Choreographer, dance and performance artist Yana Schnitzler, knows about time and space, the themes of her latest work, Facets of Time. After many years as a ballet dancer on the East Berlin scene, she moved to New York, where she founded the human kinetics movement arts. Although she regrouped with a new set of dancers she still maintains ties to Berlin, Germany, going back periodically to see her family and present new work.
Performed twice a week, Facets of Time continues Schnitzler’s exploration of the different aspects of fabric in relation to the human body and captures her slow movement esthetic. Punctuated by moments of stillness, the 60-minute site-specific piece transforms the environment in such a way that “the audience becomes sensitized to new possibilities of perception and meaning.”
Why did you come to NY?
I wasn’t really interested in NY, to begin with. My husband was. But when I first visited the city I fell in love with it. And I still am 14 years later. I really love its energy.
When did you start your human kinetics movement arts studio?
I founded it in 2002 in New York. I was a dancer in East Berlin and loved it, but when I came to New York I started developing site-specific installations. I don’t do stage work anymore.
I am really interested in people’s perception of space and time; two dimensions humans are bound by. The audience can enter my performances at any time; watch them from any angle and for as long as they want. There is no beginning, middle or end.
So most of your work is about the perception of time?
Yes. I work with slow movements. We are psychologically wired, especially in New York, to do everything fast and we often loose patience when things slow down. During my performances, the viewers are under the impression that nothing happens, but if one sticks with it one realizes there is a lot happening. It is very subtle and it takes time to unfold, but if the viewers look away and look back again, they realize they are in a totally different place.
How long is your performance?
It depends. For this run there are 6 performances, each lasting about one hour. Each performance is a different piece. I perform solo, or with other dancers, sometimes up to five dancers.
On your website you wrote: “I’m fascinated by fabric.” Why is that?
My primary working principle is to explore the qualities of a specific fabric in relation to the human body, to understand how it fits the movement and how it can amplify it.
Do you use all the given elements of a space?
It depends on the space. We work with it and around it. We are so used to our spaces that we see them without really seeing them anymore. I like to transform a space, to give it a different meaning. Sometimes there are more restrictions to it. Facets of Time is performed in a bank, so there are specific requirement on what we can not do. For example, I can’t hang anything. I can’t use the pillars. We just need to be more self contained.
Do you improvise a lot?
Yes. I have a set of technical rules I follow, but outside of these restrictions, I improvise a lot.
Facets of Time, Window performance by human kinetics movement arts H.K.M.A., April 10-29, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9pm I Urban Garden Room, 42nd St. and 6th Avenue, New York, NY. Free to the public – on view from the street