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Still of the Production Baader - A Choreography of Radicalization

2011, Solo, 60 Min., 10 x 10 Meter

“Baader – A Choreography of Radicalisation” is the second piece in a series entitled EVIL BODIES exploring the representation of “evil” characters in dance. After investigating individual elements and strategies of such representations of evil in the first part of the EVIL BODIES series, Christoph Winkler now turns to focus on a concrete persona of recent history: German terrorist Andreas Baader.


Still of the Production 'Baader - A Choreography of Radicalization'
Still of the Production 'Baader - A Choreography of Radicalization'
Still of the Production 'Baader - A Choreography of Radicalization'
Still of the Production 'Baader - A Choreography of Radicalization'
Still of the Production 'Baader - A Choreography of Radicalization'

About the Piece

Today, Andreas Baader has almost become something akin to an icon and is, as a symbolic figure, firmly embedded in German cultural memory in spite of or possibly because of the numerous stories circulating in the media and often contradictory statements made both by those for and against him. A petty criminal with a violent streak, a spoiled mama’s boy lacking a father figure, or a man with all the potential to become a classic middle-class politician, as one of his later lawyers remarked, or maybe a charismatic personality of whom the later chief federal prosecutor Rebmann said that he’s “a relatively nice guy”.

What we know for sure is that Andreas Baader cultivated his own image very deliberately and carefully. This was undoubtedly inspired by his uncle Michael Kroecher, a talented and successful dancer and later actor. His uncle, who became the most important male parent figure in Baader’s young life, provided him not only with a inside view of life as a gay artist, but also taught him such practical things as the use of eyeliner and other cosmetics. Baader’s later habit of using powder and make-up in jail or his fondness for tailor-made clothing (he even had his prison uniform refitted) may have begun here.

The starting point for Baader’s radicalization was a certain disposition towards showmanship and the impulse to employ his own body “in the interest of narcissistic needs – as an object of admiration and of desire, but also as a medium for physical violence.” (J. Herrmann)

In the end, Baader’s instrumentalisation of the body as a tool for the execution of intellectual goals, as “holy weapon” of the revolution, leads him to the strategy of hunger strikes, the unprecedented neglect of hygiene in his prison cell, his campaign against the “torture of solitary confinement” and finally to interpret suicide as “murder action”. In doing so, he thus manages not only to unite the detainees, but also activate numerous new cadres for the RAF to continue his struggle.

This radical attention towards his own body, its strategic employment in multiple self-referential scenarios reaching even beyond his own death makes Baader a particularly interesting object of study in dance.

Is this an evil body?

Christoph Winkler Baader Trailer from Christoph Winkler on Vimeo.


Concept: Christoph Winkler | Dance: Martin Hansen | Lights: André Schulz | Costumes: Lisa Kentner & Vivien Wanneck | Make-up: Kathleen Kelly | | PR: K3 Berlin | Production-Dramaturgy: ehrliche Arbeit - freelance office for culture 

A Christoph Winkler production in co-operation with Ballhaus Ost. Funded by the City of Berlin - Department for Cultural Affairs. Supported by Phase7.

Press Excerpts

[…] far outclasses all rivals in dramaturgical complexity, dance quality and theatrical intelligence. - Süddeutsche Zeitung


This Baader is no political public enemy, but rather a naive body in revolt, who abuses the theoretical treatises on armed conflict hanging in the background as theatrical propaganda for his claims to ostensible stardom. Radically caught up in his multiple identities, floundering in his homeless superficial existence, almost naked underneath his numerous hero-monster masks. Martin Hansen's much-acclaimed, intimate solo is a brilliant physical portrait. - Generalanzeiger Bonn

The story of Andreas Baader as the basis for a dance piece? [...] Well, choreographer Christoph Winkler has chosen a clear, convincing path. He reduces it all down to only the bare necessities and utilizes the power of various media. […] The atmosphere is melancholic, the coolness and existentialism are reminiscent of the mood of the 1960’s, without recourse to spoken or written commentary. The sometimes dreamy and boyish, sometime demanding and determined dancer Martin Hansen convincingly captures this atmosphere. Hansen effortlessly carries the entire evening solo. His acting unveils the androgynous physicality of Baader’s early years, so often exclusively interpreted as playing the pimp.

Far from being any kind of propagandistic mission statement, but also far from being arbitrary, the physical-musical element meshes with the original spirit of revolution. Excerpts from “The Urban Guerilla Concept” remind us that the RAF were once intended as something different, before drifting off into lip service and dogmatism. “Dogmatism and adventurism are typical deviations in any country during periods in which the revolutionary movement is weak. Since the anarchists have always been the strongest critics of opportunism, everyone who criticizes opportunism is called an anarchist—this is nothing more than fashionable nonsense.” Ah, how wonderful to read this in 2011, almost 40 years later, as an artistic backdrop on unrolled blinds, fantastic. - taz

Winkler unveils a fascinating psychological profile […] Martin Hansen, the young, internationally successful Australian dancer living in Berlin, is a lucky find for the choreographer. This really could have been Baader, oscillating between innocence and rebellion, already pushed to the ground, but still in search of form, the hand coyly cocked against the hip, pistol hands always loaded and ready to fire. […] His dance lacks all stability, as Baader lacked in life, stumbling between desire and reality. Then, under glaring lights, Baader’s voice in self-defence in court, in a incoherent speech against the Federal Republic of Germany as a subcenter of the USA, against the Vietnam war and aggression, and finally accuss the court of leading a “fascist military trial”. Now dressed only in white briefs, the dancers breaths ragged breaths, falls, no longer seems capable of finding words for that which pressing down on him. Caught in crude theories, he becomes a speechless groveling animal. His victory pose, hands over his head, as lost all credibility, is the final defensive posture of a man, who knows he has failed, shortly before his suicide. In this physically extremely exhausting one-hour solo, Winkler and Hansen manage to prove what contemporary dance is capable of when it takes recourse to its inherent potential: to expose in an otherwise utterly empty space, the multiple layers of a complex political persona, from self-presentation to self-doubt, merely with the help of physical movement. –

[…] choreographer Christoph Winkler proves that it is possible to artistically represent Baader without falling back on clichés. […] the dance piece [is] art in the best sense of the word, not simply parroting the circumstances and established opinions and clichés, but revealing possibilities. – derFreitag

[…] a one-hour solo that gets under your skin. And even crawls into your brain: it is not the deviant character Baader who dancer here, but the average guy. […] almost revolutionary in its beauty. – junge Welt