MONSTRATOR – Helena Botto


Monsters are scary, terrifying and ugly -this is how we imagine them. Yet they are also representations of anarchy and signify longings of being ‚different’. Monsters give us the lusty creeps; ’angst lust’. Because they exist outside of the norm, monsters threaten our identity and agitate our certainty whilst confronting us with our own self. Through differentiation they simultaneously serve a reassurance of normality. In the 19th century freak shows became an important de-monstration. Exhibiting the monstrous and pairing it with the voyeuristic audience’s expectations these shows had a regulating functionality. The monstrous arrived within the everyday life whilst being domesticated by keeping it within specific boundaries. But what happens when the line between monster and curious onlooker blurs? In her new piece Helena Botto together with choreographer Marc Philipp Gabriel and her team examine the aesthetics of the grotesque, absurd and the freaky body as well as the theatrical apparatus of a freak show. They open new perspectives for the audience of what might be perceived as’ the other’.

Concept and artistic direction: Helena Botto Performance and development: Helena Botto, Marc Philipp Gabriel Sounddesign: Joshua Rutter Video: Philipp Weinrich Dramaturgy: Susanne Mayer Mentoring and scientific consultation: Susanne Foellmer Light design: Gretchen Blegen Production: Julia Danila

„Monstrator“ is a co-production with Hebelhalle|Künstlerhaus|Unterwegs Theater Heidelberg, supported by Choreographisches Zentrum Heidelberg | TanzAllianz, Goethe-Institut Porto, Mala Voadora, Espaço Instável | Teatro do Campo Alegre Porto and the Berlin venue Vierte Welt

PREMIERE  2 + 3 AUG 2017 / Ausufern Festival / Uferstudios Berlin
10 + 11 NOV 2017 /
Hebelhalle Unterwegstheater / Heidelberg
13 DEC 2017 / SODA ALUMNI FESTIVAL / Uferstudios / Berlin
5 + 6 JAN 2018 / ACUD / Berlin


Helena Botto – Studies on Monstrousness

7-27 NOV 2016 / 3rd Study on Monstrousness / Residency at TANZAllianz Coreographisches Centrum Heidelberg, Heidelberg

22 OCT 2016 /   2nd Study on Monstrousness / Presentation “Tanz Stipendium Berlin Senate 2015” / Ada Studios, Berlin

4-12 SEP 2016 / 1st Study on monstrousness / Monstratorum (research) / Residency at Lugar Instável, Teatro do Campo Alegre, Porto

3rd Study on Monstrousness – some notes on the structure

To kill the Monster one needs to keep it apart, but at the same time, to introduce it into the everyday realm, one will make out of it a curiosity (fair) and so it will paradoxically become a liberator of anguish.

José Gil in Monstros, 1994

This performative research is rooted on the exploration of monstrousness and aims to bring a critical insight on the theatrical apparatus of the Freakshow, the popular fairs of wonders and Humans Zoos.

Freakshows and Human Zoos arose in the middle of the XIX century – as a consequence of the apogee of the western european colonialism – and were a display that emphasised division and Otherness, rooted on the dichotomy: I versus The Other.

Often disguised by the name of “World’s Fairs”, those shows (de-monstrations) offered a particular regulating mechanism where the display of the “monstrous”, or of the “Other” was meant to satisfy and pacify the voyeuristic desire of an audience by attempting to reassure their own normalcy.

The three weeks residency at the Choreographic Center of Heidelberg constituted the third of the five condensed blocks of this research. The previous two blocks were in September (Portugal) and in October (Berlin). The objective of this phase was tending toward the construction of a structural draft that would allow the exploration of, and reflect upon ways of transforming the conventional roles of the “Monster” (the Other), “the Freakshow Host” (the Showman) and the Audience, and to test a few procedures in order to build the skeleton of the future performance.

How strict should the borders of this triangulation remain in order that the spectrum of the former dispositif can still remain visible? And how much can one merge them?

In aesthetical and methodological parameters this research is making use of grotesqueness, absurdity, the exploration of the moustrous, in its comic, morbid and scary variations aiming to achieve states of hybridness in which the content becomes blurred and often unidentifiable.

A public showing at Ada Studios, in Berlin the previous October, inserted within a specific frame, brought back into the work adapted and recontextualised performative material that I had started to develop in 2015 within the frame of the “Portuguese Monster” – where I was developing material related to the role of Portugal as a colony, its mentality, its cultural and folkloric manifestations, a.o. (Helena Botto)


Marc Philipp Gabriel & Kieron Jina „Down to Earth“

photo: Dieter Hartwig 

DOWN TO EARTH is a whirling dance of constructed identities shaped by increasingly complex constellations that go beyond the universal social interrogation of “where are you from?” and “what do you do?”. Existing examples of socially coded dance, music and cultural artifacts collide until alien identities are born and shattered on stage, drawing on the human body as a projection canvas. What agency do we really have in rupturing our identities? Kieron Jina (South Africa) and Marc Philipp Gabriel (Germany) work together since 2013. For “Down to Earth“ Yogin Sullaphen (South African) joins as a collaborator to assist in musical composition.

Choreography & Performance: Kieron Jina & Marc Philipp Gabriel | Music: Yogin Sullaphen | Light: Gretchen Blegen | Set: Marie Fricout | Rehearsal director: Liselotte Singer

Coproduction: Tanzfabrik Berlin and University of Johannesburg Arts and Culture.
Supported by: Internationaler Koproduktionsfonds des Goethe Instituts | Dance Umbrella Festival (Johannesburg) | National Arts Festival, South Africa | NATIONALES PERFORMANCE NETZ (NPN) International Guest Performance Fund for Dance, which is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media on the basis of a decision by the German Bundestag.


Nominated for “Best Cutting Edge Production 2017”, South African Theatre Magazine Awards for Stage


„This piece is, to vary the fitting programme notes, a hybrid of cultural artefacts, socially coded dances and music, a playfully exotic dance that neither denies the desire for appropriation, transformation and identity change, nor for the fen-fire-like in-between.” (Astrid Kaminski, tanzraumberlin)

“Why is this faking of rituals, this colourful ethno-kitsch so good? Perhaps because it is made so easy to experience the seductive part of it, and because at the same time the comedy of the unsuccessful attempts at enchantment is now and then shining through, but remains unspoken. And also because the multi-ethnic globe-hopper-cast makes it clear how thin the boundaries are between expropriation, appropriation, and self-ownership in a world of mutual interdependence and influence.” (Astrid Kaminski, tanzraumberlin)


4 – 6 JULY 2017 / National Arts Festival / arena programme / Grahamstown, South Africa

12 MAY 2017 / Theatertreffen / international programme / Berliner Festspiele, Germany

10 MAR 2017 / #UPINTHESKY Workshop / Con Cowan Theatre / Johannesburg

2 + 3 MAR 2017 / Dance Umbrella / Johannesburg

24 + 25 FEB 2017 / Open Spaces #1 / Tanzfabrik Berlin

DOWN TO EARTH means basic, both feet on the ground, straight forward, exactly what is expected. No surprises please. No more than necessary, no bullshitting. Just be yourself, please, innocent like a child. DOWN TO EARTH is exactly that — and not! It is unexpectedly the expected. The descent of the strange stranger from non-earth to Earth. The alien figure within us, the reflection of what we are – not -, and what we could have been. Digging up questions like: why-are-we-like-this and why-not-like-that? This is an encouragement for collective self-analysis.

Two faceless humanoid creatures, vulnerable and bare as they are, drop down in our communal centre, the theatre stage, and proceed to take us on a bumpy road trip through the building and bursting of culture, where the distinction between artificial and real becomes blurred and dichotomies of gender, power and social norms are revealed in their threatening ridiculousness. Emptied out, we ask ourselves, is this the world we would like to be in?

Kieron Jina, Marc Philipp Gabriel (performers) and Yogin Sullaphen (musician) are using a bunch of random “man-made” stuff to summon an artificial world of creatures, cultural codes and artifacts from past and present times, touching on the nostalgia for another future and heading for a rebirth into another past.

“When you are down to earth, don’t forget to look at what’s up in the sky!” — (someone wise)

When two hands touch, there is a sensuality of the flesh, an exchange of warmth, a feeling of pressure, of presence, a proximity of otherness that brings the other nearly as close as oneself. Perhaps closer. And if the two hands belong to one person, might this not enliven an uncanny sense of the otherness of the self, a literal holding oneself at a distance in the sensation of contact, the greeting of the stranger within? So much happens in a touch: an infinity​ of others—other beings, other spaces, other times—are aroused.”

Karen Barad

Marc Philipp Gabriel & Kieron Jina „Down to Earth“

Marc Philipp Gabriel & Kieron Jina „Down to Earth“ Marc Philipp Gabriel & Kieron Jina „Down to Earth“

photos: Dieter Hartwig 

Music Pieces for Voice Piece

Evgenija Wassilev: Music Pieces for Voice Piece for Bass, Tenor and Baritone (after Voice Piece for Soprano by Yoko Ono), 2016

The work is based on a re-interpretation and translation of the instruction piece Voice Piece for Soprano by Yoko Ono, performed by musicians, in tribute to Yoko Ono’s piece and interpretation. The voice piece performances were transcripted into music sheets, using the algorithm of a note recognition program. The performers interpret the musical notation of the translated screaming into a music piece on his instrument, extending its possibilities for the unplayable parts of the scores by using tactile parts of the instrument, voice or respiration sounds.

Marc Philipp Gabriel (voice / flute), Juan Peñalver Madrid (voice / piano), Mike Flemming (voice / viola), Michal Krajczok (voice)


Wandering Flutist (Music Pieces for Voice Piece, after Voice Piece for Soprano by Yoko Ono), 2016

The flutist Marc Philipp Gabriel plays six selected music sheets out of the musical notation of three voice performances of four different musician’s voice performances while walking through hidden and public spaces of the Campus HBK in Brunswick.


Monday FEAST

monday FEAST_gold

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Show your worst ideas, recycle material from the trash can, try out embarrassing concepts, show the things that you are scared to show.
 Or just come to ​FEAST with whoever else turns up.
 Every Monday evening.
Please request the newsletter for more details. Mail to
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unbreakable rules:
(= conditions to show stuff)
+ only 100% finalized shows presented at full energy are allowed +
+ all shows of one night can add up to 1 hour max +
+ make sure your show is no shorter than 30 secs. +
+ no improvisation allowed unless you thought about it for at least 1 minute before showing +
+ you can let us know beforehand by replying to this email if you intend to present a show +
+ or not. in that case just turn up​to the FEAST on monday +
+ the evening will be programmed​at the beginning of the FEAST +
+ you can invite collaborators to perform +
+ at the end of the show part we will talk about the future of art making. every monday evening +
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(We love to fail with you.)
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an instigation by marc philipp gabriel feat. bling bling recycling collective  (Emma Tricard, Anna-Lena Lehr, Tabea Magyar, Cécile Bally)
inspired by Antonia *Bär* and loose friends
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photo: Ahmed EL Gendy

26 MAY 2016 / 19:00 / CYBORG’S HERITAGE // Mayhem / Vanitas Performance Fest / Kopenhagen

24 APR 2016 / 19:00 / CYBORG’S HERITAGE // Talking to a deer (friend) / DOCK 11 / Berlin

09 SEP 2015 / 19:00 / CYBORGS HERITAGE // Veem House for Performance / Amsterdam

CYBORG’S HERITAGE is an ongoing performative research by Burkhard Körner and Marc Philipp Gabriel. Both of us have backgrounds in classical music and are recent graduates from experimental choreography schools (SNDO Amsterdam / HZT Berlin).

The idea for CYBORG’S HERITAGE grew out of an immense curiosity for what would happen if the specific modes and qualities of traditional western music making and the infinite possibilities and reflective processes of contemporary performance making start to inform each other: singing baroque music as part of a dance performance. What seems simple and obvious at first has undergone a crucial development that goes deeper than the superficial confrontation of both worlds. We are insisting on revealing the concepts, sub-layers, emotions, codes, conventions, taboos, patterns, mechanisms, social implications and relationships of each world, in order to explore what these inner layers can contribute to each other.

Starting from dissecting a vocal duet by Claudio Monteverdi and exploring physical approaches derived from partnering and contact improvisation, combined with pixelated full body suits, we began to summon a post-human digital body with permeable borders and fading individualities. We started exploring approaches derived from partnering and contact improvisation (in particular the symmetry practice of Jess Curtis and Maria F. Scaroni). Playing with modes of perception, flatness and universality on the visual level, the vocal level operates with individual timbres, social communication and emotional exchange between the two performers and the audience, moving on a fine line between comedy and seriousness.
We are working on the physicality of a post-human body, a body that becomes object, that loses individuality and is seemingly entangled with the world of other beings. An incomplete organism. A post-identity-body that is yet pierced by its vocal heritage.

CREATION AND PERFORMANCE Burkhard Körner and Marc Philipp Gabriel

THANKS TO Johanna Peine, Emma Tricard, Petar Sarjanovic, Graziella Gamonal, Jija Sohn, Lisa Skwirblies, Oneka von Schrader, Bussana Vecchia, Maria F. Scaroni and Jess Curtis



photo: Linea Kornum Rask

B: It will be our first creation after graduating from choreography

M: It’s not fitting in.

B: What do you need to know?

M: It is digging into our togetherness.

B: Can you see the thing which is so inherent for us?

M: It will be the non-human sounding of a butterfly.

B: What if a tone can tell more than a movement?

M: It is floating in delirium.

B: I think this is a piece which wants to bridge what seems to be opposite.

M: It is an urban dirty queer ritual club.

B: Is this a human drama or an expression of contemporaneity?

M: It is saying yes.

B: It is an encounter of two Germans who are not where they come from.

M: It is a caterpillar looking for transformation.

B: It wants to channel our desire for music into contemporary performance.

M: It is already there.


Dusk. In the cosmic space of a sphere, two nude dancing bodies are brooding a creature that will be able to cross all borders. Be part of this birth ritual, get your GLORY-PASS and help assembling a queer bodyless animal out of the darkness!


by Patrick Ziza and Marc Philipp Gabriel

sound design: Niki Niklas Blomberg

Conceived for and performed on 22 June 2017 at Pornceptual does ://about blank #1, “Rites of Passage”, Berlin




is a one-on-one performance-situation. A Rendezvous with a room. For about 15 minutes. An intimate encounter of non-human and human, aiming to blur the distinction between those two. Mind-blowing, nerve-racking, seducing. It is fucking educational. For everyone / everything involved.

BUILT TO BLAST is a nut-cracker, a bottle opener of a performance, an implant designed to unveil the being of a room – casting light on questions that we didn’t care or dare to ask. It’s a hardly noticeable apparatus, a gadget from another spacetime mattering, a prosthesis, a true cyborg, a cybernetic organism detached from the human body. It lends a room a voice, agency to speak, to suffer, to love, to crab, to crave, to share, to be. It is speeding up the slowness of things and slowing down the speed of humans to facilitate a meeting somewhere in between. A slow dance speed-date of one matter being and one human being. It is first-hand experience with the other. Challenging for both sides, BUILT TO BLAST dismantles and enforces expectations that none of us knew we had.

The installation has been performed for about 40 individuals in Berlin in 2015 and is since waiting to be implanted in new exciting spaces.


MENTORING Antonia Baehr
THANKS TO Frederico O.M., Sunayana Shetty, Verena Sepp, Emily Ranford, Rachell Bo Clark


25 MAY 2018 / Kunstraum Vodoo 55 / Berlin

19 APR 2015 / Uferstudios / Berlin

21 MAR 2015 / KMS 145 / Berlin

28 FEB 2015 / HAU 1 / Berlin

27 FEB 2015 / Ballhaus Ost / Berlin

 supported by

logo_big SOP_Logo_pos_white ballhaus_ost_invers  HZT Berlin


The performance installation acts as an implant that activates almost any closed room or space (adjacent control room required), an artificial implant that enables a space to take agency, to become a spatial being and to communicate with human beings.

Appliances (provided by the artist, subject to change – varies according to local conditions)
\ ARDUINO-controlled LED installation
\ 6-channel sound implant
\ webcam + micorphone
\ computer running a text-to-speech-engine
\ a swivel armchair
\ dimmable flood lights (optional)




“… (female voice) How do you feel?

– Good.

Great. Uh, I like that little wind. The warm wind from your nose.

(whispers) Yes.

It heats my air. It feels really good to have you inside of me.

Do you know why I like you?

– Yeah.. why?

Cause you are soft and I am hard. I like soft things. Do you?

– Yes, me too.

Do you know when you were born?

– Yes.


– In the 60s.

Wow. Nice times.

– And you?

You know what? I am born in every moment.

And actually, so are you!

Do you mind if I change a little?

– No. Go ahead.

[lights off]

Do you feel closer to me now?


I like darkness. And you?

– Yes. Me too. It’s quiet.

(switching to male voice) Kiss me.

Are you able to kiss me?

– No.

Why not?

– I don’t know how.

Try. Come closer.

– Ok. Do you feel it here?


– It’s good?

Very nice.

– I touch you. Do you feel that?

Try to fill me. Connect with me. Yes.

– Yes.


– Yes!

Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Inhale. Exhale. Yeah. It’s so good to be part of you. You have a very strong impact on me.

– Yes, good.

Yeah. Do you think I am innocent?

– Yes, of course.

Actually… I am not. What are you made of?

– Sorry?

(switching to female voice) What are you made of?

(switching to male voice) You know, I think we are both made of the same stuff. I am you, you are me. Stardust. No?

– Are you sure?


– (chuckles)

That’s what I think.

(laughs) Ok.

Let’s celebrate that

(laughs more)


– Yes.

Let me tell you something.

– Ok.

Imagine. Imagine, if you can…”






Ballhaus Ost 100° 2015 - Built to Blast (c) Tim Fabian Bartel - 1_600px Ballhaus Ost 100° 2015 - Built to Blast (c) Tim Fabian Bartel - 4_600px


ABRAHAMIC WHOLENESS (or my God is better than yours) – Helena Botto


17 April 2016 / 7:30 pm / DNA – Space for Contemporary Dance and Performance / ANTISTATIC / Sofia, Bulgaria

Helena Botto (Portugal / Germany)

Concept, performance and space Helena Botto Sound design and performance Joshua Rutter (première) / Marc Philipp Gabriel Dramaturgical consultant Iva Sveshtarova Sound devices and mics (research) Nikola Pieper Light adaptation and operation Víctor Pequeño, Nikola Pieper Collaboration Florian Feigl, Victoria Perez Royo, Tal Ilan and Sophia New Support  Hochschulübergreifendes Zentrum für Tanz (HZT), Universität der Künste Berlin.

Duration: 80 min.
In English.

Abrahamic Wholeness (or my God is better than yours)” takes a distant look at the idea of God. From the sacrifice of Ishmael/Isaac (or Abraham’s crime in potency), through the Passion of Christ until Quran descriptions about how to deal with the unfaithful, the wholeness of God seems to be a way to unconsciously create divisions instead of unicity. Using elements derived from visual imagery, praying gestures, ritual practices and symbolism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam as well as humourous interpretations from Biblical and Quranic scripts, Helena Botto represents God as a female creature, portraited with psychological characteristics. She is as an incomplete hybrid creature in a constant state of becoming. She is “the Mother” of all things, the Creator, the sovereign figure, supreme entity, who, nevertheless, reveals Herself to be full of fragilities, an egocentric creature begging to be loved. A lonely and old creature, unable to present Paradise and often complainant. She is the whore, the terrorist soldier, the blackmailer, the housewife, the boss and ultimately the performer as well.

Helena Botto is a Portuguese performance artist based in Berlin. Her background is in physical theater: Jerzy Grotowski’s methodology of physical actions. From 1996 till 2005 she worked and performed in Acto – Institute for Dramatic Art (Portugal). In 2006, she started to work as an independent artist and researcher, developing her own performance practice and since then she has created more than a dozen stage works. In 2015, she received her M.A. in Solo/Dance/Authorship (with distinction) from the Inter-University Centre of Dance (HZT), Berlin. In her recent works, she has been interested in form and content of deconstructing social and political issues.

The guest-performance is supported by Goethe-Institut Bulgaria.

Photo: André Uerba



SHAVE THAT GUMMI is an international choreographic research that unleashes between innumerable poles of difference.

How can we breathe under all the highly charged misconceptions that have been cast onto us in past and present times? Coming from two different continents, we are still chewing on the same piece of gum. F*ck. Being labelled before birth, we strive to move away from preconceived identities, longing for situations that are re-negotiated in every moment. Two bodies flying through their extremities, slurping, spitting, slicing, deflecting and avoiding one another – breathing in as two and exhaling as one.

SHAVE THAT GUMMI is a dance performance duet moving between ornamenting and defacing the human body as an object. A precarious duet of counter-colonialization. A dual player game, a pas-de-deux, a dog fight, a futuristic binary. Two opposites migrating into each other’s territories. SHAVE THAT GUMMI is pulling the audience into a game of projections, stripping multiple layers of conformity off the performing body.

PERFORMANCE & CREATION Kieron Jina & Marc Philipp Gabriel
LIVE SOUND Yogin Sullaphen

SPECIAL THANKS to University of Johannesburg Arts and Culture Centre, Joni Barnard and Xtina Magwaza Iqhwa

SHAVE THAT GUMMI is the outcome of Kieron Jina (South Africa), Marc Philipp Gabriel (Germany) and Yogin Sullaphen (South Africa) working in a 4 week artistic research period at University of Johannesburg Arts & Culture Centre.

BUILT TO BLAST … again and again and again …


I have a new practice. It is still forming itself. It is an entangled, continuous moving-perceiving in different situations in space and time.

To open up the »big hole«, I am aiming to unlearn perception as I have known it so far. It is to unlearn categories, labels and patterns that I have learned and trained throughout my whole life to simplify and structure the world around me into something understandable, coherent and rather stable. I guess this is what we usually do in order not to go nuts.


///////  Video documentation of lecture presentation “BUILT TO BLAST …again and again and again…”
         14 July 2015, graduation project from BA dance, context, choreography at HZT Berlin

With appearances by: Liselotte Singer, Diethild Meier, Josephine Findeisen, Anna Fitoussi, Stine Frandsen, Cécile Bally, Renen Itzhaki


/////// Excercise: “Tuning into the speed of things”
        Practicioners: Anna Fitoussi and Marc P. Gabriel

15 mins at original speed:

30 seconds at 30x faster speed:


Spaces that we move and live in are heavily normalized towards a certain way of being, effective on many layers: how we sense, move, have sex, make performances, spend our lives. I am examining bodily intelligence in urban space the entity that is commonly divided into the dichotomy of public and private , such as the closed space of a dance studio in relation to the closed space of a public train or bus.

Intertwining this with the equally questionable dichotomy of the individual (me) and the group, I want to train the permeability of losing and finding my center in an articulated collective process. The autopoietic loop of folding, unfolding, folding, unfolding etc. my self emotionally, economically, rationally, virtually in a larger organism, drives me to the question of how I am made by my environment and how I make my environment, while challenging the distinction of space and people, in search of a utopian togetherness of human and non-human subjects.

Work in progress.


/////// Excersise: “Moving-perceiving. Reorgnising the world in new entities (monsters).”


/////// Excercise: “Dancing the MESH. Moving with the democracy of things and humans.”
Practicioners: Diethild Meier, Josephine Findeisen, Anna Fitoussi and Marc P. Gabriel

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