– Dance Review –
PHOTO: MADCO performed “Wallstories,” a dance concert to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center. Photo by Rob Sifford for The Current 2014 ©

By Jill Hardy, Staff Writer for The Current

MADCO’s “Wallstories” was a moving theatrical dance performance from November 14 to 16 at the Blanche M. Touhill Lee Theater that commemorated the 25 year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Through music, dance and imagery, a symbolic representation of the history of East and West Germany came alive. At the beginning go performance on November 14 at 8 p.m., the audience was introduced to the dancers on stage with the voice of President Kennedy in “Intro: Ermute’s Memory and Kennedy” His voice and the presence of the dancers brought a certain nostalgia to a piece that was already brewing with historical significance.

Before the show, patrons were exposed to a little bit of the history with historical boards that contained pictures of many people that were instrumental in the movement of communism, socialism or anti-semitism during that time period. Each board presented a biography of the individual whose photograph was on the board.

Each dance segment in this presentation was a reenactment of the history of the Berlin Wall, the emotions that evolved around the history and the culture during that time period (before and after the fall).

In “Honcker and Brezhnev’s Secret,” the audience was exposed to two men, lip-locked in a passionate embrace with one holding a bubble machine. While they kissed and embraced, bubbles circulated around the stage while the dancers obliviously perform around them. The music for “Honecker and Brezhnev’s” was a song called “Berlin Wall” by Larson and Sherman, one of only two songs that wasn’t by Pink Floyd that was used for the piece.

Throughout the presentation, dancers could be seen wearing trench coats, lined up like soldiers and falling to the floor as though they have been shot. When the trench coats came off, the men were dressed in gray vested suits with white long-sleeved shirts and the woman were wearing light short dresses of a different era – all in different colors.

Different aspects of Berlin’s history and culture were conveyed by dancers running up a wall, gray skies on the big screen representative of East Germany and women dancers coming to the aid of their fallen men which was gracefully exemplified in the piece called “The Government, Mother Russia, my Mother, your Mother.” The dancers were also crawling up the shoulders of other dancers as though they were crawling up the wall of Berlin but kept falling down.

During one segment, a solo dance mimicked the movement of the choreographer in the audience as though she were dancing with her own reflection. Perhaps that symbolized all that she knew before the wall came down due to the division of culture and politics.

The show closed with a piece called “For the People of Berlin.” The music was “Cello Suite No. 6” by Johan Sebastian Bach. This dance was joyous and exuberant. The dancers were all smiling and there was a spirit of freedom in the dance as the Wall was coming down.

This performance was presented by MADCO Dance Company and sponsored by PNC Arts Alive. The choreography was by esteemed choreographer, Nejla Y. Yatkin, a native of Germany. In the program notes, the choreographer described her inspiration, which came while she was filming a dance piece in Potsdamer Platz in Berlin., “It was 9 o’clock in the morning and the city was just waking up. While I was dancing in the empty place, suddenly I went through time-shift: traveling back to 1990. I remembered ‘The Wall’ concert live on Potsdamer Platz with a variety of artists and Roger Waters from Pink Floyd. I went back further to 1989, when the place was still called “No-Man’s Land” and when the city was still divided into East and West. Suddenly, it struck me that at that time my dance would not have been possible; me standing here and dancing freely was not an option back then. The wall, the barbed wire and the black market would have been in my way.”

At the end of the performance, MADCO executive and artistic director Stacey West, choreographer Yatkin and others gathered on the stage to explain certain aspects of the performance regarding its depiction of certain historical aspects of east and west Germany. During that session, West stated that the objective of MADCO Dance Company is to take a topic and move people in a way that other ways can’t. MADCO has done a 9-11 piece, a Bosnian piece, and a Jackie Joyner Kersee piece.

Yatkin, who grew up in West Berlin, recalled the vast differences of each side of the wall. West Berlin was colorful and decorated with graffiti on the Wall with vibrant colors all over, while everything in East Berlin was gray. Audience members also shared memories of Berlin before the Wall came down.

© The Current 2014