsky.)

d&p: We knew that we would work with actors, and we thought that the present that they could give to you is a beautiful recital. We discussed intensly whether the poem should correlate to the fear, but then we said it should connect to the performers. The moment you will recite it you will have a feeling of what you can give in return. Since we don’t speak Russian, we don't know exactly which poems or texts they have chosen. But we said, ‘Take something that you are emotionally connected to’. If something is passed on carefully, I think it has much to offer. I feel, however, that it drew too much from the history of theatre, while we wanted it more personal. There was a little misunderstanding. We wanted the performers to recite, like, the most important lines they had ever spoken. For example, they might have only had two lines in their first theatre piece, going, ‘Hello! I’m your new doctor!’ But it had seemed as they had understood the concept.

Actually, our first idea was to work with a very diverse group of dancers, singers and actors. The dancers were to do movements, the singers would sing songs, and the actors would recite texts. Besides, we wanted to work with both, very old and very young people. But because of Covid-19, this was not possible. We had to stick with the young ones, which was fine actually. Sometimes things have their own way. You can't control everything.

We left the universities and cut our ties with them

OT: Since you’re a choreographic duo, I wonder what your daily movement practice consists of.

d&p: We are a family, and we have two young kids. There’s a bit of martial arts, a bit of cuddling, and a bit of having to defend ourselves from surprise attacks. Then, a bit of dancing to our kids’ favorite songs.

We just moved to a very small town. We are working on opening a dance space here. In all the big cities, everybody knows keywords such as somatic practice. Here, the average age is around 60 or 70, and people don’t touch each other anymore. We are going to open the space and offer somatic practices for everybody. We will also be doing yoga. You know, you do yoga to have a moment where you can be at ease during the day. Starting next year it will get exciting, when we will have the space for our movement practice. Right now we only have our house.

OT: Do you ever do technique training?

d&p: Not anymore. Thomas had been doing technique for 20 years. There comes a certain moment when you don't believe anymore in this daily technique training. Technique is a certain movement behavior, or a certain idea of movement. If I were to list the ones that are still dominant, I’d mention classical ballet, contact improvisation, Klein technique, Release technique, Skinner Release, Bartenieff fundamentals. They all basically belong to the US of the 1970s, yet we still teach people to move following all these rules. I am not at all sure that technique is what we need in dance at the moment. The spaces in which we dance are equally important. Are they communal spaces, or are they still 'stage' spaces? At this moment, I think, we need to practice touching and proximity, and create safe spaces, but never spaces for comparison and contests.

However, this doesn't mean we are against technique. If other dancers and choreographers are working in the realm of protecting forms, then they need to do technique daily. We have been to Singapore, where amazing traditions of Malai dance, and Indian dances, and voguing exist. You can only do these with passion if you do it every day. But this is not our calling. We are really here to create artistic situations which don't exclude anybody, and in which we cross the borders between different techniques to invite everybody to create something together. But we are not ahistorical, or apolitical. I am all for the protection of dance history, because if a dance is not practiced for ten years it gets lost. Lots of dances have been lost because we don't dance enough. But those that have been saved, they change anyway, and it’s a natural process.

Actually, we have one thing that we practice 'technically'. It is related to clothes. We learn a movement sequence, which can be a yoga sequence, or a tristia dance sequence, whatever. We do it first in a leather outfit as if we’re motorbikers, then we do it in a bathing suit. Then we do it in a bathing suit, but other people are watching us. This modification changes the way we are present, and the way we perceive ourselves and see ourselves. Something is completely neglected in dance if we just dance in our pyjamas, as we mostly are during dance classes. You can actually dress up, or you can wear high heels. You even can be wearing high heels for half an hour and then take them off and work from the memory of walking in high heels, since a lot of body knowledge that you can draw from has already been produced. You can do Alexander technique wearing a helmet. We need to embrace these experimentations. Otherwise, I think, it is just like being on autopilot, going to Body-Mind Centering classes wearing your pyjamas, and sensing your livers and such.

OT: You’ve also been teaching for some time, which means you’re often in contact with the younger theatre/dance makers. Do you feel like there is a generation gap in the German/European/Whichever you feel a part of dance circles?

d&p: This is a huge question. Our first teaching project together was at Impulstanz years ago, and before that, we both had been teaching independently. At this moment, we believe that we’ve achieved to develop an artistic form, or a format even, and it's good to pass this on to other people. That's why we have been helping to establish these new MA and BA programs in Hamburg, Berlin, and Brussels, paying a lot of attention to the needs of students. Some of these studies went really well. We had a really good experience curating a teacher’s program. There's always lots of discussion on how art can be taught since it is basically unteachable, since you have to come up with your own ideas, and there's no teacher needed for that. But I think what a good dance education does is, it brings people from all over the world together. Lots of techniques are thrown together, and then the idea of reformulations helps students and teachers to learn from each other.

Сonflicts arise from the different positions [which we and students hold in the institutional structures]. When we teach workshops independently, there's a lot of interest in our work from the very young generation. The moment we become part of an institution, that changes. Then, we represent a certain establishment, so people necessarily have to revolt against us. That’s why we have left the universities and cut our ties with them. Now, all of a sudden, we are asked by the students to be mentors of their work. They trust us, as we don't instruct them but we try to put our heads together and find out what space, or what would be good for their work. We think about what can achieve what they have in their mind. Every time we had been permanent staff, it was more problematic. But the moment we are not, it's not problematic at all. Actually, at the moment we have more offers than ever before to teach and to come into all kinds of situations with the young and older artists. That's quite nice. We are very curious, and people are like, ‘Look what we have, do you have an idea about it?’ And we're like, ‘We don’t have an idea about it, but let's look at it together and see what happens’.