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Ismael Ivo

Ismael Ivo

Interweaving Performance Cultures

Fellow 2016/17

Ismael Ivo studied drama and dance in Brazil. He performed there as a solo dancer before being invited to New York by Alvin Ailey in 1983. In Germany he continued creating and performing solo works, which brought him international recognition. He collaborated closely with Johann Kresnik, George Tabori, Yoshi Oida and Ushio Amagatsu of the Sankai Juku ensemble. These varied experiences synthesize with his African-Brazilian roots. In 1984 Ismael Ivo co-founded ImPulsTanz – Vienna International Dance Festival, which has since become Europe’s largest dance festival. The German National Theatre in Weimar appointed him chief choreographer and director of their dance company from 1997 to 2000. From 2005 to 2012 he was director of the International Festival of Contemporary Dance of La Biennale di Venezia. He has also taught at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna as a visiting professor. Ismael Ivo’s cultural achievement was officially acknowledged when he was awarded the Order of Cultural Merit of the Federative Republic of Brazil in 2010.

Research Project

Performance as Cultural Cannibalism

Throughout my career I have been intrigued by other cultures and extreme artistic concepts and personalities. The subject appeared in the first event with Johannes Odenthal at Literaturhaus Berlin, “Body & Utopia”, and was followed by “Body Attack”, “Under Skin”, “Body & Eros”, “Beauty” and “Capturing Emotions” at La Biennale di Venezia: the body as a passport of our time, a mirror of our existence. Absorbing such heterogenic influences as the European theater concepts of Antonin Artaud and Jerzy Grotowski, the dialogue with Butoh and Noh from Japan, the dramatic art of Heiner Müller, the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe, the boundary experience in the paintings of Francis Bacon, the European classical themes of Tristan and Isolde or Othello – for me there is no contradiction. It is the concept of cultural cannibalism, as it was developed in the Anthropophagic Manifest of 1928, the founding myth of Brazilian Modernism. This concept opposes the classical European model of cultural identity as distinction. The strange, the other is not outside; it is in my own body, absorbed, digested, transformed. During my fellowship I am going to unveil my personal experience with diverse artistic partners concerning the processes of performance creation. Related personalities are Márcia Haydée, Alvin Ailey, Pina Bausch, William Forsythe, Yoshi Oida, Johann Kresnik, George Tabori, Heiner Müller, Ushiu Amagatsu, Kazuo Ono, Marina Abramović and others. I will include the essay written for me by Heiner Müller as a result of our working process in collaboration with Kresnik and Gottfried Helnwein, entitled “A Stranger in his Own Body: Emigrations”.

Recommended Publications

  • Yoshi Oida and Lorna Marshall, The Invisible Actor, London, Methuen Random House, 1997.

  • Heiner Müller, Explosion of a Memory, New York, PAJ Publications, 1989.

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez,One Hundred Years of Solitude [Cien Años de Soledad (1967)], Jonathan Cape 1970.

  • Edited by Michel Feher with Ramona Naddaff and Nadia Tazi, Fragments for a History of the Human Body, New York, Urzone, 1989.

  • DVD: Edda Baumann-von Broen, Hanna Leissner, Durch die Nacht mit Marina Abramovic und Ismael Ivo, Berlin, avanti media für Arte, 2003, Zweitausendeins, Leipzig, 2006.

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung