The Hammer without a Master

Florin Flueras & Brynjar Bandlien 

After a long break since the première scandal in Paris, the acclaimed choreographer Stere Popescu and his masterpiece, The Hammer without a Master, were starting to tour again with successes and scandals in Berlin, Stockholm, Bucharest, Ljubljana, Oslo, Lublin, Vienna, Brussels. As in the summer of 65 in Paris, Stere Popescu, Brynjar Bandlien and Florin Flueras are aware that “the Hammer without a Master was too modern then, and it is too contemporary now”. The Hammer without a Master is The Romanian Dance History.

"The work is concerned with the process of exaggerating the history and the need of creating great values in the past. It's about how the institutions can transform something scandalous at that time, in something tamed and “valuable”, while possibly disregarding equivalent attitudes and works in the present. Sanda Agalides, the former wife of Stere Popescu, said that this remake was done “in the spirit of Stere” by managing to scandalize a good part of Romanian dance community who expected a formal and reverential reenactment of the piece. In a way this is a modern gesture towards a modern work. A reenactment of the performativity of the Hammer, not of its content." Stere Popescu

Romanian Dance History V: acceptance speech

Stere Popescu shake the hand of the major and accept Berlin Art Prize 2012
Romanian Dance History getting ready for the Berlin Art Prize 2012 award

Stere Popescu before giving his `thank you`speach for the Berlin Art Price 2012 at Akademi der Kunste last night. Long live Romanian Dance History!


Cluj Napoka being the latest city in Europe to have been stricken by RDH

Romanian Dance History II in Oslo

In the course of two days artists from all over met in the glory of Romanian Dance History II. Give up hope, leave your values behind and watch dance go down in history: Romanian Dance History II.

RDH and the IMPULS Scandal

Do not disturb!
Or: The limits of spontaneity

29 July 2010, 6:45 p.m.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s piece En Atendant

Vienna – It was a moment with great potential. The audience was about to leave after the final applause for the premiere of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s new piece En Atendant when two men came on stage and asked for the audience’s attention.

The two men were no less than Florin Flueras and Manuel Pelmus from Romania, leading figures on the Bucharest dance scene, known for its actionist works and political attitude. They have given a number of performances in Vienna as guests of Tanzquartier Wien and also at prestigious festivals across Europe: Many view Romanian choreography as the avant-garde of Eastern European contemporary dance.

Flueras and Pelmus asked the audience for three minutes to perform the Romanian Dance History. It appeared to be an intervention that had not been pre-arranged with the organisers. The organisers didn’t seem taken by this idea and the two were silenced like troublemakers. It’s a pity that these known artists weren’t able to attract the attention of the audience after the performance – after all, they had waited respectfully until the end of the show.

It seems unlikely that De Keersmaeker would have been against this action, even more so since in her school, P.A.R.T.S., young artists are trained to be freethinkers and not indifferent floor gymnasts. Parts of the audience would surely have stayed and listened to them, too.

The rejection of this request that had been presented in a most peaceful manner illustrates a phenomenon that is not only apparent in contemporary dance. Today, artistic works that are produced and presented on the international market are slick and predictable. The market obviously has no interest whatsoever in productive disruptions, or in the rebellious and unpredictable. However, the Vienna international dance festival Impulstanz is not known for showcasing shallow entertainment. Throughout its history, the audiences at this festival have been confronted with uneasy statements, be it by celebrities like Jan Fabre or by underdogs like Ann Liv Young.

Discursive bonus track

The intervention by the Romanians could have provided the audience with a discursive bonus track. It would have added a somewhat rough Eastern European edge to the perfectionist subtlety of the Western European choreographer’s piece. Perhaps it could have been an ideal complement to De Keersmaeker’s work, which is far too greatly influenced by the sound structures of ars subtilior, a rather formalistic music phenomenon that was common between 1377 and 1420.

The dancers’ movements are too well-formed and perfect, and the presentation of the three-aisled space of the former corn exchange as a dramatic, sacred room is just a step too far. And the way that the period of disaster during the Hundred Years’ War – a time marked by pain, violence, plague and the Inquisition – is now presented as a state of morbid twilight is too pretentious. The vain, strangely snorting Adonis-like figures and athletic, graceful characters build quite a contrast to the straightforward concept of the body in the Middle Ages, as illustrated in book paintings from that time. In this piece, which starts with a stunning C flute solo, De Keersmaeker simply failed to find the substance for a successful dramaturgy.

(Helmut Ploebst / DER STANDARD, print edition, 30.07.2010)

(English translation: Mandana Taban)

The Romanian Dance History haunts the Official Art

The Romanian Dance History started to haunt the official art (maybe also because there is no stage/space for dance anymore in Romania). Yesterday was the Bucharest National Theater, who knows what's next... beware and be happy!

Romanian Dance History curates Swedish Dance History

Romanian Dance History doesn't allow to be curated/programmed. So yesterday RDH refused to perform itself. It show up in Modern Dance Theater Stockholm just to curate the Swedish Dance History... And for the book launch...

Romanian Dance History goes (even further) north

photos by stephen

Tonight Romanian Dance History appeared after the performance of Benoit Lachambre at Oktober Dans festival in Bergen:
A man, dressed in a romanian, traditional, embroidered shirt, entered the stage after the applause and announced that he is Romanian Dance History, and that what was happening was a postspectacle. Nobody from the audience got up or left. He then proceeded to perform the melting ice-cream from The Hammer Without A Master by Stere Popescu. He explained that the rest of the performance was going to be more cryptic as it was choreographed during a time of censorship, and that the audience would have to read between the lines of the movement for meaning. He then enacted the rest of the known choreography before exiting the stage. The audience applauded Romanian Dance History generously!

I'm the romanian dance history and I'm a terrorist

The Romanian Dance History doesn’t wait politely in line when it feels to enter the stage and participate in an important dance festival. The Romanian Dance History despises the hierarchical protocols of validation and presentation of art and chooses to terrorize all institutions, authorities and hierarchies. The Romanian Dance History definitely prefers to do cultural terrorism than art. The Romanian Dance History is not something that you should identify with or be proud of, it is more something to be afraid of: beware!
So when you are ready, go on stage and say I’m the Romanian Dance History and I want to start a revolution tonight, and do it…

Romanian Dance History goes down in Swedish Dance History

As the audience stopped clapping and started to leave the auditorium after a performance by Alan Platel at the Gothenburg Festival of Theater and Dance, two people, a young woman and a man, appeared on stage urging the audience not to leave. The two stated "We are Romanian Dance History. This is a bonus track, not a protest, and we would like to share with you four minutes from our short and not so great history." Approximately half of the audience stayed. They then continued to perform "the melting ice-cream" from the 1965-performance The Hammer Without A Master by Stere Popescu. The man continued dancing something that resembled modern movements, while the woman explained how this dance in it's time was revolutionary. The censorship of the communist party had the choreographer state his vision in a subtle and poetic way, and the audience had to read between the movements in order to see it. After performing for four minutes, the two thanked for the attention and as they left the stage the audience gave their approval. Later, at the Swedish Dance History stand, Romanian Dance History joined in on the dance floor.