BATS was developed together with the Sebastian Weber Dance Company in the Corona years 2020 and 2021. The cineastically oriented crossover of modern dance and tap dance has been strongly influenced by the pandemic Corona situation of these two years. In the final version its subject matter is also directly connected to the Corona pandemic. It addresses, comments and questions how we want to treat each other and the remaining nature on this planet.
The spread and reproduction of humankind has led to a situation in which almost no place on this earth is left untouched. While we are living in our human, digital bubble, while we are permanently connected to each other and are also able to move resources around relatively freely on this planet, we are at the same time pushing our way forward into nature, subduing even the last spot on earth to our purpose. The transport of matter and creatures as goods fuels our system. It’s global and absolutely essential for our current economy. At the same time it poses one of the most fundamental problems of our time.
For Sebastian Weber, the bat is one of the many points of contact between mankind and nature in this respect. We may well consider the existence of a zoonosis like Corona as one consequence of the way we are dealing with nature. By our actions, we are permanently and globally crossing boundaries that, in turn, may and will affect us. In my eyes, the human universe we created ourselves is unthinkable without an exterior counterpart that reconciles and re-establishes our consumption and exploitation. If this nature counterpart is only understood as a manageable raw-material supplier or garbage dump, we will in the short or long run be facing decline. We may understand our role as part of a very complex system and are in no way standing above the rest of nature.
On the side of projection, I’ve been working with the image of atmospheric particles a lot. It was the picture that to me most conclusively represents our dilemma. The air that connects us all is carrier of sound and tone, but also smell and touch without direct contact. It is the path by which we may infect each other with diseases or good ideas. This is why the image appears often in this production, both positively and negatively.
On a personal level, the dance piece touches experiences that occur during a pandemic: isolation, infection, disease and the attempt to find a balance with everything around us. The piece has an open end and does not present a solution, no simple answer, concerning the ongoing pandemic or the question how we should treat our earth and each other from now onward. That surely remains something to be dealt with and developed every day by every single one and all of us together.
During the development period of the work, the Corona threat was an invisible, omnipresent force that strongly influenced the fate of all people. Accordingly, the projections on the right side of the stage are almost enveloping the dancers. By projecting onto a semi-transparent tulle in front of the dancers and a big backdrop in the back of the stage, they can be placed in the center of external elements that surround them visually. Two 3D cameras allow the dancers to interact with the elements on the screens as soon as they get closer. Two video cameras and a mobile phone camera directed by Raphael Hahn allow a multiplication of the protagonists within the projection and open up the possibility of changing viewpoints in certain scenes.
A large building by Michiel Jansen that may remind of a brutalistic mausoleum resides on the left side of the stage. This mausoleum is lit artificially by an additional third projector. Its surface structure and appearance change during the piece. In the final storm scene for example, flashes of the two other projections reflect off the surface of the Mausoleum, giving them more presence and suggesting more luminance of the flashes. In parts, the illumination appears to be so natural that you perceive it as an overall impression and not in full detail.