All I knew before my meeting with Kianí del Valle was that she is a dancer, choreographer, and dance teacher hailing from San Juan, Puerto Rico. I read that she gained a great part of her profesional experience in Brooklyn, NY and Montreal, CA and now finds herself working and breathing in the belly of the myth: Berlin. Growing up in the Mexico of the 1990s, my dance experience (and forte) comes only with “quebradita,” the Mexican dance par exellence during that decade. In other words, I had little to relate to with Kianí when it came to contemporary dance. So I did my homework: I memorized the names Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, José Limón, Merce Cunningham and finally Butoh (just for fun). But when Kianí suddenly entered the café with that strong presence and cohesive body flow that only dancers seem to possess, I forgot all of what I thought I had memorized.
What’s Happening, Kianí?
As fortune would have it, it was my lucky day: after juggling five of her daily dance gigs and practices, dance was the last topic that she wanted to discuss. Instead, she begins telling me about this extraordinary event that will take place in Berlin this Saturday, December 8. Hasenheide Park, she reveals to me, will become the set of an art happening (keep reading to see how you can be a part of it!). Happenings, as coined by Allan Kaprow in the 1950s, are a particular type of performance art in which active audience participation is key to the realization of an artwork. Lacking common choreographic elements, happenings exhibit a more organic execution in which improvisation is key. Think of “flash mobs” minus their usual extensively practiced theatrics.
Kianí, currently the casting director for this particular happening, finds herself in charge of inviting people like you—yes you, our faithful BAPS reader—to be a part of this huge event. Alone in this she certainly is not. The art director of the project is Daniel Brandt. If this name sounds familiar, it is because Brandt is part of the up and coming Berlin-based trio Brandt Brauer Frick: a band composed of classically-trained musicians whose sound is a delicious cocktail of electro-acoustic flavors. Take a sip of what they call their “emotional body music.”
Kianí explains, “We are trying to recreate a manifestation or strike, so we simply need a lot of people gathered in one place.” There is no particular topic that the strike will be directed towards. What Brandt ultimately wants to capture is the essence of a manifestation. Once at the scene of the event, the participants will be given further instructions. Yet, there is only one prerequisite: the participants are to dress in a style of clothing reminiscent of the 1950s. “We are using the terminology of 1950s fashion because we mean ‘classic.’ We want people to look timeless,” says Kianí. Basically, leave your puffy jackets and skinny jeans at home.
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