Tanz 23/24 is a dance and music performance inspired by the avant-garde queer dancer Henri Chatin Hofmann and an antifascist radio pioneer, and composer Ernst Schoen. It premiered in Warsaw on the 3rd of October 2020 at the Fryderyk Chopin Music University.
The performance was a part of a series of events (an Re(De)generate Art exhibition, a live performance on Tamka street, and a pre-performance lecture) dedicated to Bauhaus, organised and hosted by the experimental art space Curie City.
This premiere wouldn’t be possible without help and dedication of Joanna Klass and all the rest of the Curie City team.
This is how the originators of Tanz 23/24 prof. Leslie and dr. Dolbear describe the beginnings of the project:
“Our relationship with ‘Tanz 23/24’ began with our research on Ernst Schoen (1894-1960), a writer, composer and experimental radio practitioner. In Schoen’s archive, housed in Koblenz, a flyer jumped out at us: a figure, face made-up, in a constructivist jumpsuit, fixed in a dramatic posture, with wooden boards attached to both arms. Schoen’s name was emblazoned on the flyer – his music was to be play at this Tanzabend – and so was the name of the dancer, ‘Henri’ whom we traced to Henri Châtin-Hofmann, second husband of the infamous cabaret performer Anita Berber. It struck us that Schoen, who floated in illustrious circles around Walter Benjamin and Edgard Varèse also moved within the decadent avant-garde cabaret scenes in Berlin. We felt compelled to reconstruct this night of performance, so that the spirits of the evening might commune once again. Whilst working to produce ‘Tanz 23/24’, we have written extensively on Schoen, which we have presented at numerous institutions including Craxton Studios and the Bishopsgate Institute, and we are now preparing a book for publication on his life and work.”
A contextualising lecture by prof. Esther Leslie and dr. Sam Dolbear also took place in Curie City before the premiere of Tanz 23/24 in Fryderyk Chopin’s University of Music in Warsaw.
Here you can listen to its pre-recorded version, which was also made available for everyone online:
Along with Lucie Palazot we reimagined the dance performance from 1924, in the manner of Henri Chatin-Hofmann (second husband of notorious cabaret performer Anita Berber) in historical costumes specially reconstructed by Alicia Gladstone. The music, a series of short pieces, including one by Schoen, was selected from the original programme and played by pianist Sam Draper (great-grandson of Schoen’s best friend Walter Benjamin)
Lucie and I have been fascinated by Ernst Shoen’s figure as an antifascist radio pioneer and composer. We are also really intrigued by his relationship with the queer dancer Henri Châtin-Hofmann who was connected to the avant-garde cabaret dance scene in Berlin. ‘Tanz23/24’ is specially important for us in the context of the recent rise of fascism in the world. We feel responsible to remind the public that we are currently witnessing a
sad déjà vu from 1930ties. In this project, as choreographers and performers, our
goal is not to copy what Henri did 90 years ago – which is impossible as we don’t have any recordings – but to refine the energy, the dynamic and the tone of his work
by picking details and attitudes. Guided by Sam, Esther, Samuel, and Alicia, we have historical elements of the context, reviews of the shows and specific costumes which give us strong directions in the work. In terms of movements, what interests us is to intertwine different styles of dance, to get inspired from the expressionist and postmodern dance and to look at how some gestures and treatment of the body 90 years ago resonates more than ever today in contemporary body languages.
Our music director and pianist Samuel Draper about Tanz 23/24:
“In the first instance, the work of Ernst Schoen had a personal significance for me, as he was a friend since childhood of my great-grandfather Walter Benjamin, and later also of my great-grandmother Dora Kellner. Through his work as artistic director at Radio Frankfurt, he collaborated with Benjamin on pioneering radio plays. As I learnt more about Schoen’s own fight against fascism, emigration to London, and involvement in concerts at the New Burlington Galleries to support German composers whose work had been labelled ‘degenerate’ by the regime in their homeland, I recognized a plight familiar to my own family history, as well as to so many artists who enriched and shaped the cultural scenes of their adopted homelands in the 1930s, and was interested to discover more about Schoen’s artistic development. The flyer from the Schoen archive includes a long list of composers whose music was danced, some names familiar to us now, some less so. The musical styles represented, including, amongst others, impressionist, expressionist, and novelty, make for an eclectic range, but mostly more or less avoiding the more extreme reaches of atonality represented by the Second Viennese School, and the flyer raises interesting questions about what constituted the avant-garde from the musical perspective of 1920s Berlin.”
The programme of Tanz 23/24:
A review of Tanz 23/24 was written by Phoebe Blatton for Art Monthly
Tanz 23/24 was supported by:
The Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation, Goethe Institute, The Lipman-Milliband Trust and The Bishopsgate Insitute.
For more information about Ernst Schoen go to:
Unfortunatly the great soprano singer Aleksandra Klimczak couldn’t take part in the performance due to a sickness.