Servus Franzl!

Programme notes to 'Franz tanzt in Wien' by Milli Bitterli and Tanztheater Wien

Programme note 10 Oct 2002English

item doc

Contextual note
This programme text was published on the occasion of the première of 'Franz tanzt in Wien' in Tanzquartier Wien on Oct. 10, 2002.

After realizing the duos untereinander (2001) and und er ein anderer aus untereinander (2002), and the solo project In bester Gesellschaft (2002), Milli Bitterli continues her choreographic activity this season with the creation of Franz tanzt in Wien. Invited by Tanztheater Wien, she takes the opportunity to create her first group choreography with this long-existing company. Within this set-up, to focus on the ‘group’ as theme in the choreographic research, occurred almost as an evidence. One dancer from Bitterli’s company Artificial Horizon was brought in as an ‘outsider’ to question the existing group, as to merge theme and creation process.

The group as a mini-society, with its architecture, rules and doings. Different kinds of groups (sports, queus in an airport…) and their environment. The influence of a group on individuals, their bodies, perception and behaviour. The influence of individuals on a group, the extent of their identification.

Architecture is a main metaphor in men’s approach to the world, for its vertical character is derived from the erect human body. As such, architecture is the basis for notions as visuality and spectacle, and evidently also a metaphor to describe the organisation of a group or trace the ways a society is structured. Architecture links the principles of verticality and hierarchy, it makes us mirror body and society in daily life – ages of art and visual culture betray this process.

The choreographic approach of Milli Bitterli intersects with these cultural phenomena. A strong interest in architecture and its deconstruction through strategies and figures of horizontality (such as distortion, melting, juxtaposition,…) gives a different visibility to body and movement. It reveals the hidden violence of both architecture and its deconstruction, of the dominant perceptions and hierarchy we impose as human beings onto body and society.

A second metaphor to approach the group is the ‘game’: a set of rules that generates a particular dynamic. As autonomously functioning structures, games have a tendency to be enclosed, nearly hermetic. Even stronger, a group playing games seems to function well but doesn’t question at all its environment, isolates itself from society. But aren’t we obsessed with fun and entertainment to keep up ourselves, a merely private obsession?

While architecture goes along with the prerequisites of theatre, games (such as Stille Post, Fangerln, Verstecken, Versteinen, Hochwasser!) lead into a paradox as soon as on stage: a group playing games doesn’t bother about its visibility, excludes at a sudden point even the audience, turns upside down the logic of spectacle.

In for another dance? In for another game? Join the group – wilkommen in Wien, servus Franz!


“There is [teleshopping]. But people like to browse among the basil. Shopping is the last folkloristic ritual that can help to build a community, along with traffic jams and airport queues. (…)
Intimacy and neighbourliness were not features of everyday life at [business park] Eden-Olympia. An invisible infrastructure took the place of traditional civic virtues. At Eden-Olympia there were no parking problems, no fears of burglars or purse-snatchers, no rapes or muggings. The top-drawer professionals no longer needed to devote a moment’s thought to each other, and had dispensed with the checks and balances of community life. There were no town councils or magistrates’ courts, no citizen’s advice bureaux. Civility and polity were designed into Eden-Olympia, in the same way that mathematics, aesthetics and an entire geopolitical world-view were designed into the Parthenon and the Boeing 747. Representative democracy had been replaced by the surveillance camera and the private police force.”
(J.G. Ballard, Super-Cannes, 2000)

“Kapitän: Nase runter. Drücken sie die Nase nach unten.
Copilot: Ja, Sir.
Kapitän: Drücken sie die Nase nach unten.
Copilot: Ja, Sir.
Kapitän: Drücken sie die Nase nach unten.
Copilot: Ja, Sir.
Kapitän: Hören sie mit diesem Gerede auf. Nehmen Sie beide Hände, nehmen sie beide Hände.
Copilot: Ja, Sir.
Flugingenieur: [Fahren] wir das Fahrwerk aus?
Copilot: Fahrwerk raus?
Kapitän: Die Geschwindigkeit nimmt nicht ab.
Copilot: Die Geschwindigkeit nimmt nicht ab.
Kapitän: Drücken sie die Nase nach unten.
Copilot: Ja, Sir.
Kapitän: Drücken sie die Nase nach unten. Vielleicht ist es hoffnunglos. Ist das ein Berg? Ziehen sie die Nase hoch.
Copilot: Ja, Sir. (…)”
(Excerpt from the blackbox recording made before the crash of a Boeing 747 (Japan Airlines flight 123 on 12 August 1985), transcription by Malcolm MacPherson (ed.), Blackbox)

“Noise is also a significant source of annoyance. In a 1997 study, Arline Bronzaft, Ph.D. et al., found that nearly seventy percent of the residents surveyed living within the flight corridors reported that they were bothered by aircraft noise and that these noises interfered with daily activities. Further, the subjects who were bothered by aircraft noise were more likely to complain of sleep difficulties and more likely to perceive themselves to be in poorer health.”
(Noise & Health Factsheet)

“ ‘What is a Caucus-race?’ said Alice (…). ‘Why,’ said the Dodo, ‘the best way to explain it is to do it.’ (…) First it marked out a race-course,in a sort of circle, (‘the exact shape doesn’t matter,’ it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no ‘One, two, three, and away!’, but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running for half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out ‘The race is over!’, and they all crowded round it, panting, and saying ‘But who has won?’ ”
(Lewis Caroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865)

“Eins, zwei, drei. Hinter mir, vor mir, rechts, links, gilt’s nicht… Ich komme!”