#teddyartist: Whipstick

Two absolute luminaries of their respective artistic genres present a collaborative show full of music, passion, acrobatics, comedy and sensuality. David Pereira‘s acrobatics give rise to impassioned performances in the air and on the ground. Physicality, dance, acrobatics and passion unite in a perfect GesamtkunstwerkJack Woodhead is a reincarnation of the cabaret in modern attire. With flawless piano playing and grandiose singing, he always manages to walk the fine line between loud, funny, trashy tones and calm poetics. Pereira and Woodhead met at BASE BERLIN and have been working together on various shows ever since. The two artists together in one show guarantees a completely new path in the chanson and varieté scene.


When: 14.02.14
11.45 pm @TEDDY AWARD Midnight Special
Where: Komische Oper Berlin
Ticket Hotline: Tel.: +49-(0)30-4799 7474

#teddyartist: Dagmar Manzel

Whether it’s on the stage, in the cinema or on television, Dagmar Manzel is on the scene. Born in Berlin and trained at the Ernst Busch School of Acting Berlin, Manzel is one of Germany’s top actresses. From 1980 to 1983, she worked at the Staatsschauspiel (State Theater) Dresden and from 1983 to 2001, she was part of the ensemble at the Deutsches Theater Berlin. Since then, she has been a freelance actress and singer. Her tour MENSCHENsKIND kicks off at the Komischen Oper Berlin in February 2014. Following the stage show, she is slated to star as Head Commissioner in Germany’s favorite crime series, Tatort (Franken edition). Dagmar Manzel can do it all!

When: 14.02.14
9 pm @TEDDY AWARD Gala
Where: Komische Oper Berlin
Ticket Hotline: Tel.: +49-(0)30-4799 7474

Picture © Philip Glaser / Deutsche Grammophon


If you create a blog for an international film festival, you also want a lot of people from all over the world to understand what you write about the movies, the events and the artists. German, even if it is the biggest language in the European Union by the number of mother tongue speakers, can only reach a limited amount of world’s population.  By now English has become the Lingua franca in international business, so that normally every text only needs to be translated into one language. That makes a lot of things easier.

At the same time you should never underestimate the vagaries of translating, because very easily you can get into unexpected troubles. For example a friend of mine was asked not to long ago in Sweden, if he knew the Swedish national anthem: “Ja, jag vill leva, jag vill dö i norden…” (Yes, I want to live, I want to die in the north…). For sure he learned this sentence before he went on the journey and so he said yes and said: “Jag vill leva, jag vill döda här i norden…” which sounds quite similar, but unfortunately it meant something rather different: I want to live, I want to kill here in the north. Later he told me, he didn’t succeed in making any friends during his trip.

Worse, it seems somehow, is the situation in Denmark though, where even Danes among each other hardly manage to communicate. But here we didn’t want to talk about translations from German to Swedish or from Danish to Danish, but about transferring German texts into English. Also this can be quite difficult: So, what do you do, if it makes total sense to a German if an acrobat makes a double screw in the air? A double twist sounds rather unfamiliar for the German ear. Also the “playjoy” of an actress who enjoys being on stage might be misleading. Some Germans would even ask the Dear Mr. Singingclub for some help.

And the other way around? How do you translate for example ‘queer’ into German? Do you use the German word for dizzy? Or even “to be spoiled”? Unexpected associations might appear in the reader’s mind. And what about “straight“? Maybe you could use the German word for “even“ or “smooth“? But also that could be misleading. Or, as a friend of mine suggested: “Just write boring! It’s the same anyways.“ Well, a German would say that she just wanted to take someone on her arm – instead of pulling a leg –, but on our blog this would be rather politically incorrect – then I wouldn’t be allowed to write anymore and all that would be left for me to say, would be: There we have the salad. So, I guess, I will simply stay lost in translation with my oversittings.

Up to now almost,

Who is that anyway?

The dancer Valeska Gert was a star in the 1920’s and 1930’s. This not only at home in Berlin: She was known in Europe, Moscow and the United States through her tours and emigration. Valeska Gert was an artist of formidable modernity. Her avant-garde dance solos were far beyond their time and would influence the decades to follow.

Valeska Gert was born in Berlin in 1892 and lived with her parents at Köpenicker Straße. She was already taking dance lessons at the age of five and at 16, acting classes. Shortly after her 1916 debut as a dancer, she achieved celebrity: In eccentric dance pantomimes, Gert analyzed subjects like boxing, nervousness, bawds, politicians and prostitution, consistently embodying all their diversity in a single unity. These performances ended up making her a notorious star. In the 1920’s, she conceived even more radical dance pieces such as Death: a dance on a person’s final breaths consisting nearly entirely of motionlessness, so radical as to be unique amongst modern dance and performance of its time. She even performed the young medium film in the 1920’s, dancing time-lapse, slow-motion and cuts herself, the latter as modern street traffic.

In the year 1925, Gert herself appeared for the first time in silent film: In Hans Neumann’s parody of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, she played Puck. Then Georg Wilhelm Pabst cast her as a corrupt bawd in Joyless Street (1925). In 1929, she lit up the screen in Pabst’s Diary of a Lost Woman as the sadistic head of a home for fallen girls. More than any others, the scenes with Valeska Gert stick in the viewer’s mind: While directing her scantily clad wards in gymnastics, beating a gong to keep time, Gert sends herself into a fearsome ecstasy which ends in a veritable orgasm. Her fame and recognition grew even more when she appeared as Mrs. Peachum in The Three-Penny Opera, also directed by Pabst.

Banned from performing in Germany from 1933 on as an avant-garde artist and Jew, Valeska Gert emigrated. After England and other places, she went to the USA in 1939. In 1941, she opened Beggar Bar in New York, a combination of cabaret and restaurant, which had to be closed again in 1945 because of licensing requirements. She implemented the wildest ideas in her bar to offer something counter to life’s adversities. She set out her own handmade table decorations, painted the walls herself and used candles instead of lamps. On the first evening, the cellar bar was already packed. Among others, Kadidja Wedekind performed there doing recitations of her father, Frank Wedekind’s poetry. One of Gert’s staff was Tennessee Williams, who would later become a world-famous playwright. Williams also read his own poems there. Judith Malina worked at the coat-check before going on to fame in Living Theater.

In 1947, Gert returned to Europe. After stops in Paris and Zürich, where she opened the cabaret Café Valeska und ihr Küchenpersonal (Café Valeska and her Kitchen Personnel), Gert travelled back to Berlin. It was 1949 and Berlin was under blockade. There, she opened the cabaret Bei Valeska (Valeska’s), and then Hexenküche (Witches Kitchen) the year after, hiring the young Klaus Kinski. At the Hexenküche, she herself played the concentration camp commandeuse Ilse Koch, a woman infamous for her cruelty. A bar decorated with hay followed: Ziegenstall (Goat Stall) opened at Kampen on the North Sea island Sylt in the year 1951. Once again, the servers were responsible for seeing to the guests’ creature comforts as well as their entertainment. But Valeska Gert never performed there herself.

Federico Fellini cast her in the film Juliet of the Spirits in 1965. Clad in a white wig, she took on the role of a factotum. On 28 June 1970, she was awarded the Filmband in Gold for her outstanding lifetime achievement in German cinema. She played in R.W. Fassbinder’s TV mini-series Eight Hours are Not a Day in 1973 and Volker Schlöndorff’s film Coup de Grâce in 1976. Werner Herzog had cast her in his remake of the Murnau classic Nosferatu (1978), but she died before filming could begin.

Valeska Gert was buried in Berlin, the city where she was born and the city she loved best, at the Ruhleben cemetery. Her autograph is engraved in pink on the black headstone.

A portrait of Valeska Gert is the centerpiece of the 28th TEDDY AWARD poster art. The poster was designed by Jonny Abbate. Artwork from the series “GOLDEN QUEERS” by Rinaldo Hopf.