Tango Intervention, Vienna

...a circle considering barriers and passage

Ringstrasse, Wien, Austria, 5/14/08, 3-7:30 pm

Action: A mobile milonga stopping at 6 locations on the Ringstrasse, the circular road that was built after the 8 century old city walls were torn down in 1857. Performed as part of the 5th International Mobile Music Workshops

Dancers: Adi Morawitz, Agnes Pfeffer, Beate Wist, Bettina Leier, Birgit Dalheimer, Christian Oberndorfer, Christine Reiterlechner, Daniela Ponieman, Elina Maier, Ernsto Buchberger, Gerhard Krypl, Helmut Höllriegl, Holger Bock, Jörg Mitgutsch, Kristin Gruber, Martina Hopfner, Mathias Kahler-Polagnoli, Philipp Stix, Rael Godoy, Renate Falkner, Susi Maurer, Ulli Reinthaler, Vesna Drnovšek.

Documentation: Robert Lawrence, Renate Falkner, Julia Staudach, Holger Bock.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to all the dancers who made this intervention a very special event. Many thanks to Professor Nicolaj Kirisits, Sascha Sadat-Guscheh, and everyone at the Mobile Music Workshops. Extra special thanks to Holger Bock, Vesna Drnovšek, and Andreas Schwarzmann of Tango GRAZioso, and to Susi Maurer and Christian Oberndorfer, all of whom provided so invaluable help with the sound systems that kept everyone dancing for 4.5 hours. Heartfelt thanks to Renate Falkner for tactical (and psychological) support …. and that unexpected and infinitely renewing lift from the airport! I hope to see you all again very soon!

For 8 centuries the city of Vienna was surrounded by walls as protection from foreign invaders. In 1857 the city walls were torn down by order of Emperor Franz Joseph. A ring road was built in place of the walls.

When I was invited to participate in the 5th International Mobile Music Workshop and began to research locations for a tango intervention, it was the power of a circular road replacing a wall that most fascinated me. By charting our route along a ring road that replaced fortified city walls, I intend the performance as a meditation on barriers and passages, fear and freedom, the transience of a dance and the long sweep of history.

In addition to the site-specific interventions and the web component, this Tango Intervention adds another element: a mediated thread between the physical experience at the site and the virtual contextualization online. At each site of intervention there is a phone number provided. Callers to this number will receive an introduction to the project and a brief historical or social contextualization of the work. Below I have included the voice text for each location.

Tango Intervention, Vienna Location Audio Texts:

1 - We start our tango intervention here at Theodor Herzl Platz, where we dance near some of the very few physical remnants of the ancient city fortifications. And… on the subject of Passage and Barrier, it may be of passing interest to know that Theodor Herzl was the founder of Zionism.

2 - We are now dancing at the Vienna Opera House, the first public building constructed after the destruction of the city walls. Though there is debate as to whether this was actually a public building or rather a playground for the aristocracy. We are dancing not in the front but near the stage entrance, which has admitted artists from around the world for centuries.

3 - Here you find us dancing Argentine tango around the Mozart Statue. Why here? Well it seems to me that Mozart, whose Vienna was surrounded by walls rather than a ring road, was a master of creating structures that always felt extremely free. And this being Vienna, and this location being a lovely place to dance, I thought that was enough of an excuse to fit into the barriers and passages theme of this intervention. Also the decorative motifs around Mozart are from the Italian opera Don Giovanni, with libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, was first produced by Bondini's company in Prague. Art gets around.

4 - You might be watching us dance in front of the Austrian Parliament building, or.... you might find us dancing in front of the Pizza and Kabob stand nearby. Because I am not sure how well the authorities will take to a Tango Intervention at the Parliament building I have decided to put the choice of locations to the dancers. We are dancing now where the dancers chose to dance. The Parliament is where laws are made. The Pizza/Kabob stand is where food from other cultures is made. There are connections.

5 - We are here at a location in the park halfway between the Rathaus and the University, in consideration of the negotiations between government and higher learning concerning barriers and passages, fear and freedom. I have been thinking often recently about the transience of music and dance and the long sweep of history …And aren't the spring blossoms lovely here today?

6 - For the final tango of the day we return to some more of the physical remnants of the old city walls, here in Dr Karl Luegger Platz. The walls were discovered during the construction of the U-Bahn, which comprises yet another Ring Passage, a kind of underground Ringstrasse.

For more documentation please see files at: