Magazine #7: A Lively Remembrance
An Evening with Raimund is reminiscent of Raimund Hoghe‘s choreographic work, of stories, people, emotions, and the power of music
by Katja Schneider
Two years ago, when DANCE 2021 had to cancel the presentation of Raimund Hoghe's piece Canzone per Ornella for the Italian prima ballerina Ornella Balestra due to Corona, we said we would have the performances on a later date. Instead of the performances, we decided to show excerpts of his works on two cinema evenings, flanked by live discussions. Then when Hoghe had to cancel his trip from Düsseldorf to Munich on short notice as he was ill, we said on the telephone: We'll do the discussions on a later date. Unfortunately, it never happened. Raimund Hoghe passed away on May 14, 2021. There will be, however, a reunion of sorts, another encounter with him. An Evening with Raimund is reminiscent of Hoghe's choreographic work, of stories, people, emotions, and the power of music – of that which he conveyed to his audience.
Already a month after Hoghe passed away and without rehearsals, an initial version was performed at Ménagerie de verre in Paris, which he, as an artist, called home, and over the years he had a close connection with the artistic director, Marie-Thérèse Allier. The performance was put together by the collaborators of many years Luca Giacomo Schulte and Emmanuel Eggermont with the dancers. It became an homage, danced with devotion. Its contents contained, as it turned out later, a promise for the future, for continuing, for continuing to live. "If no one sings, there's silence," wrote Rainer Werner Fassbinder for his character Roma B. in his piece Die Stadt, der Müll und der Tod. Hoghe liked this sentence. He quoted it in his journalistic texts and selected it as the title for his last publication; the sentence was also in his obituary notice. The silence that was dominant and experienced collectively as the results of the hygienic and distancing rules during the Covid-19 pandemic affected him greatly, for he liked very much to be with people. An Evening with Raimund also recalls this.
The evening in Paris went so well that the choreographer and dancer Emmanuel Eggermont and Hoghe's artistic collaborator of many years, Luca Giacomo Schulte, extended the homage into a piece that could go on tour. A second version of the homage was performed in October 2021 at the Festival d’Automne in Paris, and in March 2022 at Teatro Municipal in Porto. In May that same year the team finally had the opportunity to rehearse intensively in Düsseldorf, to once again re-work the piece, and to perform it at tanzhaus nrw as well as at Theater im Pumpenhaus in Münster. They also took this version to the Montpellier Danse festival, to the La Bâtie-Festival in Geneva, and to Festival Queer Zagreb.
An Evening with Raimund came about from the desire to create a lively remembrance, to commemorate together a great artist – six months before he passed away, Hoghe received the German award Deutscher Tanzpreis 2020. This impulse continued and unified the group connected to the choreographer through the considerations concerning what Hoghe had created and their own participation. In close collaboration and with an alternating cast, they created a world filled with beauty and poetry, which constantly confronted social and political conditions. How does one handle this artistic heritage? The material deposit of photographs, texts, books, newspaper clippings, critiques, letters, lectures, and the traces of his work that were spread out on shelves and in cabinets, in crates and boxes, on his desk and in rooms in the cellar, had its own arrangement. What will happen with it? The choreographic works continue to live in the dancers' bodies. How can one perform them when Hoghe remains an empty space in the usual standard of anomalous bodies? He who, with his specific figure and his actions, frequently filled the size of the space on his own, who put himself in an extremely tense relationship with his partners, and always produced the contrast – accompanied by an engaging music and by the attractive (viewed objectively) bodies around him. How does one continue on when someone like this is missing? And still has an impact. Inquiries with suggestions for projects arrive, and invitations for guest performances. In the long run, here it has to do with how one handles the choreographic heritage, with the confrontation with the role of actively being a witness, with the creative processes that develop anew from that which has remained.
Depending upon the availability of the international dancers, who, when Horghe was still living, also travelled to rehearse from Italy, France, Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, Korea, Japan, and Canada, the excerpts will vary and Emmanuel Eggermont will weave them into a new texture. Scenes overlap, they connect with one another in a previously unseen manner. The dancers Ornella Balestra, Marion Ballester, Astrid Bas, Ji Hye Chung, Finola Cronin, Adrien Dantou, Lorenzo De Brabandere, Emmanuel Eggermont, Kerstin Pohle, Luca Giacomo Schulte, Yutaka Takei, Takashi Ueno, and Guy Vandromme reveal the loss without exhibiting it.Hoghe's position and his actions will be adopted by all of them as if they were incidental – it actually works.
An Evening with Raimund does not see itself as a compilation of Hoghe's best works; nothing is reenacted here. As the dancers correspond their usual sections with new sections and constellations, in this manner new contexts are created, which are also accessible to audiences who have never seen a piece by Hoghe before.
An Evening with Raimund begins with the funeral march from his work Si je meurs, laissez le balcon ouvert (2010). The title comes from a line in a poem by Federico Garcia Lorca, and can be understood here as an invitation, as a request to not close the door, to let light and air in, to let life in. In Hoghe's production Young People, Old Voices (2002) Peggy Lee sings:
"Don't cry, there'll be another spring
I know our hearts will dance again
And sing again, so wait for me till then …"
Emmanuel Eggermont sees An Evening with Raimund as an initial gesture from Hoghe's closest collaborators in the direction of this "another spring, when our hearts will dance again …"
An exhibition with photographs by Rosa Frank, who accompanied Raimund Hoghe from the beginning of his career, and a discussion with her about the working methods of Raimund Hoghe, Luca Giacomo Schulte, and Emmanuel Eggermont will be part of the guest performance.