Polite Structures / How Things Go

Emily Smith (USA) a Felix J. Baumann (DE) / Theatre Night

American choreographer Emily Smith and German performer Felix J. Baumann.

Emily Smith

Polite Structures is a performance series which incorporates movement, sculpture, and sound to create an immersive, uneasy, sexually charged atmosphere. The female performers are hobbled by exaggerated, sculptural leg braces which I cast, welded and shaped in aluminum and steel. These contraptions are both provocative and uncomfortable to move in. Each time a dancer tries to take a step forward the braces drag her feet to the floor -- such that progress can be made only through labored half-steps. Their calves are elongated, the line of their upper thighs extended, and their movements become muscular even as their feminine forms are emphasized. These tensions, both physical and aesthetic, result in a movement-score that is full of physical intensity and disturbing visual beauty.

Formally and normatively my structures might be considered a warped evolution of the high heel. Heels originated during medieval times when they were worn by both men and women as a sign of elevated class. They also elevated their wearers above the muck on the streets. The heel’s role in the contemporary mainstream can be attributed to the nascence of mass market pornography and the industrial revolution, which made steel and prurient fantasies similarly cheap commodities. My own heels, which look something like metal appendages supported by armatures, are likewise a confluence of romantizations, contradictions and literalizations. They both sexualize and diminish, elevate and invalidate, and they give physical manifestation to social constrictions while granting entirely new powers of movement. My work is informed by my own participation in a labor force that both taught me to weld and devalued those skills as secondary to my sexual identity.

Felix Baumann (DE) & Sean Henderson (US/CH)

A production combining dance, physical and visual theatre, inspired by The Way Things Go (1987), an art film by the Swiss artist duo Peter Fischli and David Weiss, which documents a long causal chain assembled of everyday objects. “How things go” is a movement based research of objects and materials, their physicality and function, their momentum, and the influence they have on the human body in motion.

In “How things go” two guys try to build something which is remarkable for their life. On the way
their encounter with the objects causes a chain of reactions, where failure is incarnated, in the
architecture of their plan. But without giving up and sustaining their sense of humor they keep
rolling, stubborn like a stone falling into the water.

Polite Structures / How Things Go


DIVADLO X10 Charvátova 10/39, Prague 1, 110 00