Helena Waldmann does not dance, but she works with dancers. Helena Waldmann never learned choreography, but she choreographs. She studied Applied Theatre Studies in Giessen and that laid a subversive fuse in her head. Amongst the people she worked with at university was Heiner Mueller, that verbaliser of existential hopelessness under constantly false political relationships, and with George Tabori, that magician of method acting. From the very beginning she created her own kingdom of the in-between, an embodiment of talking images on stage. She makes a find in Brazil, in Iran or in Bangladesh. She gathered material from afar, poked her finger into political and social wounds and, constantly provoking contradiction, abruptly changed (ideological) tactics. Yet that does not convey what she thinks and does as an artist, not least because there is no artist out there who could have been her role model or whom she could imitate. Helena Waldmann creates based on her own experiences and then clothes them metaphorically in an immaculate image-aesthetic. Women who find their housing behind the veil? That works, proven by Letters from Tentland (2005). The bliss of forgetting due to Alzheimer’s? revolver besorgen (2010) deflects from her father’s desire to die. The sweatshop as a place for female emancipation? Kathak stamping feet to the rhythm of the clattering sewing machines hammer home the paradoxical in Waldmann’s latest coup Made in Bangladesh (2014). Hammering the point home until one believes it.
Helena Waldmann has been an independent dance director since 1989. She studied Applied Theatre Studies in Giessen from 1982 to 1986 and developed her first works (Die Krankheit Tod, vodka konkav), which played with perception, during a period of seven years at the Mousonturm in Frankfurt on the Main. She has been living in Berlin since 2000. Her political choreographies are created and tour worldwide. Pieces that deal with censorship (Letters from Tentland – Iran), repression (BurkaBondage – Kabul/Tokyo), the socially proscribed role of forgetting (revolver besorgen) and precarious working conditions (Made in Bangladesh – a piece about exploitation in the textile and cultural industry) are dominant in her work, for which she was nominated for the German Theatre Prize DER FAUST in 2015.