Jochen Roller likes to dance audio-visual lectures and to scrutinise what we understand by dance. He has the outsider’s keen eye, having been in Singapore, Sydney and the South Pacific, but he is never the holy Samaritan of enlightenment, more the careful collector of glorious merits from both here and there. Addressing the Europeans, he likes to say sentences such as “dance is far too precious to throw it away only to please”. And he invites his colleagues from the Pacific Rim over to get to know German customs – a prank, as our dances have to first be discovered or invented. For his 2013 piece, Trachtenbummler, he invited the world to come and study our native dances with a folkloric group from Freiburg. In his latest work, Them and Us, he sent Haka dancers from Samoa, best known from rugby games, to the Alps (and to Tropical Island in Berlin) to show how our dance culture is more of a picture postcard world than a living tradition. His ethnographic eye is precise and caustic, as when the Bavarians dance a Samoan Fa’ataupati in lederhosen –and he shows us how much traditions are based on contradictions. Asians strictly avoid imitating other people, and yet they stubbornly pass on their dances in a copy-and-paste process. We on the other hand consider folkdances to be old fossils, but nevertheless make more money available for that dance than for its successors. Nobody would have noticed that without Jochen Roller.
The Source Code (2014)
1893: Ich bin die Oberfläche meines eigenen Erscheinens (2015)
Co-choreographer: Thomas Meinecke
Hotzenplotz – forsicht gollt! (2015)
Co-choreographer: Stella Konstantinou
(picture writing) (2015)
Them and Us (2015)
Co-choreographer: Yuki Kihara
Carla del Ponte trinkt in Pristina einen Vanilla Chai Latte (2016)
Jochen Roller is currently working on a quadrilogy titled finding Germany elsewhere. The first part, Trachtenbummler, a re-interpretation of German folk dances, premiered at the TANZ IM AUGUST festival in 2013. The second part, Them and Us, a fusion of Samoan and Bavarian folklore, premiered at the Sophiensæle in 2015. The third part, Blutsbrüder, a work about German-ethnic cross-dressing and a cooperation between the Goethe-Institut Montréal and the Kunstzentrum Aanischaaukamikw of the Cree Nation/Eeyou Istchee will be performed for the first time in 2017. The fourth part, Hiwwe wie driwwe, which will be about art and religion, will take place in cooperation with the Amish Community in Intercourse, Pennsylvania.