Berlin ballet woos new crowd with a dark show in a techno club

Tue May 7, 2013 2:39pm EDT
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By Sarah Marsh

BERLIN (Reuters) - Berlin's state ballet has teamed up with a leading techno night club to produce a dark, avant-garde show with bondage masks and a bus wreck set in a former power plant that showcases the city's vibrant alternative cultural scene.

"Masse" (mass) features three performances by choreographers scored by DJs who regularly play at the Berghain in a wasteland in the city's ex-communist east which grew out of a gay, fetish joint and is known for its booming sound and hedonistic parties.

The show, staged in the hitherto derelict main hall of the power plant behind the club, epitomizes the city's experimental spirit which many fear is under threat from gentrification and rising rents and costs.

"The menacing atmosphere of the Berghain was an inspiration," said choreographer Tim Plegge, whose piece features ballerinas wearing bondage masks and one dancer smothering the rest with smoke.

Electronic music resonates around the 17-metre (55 ft) high brick and cement walls of a hall that has been transformed into a techno temple and opened to the public for the first time.

The barren set, featuring a bus wreck and twisted steel, is also the debut stage design of German artist Norbert Bisky.

"I wanted to create a contrast with the beauty of the dancers' movements," said Bisky, whose works feature in a variety of collections including at New York's Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). "Firstly, the world is not just perfection and beauty, secondly the hall is a very raw, forbidding place."

Bisky said he wanted to draw on the "catastrophic mood of recent years" and growing skepticism about unbridled urban growth.   Continued...

Dancers of the Staatsballett Berlin ensemble perform during a dress rehearsal of "BOSON" as part of the world premier of "MASSE" ('Mass') at Berghain techno nightclub, in Berlin May 2, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch