Ein Teil der Verkleidung eines B-25-Bomber-Motors wird in der Motorenabteilung des Werks von North American [Aviation, Inc.] in Inglewood, Kalifornien, zusammengebaut - © Alfred T. Palmer

Ein Teil der Verkleidung eines B-25-Bomber-Motors wird in der Motorenabteilung des Werks von North American [Aviation, Inc.] in Inglewood, Kalifornien, zusammengebaut - © Alfred T. Palmer

Moritz Ostruschnjak - © Franziska Strauss

Moritz Ostruschnjak - © Franziska Strauss

Magazine #4: With the Tunnel Drilling Machine into the Rabbit Burrow…

At DANCE the Munich choreographer Moritz Ostruschnjak will perform the world premiere of his work Rabbit Hole. In this interview he talks about how the political climate increasingly influences his work. And why news reports for him are almost more important than dance videos.

Interview: Rita Argauer

Your latest work, Terminal Beach, has the effect of a dystopic divertissement, and before that you produced the piece Yester:Now, a work that aims in an extremely placative way at the dangerous power of slogans. In both works you found an artistic expression for a socio-political situation that later would materialize into reality. In view of the current global situation, do you feel as if reality has overtaken you?
Yes, I already talked to my dramaturge about this a lot, too, especially with Terminal Beach. But one senses, of course, what is in the air a little, too. At least that was the case with us. And that is the reason why both of these works also went in that direction.

Which role does that play in your current work, this feeling you had back then of what was in the air, which you almost prophesized?
Naturally, that continues to have an effect. Although the political expression of the last two works was more or less a coincidence. My first works were much more abstract. But I always have such a superstructure that in my pieces it not only has to do with myself or my choreographic work, but rather with the social situation. Current events always have had a large influence on my work. I also deal a lot with politics. In other words, in general. And that, I think, also flows back into the work.

Where does the influence of dance come from?
I almost deal more and spend more time with politics, with philosophy, with other things, rather than constantly watching dance videos. I'm interested in dance as a means of expression for something else. For the contents, so to speak. It has less to do with dance itself. And when it does, then it also has to do once again with the political aspects of dance, such as in militarism or entertainment. Which movements can be used for what?

Which contents did you examine for your new creation for DANCE? In what direction will it go?
I have thought a lot about that. Fundamentally as well. Let me say now, you do one work every year, or every two years. And every time l should deal with something new. And I discovered that this doesn't work for me. It would be an exaggeration to say I always attempt to do the same work. But it is a little like that. The fundamental theme remains, the fundamental feeling remains. And I think that is also okay. Why can't you deal with a theme for a longer period of time? And then simply show different viewpoints on the theme. With me, that always has a lot to do with digitalization and the current events happening around us.

Can you put in concrete terms this fundamental thematic bombast in your current work?
Here I have to be completely honest with myself: I don't have a theme at the beginning and then I know very precisely how the work will look. It is more like a feeling, something vague, a premonition. In the beginning I thought often about spatiality. That also had then a lot to do with Corona. Which spaces are possible, and how are they possible? On the other hand, there was the fundamental idea that interested me in the work – actually, the fantastic imagery. I have the feeling that, more and more, we are entering a fantasy realm. Once again, that has to do with digitalization, and also with artificial intelligence. But also in political terms: for example, the Reichsbürger group, the "Reich Citizens," who in their fantasy have put together a type of German empire again. Or Putin with his old czar empire. That was such a feeling I had. That increasingly a humorous fantasy world resonates. That also has something that is very alarming.

Do you have an artistic equivalent for that?
Then I was interested in Russian science fiction authors, such as the Strugatzki brothers. I think that is very good, especially considering the background of what is currently happening. We rehearsed with the dancers for four weeks and tried different approaches. And then I came across a classic work, which made the approach to the work clear to me. And that is Alice in Wonderland and the concept of the "rabbit hole." And that will, the way it looks now, be the title of the piece, too.

And what inside the Rabbit Hole?
Under this caption many things came together for me. This is like a link, a connection to another world. Like the hyperlink on the internet. A portal. A fairytale. It's also very visual, this rabbit burrow with the many tunnels and corridors. I will collaborate with a video artist again as well. At the moment, we are processing a lot about tunnels, also in the sense of resources and giant tunnel drilling machines. But also pipelines, burning pipelines. For the stage we will then have a rectangular projection screen and a black dance floor.

Is it different to work for a festival than when you create your works for the independent scene?
Actually, creatively it is similar. After all, I can do what I want, there are no restrictions. Only the well-known spatial restrictions, the problems with spaces in Munich. And that you actually have too little time to work in the spaces in the independent scene. As soon as you want to take steps outside of schwere reiter it becomes difficult. There are few spaces in Munich that offer more rehearsal time.

When we talked for the first time almost ten years ago, you said you moved to Munich because you had the feeling there is still enough room in the independent scene for an additional choreographer to work here. How do you perceive the Munich scene today?
I think there actually are many interesting things happening in the scene, right now there are good dynamics. There are different choreographers at many different places who are also working very differently. That is very positive. Seen from the cultural and political perspective, I see the city with a rather critical eye.

There are always only tiny steps forward from the political side. It is simply not courageous enough. I miss a visionary sense in the city a little. One has the feeling no one dares to do something.

When you say that, are you referring to the plans for a dance center in Munich?
Yes. That would also be a statement for such a city as Munich. To put it in cultural and political terms: We now are moving on ahead and designing the dance center of the 22nd century. That one simply realizes such a vision. But with the halls at Kreativquartier, those are plans from an eternity ago. And the result in Munich is also always a convenience store, which is supposed to make everyone happy, but in the end makes no one happy. I think that is discouraging in such a city. Take a look at Zurich, a city that is similarly affluent. There, entirely different things are possible.

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