Ian Kaler (formerly known as An Kaler) started out as a visual artist, a personal history that shaped his perspective on the body and space. Initially, Kaler studied transmedial arts and graduated from the pilot program for contemporary dance, context, and choreography at the Inter-University Centre for Dance Berlin (HZT). In his performances, he develops a new aesthetic of difference: he wants to show bodies that not only transgress beyond a normative framework, but that also defy all attempts of ascribing definitive meaning to them. “Potential instead of message” – that is how Kaler describes the credo guiding his minimalist pieces.
He arranges his performances in choreographic lines or series in order to emphasize their procedural quality. Kaler achieved his major breakthrough in 2011 with “Insignificant Others (learning to look sideways),” a trilogy that envisions a triangle of desire in which the relational dynamics within a group shift in subtle ways. In his performative series “On Orientations,” he engages in a mutual exchange with other performers, developing a collective, physical and creative practice that explores issues of space and position, gender and perception. In his series “Contingencies,” Kaler searches for surprising inconsistencies and formal alternatives to familiar motion sequences, often finding them in the interplay of the performers.
“o.T.” is the first series that Ian Kaler developed specifically for the theatre’s black box. Previously, his pieces were primarily shown in art studios or galleries. In this piece, he explores the body’s principles of energy, which he believes to carry a particular emotionality. The first part of the tetralogy “o.T. (the emotionality of the jaw),” which premiered at HAU in May 2015, is concerned with the condition of drifting, of letting go of all control. While the pulsating motion sequences follow a repetitive pattern, small variations are playfully built into their structure. Kaler immerses himself in a semi-conscious state where the contours of all bodies are blurred, and yet he remains alert, experiencing his surroundings in great clarity. The movements are driven by the electro-pop percussion sounds of Aquarian Jugs (the new alias of British musician and producer Jam Rostron), whose pulsating sounds put the audience into an almost trance-like state. In February 2016, Ian Kaler adapted this solo piece for the stage at HAU2. For the second part of the tetralogy “o.T. (gateways to movement),” he teams up with Austrian choreographer Philipp Gehmacher. Their joint piece creates a club-like atmosphere. Before the background of a minimalist-black stage installation, both artists tease out their similarities and connections, while at the same time respecting the other’s space. Two performers face each other’s different physicalities and sensibilities: that is the fascinating key situation drawn up by this piece. Ian Kaler’s pieces do not search for the harmonic unison of bodies. Instead, they emphasize difference in order to show that togetherness is a continuously negotiated process.
To open up a variety of possibilities – that is what Ian Kaler’s performances are all about.
Written by Sandra Luzina