20-Year Anniversary of the cie. toula limnaios
»What memories will stand the test of time? Lost in reverie on the way home after a premiere, in the days after, in flashes of recollection, still woven into a cocoon of images, emotions, thoughts. Basically, it would be better to take one or two days off after a Toula Limnaios premiere – doing nothing, merely following the sensations, remembering. The white veil floating, flying and fluttering through the air in ›anderland‹ (2012). A fairy, an angel? A trace of the immaterial, of something hoped for or is it merely a piece of fabric after all, made to float by a dancer with a ventilator?
Remembering the peat landscape of ›minute papillon‹ (2015), the scene of exhausting restlessness and exorbitant acts of aimlessness, as if longing to pause and sense the moment, the self. Or the tons of fertile lush soil, the fields of life, which the dancers tirelessly ploughed through in an allegory of Sisyphus in ›every single day‹ (2011). Images of spaces and scenes that memories attach themselves to in order to draw closer to the Other, to a dance that has found a way to itself.
An anniversary. 20 years of the cie. toula limnaios. What are we celebrating? Surely, the happy fact that Toula Limnaios and Ralf R. Ollertz and their staff and the dancers in the various casts managed – under what were occasionally very adverse circumstances – to defy the economical woes of Berlin and – surprisingly enough – invented, established, in form of the HALLE, a venue of their own, filled it with life and are now able to restart it, lead it into a new era. Stats. Facts. Congrats. Celebration and thanks. Thanks for the perseverance, the steadfast searching, the infinite inquisitiveness. Thank you for this dance.
Let us assume that is it possible, wise, i.e. appropriate and comprehensible to speak and write about dance. Then the first thing that should be said is that writing about the dance universe of Toula Limnaios is challenging; that it is as frightening as it is exhilarating. For just the right word is ever eluding the writer, the dance escapes de-scription. There is so much to see, to feel, to understand, to remember.
The world in its entirety and our respective small earthly existence with all its whims, mysteries, delusions, hopes and fears, all our heritage, contradictions, fluctuating abilities to understand and recognize life, our ability or more often inability to love, trust, understand, all those egos and the many Others within and outside us, all that is there in her choreographies, all that flares up in moments of recognition that occur while watching her work, all that is understood and sensed. And it leaves its mark either immediately or in the reverberations of memory that follow. But can all this be captured in words? All the scenes that contain the one and the many. The meandering solos and duets in ›short stories‹ (2005), in which the mysteries of our existence reveal themselves momentarily. The realms of the soul, flickering into view, as fragile and ephemeral as if caught in a state of exception-transition, into an opening-up of the self for everything as in ›the silencers‹ (2008). Celebrating the existence of light and dark, truthfully revealing with increasingly playful ease and sensuality the complex landscape of relationships that we have with ourselves and others in the round dances of ›if I was real‹ (2013).
The movement language is metaphorical, allegorical, associative – seemingly fragile with translucent fissures, while nevertheless impervious. Idyllic intimacy aware of its impermanence. Tumultuous passion quasi impossible to control while fully aware of standstill, stalemate and blockade. Irreal dreamscape, phantasmagorical parable, enigmatic poetry permeated by skeptical existentialism. Penetrating our existences, piercing their very essences. And a utopia, in which dance seriously claims that freedom, openness and receptivity, fluid individuality, receiving and giving can be possible without the restrictions and separations of ancestry, experience or even hierarchy. In this sense, Toula Limnaios’s dance opens up and reveals spaces of potential that one no longer dared to dream of. Tragic, funny, joyous walks along the abyss – full of relish and brimful with life – taking a acceptant stance with a melancholy and mischievous smile against the risks and the banality and hardship of the world – in this form of danced theatrum mundi Toula Imnaios knows no equal.
A flash of memory. Of the dancer in ›spuren‹ (2004), running forwards, ever forwards with an elastic rope around his body as if trying to plunge into the future. The rope keeps dragging him back. He is unable to release himself from the past. But why should he anyway?
Anniversary. 20 years of cie. toula limnaios. What joy, what great fortune.«
Frank Schmid (independant dance journalist)
At the Cutting-Edge of Dance
»She may be small, but is no less tough. The charismatic and passionate Greek choreographer Toula Limnaios approaches her art with modesty, only to immediately jumble it all up again with equal conviction. Together with composer Ralf R. Ollertz, the dancing director has explored human emotions ranging from grief to joy, fear to pleasure for 20 years now.
It is meant quite literally, when Toula Limnaios directly applies herself to the bodies of her company in the Halle Tanzbühne. As if she were trying to knead her dance into them – a dance, whose point of origin is its connection to the floor. Her dancers’ strength lies in their feet and legs, which allows the upper body to achieve a free, wild expressiveness. This physical energy produces a very specific sensitivity that makes movement take on the appearance of a constant and flowing progression, even at a standstill: physical contortion, hypersensitivity – the gestures are there to make the inner realms visible from outside. It is like a pulse of life, which sets each of the protagonists in motion under controlled tension. These bodies, setting out to take the world’s temptations head on, seem at first to converge, only to shortly after drift apart again and forge new links elsewhere…
Toula Limnaios emphasizes struggle and posture, without ever leaving out a single detail. Her pieces often prove to be truly enthralling scenarios: in life is perfect, bodies intertwine and expose themselves, then reconnect again to form a human swarm; in minute papillon the dancers conquer the space, letting the constant flow of movement propel them forwards, pull them way and consume them. In la salle, the choreographer is again in search of the “feeling that individuals everywhere are always involved in something and exert influence in or are influenced by others, which in turn produces a continuous flow of movement that permeates everything and everyone.” A stylistic approach with consequences: often the boundaries between dancers and audience melt away and fill the surrounding atmosphere in the room with many voices and languages.
However, there is a decisive reoccuring element in Toula Limnaios’ creations: the discord and dissonance of our world. She lets her dance oscillate, as in anderland, between the beautiful, the foreign and the gruesome: every emotion contributes its part. “There is not love of life without despair about life”, writes Albert Camus. Accordingly, the choreographer also seeks to live what she propagates. Thus, she reveals the sensitivity and depth of human emotions in wut, every single day and in the thing I am. In an equally athletic and agile way, the dancers continue to break free, lift and throw one another, before they find back together again in the horizontal.
Toula Limnaios connects and disperses these horizontal lines over and over again, de- and reconstructing the bodies and joyfully filling them with energy. A choreographer with magical capabilities, who transforms dance into a dynamic art, into vital improvisation, into overstimulated visual worlds. What reveals itself on stage to our eyes and senses is mysterious, different and fantastic.«
Léa Chalmont-Faedo (editor/journalist)