Artistic director / dramaturgy: Max Schumacher (post theater)
Video / media art: Hiroko Tanahashi (post theater), Yoann Trellu
Choreography: Christoph Winkler, Martin Clausen, Mathieu Burner & Nabih Amaraoui, Clint Lutes, Nir de Volff, Florian Loyke & Emir Tebatabai
Dance-performers: Florian Bilbao, Martin Clausen (or Lajos Talamonti or Felix Marchand), Florian Loyke, Felix Loyke, Emir Tebetabai Christian Schwaan (or Clint Lutes), Nir de Volff (or Jared Gradinger)
Moderator-performer: Alexander Schro¨der (or Jan Schiele or Robert Wolfram)
Music: Mathieu Burner, Tilmann Dehnhard, Andreas Liebmann, Stefan Pahlke
Technicial director: Fabian Bleisch
Photography and design: Hiroko Tanahashi (post theater)
Funded by City Capital Foundation Berlin
Co-Produced by Dock 11 Berlin
Premiere April 24th, 2008 at Dock 11, Berlin
Length of the performance: 70 － 80 minutes
Performance languages: German and English
A dance-performance based on YouTube
An American teenager learns a dance from a dance instruction VHS-tape. He presents it at his provincial high school. More than 10 million people have watched this bizarre, strange, surreal dance scene on the internet video platform YouTube. Many did not know that this was not “for real”, but from a US movie － “Napoleon Dynamite”. The film narrates the story of outcasts at a provincial American high school. The protagonist Napoleon Dynamite is a nerd, but one day he manages to surprise his entire school when he performs this dance to support a minority candidate at the election campaign for the student-representative. This dance scene enchants with its bizarre sexiness. Many fans have copied it, filmed their dance performance of the same choreography and put it back on YouTube.
post theater has taken this YouTube hype as a point of departure for their performance “Napoleon D.”. They found it a rich material, relating to juvenile exploration of sexuality, gender-discourses around popular (disco) dance and of course, the representation of the body through different media. How do dance patterns travel from the internet, MTV, and film to a live stage?
A collaboration with Berlin’s contemporary dance scene
post theater invited several Berlin-based choreographers and performance artists to work on this pop-cultural phenomenon and to create a contemporary dance-performance out of it. Among them were Christoph Winkler, Martin Clausen, Mathieu Burner & Nabih Amaraoui, Clint Lutes and Das Helmi. post theater provided these contributing artists with a strict set of rules, but left them complete freedom within them. The rules ensured the performance’s coherency: every choreographer had to create a segment of exactly 10 minutes length with just one performer and very limited options for light- and stage design － all coming from a black/white video projection. To bring back the media into the live performance space and create a unifying visual frame, video artists Hiroko Tanahashi and Yoann Trellu have created a video-environment for the dancers. Since the source material had to be the Napoleon YouTube clip, the music － if any - had to be a re-mix of the clip’s original score. And last, but not least, the scenes had to deal with the topics at hand: masculinity, sexuality and the power of pop.
A successful production experiment
post theater wanted to prove that contemporary dance can be popular and reach bigger audiences. From the very beginning, “Napoleon D.” was intended to have more than the conventional two-weekends-run.
The piece was presented 28 times － more than any independent dance performance in Berlin’s contemporary dance scene in recent years.
“The atmosphere in the theater is very enthusiastic. Thanks to the great idea, Napoleon D. will successfully continue to play every Monday night.” (zitty 11/2008)
"The show has been conceived with intelligence - and is fun."
(Michaela Schlagenwerth in Berliner Zeitung, July 11th,2008)
“The dance reaches “cult” status” (Arnd Wesemann in Ballet-Tanz, June 2008)
“An evening that surprises positively, touches you and additionally amuses you a lot.” (tanzpresse.de, May 2008)