Avi Kaiser and Sergio Antonino dance everywhere. Just not necessarily in dance halls or on stages. They have their very own definition of a stage, their very own concept of presence, expression and closeness. They interact instead of performing. They communicate instead of presenting.
The first vital point, before their bodies start to move and to shape characters, is the question of space. Of the place. This is followed by reflection, by feeling their way. Ideas come to mind about lines in space which can be danced, the accompanying music is still a soundless whisper in their minds and helps them to trace the right movements. Avi and Sergio appear in a variety of formats. Their specialty is the ability to make every space, really every space, their own and to touch and transform it, as well as the people who intentionally or accidentally come into contact with the danced images – in department stores, pedestrian zones, parks or stairwells. Sustainably.
AT YOUR PLACE is a performance in private rooms, in residential buildings, galleries or offices, close to the audience. For one night the host becomes a theatre director, provides the rooms, selects the type and number of guests, and supplies the outer framework. The dancers come, move very close to the host and the spectators, and unite all who are present. A living room, for example, loses its privacy, is automatically transformed from a “private place” into a “public place”. The guests cannot withdraw to the anonymity and darkness of theatre seats – they have direct eye contact with the dancers, hear them breathing, see the beads of sweat and are themselves a part of the whole performance. For them, being so closely involved is a real effort. Total presence is also required from the audience, and when finally the tension of both the actors and the spectators subsides at the close of the dancing movements, something new has been created. This private room is no longer what it was before. The memory of the music, the dancers’ intense breathing and movements has now become a part of it. And so have the interpersonal relations. No applause, no bustling to the cloakroom and to the exit, but instead a pause, thankful looks, astonishment about and acceptance of this intensity, lively exchange of views and a joint conclusion of the event with well-earned cold drinks among “new friends”. “We had always wished to come into contact with people, but with conventional performances on stages this was not possible!” explains Avi Kaiser (born in 1954), with his home in Israel and his second residence in Duisburg. About 17 years ago, he and the Italian dancer Sergio Antonino (born in 1974) met for the first time in Milan at a major dancing academy, which marked the beginning of an intense cooperation and a great love, which endures to this day.
Ever since, they have been living and working together across borders, they travel a lot, conquer the free spaces they need for their inspiration, are at home sometimes here, sometimes there and communicate with their bodies and in many languages. “This is a constant in-between situation for us. We are always moving between places, between people and between actions. This gives all we do a certain amount of dynamism, which inspires many of our ideas with life and makes them something special.”
For NON PLACE performances, the dancers go to space offs, deserted areas such as motorway intersections or industrial areas where human beings are not necessarily
the measure of all things. These sessions can be compared to studies – studies of bodies and movement: “How does a dancing body move in this space off? What does it feel? What rhythm does it feel in the sound of traffic, in the rustle of the wind or the hammering of steel mills?”
This field of tension between the direct contact of protagonists with spectators on the one hand, and on the other hand a performance in empty (or even hostile) spaces is for both dancers the starting point for many of their creations. What is the significance of the term “beauty” for them? What is their personal definition of “Freespace”?
Avi and Sergio feel a close affinity to Duisburg and to the Ruhr metropolis. Most things here have not been built to fulfil an aesthetic purpose, but for a functional reason instead. And they find the interaction with industrial wastelands a unique opportunity. For them, the steel towers in the Duisburg-North Landscape Park are cathedrals. They and most of their built-up surroundings are based on a deep sincerity, from which the two dancers derive their inspiration. For what they do themselves is also sincere and without frills. Beauty is not the issue. They take a public free space and, by their interaction, appropriate it to themselves and to their spectators. They dance in private rooms and open up these rooms.