Baader – A Choreography of Radicalization

Baader – A Choreography of Radicalization

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

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?



Concept: Christoph Winkler | Dance: Martin Hansen | Lights: André Schulz | Costumes: Lisa Kentner, Vivien Wanneck | Make-up: Kathleen Kelly | Camera: Walter BickmannTanzforum Berlin | 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.



[…] 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

They, the RAF activists, especially Baader, remain a source of inspiration for a political and artistic reappraisal in books, film and theatre. Now dance is also taking hold.[…] Martin Hansen, the young Australian with an international career, based in Berlin, is a stroke of luck for the choreographer. This is how Baader might have been, oscillating between innocence and rebellion, already on the floor, still searching for form, his hand coquettishly on his hip, always ready to fire. On five strips of fabric that Hansen unrolls, one reads texts by the revolver: against US imperialism, for the revolution, with the urban guerrilla as an armed battle front. Hansen disguises himself with a wig and sunglasses. His dance finds no stability, just as Baader found no life, stumbling between wanting and reality. Then, in the glaring light, Baader's voice in self-defence in court, in a confused speech against the Federal Republic as a sub-centre of the USA, against the Vietnam War and aggression, auctioning himself off for a "fascist military trial". The dancer acts only in his briefs, breathes flickeringly, falls, can no longer find words for what oppresses him. Trapped in crude theories, he becomes a speechless crawling animal. His victory pose, hands above his head, has lost all credibility, is the last protective posture of a failed man shortly before that suicide. With this physically enormously exhausting one-hour solo, Winkler and Hansen have proven what contemporary dance is capable of when it reflects on itself: in an otherwise empty, light-filled space, only through physical action can layers of a political personality be uncovered, from self-portrayal to self-doubt.

[…] 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.  der Freitag

[…] 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

[…] My knowledge of Andreas Baader was very fragmentary beforehand, and after the short hour that the piece lasts, I actually feel as if I have learned or understood something that cannot be understood so immediately in any other way, e.g. by reading or watching video material about Baader. Martin Hansen dances the whole thing with great aplomb. I have been a friend of precise movement at least since Polina Semionova in Onegin. With Baader, it's hard to tell what is exactly choreographed and what is improvised. It's not so important either, because the exactness of the movement is there anyway. There are no senseless arm or hand movements, glances, steps - even the seemingly uncontrolled ones - are subject to a higher principle that ultimately provides the structure and that is clearly presented at the beginning of each part of the piece. For me, the evening immediately offers three readings that happen simultaneously: firstly, the intellectual context that is established apart from the dance through photos, texts and sound documents. The dance itself achieves two things at once: on the one hand, a characterization of Baader and the narration of the biography. What impresses me is the economy of means, everything is very limited to the essential, no unnecessary frippery, no attempts to impress the audience, no ingratiation, but a very serious examination of the subject. […] Somehow it is good to see a play that deals seriously and quite deeply with a certain topic. The subject itself - Andreas Baader - is of course explosive and it is all the more surprising that the whole thing gets by without moral judgement in one direction or another. It is not so much about making a political statement, but more about understanding a certain person through movements. The amazing thing about it is that on the one hand this approach is specific, but at the same time you know the conditions that are described by the movements from yourself and so the whole thing really does have a social relevance in a good way. It actually seems very enlightening to me not to want to understand this part of the story through the social context - which immediately brings with it a tendency to either class struggle or law and order, but by trying to crawl into the protagonist through outward gestures and to make the inner motivation, the suffering and the neuroses, but also the normal things about it, which everyone knows about themselves and others, visible. Well, Christoph Winkler somehow has a talent for doing things that I find extremely interesting. argusschlaeft

In "Baader" Winkler experiments with the dancer Martin Hansen, examining "evil" as a dance solo: at first it is only a stuttering chain of angular, robot-like movements. Gradually, this develops into a choreography that continuously shapes "evil": Hansen's body becomes the matrix for the charismatic terrorist Andreas Baader, the dazzling leading figure of the first RAF generation. Parallel to the dance, Winkler projects Baader's figure, facial expressions and gestures as a photo loop with images that let the life of the top terrorist pass by in nostalgic time-lapse. Hansen answers the question of how he feels about being a hired body for these evil gestures succinctly with: "I hate him". For Winkler, Baader is a person who seemed paradoxically terrifying and at the same time erotic. A dandy who perfected the polishing of appearance and demeanour for political purposes. "Evil can only be portrayed through people," says Winkler - preferably purely physically, when story, language and setting are reduced. Zitty