a collaboration with the dancers from the MDKollektiv
When I first moved, Cologne looked, to my eyes, like a sort of laboratory city.
Everything was modern, brutal, a work-in-progress.
Until that time, I had only lived in Italy, growing up in Florence, where I attended both high school and University in the center of the city. Thinking about it, I spent most of the time in old Unesco-protected convents and beautiful medieval palazzos (now, almost ten years later, I recognize how lucky I have been to experience so much historical beauty.)
The impressions I had from the new environment were overwhelming, but at the same time, welcoming and stimulating.
At the Musikhochschule, I immediately bonded with a charming cellist from Australia, Ruben, who always had exciting stories to tell, and with whom I felt great pleasure playing, even just sight-reading pretty much all the duo repertoire for cello and piano. It's hard not to feel nostalgia for those first months of my "new life" in Germany, so full of freedom, passion, and unknown cultural codes to interpret daily.
He asked me to participate in a project he heard about: a contemporary dance collective in Cologne was looking for two musicians to collaborate on Morton Feldman's piece Patterns in a Chromatic Field (1981), on which the choreography was based. It sounded so interesting that I remember missing a train connection to the airport just to immediately answer the email request (which did cause me some troubles, but that's another story).
The dancers of the Michael Douglas Kollektiv during the premiere of their show Golden Trash (2013) ©Martin Miseré
Cello and piano live music for the premiere of the show Golden Trash ©Martin Miseré
My relationship with dance has some Catullian odi et amo connotations, for I danced myself with joy before witnessing the uncomfortable "explosion" of my Mediterranean body as a teenager. Afterward, dance became a hidden presence in the music I was playing, a passion that I only secretly and indirectly cultivated. Yet, before Golden Trash, I never worked closely with contemporary dancers, so my joyful anticipation for the project was even more remarkable.
At the first rehearsal, choreographer Georg Reischl explained the many abstract implications that his work with the Michael Douglas Kollektiv was pursuing. I can still see the gestures: his arms moving big in the air seemed to be, alone, an unforgettable lesson on Feldman's music. I could notice how each note and motivic repetition of the piece, like stars on earth, were transformed in movement by the experimental dancers.
Their way of interacting and working together, so radically free of compromises and pre-established cultural ballasts, left me with a different feeling about myself. I was moving forward, ready to be part of a novel, diverse, and open-minded environment that became, with time, my new home.
©Vittoria Quartararo 2021
Choreography: Georg Reischl
Stage: Cécile Martin
Music: Morton Feldman ‘Patterns on a Chromatic Field’
Cello: Ruben Palma
Piano: Vittoria Quartararo
Dance: MichaelDouglas Kollektiv (Susanne Grau, Sabina Perry, Douglas Bateman, Michael Maurissens, Adam Ster)
Production Assistance: Ronja Nadler
Scientific documentation: Doerte Weig