San Francisco – Following a United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) imposed delay of four months, San Francisco International Arts Festival (SFIAF) is finally pleased to present the US debut of German choreographer, David Brandstätter in collaboration with American mezzo-soprano, Michelle Jacques for the US Premiere of FRE!HEIT (freedom in English).
The project, originally scheduled to be part of the SFIAF 2022 Summer Series in June, had to be postponed because Brandstätter’s international credentials were questioned by an adjudicating officer at USCIS. This in spite of a 25 year professional international touring career that has seen Brandstätter perform his work in over 20 other countries on four continents.
The production is a treatise on the multiple meanings of, and negotiations around, the concept of freedom. Brandstätter remains in fragile suspension, balanced on white porcelain cups that he deploys into allegorical constellations; while Jacques narrates, sings and sermonizes from a repurposed pulpit in this thought-provoking, text-driven tour de force.
It is a ritual of questioning and liberating the imagination. Initially intended as a solo performance, Brandstätter has worked with international activists and artists to adapt the script and score for different renditions of FRE!HEIT, when touring outside Europe (he collaborated with journalist/activist Henda Chennaoui for the performances at the Carthage Dance Festival in Tunisia and the music ensemble, Darvesh at the Bunvat Festival in Karachi, Pakistan).
In essence, the piece has been thoroughly repurposed as a two-person multidisciplinary project (with a locally sourced movement choir*). Further, this latest manifestation of the work is the first time it has been performed since the COVID-19 pandemic, which has added yet another layer of complexity to the meaning of Freedom.
Brandstätter said of this latest iteration of the production, “In my piece FREIHEIT I invite the audience on a meditative journey around the idea of freedom and it’s implications for an individual as well as for society. By sharing my own history and critique, I give space to the audience to reflect upon their personal notions of freedom as well. Working with Michelle on this particular version is a blessing. We share an intuition for details and nuances that make the process of rewriting a joyful ride of sharing ideas and give and take. It feels like we have known each other for years. Michelle’s voice adds new emotions and musical precision to the words and their meanings. I am moved to the bottom of my heart when my own actions are juxtaposed with her singing. I feel honored to share the stage with Michelle and am convinced the audience will be picking up on the vivid exchange, that we are having right now.”
* David Brandstätter will lead a FREE three-hour workshop on the weekend of October 1-2 for local artists and students to explore and develop choreographic phrases based on the concepts of freedom and / or who are interested in participating in the movement choir. RSVP Here
David Brandstätter is the founder and co-director of shifts – art in movement together with French choreographer, Malgven Gerbes. Since the two artists created the organization in 2005, shifts has worked on long term collaborations with more than 25 artists – choreographers dancers, visual artists, writers and musicians – and has presented its work in more than 20 countries worldwide (see company description below for more details)..
David has also participated in the development of numerous artistic exchanges, notably with LAFT, Tanzfabrik Berlin, fabrik Potsdam, Ernst Busch HfS, UDKBerlin, Statdtheater Düsseldorf, ArtEZ Arnhem NL, Korean National University of Arts Seoul, Dartington College of arts – UK and Session House Tokyo. from 2010 till 2013 he was a board member of ZTB Berlin an association for contemporary dance in Berlin and is regularly invited to participate to symposium and artistic discussions in Berlin and abroad.
David Brandstätter was born in Wuppertal Germany. He originally studied applied music science in Hamburg. From the age of 15 he worked internationally as a juggler and unicyclist and became a practitioner of traditional Japanese martial arts. In 2001, he started his studies of choreography in Arnhem at the European Dance Development Centre (now called ArtEZ) and focused his research on the development of contact improvisation as a tool for choreographic purposes.
Michelle Jacques (Guest Artist, Vocals)
During a four-decade career in the music industry, Michelle Jacques is, was and has become: a singer, bandleader, composer, songwriter, musical-arranger and educator. Michelle has traveled and performed with many well-known artists including: Wynton Marsalis, Linda Hopkins, Ladysmith Black Mambaza, Pete Seger, The Persuasions, Al Green and Manhattan Transfer. Notable Festival appearances include Montreux, Gurten, Berne, Festijazz and the UN Conference of Human Rights, Geneva. She was also a founding member of Street Sounds a cappella quintet and an original member of Linda Tillery’s Cultural Heritage Choir. Michelle’s educational portfolio includes: director of the Select Vocal Ensemble at Oakland School for the Arts, San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures in Music and Oakland Youth Chorus. She is a lecturer at University of San Francisco and also serves on the Governors Board of the Recording Academy’s San Francisco Chapter, and the board of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.
About Shifts\Art in Movement
Shifts is an assembly for performance which seeks to cross between media and cultures. Shifts adapts its artistic team and its form of expression according to the needs of each project, and the particular subject of investigation. In this way, therefore, it creates new and continuously evolving collaborations and connections. The shifts projects are conceived and guided by Malgven Gerbes and David Brandstätter. The foundation of shifts is based on a core conviction: that constant changes of perspective, shifting balance, the modification of starting positions and external parameters are all conditions essential to a serious and ongoing examination of the art practices to which they have committed themselves. The choreographers Malgven Gerbes and David Brandstätter present performances that put the certainties and uncertainties of their work up for discussion. Their productions don’t attempt to resolve topics, they don’t aim to beat them into submission. Each piece zooms in on the questions that sparked Malgven Gerbes’ and David Brandstätter’s interest, a close-up that they want to present to the audience.
These performances of FRE!HEIT were funded in part by the generous support of the Association Shifts France, Goethe Institute San Francisco, WESTAF Tourwest Grant, Alliance Francais and Regione Normandie. The engagement is a Co-Production with CounterPulse.
Choreography, text, performance David Brandstätter in collaboration, for the performances in San Francisco, with singer and composer Michelle Jacques I Dramaturgic advisers & outside eyes Malgven Gerbes, Alexandros Mistriotis, Thomas Achtner, Howard Katz || Texts correspondances Jeffrey Gormly, Hatto Fischer, David Williams, Katja Kettner, Gabriele Wittmann || Narrators Michelle Jacques, Michael Turnbull || Light & Video Thomas Achtner, Maximilien Sautai II Production management Katja Kettner.
Production shifts – art in movement || Coproduction fabrik Potsdam: Artists-in-residence || Residences Collectif Danse Rennes Métropole, Tanztendenz Munich, Giesinger Bahnhof Munich, Wiesenburg e.V., Théâtre de Bouxwiller, Le Phare – CCN du Havre Normandie || Sponsor Kahla Porzellan || With the support of Fonds Darstellende Künste e.V; BLZT Performing Art Fonds; Kulturreferat München; DRAC Normandie / Ministère de la Culture; Région Normandie; Département de L’Eure || Touring in San Francisco with the support of Institut français Paris, Région Normandie and Goethe Institut San Francisco.
shifts – art in movement is compagnie conventionnée by DRAC Normandie / Ministère de la Culture and Région Normandie.
Calendar Editors Please Note
Who: David Brandstätter, Michelle Jacques
What: FRE!HEIT (2014, US Premiere)
Where: CounterPulse, 80 Turk St, SF
Date & Time: Fri-Sat, October 7-8, 8:00pm, Sun October 9, 2:00pm
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: Advance Price: $19.99. Door: $25. Full-Time Students and Seniors: $18.
Box Office and Information: https://www.sfiaf.org/2022_freiheit or 415-399-9554.
Andrew Wood 415-399-9554 (o) 00-44-742-405-8348 (c) email@example.com
Photos Available on Request