Sometimes the best things just seem to happen and it’s hard to explain why. Maika Klaukien, a much-loved and respected pilates teacher at Triyoga, had been struck in 2017 by what she felt to be a negative mood in the country and wanted to do something good. And she knew that she wanted to encourage resilience in the face of conflict and misunderstanding.
She felt it had been an awfully long time since she gained her BA in Contemporary Dance and a Masters in Choreography, both from the renowned London Contemporary Dance School, but inspiration struck and she found herself pulling together a dance troupe, musicians, a score and a venue all from scratch, in order to raise funds for the charity Foundation for Change.
The performance, Ebb and Flood, was held in St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch in 2017, well known as the inspiration and location for the BBC TV show Rev, which suited Maika’s site-specific, process-driven style of choreography. She told me, “I find this approach, versus having a planned out map, very scary and it is very nerve racking for my dancers too, but at the end it is very rewarding and very creative.”
Ebb and Flood ‘explored the rhythm of flow: waves, impact, motion, response, undertow, and return. We drew on the German translation of the word Resilience Elastizität – Elasticity. The piece was seen as a commentary, and exploration, of the way we live in our time. We live the interplay between power and vulnerability, a dance of the weak and the strong. Every action is met by an equal and opposite reaction. Each event generates an even stronger backlash.’
With the success of Ebb and Flood, Maika moved on to Kreislauf (or ‘circulation’), the second part of what is now to be a trilogy.
Kreislauf ‘explored, and was inspired by, the human heart, from both a biological and social perspective. This theme explains the piece’s title: a German compound word formed from two parts: Kreis (circle), and lauf (run). Functionally this can be translated into English as Circulation (of the blood).
The body is a complex machine made of seemingly disparate, independent parts – the feet walk, the heart pumps blood, the lungs breathe – they do their own things, whirring away in the background largely unnoticed. But when viewed as a whole, and when all component parts are engaged and in flow with one another, the “machine” is revealed as a work of miraculous ingenuity and beauty, capable of amazing endeavour. Society too is made up of individual parts – you, me and the 7.7 billion others with whom we share this planet.
We live in disturbing times, times of rapid, unpredictable change and shifting patterns. We face a mood of confrontation and blame and a political chaos that in many ways feels more backward than forward. All this combines to fool us into believing we have more that separates than unites us.
Kreislauf was created as a small reminder that while we are all miraculous individual entities, we nonetheless depend on one another and that through cooperation, acceptance, tolerance and respect we are able to come together as a powerful, positive life force. There are many, many small interconnected communities that make up a much larger, more potent one: The human race.’
Putting all this together had become a journey of self-knowledge and increasing self-belief for Maika, who herself demonstrated vast reserves of resilience along the way. Other themes, in my opinion, that were perhaps sub-consciously at work include connections, chance and trust, which evolved together to draw in an almost magically talented and supportive group: Michael Haslam, a musician without parallel, extraordinary singer-songwriter Lynne Gentle, lighting designer Jonathan Samuels, So Takao, the saxophonist and the wonderful cast of dancers, not to mention the Woolly Dreams team who recorded the performance. All seemed to find their connection with Maika in unexpected and even mysterious ways: evidently Kreislauf was meant to be.
Kreislauf was originally performed at the Cockpit Theatre in February 2019 and I was lucky enough to attend the subsequent screening of the film of the performance made by Woolly Dream Productions. What an extraordinary event that was. That the film could convey the power of the performance and evoke a response in its audience speaks to the talents working in collaboration: the dancers, musicians, production team, filmmakers and of course the unique spirit which drew all these special people together, Maika herself.
Maika says, “We have been very lucky because we had wonderful support from so many people. And the constant encouragement of my dear friends Sarah Bates, Gwyneth Williams and Wan Yau has been amazing.
“And then the one person who was there from the beginning – and we have been together through thick and thin – is Carla Goncalves, my friend and rehearsal director and dancer of Genau. She has been constantly supportive, totally engaged and full of invaluable ideas.
And she never complained about my neurotic moments (despite what she might have been thinking!).”
Next in the trilogy comes Hoffnung (or ‘hope’), which is planned to be presented in the Spring of 2020. Maika says that ‘Hoffnung will revisit the themes and ideas addressed in Ebb and Flood and Kreislauf and expand on them, considering notions of hope, home and belonging.‘ At the moment, Maika’s company, Genau, is fundraising for production and rehearsal costs. If you would like to support this endeavour, Genau would be delighted to hear from you.
© 2019 Joanna Reeves, all rights reserved.