Eva Isolde Balzer has been learning Classical Indian Dance Theatre (Kuchipudi/Bharata Natyam) in Chennai and Berlin since 2006. Her approach is influenced by a critical perspective through her studies of cultural anthropology (BA, FU Berlin, 2010). She learns, researches and collaborates with her dance teacher Rajyashree Ramesh under whom she performed her margam – debut in june 2013 (BERLIN-MARGAM). She has been also learning from several other teachers, amongst them Sangeeta Ishwaran, disciple of Kalanidhi Narayanan and Srilatha Vinodh, disciple of the Dhananjayans. She is a collaborator of Johanna Devi Dance Company and Manickam Yogeswaran. Within the field of Bharata Natyam Eva is interested on questions of Hybridity, the definition of „own“ and „other“ and the challenges of post-colonial perspectives. Her research resulted in performances such as Hybrid Identities, and Santosham. Her Solo „BalaPina2“, was created in that context and chosen to be presented in the final round of the competition „Germany‘s best dance solo“. Since 2015 she has been collaborating with the interdisciplinary project kunstplanbau, where she last performed Kali’s gaze - a decolonial research- in May 2017. Check current performances under NEWS.
Rayjashree Ramesh/ Rasika Dance Theater International
Eva has been learning, researching and collaborating with Rayjashree Ramesh/Berlin since 2006. Eva‘s lessons in Bharata Natyam have been filmed and analysed as part of Rajyashree Ramesh‘s PhD research in the field of Bharata Natyam/Linguistics at Viadrina University Frankfurt/Oder. She has performed in several productions of Ramesh‘s Rasika Dance Theater International at the Indian Embassy, Werkstatt der Kulturen, Tanznacht Schöneberg and Festival Bewegte Welten.
The Berlin Margam: Evas debut solo-margam-performance with Rajyashree Ramesh was embedded in a symposium on “art and embodiment – looking beyond Exoticism” (a cooperation with Werkstatt der Kulturen) and followed by a Symposium on Indian Dance in a Global Age (a cooperation with IRC Interweaving Performance Cultures and Indian Embassy Berlin) :
The margam is a classical repertoire of dance pieces that form a basic choreographic structure in bharatanatyam. Historically speaking, the teacher presents a student for the first time to the public upon completion of a margam. The debut contains sociocultural elements like speeches of experts and guests of honour, ceremonial elements etc.. Considering its European framework here Eva’s performace is conceived to illuminate the artistic perspective of dance as a stage art, thus transforming some elements. The speeches for example were replaced by a podium discussion with the internationally reknown experts Prof.Phillip Zarrilli, Dr. Ashish Mohan Khokar, Dr.Avanti Meduri and Prof. Martin Puttke.
The margam was discussed as a path of transformation and translation, taking into accounts its relevance and practice today in an European context. Unfortunately in Germany bharatanatyam suffers a Eurocentric gaze that marginalizes it as `culturally specific`, ‘ethnic’,, ‘exotic’, or placed in the past as an ancient relic’. Together with Rajyashree Ramesh and Indian Dance Historian Avanthi Meduri, the dance was presented as a historical continuum in a constant process of change.
for the video-excerpt click here.
Johanna Devi Dance Company
Johanna Devi Dance Company creates contemporary performances on the basis of technics of Bharata Natyam and contemporary dance styles. Eva Isolde Balzer is collaborating closely with Johanna Devi and trains and performs in the Company since its creation in 2011. One of their productions is Santosham:
“santosham” (2011) (sanskrit for Peace or Happiness) is drawing attention to the human search of finding peace in daily life cycles. In this choreography Johanna Devi is inspired by some of Jalal-al-din Rumi’s poetry. The three dancers are trained in contemporary and classical Indian dance techniques and the movement material – created by the performers – is based on Rumi’s poetry, personal stories, cycles, balance, control, loss of control, trance, simplicity, circles and odd rhythms. Carried by Oliver Doerell’s music „santosham“ is a specially personal and emotionally intense experience.
10.12.2011 at Schöneberger Tanznacht, Berlin
24.02. 2012 at Sophiensaele, Berlin
10.09.2012 at Indian Embassy, Berlin
choreography: Johanna Devi
dance: E. I. Balzer, Giorgia Minisini, J. Devi
music: Oliver Doerell
Press says:“Moving Poetry“. The movements are as soft as velvet, as fluid as water. Fareastern sounds are opening the heart, the soul is exposed. Magnetized one follows each of the soothing, soft gestures of the three dancers. They remind of priestesses of ancient cults, who try to bring themselves in accordance and unison with the world. Classical Indian and contemporary dance merge poetically into one wave, one stream of energy.., Dynamic andreflection create a mystical dialogue throughout the fingertips of the graceful dancers. Everything flows. ((ail)”100Wort! Feb 25th 2012)
what the audience says“Santosham” literally made me happy. Happy, because Johanna Devi, Eva Isolde Balzer and Giorgia Minisini honestly mean what they dance. Because here you can see authentic Indian dance that is strong in its presence but it is no folkloristic dance anymore, but much more than that. Because here the fusion of contemporary and Indian dance is succesfully mastered and skillfully accomplished.”; „exciting, stirring and touching”
Carnatic singer Manickam Yogeswaran and Bharatanatyam dancer Eva Isolde Balzer present three different melodic structures with a focus on their emotive qualities. The duo will explore how the characteristics of the ragas are linked to the emotional states and general nature of characters depicted in dance.
The exploration of the ragas is followed by the rendition of a story-telling dance-theatre piece in each raga. The characters will show a variety of personalities which are characteristic in abhinaya pieces in bharatanatyam: the shy young woman, who describes to her friend about a sacred and sensual experience with her lover; the devotee who playfully attempts to lure the divine to manifest; and the daring heroine, who challenges the social code of conducts in her surroundings by openly standing by her love-relationship.
Accompanying Manickam Yogeswaran (2012): at Werkstatt der Kulturen in cooperation with Global Music Academy
for the video-excerpt click here
BALA PINA2 (2011):
BalaPina2 is a 5 minutes long solo dance piece. It is performed and choreographed by Eva Isolde Balzer, and co-choreographed by Johanna Devi and Giorgia Minisini. BalaPina2 dances around the question „How would Pina Bausch make me dance Balasaraswati?“. It is performed on a round table, surrounded by the audience.
BalaPina2 has been chosen as one of the ten best performances to be presented in the final round of „ Germany‘s best dance solo“ at Euroszene Leipzig, November 2011.
Hybrid Identities (2011)
Hybrid Identities is the personal exploration by two dancers of their training in two very different styles: classical Indian and contemporary European dance/theatre. The work is looking for the permeability of imagined cultural borders and questions the designation of forms as culturally “own” and “foreign”. Four loosely connected episodes form the work. Hybrid Identities is a site-specific performance. The episodes were staged in 3 different spaces within the Rathaus Schöneberg.
28.08.2011, Rathaus Schöneberg
concept/direction: Eva Isolde Balzer and Mi Zhou
co-choreography: Johanna Devi
music: Robin Storey
dance: Eva Isolde Balzer, Johanna Devi
Hybrid Identities has received a grant by Dezentrale Kulturarbeit Schöneberg-Tempelhofphotos left-side upwards: „euro-szene Leipzig, Festival zeitgenössischen europäischen Theaters, 08-13.11.2011 Wettbewerb „Das beste deutsche Tanzsolo“, Ring-Café Leipzig Konzeption: Alain Platel, Gent, künstlerische Leitung:René Reinhardt, Leipzig Foto: Rolf Arnold, Leipzig“
photo right side©Daniela Incoronato
photos santosham©Ana F.Furelos
photos BalaPIna: „euro-szene Leipzig, Festival zeitgenössischen europäischen Theaters, 08-13.11.2011 Wettbewerb „Das beste deutsche Tanzsolo“, Ring-Café Leipzig Konzeption: Alain Platel, Gent, künstlerische Leitung:René Reinhardt, Leipzig Foto: Rolf Arnold, Leipzig“
photos Hybrid Identities upper row©Minerva Martinez
photo Hybrid Identites lower row left© Louise Mills, lower row right©Mi Zhou