KULTUR // TANZ:
AMBER PANSTERS (Mainz)

01.07.2020 (Interview: Johannes Schierwater)

Tanztheater mit Mindestabstand – funktioniert das? Das neue Stück des Mainzer Ensembles „tanzmainz“ verkörpert diese Verbindung mit einer energetischen Performance: „Extra Time“ von Choreograf Pierre Rigal spielt mit sozialer Distanz und den inneren Einflüssen einer Pandemie. Amber Pansters ist seit vier Spielzeiten Tänzerin am Mainzer Staatstheater und ihre Leidenschaft ist längst nicht ausgeschöpft. Ein Gespräch (im englischen Original) über den persönlichen Werdegang der 25-jährigen Holländerin, die dualistische Leidenschaft zum Tanz und über eine Vorführung während einer besonderen Zeit. 

Amber, how different was the experience to prepare a performance during the Corona Lockdown for you? Can you take us through the process how the performance evolved? 

It was a new experience, as for everyone in the world, and quite challenging to do classes from home at first. I got into contact with many different practices like Pilates or Yoga or other contemporary techniques that were new for me. But of course, at a certain point the craving for more space to move in was growing and luckily enough we were allowed to work one on one in our studio with the choreographer at that point. Only ten days before the premiere we were all back together on a stage and saw what everyone of us had been working on for the first time.

Is there something else that was especially unusual in comparison to the regular work process? 

Well, definitely the fact that we cannot touch each other is very unusual – especially for dancers. Because we are very physically orientated. The work that we do requires that we touch and feel each other with all senses. Also, not having things like partner work or giving each other a hug in the morning probably influenced “Extra Time”. I think it is not a choreography about the corona crisis, but it is definitely influenced by the crisis.

 

What was working with Pierre Rigal, who was originally invited from France to direct another performance that got cancelled due to the pandemic, like? 

I can probably explain it best by saying that he gave us the language he wanted us to speak. He was also very detail-orientated. He wanted us to focus on how certain words are pronounced. But the way we built the sentences was actually up to us, the dancers. It was interesting to see how his focus could be very general and open to our suggestions, but then he could get extremely focused on smaller details. I always enjoy these possibilities to have a dialogue with the choreographer, to not just take but to give as well. 

I thought the piece expressed feelings about being trapped in a space somewhere. You could feel the emotions of being nervous and feeling lonely during the lockdown. Did Pierre Rigal mention how Corona influenced the performance? 

Interesting! I don’t think it is necessarily about Corona at all. But I think, he took some elements that he experienced during this period. I remember him often saying that he felt that we are in a strange period, that is different from what we experience as normal. He wanted to bring this feeling into the choreography. But he wasn’t exploring what Corona does to an individual or to a group. He was just taking the sensation of this time and finding ways how to express them. 

 

I realized that I haven’t been going out to dance for a long time – Do you think the audience had a desire for cultural experience and how much did you miss performing in front of people?

I actually had no idea what to expect going on stage or how the audience would react. I knew that the amount of people allowed in the theater was limited and there would be mostly empty seats. I was very happily surprised by how we were received after the show. That was very open and heart-warming, I have to say. I felt like there was a mutual appreciation of us being on stage again. And I am very thankful for that. 

Let’s talk about your personal journey. When did you start dancing? 

Honestly, when I was four years old. I did improvisation dancing to meet other kids – it was more of a hobby. When I was twelve, I auditioned and got invited to ArtEZ School of Dance in Venlo. And when I was 18, I auditioned for bachelor programs in dance and got into Codarts University of the Arts in Rotterdam and was very happy that I managed to get a place there. And in my last year there, I auditioned for tanzmainz as an internship for one year and afterwards was lucky to get a contract for the following seasons. And I am happy to be in my fourth year here now. 

Sounds like you made a passion into your profession. Isn’t that sometimes challenging? 

Oh, Yes. It’s a very dualistic relationship. It started quite young with me, but it was only at a later age that I found this is what I want to do professionally. Because it is what I want to experience life through. Then I thought, “let’s go for it”. But it can be a love and hate relationship. For example, there are days when you just don’t want to engage socially but you have to perform on stage, you have to overcome a certain part of yourself. That is a very interesting feeling. You have to let go of a personal side for a little moment. But you also gain the tools to deal with these feelings through experience. 

It can also be physically exhausting, right?

Yes, generally looking at the workload we have and how demanding dance can be. But what I also learned over the years is to have a positive relation with physical stress. Of course, it doesn’t always work that way, but you learn to accept that it is part of doing this job. 

Do you still enjoy going out to clubs and dancing in your spare time?

Completely! I am not at all tired of dancing. For me the beautiful and intriguing part of dancing is that it can be so many things. In a choreography on stage it can transfer a message or be an artistic form to express a concept. It can be a form of therapy. It can be a personal expression. And it also can be a way to just have fun and enjoy your body and your being – and to also enjoy that with other people. A big passion of mine is to dance in clubs or festivals and experience the art of music with your body. I also danced in my room a lot during these times…(laughs)

Im weiteren Gespräch haben wir uns außerdem über den Titel „Extra Time“, den vergangenen Erfolg des Stücks “soulchain” und über die besondere Arbeitsweise und Atmosphäre bei tanzmainz unterhalten. 

Infos zu weiteren Aufführungen von tanzmainz und dem neuen Stück “Extra Time” gibt es hier:

https://www.staatstheater-mainz.com/web/veranstaltungen/tanzmainz-19-20/extra-time-ua

DAS AUSFÜHRLICHE INTERVIEW ZUM NACHHÖREN
Amber Pansters

(c) Andreas Etter