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The future according to Constanza Macras

Berlin’s favourite Argentinian is at the Volksbühne this December with two shows including a premiere, The Future.

Image for The future according to Constanza Macras

Photo: Thomas Aurin

You’ve looked at the past and the present in previous works: what was the inspiration for The Future?

In 2020 it was so busy, but any sense of planning went out of the window. During the pandemic I got interested in the urge, or need, for humans to know the future. In history oracles changed the fate of things, they helped people to feel a sense of hope. In our civilisation, our sense of time is in the service of progress. We talk about time in different ways, for example, the ways humans can alter it, like with trance dance where you lose the sense of self and the moment. The pandemic – that was the moment when everybody wanted to know the future.

So, is there a bit of a provocative intention behind The Future?

I don’t intend to provoke, people are too difficult to provoke right now with the rage we live in because of social media; I try to create a different space. It’s like riddles, we’re not predicting anything. Though in many of my pieces I predict something – we’ve been a little ahead of the time! (Laughs). So maybe there’s a prediction, who knows!?

The Future has additional text from René Pollesch. You said you were looking forward to the new direction of Volksbühne under his leadership. What’s it been like working together?

We haven’t worked together yet as he is rehearsing his show (Herr Puntila und das Riesending in Mitte which premiered on November 11) but we talk, his approach to collaboration is exciting, very open and uncompromising.

Your work is often described as difficult to categorise because of its unique mix of dance, music, video and physical humour. How would you categorise it?

I don’t categorise it. It’s not a conventional dance piece, not a story, I use quite a bit of text but not in a narrative way, and a lot of humour, like a chain of research. I don’t use video so much any more. We work with the music through whole process. We give the music its own space, we don’t dance on music most of the time. I work very theatrically and scenes are built for the whole stage, the centre is not always the most important part. When theatre directors want pathos, they use dance. For me, it’s dependent on the moment, it’s different energies and ‘temperatures’. And I’m not interested in relationships between men and women at all. I’m not sentimental about relationships. I can’t do that.

Image for The future according to Constanza Macras

Photo: Thomas Aurin

You studied fashion design in Argentina and still take part in designing the costumes for your pieces. How important is this in the semiotics and overall design of a work?

It’s like a character, it’s how you move with it, it’s references to different historical moments. I give a lot of input. It influences what you are doing and becomes a part of your language. [The fabric] is a form of expression – heavy or light or flexible. That’s why we rehearse with the costumes. And we have a lot of costume changes, so we have to rehearse a lot! In fact, costumes are like a whole language.

The faces at dance companies change over time, and it’s also true for Dorky Park, but you’ve worked with German- Peruvian dramaturg Carmen Mehnert right since the very beginning in 2003. What do you see as the strengths of the current company?

I tend to do quite a lot by myself, to access my own head. Somehow for the dramaturgy I like to speak my own language. Carmen is there from the beginning and we are very good friends. She is not there the whole time, but comes in at the precise moment when things start to take shape. We work for quite long months – people get tired. She works a lot with the actors and text and it does really balance the team.

At the moment, and for The Future we have five fixed performers and four freelancers, three musicians, an actor, and composer Robert Lippok. The development of the music with him is in parallel with the piece, and it’s the first time the musicians have worked together. There are people who’ve been there for 10-11 years, like Japanese dancer Miki Shoji, and Emil Bordás, as well as Fernanda Farah who I’ve been working together with since 2005 and Johanna Lemke. They help to bring things in the direction I want. Most important is that they trust me. You have to have patience with the director, there’s a moment you need to be a bit lost. You need to trust.