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A chat with… Nir de Volff

Nir de Volff‘s Picnics, Weddings and Funerals is a unique take on ritual and you can taste his new meal beginning December 2. We spoke with de Volff about Berlin, weddings and making hamburgers out of life.

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My Best Friend’s Wedding. Wedding Crashers. Runaway Bride. Judging by international popular culture, we’re all obsessed with the marriage ceremony. Using modern dance, death and picnic food instead of Julia Roberts cheese, Berlin-based Israeli choreographer Nir de Volff‘s Picnics, Weddings and Funerals is a unique take on the ritual.

With his company Total Brutal, de Volff layers scenes in a kaleidoscopic fashion, suggesting multiple ways of looking at the piece. Picnics, Weddings and Funerals is the final installment of a three-part trilogy beginning on the beach (Matkot), traveling through the desert (Midbar) and ending with a wedding in a park.

Why choose weddings as a focus?

It’s more like I chose social ceremonies. They are really part of these evolutions in our lives. For me a picnic is like a funeral in a way. You kill a lot of items in one picnic. You kill a lot of meat, you kill time, as they say.

You go to weddings not because you really want to, but in most of the cases because you really have to… There are a lot of undercover murders in weddings. You murder money; you murder taste: it’s very rare that people are going to truly share happiness.

And what about your own wedding?

I got married seven years ago, in Berlin. That was a very funny technical wedding. There was no party. We went to Einstein Café. We had champagne at 10:30 in the morning and I took the flowers and went home to work!

What do you see as the Total Brutal style?

It’s moving between very minimal and very pure… and a lot of fighting in a way, fighting with your body, to bring it together as one thing and not to break it apart. I’m asking a lot from the dancers, not to think about themselves as dancers. I ask them not to copy anything, to ask your brain and your emotion, to deform it and to construct it into your body.

Sounds complicated.

Life is complicated. And I smash it. I make my own hamburger out of it. I take their meat and then I cook it medium rare, maybe well done.

What’s your impression of the dance scene in Berlin?

My impression of the dancing in Berlin right now is that there’s more hype from the outside than what actually is happening on the inside, to be honest – and I like to be honest. But, because there’s less money now, I think there are more eager artists here, which makes it nicer. So I guess this is the quiet before the storm – hopefully.

Picnics, Weddings and Funerals | December 2-5, 9-11, 20:30