Interview with Brigitta Herrmann

It was a privilege to sit down with Beautiful Decay guest dancer Brigitta Herrmann to discuss her thoughts on the project. Herrmann is co-director of Philadelphia’s seminal Group Motion, a contemporary modern dance organization established in 1968 and recognized for pioneering the art form of multimedia dance theater, as well as a world-wide touring program, which has taken their company’s repertory to France, Argentina, Germany, Japan, Cyprus, Taiwan, Poland and Lithuania.

What was your familiarity with BalletX’s work before you joined the cast of ‘Beautiful Decay’?
I had seen BalletX before I joined the cast of ‘Beautiful Decay’, always loved their innovative and contemporary style of Ballet and their excellent performance.

How would you describe the creative process in the BalletX rehearsal studio, so far?
So far, rehearsals, and looking at video recording from previous shows, I feel inspired and challenged.

What do you consider your greatest strength as a dance artist, and how does that strength contribute to an ensemble piece like ‘Beautiful Decay’?
My ability to be present in the dance. I believe my strength lies in my relationship to the music, the space, and my physical ability, relevant to my state of being at this time in my life.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of working with BalletX, and what has been the most challenging?
Most rewarding: Being in the highly professional arena of dance and their beautiful dancers, and all around supportive and kind individuals of staff and direction.

Most challenging: Physical limitations and pain.

What do you think the dancers of BalletX stand to learn from your experience in life and in the dance world, and have you learned anything from them?
Maybe the fact that age is not the end of being a dancer. I am inspired by their endurance and strength.

Performers often talk about the magical and ethereal quality of being on stage in front of an audience. What makes performing so special?
In my over 50 years of performing, whether improvisational or choreographed, I gain insight, and heightened awareness of my physical and mental skills in order to perform and connect with an audience. In dance making and performance I practice my capacity towards wholeness, and its ability to be the catalyst for transformation.

A BalletX fan was once overheard in the audience whispering to her friend that she felt as though she was moving with the dancers on stage when they performed. How would you explain that phenomenon?
I believe that a certain amount of kinesthetic transference takes place between performer and audience. Movement has the ability to communicate emotional states and inspire empathy.

What do you think Nicolo Fonte, the choreographer, is trying to express with this piece?
I don’t want to assume what Nicolo Fonte is trying to express, other than what the title itself already indicates, there may be a sense of beauty in the process of dying and decay.

What is life like for you outside the dance world?
For myself, I feel rather lonely outside the dance world. My entire life has been anchored in the world of dance, inclusive of my family. Both my daughters are dancers, my grandson dances, my love for music and my social life is linked to the world of dance. Most often, people I meet get inspired and start dancing sooner or later.

There’s a Voltaire quote: “Let us read and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.” Do you have anything to add to that quote?
Sounds like a good quote to me. Here is part of a poem I wrote in 1976:

Dance is a form of life

Dance is speaking from your soul through your body

Where dance is, there is happiness

Dance is effortless

When you dance, you are not dancing, but it is dancing you

Dance is healing

Dance is the singing of the breath

Dance is a state of being high

Dance is important

Dance is an expression of how to be

Dance is interplanetary

Dance is without fear

The grass is dancing

The trees are dancing

The water is dancing

The stars are dancing

Having seen dance is like waking from a dream

Dance is reality when you are in it

Dance is taking you where you want to be

Dance is a form of love

When you dance you are without name, you are energy passing through, flowing merging,

connecting, transforming