20 Toes, 4 Feet, 2 Artists, 1 Passion: Life in numbers

English translation of 20 Zehen, 4 Füße, 2 Künstler, 1 Passion: Life in numbers

Our life can be described with numbers and visualized in diagrams. However, every mean and every chart are simplifications. Useful and fascinating, but also obstructive and restrictive.

Dresden premiere

Yesterday we experienced a wonderful visualization of two “lives in numbers” in the Festspielhaus Hellerau. The two choreographers and dancers Katia Manjate and Anna Till meet in the Dresden premiere of “Life in numbers”. Four years ago, the artists began to compare their lives on the basis of statistics and through these got to know each other. This gave the impulse to “Life in numbers”, and so the piece begins. With a comparison of life in Dresden, where Till lives, and Maputo, where Manjate lives. In the course of the 8 parts, we get to know key data, which are translated into dance on a Cartesian coordinate system, with movements along the invisible x- and y-axes. The dancers themselves form the data points, always in relationship with each other, but changing, converging, and diverging in the course of time.

Differences and similarities

In the middle part of the piece we turn away from the mean values and towards individual data points. No longer: “How long does a woman live in Germany and one in Mozambique” is discussed, but Till and Manjate ask themselves directly: “How old are you?“. The confrontational, curious questions are staged like a duel and bathed in bright light. The shadows of the bodies are projected into rectangles formed by the spotlights, thus visualizing our thinking in boxes. The audience waits with great anticipation for the next answer.

In the third part the tension is released, the light becomes warm and the dance playful. The artists now begin a joyful confrontation with their differences and celebrate their similarities. This is supported by music and rhythms from both countries.

Numbers are beautiful

In the end, Till asks, can we live without numbers? “Life in numbers” answers “no”, but also shows the life within numbers. And it demonstrates that numbers are more than economic values. Numbers may describe how often we laugh per day, how long we see the sun, and what rhythms feet can dance.

As a scientist, I avoid 3D diagrams because they distort data. With “Life in numbers” you can experience how dance, a three- or even four-dimensional visualization, can make numbers directly experienceable and fascinating.

The performance can be seen today and tomorrow in Dresden-Hellerau https://www.hellerau.org/de/event/life-in-numbers/.

19th/20th of October at tanzhausnrd (https://tanzhaus-nrw.de/de/buehne/spielplan) and then in Maputo!

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