A chat with Yasmeen Godder

Alice Bauer

A chat with Yasmeen Godder


A powerful performance dedicated to primal being and sensations, Storm End Come from Israeli choreographer Yasmeen Godder continues her exploration of humanity’s essential nature.

Godder received her BA from the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, then began to infuse outside interests like visual arts and anthropology into her choreography, garnering praise in the international dance scene. Using that academic passion, she and her partner Itzik Giuli weave chaotically through the human psyche in this current piece – stripping down the visions that we have of ourselves.

Taking a moment to speak with Exberliner before the piece comes to Kreuzberg’s HAU 2 this month, Godder explains her work, her psychologically intense process and what that creates for the audience.

What do you want to say with your choreography?

I want to create an interaction with the body and the subconscious. I come in with completely unrelated questions and see how they intertwine organically.

With Singular Sensation, it was about the ability to isolate the sensation and idea of a personal superhero through a physical and emotional space. It became about the need to experience and sense alongside the desire to be someone beside yourself.

Do you feel that a piece has been misinterpreted?

Sure, but it’s part of the deal. It’s difficult, but the differences of ideas and interpretations let you see something outside of yourself.

You went back to Israel in 1999. Do your works speak to where you are, or are they seen as being vocal in that respect?

I can’t expect people not to connect my work to my heritage. And I guess I can’t expect to be completely neutral – I’m not. When you live in a place, you react to it. On the other hand, my mind can go beyond my geographical setting; other things impact the sensibility of my work.

Strawberry Cream and Gunpowder addresses the political situation. I think it’s iconographic of the situation and territories, and it deals with them through the body. It’s half sarcastic and half over the top; there’s research into strength and vulnerability. It addresses the issue of how to use power. When do you take the role of the victim and of the aggressor? It resonates on a level beyond the biographical.

Identity in general interests me, how we communicate in the world and the contradictions of our personal layers.

What role do layers play in this new piece at HAU? 

How did it develop? I tried to challenge the masks that we create for ourselves, how we relate to each other with these different layers. I tried to strip away the expressive exterior dialogue, which a performer naturally has. Both the physical and performative language go to an animalistic, pre-human quality with remnants of learned behaviour.

This project was unique in that my partner initially worked with the dancers on his own. I usually work with them first. Using questionnaires, he challenged how they talked and thought about who they were. When I got the questionnaires, they were unaltered, without explanation or reasoning.

I worked with what I didn’t understand. So it’s like a sense of the world right before or after a catastrophe, with just the beginnings or remnants of identity. There’s an underlying sense of threat.

I studied different animals too to challenge my own research, which was centred on the question of performance (performance as performer and dialogue) and creating a world on stage that was more self-involved, rather than for the audience.

What’s Berlin’s importance for you?

I started working in Berlin in 2004, and it lets me develop a dialogue with the people. I lived in Berlin for a month working with Matanicola (Matan Zamir and Nicola Mascia) on Under, so that was heavily influenced by the city. It’s nice to have a place that consistently shows your pieces, and Berlin has become a place of continual relationship for me, and it accepts the shifts of my work. The wide variety of artistic voices enable the audience to have an open mind. I love being in Berlin – I feel connected to it.

Storm End Come, Jan 19-21, 20:00 | HAU 2, Hallesches Ufer 32, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Hallesches Tor