Powerful, unique, outstanding

After the performance, nobody could bear staying seated anymore. And certainly not the choreographer. Tamir Ginz sat watching the performance of his dancers of the Israeli Kamea Dance Company with a mixture of nervousness and being under a spell, holding his finger in front of his mouth, giving short notes to the assistant sitting next to him and not once losing sight of the stage. And when the story of St. Matthew Passion was over, his tears began flowing. Which meant nothing else but Ginz being enormously proud of his dancers. He knew that they had achieved something extraordinary.

Naturally, the St. Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach which narrates the sufferings of Christ as in the Gospel according to Matthew is widely known. A standard classical piece. A classic of sacred music. However: as stirring as it was presented tonight, it may have rarely been presented. And this mostly thanks to Ginz and his company.

Ginz proved to be a master of his craft. A master of dramaturgy and of translating story and feeling into movement.

The maltreated, creeping Jesus on his way to the Golgotha and then his naked, dead body which is carried and shrouded on stage is shocking. The dancers were a slavering, trampling crowd, vociferously demanding the death of Christ. They were the despaired disciples lacking hope in the face of the imminent crucifixion of their friend. They collectively were Judas, wrestling and cursing himself after the betrayal. They were dancing crosses of bodies. But most of all, they were the carriers of a tremendous drama, which did not need to be completely explicable or compliant with the gospel, but was affecting through the aesthetics of the dance and the formidable physis of the dancers. Agonizing bodies, crooked bodies, gestures of imploration, of cursing, of mortal fear: Ginz wrapped everything connected with the notion of martyrdom into his choreography and created a topical bridge to his own origin as a Jewish person befriending a text of Ancient Christianity and making it universally valid. In the run-up to the performance, Ginz pointed out how important it was to him, as the son of a Nazi concentration camps survivor, to present such a piece in Germany in the current international situation, with the congenial support of the l’arte del mondo orchestra and the singers of the Barmen-Gemarke choir. This is part of the reason why this St Matthew Passion succeeded as powerfully, uniquely, outstandingly. It became an interpretation of a classical piece that nobody in the audience will ever hear again without remembering these dancers and their passion. All the involved parties and Ginz most of all succeeded in visualizing a purely acoustical piece, which can also end in a disaster. This can happen when the spectator is afraid of losing his own image to the text, embossed over the years. After all, what film adaptation of a novel is identical to the reader’s vision of their beloved book? Ginz and Co however aimed into the dark and hit the bull’s eye.


Review by Frank Weifen , Leverkusener Stadtanzeiger