Production Details / Press Releases
“The hard life began on the day I ended my career. I have no flat, no job and no regular income,” says the Chinese acrobat Cheng Fei, seven-times national champion and world champion. “The flowers, the applause, the flags – it feels like a different life.” On the scrapheap by their mid-twenties, on their own, with no social security, often lacking formal education and job prospects – in “THE GHOSTS” Constanza Macras worked with Chinese circus acrobats. It looks like these former acrobats, who once won fame and fortune for their country with their bodily discipline, have been forgotten and ‘decommissioned’ by Chinese society, even though many of them are still quite young. They recall the ‘hungry ghosts’ – according to Chinese popular mythology, lost souls who have been forgotten by their descendents and lead a miserable existence in an intermediate world. For Macras the former acrobats’ materially precarious, ghostly condition is a metaphor for life in contemporary China, with it contradictions, social injustice and power structures. Those who once brought the country glory and honour are discarded as soon as acrobatics itself began to be seen as a privileged form of entertainment for the bourgeoisie. “I was born into a poor family, joined an acrobatic troupe when I was only eight years old. My exceptional talent enabled me to rise from student ranks to become the troupe’s top woman acrobat. However, as the troupe became increasingly mixed up by radical politics it was discontinued. Two years later, me and several other performers were ordered to work in a textile factory. The following year, I was sent to work in the country side and believed that I would never return to perform acrobatics again. Unexpectedly, the troupe’s leaders sent me a message urging my return to work. During 6 years I did not practice at all and gave birth to two children. I was already twenty-nine. I thought since the leaders wanted me to do it, I must not complain. The Revolutionary Committee of Shanghai decided to entertain the US visitors with ‘traditional acrobatics’ because the committee believed foreigners would not be able to understand chinese revolutionary operas. We went to the United States on tour. The officials told us even if people threw things at our stage, we must continue our performance.” The decision to send an acrobatic troupe overseas reﬂected Chinese leaders’ ideas about how to communicate ‘Chinese-ness’ to US audience through the acrobatic body. Such cultural policy would enable Beijing to export acrobatics as ‘Chinese heritage’ and, at the same time, achieve its political objectives in the Cold War. “When our tour started in Chicago, a gas bomb exploded in the theater. The tear gas did not dissipate easily, but me and my colleagues resumed our performance, despite our tearing eyes and pain.” We might make things that break easily, but we people don’t.
Constanza Macras was born in 1970 in Buenos Aires, where she studied dance and fashion design. She completed her dance training in Amsterdam and at the Merce Cunningham Studio in New York, and showed her first choreographies in Amsterdam. In 1995 she moved to Berlin, founded her first company, Tamagotchi Y2K, in 1997, and developed performances and dance pieces with artists from a wide variety of disciplines. In 2003 Marcas established the dance-theatre company Costanza Macras | DorkyPark in collaboration with the dramaturge Carmen Mehnert. The company brings together dancers, actors, musicians and artists working in various genres and countries, and combines dance, video, text and live music. In 2008 Constanza Macras’ “Hell on Earth” was awarded the Goethe-Institut Prize for the best production from Germany. In 2010 she was invited to take up the ‘Arts at MIT William L. Abramowitz Residency’ at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and received the German Theatre Prize, ‘Der Faust’, for “Megalopolis”. Constanza Macras leads workshops and master classes at Berlin universities, and has been invited to choreograph and teach in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, the United States and elsewhere. Her company regularly collaborates with theatres such as HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz and HELLERAU – European Centre of Arts Dresden. Apart from the projects for her own company, Constanza Macras has also created works for other institutions, including “Happiness”, for the ballet of the Saarländisches Staatstheater in 2003, and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, with Thomas Ostermeier at the Schaubühne in 2006.
Cast & Credits
Director, choreography: Constanza Macras
Dramaturgy: Carmen Mehnert
By and with: Emil Bordas, Fernanda Farah, Daisy Phillips, Yi Liu, Julian Neves, Huanhuan Zhang, Huimin Zhang, Xiaorui Pan, Lu Ge, Chico Mello, Wu Wei
Music: Chico Mello in collaboration with Wu Wei, Jiannan Chen, Fernanda Farah, Yi Liu
Assistant music: Jiannan Chen
Light: Sergio Pessanha
Video, Fotodesign: Manuel Osterholt
Stage design: Janina Audick
Set designer: Veronica Wüst
Costumes: Alison Saunders
Costume Assistance: Ottavia Comforter
Assistant director: Nikoletta Fischer
Trainees: Alba Duno, Ariella Karatolou, Chin Kuo, Sina Manthey, Paul Rabe, Ottavia Comforter, Roberta Petit
Translation: Chao Liu, Maureen Luo Yuebing
Overture: Carmen Mehnert, Paul Rabe, Maureen Luo Yuebing
Production management: Katharina Wallisch
Production office: René Dombrowski
Production trainee: Magda Zielinska
Administration: Susanne Kern
Tour management: Ricardo Frayha
International Relations: Rui Silveira
Production management China: Xiao Yu
Production assistant: Chao Liu
A production of Constanza Macras DorkyPark and Goethe Institute China in co-production with Tanz im August, Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, CSS Teatro stabile di innovazione del FVG, Udine and the Guangdong Dance Festival.
Sponsored by the Capital Culture Fund, the Governing Mayor of Berlin – Senate Chancellery – Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Administration of the State of Berlin.
Courtesy Garden Hotel, Guangzhou.
Tanz im August 2015
Artistic director: Virve Sutinen
Production management: Sven Neumann
Artistic collaboration & project management: Andrea Niederbuchner
Tanz im August is a festival by HAU Hebbel am Ufer, funded by the the Capital Culture Fund and the Governing Mayor of Berlin – Senate Chancellery – Cultural Affairs.
Supported by Aventis Foundation.
Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz
The video documentation is produced by Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH on behalf of the Senate Department for Culture and Europe. The purpose of this contract is to document productions in the field of contemporary dance in Berlin. The master recordings are archived by the University Library of the Berlin University of Arts. Copies of the recordings on DVD are available for viewing exclusively in the reference collections of the following archives (at media desks in these institutions):
Constanza Macras | DorkyPark / Trailers and Video Documentations
- Constanza Macras | DorkyPark: Interview / Portrait Constanza Macras | DorkyPark (2017)
- Constanza Macras | DorkyPark: Bibliomaniacs (2020)
- Constanza Macras | DorkyPark: THE WEST (2020)
- Constanza Macras | DorkyPark: Der Palast (2019)
- Constanza Macras | DorkyPark: Chatsworth (2018)
- Constanza Macras | DorkyPark: HILLBROWFICATION (2018)
- Constanza Macras | DorkyPark: Die Wahrheit über Monte Verità (2017)
- Constanza Macras | DorkyPark: SOMETHING (2017)
- Constanza Macras | DorkyPark: I AM WITH YOU (2016)
- Constanza Macras | DorkyPark: The Past (2014)
- Constanza Macras | DorkyPark: Open for Everything (2012)
- Constanza Macras | DorkyPark: Here / After (2011)
- Constanza Macras | DorkyPark: Berlin Elsewhere (2011)
- Constanza Macras | DorkyPark: The Offside Rules (2011)
- Constanza Macras | DorkyPark: Megalopolis (2010)