THE GRIN AT THE FOOT OF THE LADDER
In CheshireCat® Helena Waldmann has remained true to her theme. And yet, this time she takes certain risks. The optical apparatus that in vodka konkav or glücksjohnny, hermetically sealed off the stage and mercilessly bound up the viewer's gaze has been broken up, and Waldmann has created a space for the actual presence of three dancers, who measure out the space with sharp, precise movements. In its course, Waldmann unfolds a stage hunour that one had always intuited but was seldom allowed to experience in her earlier pieces. With CheshireCat®, Helena Waldmann ventures the decisive step out of the prison of images.
Gerald Siegmund, Ballett International/Tanz Aktuell 7/99
MIT DEM EIGENEN SCHATTEN GEKäMPFT
Eine faszinierende Flut von Formen und Farben, ein regelrechter Bildersturm um-fängt den Betrachter. Bilder entstehen, spiegeln sich und verschwinden wieder. Die Künstlerin setzt auch dieses Mal auf ihr bewährtes Team - und gewann. Auf seltsame Gestalten trifft Alice im Wunder-land - und immer begleitet sie die weiße Katze, oft nur sehr schemenhaft als Grin-sen mit gebleckten Zähnen auf der Video-wand. Der phantasievolle Pas de deux der Zwillinge (Tweedledee und Tweedeldum) ist zweifelsfrei das tänzerische Herzstück der Performance. Mit einem dynamisch-wuchtigen Pas de trois der Zwillinge mit der Tänzerin, den ironisch-witzigem "Lobster-Tanz", klingt die freche, frische und fröhliche Performance aus.
Bettina Kneller, Main Echo 20.5.99
THE WILL TO ART
The festival organisers couldnÕt resist the temptation, despite petty wrangling from their performers, to invite a production that ranks in the premier league of free theatre. Over the years, Frankfurt-based producer Helena Waldmann has pursued a theatre of optical illusion in precisely choreographed and technically complex video/dance productions. Between mirrors, video screens and dancersÕ bodies, she plays with the audienceÕs visual perceptions until at last the real dancerÕs body is lost in the interplay of shadows and reflections. The aura of philosophical theatre is the wrapping for what, again in the case of CheshireCat, is first and foremost a delightful interplay of colour, light and dance.
Michael Freundt, Berliner Zeitung 20.5.99
THE GRINNING CAT
WaldmannÕs origins lie in conventional acting, but for her, language could never replace the richness of performance art. Nevertheless, the structure of the text was always her starting point: Duras, Jerofejew, Brecht. This time, itÕs CarrollÕs ÒAlice in WonderlandÒ, of which certain themes -- the absent-minded dormouse, the mock turtle quadrille, the tea party with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare -- can be heard in voice-over in the original English. Yet in contrast to previous productions like ÒfaceÉÒ, ÒglücksjohnnyÒ and Òvodka konkavÒ, in which she led her audience off into that anonymous no-manÕs land somewhere between theatre, dance, video and architecture, in her latest production ÒCheshireCatÒ the Frankfurt-based producer has opted for pure dance. Not dance thatÕs hidden behind clever, optically deceptive stage designs, but dance in front of a backdrop thatÕs painted in a light-accumulating paint, in front of smoothly gliding video projections, in front of and behind semi-transparent mirrors.
Ulrich Deuter, Tagesspiegel 17.5.99
NO FEAR IN WONDERLAND
DJ Tricky CrisÕ musical compositions, Anna SaupÕs video sequences and Herbert CybulskaÕs blue, red and white lighting and colour effects, as well as the texts from CarrollÕs tale combine with the dancersÕ play to form a multimedia work that traces the bewilderment of the girl and the dreamlike logic of the events. Tea isnÕt simply drunk -- lizards flit across the screen, changing colours continuously drown the stage in a new light and Helena Waldmann depicts Alice in an intoxicating, gripping dream.
Katharina Deschka Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 11.5.99
SHADOW PLAY IN MIRRORS
Two strips of pale greenish white light race over the sloping stage backdrop, a bass guitar hums, soon joined by the sounds of percussion and synthesiser. Before the backdrop, a little woman in a red shirt and black trousers is dancing, her face turned away from the audience. At the place on the backdrop where the dancer stays a while, her shadow remains, as if burned into it. CheshireCat is the title of Helena WaldmannÕs new production. Once again, she has chosen the Mousonturm as the venue for her production and once again, itÕs all about sensory perception and deception, about the identity of the seer as well as of the seen -- that is, about our view of theatre. Cheshire Cat is the name of the creature that Lewis CarrollÕs fictional character Alice sees in a tree when she visits Wonderland, a cat that tends only to partially reveal itself -- through its sardonic grin. Helena Waldmann has woven fragments of CarrollÕs text, sounds by musician DJ Tricky Cris, the movements of dancer Chris Ho Chau Wah and her two fellow dancers, twins Michele and Guiseppe de Fillippis and a special stage design into a play on perception. The white backdrop acts as a projection screen for colours, signs and writing and a semi-transparent mirror placed at right angles to it enables her to create shadow outlines and mirror images of the characters. In Lewis CarrollÕs second book, Alice found herself behind the mirror. Here, the twins are positioned before and behind the mirror, so that they become a single person who apparently moves in different ways at the same time. We can scarcely believe our eyes!
Daland Segler, Frankfurter Rundschau 10.5.99