4 Corners - Faezeh Jalali shares her experience on attending the Berlin post school for physical theatre and dance


“I’m Andre, from Portugal, and I want to understand what connects you to me”

“I’m Helena, uh…ahh….I am…also Portugese….hate it….I uh…uh….uh…am…uhh….reading…this this this…booook….ah…about….the liquid….relationships….like that….uh…ya…ok that’s that’s it…”

“Ah ok..Me… I’m Faezeh from India and I love being in theatre school. And I decided a few years ago that I would learn something new every year or get better at what I know, so…that’s why I’m here.”

No, I was not there on a scholarship, no one paid for me, I just went because I wanted to. I’m a theatre junkie. I have this strong feeling every so often that I need to do more and travel and learn and so I did. I found this programme online, through a friend,that offered a post-degree course in physical theatre and dance with an added incentive of working/creating/developing a project. So I converted my rupees to euros and flew.

So I’m looking through my journal from the 3 months at the Berlin post-school for physical theatre and dance, and I’ve realized what an intensive 3months it was. It never felt that intense even though I ran or cycled everywhere in addition to all the movement and dance that we had on a daily basis.

It was class of 18 highly skilled dancers/performers because of whom I had to step it up and move! I’m eternally grateful to the wonderful group that I interacted with and learnt from. They were the highlight of my time in Berlin.

Our classes were mainly movement based, and we had teachers who came from the Pina Bausch company, Sascha Waltz, and Batsheva (Gaga dance), and a craniosacral teacher, along with the Seki-method (inspired from Butoh.) Oh! How could I forget, the Kung-fu classes.

Our Kung-fu teacher Bambang was the most amazing, (I was always reminded of the movie “Kung-fu panda”). I loved the quick, sudden movements, kicks, punches, rolls- so totally my thing . So I looked forward to our weekly sessions. The philosophy of martial arts also is so impressive and it’s as connected to the spirit as it is to the body and I got a lot from listening to Bambang’s short, to-the-point, discourses. The thumb as the dragon a sign of the mind, the forefinger is a snake and it represents breath, middle finger is the “tigaar” strength and confidence, the ring finger is a leopard (which Bambang always said as two words leo-pard) represents decision, and the crane represented by the pinky finger signifies flexibility.

“The new student and the master are the same. They both have to start from the beginning.”

After learning several sequences Bambang also had us combine them in a choreography,that we created in 2 groups which turned out quite spectacular.

Of the dance master classes, though short, I enjoyed most the session with Lisa Densem who was part of the Sasha Waltz and Guests ensemble, of which I know very little. However, Lisa’s work was extremely simple but also fruitful for me as a performer. To be in her class one had to unlearn all the “clever actorness” one had and just be. It’s amazing how hard it is to just be. As a performer one always feels like one needs to be doing something all the time. The simplicity of her exercises, forced us to be present in the moment and allow things to happen rather than to make them happen. The first day of her class all we did was made “zeros” and “ones” and that’s it! Just watch and experience the development of those movements in the body. Though we did not do many exercises, we spent a lot of time on few exercise and that was really worthwhile for me, both as a performer and observer. Because the time of the course was relatively short, for the kind of work most times I felt lots of rushing through of exercises. In Lisa’s class I really tasted each aspect.

The other class I really enjoyed, though not from the very beginning, was the Gaga dance class, with a wonderful woman called Shai Faran from the Batsheva Dance Company, Israel.

We did basic Gaga and I remember looking at my classmates in one of the very first sessions and thinking, god, we look like idiots. Our first instruction was to float. And we all looked a bit possessed and I was like, am I paying for this?!!! We then had to do these exercises of imagining that your bones are sliding, or you have more joints within each bone so your bones are mobile, and your flesh is sliding over your muscles and bones, and your bones are swimming and…..it was almost traumatic. I kept thinking, how all of this was just imagination and if my body was actually doing that. But I stuck with it, I never skipped a session, and maybe half way through I had an “aha!” moment with the Gaga dance and it was great cause I felt my body move differently and I felt an ease and understanding that I had not before.

One of the most exciting parts of the 3 months was our class retreat to a place not so far from Berlin where we spent a couple of days. We cooked together, did our training sessions in the woods and went swimming the lake.

Our task in that time was to create a site-specific performance based on important events in our lives. I can’t say much more since everyone was sharing things that were quite personal. I was moved by the honesty and trust with which everyone shared. It was a great bonding experience.

Of course no course is great all through so this one had its ups and downs as well and of course there are several times in school life, when you think, “what am I doing”, or “why am I doing this,” but looking back if its happy memories that you have then it was an experience worth having.