2002, Duet, 60 Min., 12 x 10 Meter

about the piece

The choreographer Christoph Winkler interviewed Margaret Illmann and Bettina Thiel about their lives as dancers. How does a dancer remember, what does life, if danced, mean? What happens to them, how do they experience getting older in dance, where will it lead them? The thoughts expressed during these interviews are the exciting basis for a choreographic piece that sees itself as a mirror, a foreign gaze onto these two women, artists and dancers.



A piece about and with Margaret Illmann and Bettina Thiel | Choreography: Chistoph Winkler | Music: Hazard, Akira Rabelais, Chris Carter, Legendary Pink Dots, Lustmord, Fennesz | Production: Christoph Winkler and Barbara Friedrich

Funded by the Fonds Darstellende Künste e.V. Thanks to Frederick Ashton, Patrice Bart, John Cranko, William Forsythe, Jean Coralli, Petipa


“Lebenslang” is an exciting attempt to grasp the careers of two exceptionally successful prima ballerinas; mixing the private with the professional … it focuses on very direct questions that surround the lives of the dancers. For example: What does having been engaged for 22 years at the same venue mean to you … Instead of answering, Thiel slowly turns around in her introverted way and begins a touching, even radical, absolutely non-sentimental solo. She finds the way, just like the glamorous-controlled ballet star Margaret Illman, back to basic movement, to bound form -as verse differs from prose. - Tagesspiegel

Does ballet only have a chance for the future if it opens itself up more for other systems of art? Christoph Winkler has … searched for possible answers. Like an archaeologist Winkler begins his research on the surface, only gradually digging deeper and that is not only the only reason why “Lebenslang” is also a piece for fans. His dialogue between ballet and contemporary dance is convincing…. - Stuttgarter Nachrichten

The Berliner choreographer Christoph Winkler has, in his dance piece “Lebenslang”, undertaken a very personal introspection of life as a classical dancer, based entirely on the biographies of two women. Winkler, in his work as an independent choreographer a critical inquirer into academic dance, has very tenderly, with respect for the art and the personalities of the dancers translated it into solos and pas de deux in his strict formal, minimalistic choreographic style. The rebel of dance and two grand ballerinas – a fascinating meeting in dance. - Stuttgarter Zeitung

Both dancers, complementing each other so wonderfully, celebrated a triumph more exultant than any of their appearances in the opera, bouquets and all, could ever be. It was truly a great programme… That was primarily thanks to this young choreographer Christoph Winkler from Berlin…He interviewed both about their artistic and private self-understandings, as intelligently and penetratingly, as I haven’t experienced in a long while… and then choreographically pushed them to their limits. - tanznetz.de