The company Sasha Waltz & Guests was founded by Sasha Waltz and Jochen Sandig in Berlin in 1993 and celebrated its 25th anniversary during the season 2018/19. To date, more than 300 artists and ensembles – architects, visual artists, choreographers, filmmakers, designers, musicians, singers and dancers – from 30 countries have collaborated as »Guests« on over 80 productions, »Dialoge« projects and films. Sasha Waltz & Guests works in an international and constantly evolving network of production and guest performance partners, showing parts of its current repertoire of 12 pieces in about 70 performances around the globe each year. In Berlin, the company cooperates with a wide range of institutions such as municipal theatres, opera houses and museums and has contributed to the establishing of innovative production sites for artistic dialogue such as Sophiensaele (1996) and radialsystem, Space for Arts & Ideas (2006). 2013 the company has been named »European Cultural Ambassador« by the European Union. In 2014 Sasha Waltz & Guests was awarded the »george tabori ehrenpreis« by the Fonds Darstellende Künste.
Apart from her leading role in Berlin stagings and international guest performances, Sasha Waltz has been increasingly committed to educational and social projects. In 2007 she founded the Children’s Dance Company (»Kindertanzcompany«) in Berlin and in 2016 the interdisciplinary and open exchange platform »ZUHÖREN« which serves as a »third space for art and politics«. Alongside these initiatives, Sasha Walz continues to propose diverse offers in the field of knowledge transfer.
The company’s work is centered on the following four areas:
(1) Dialogic forms of artistic research and production with composers, conductors, visual artists and academics
(2) Conveying the artistic results to a diverse international audience in Berlin and on tour around the world
(3) Intercultural dialogue, which can be experienced both on stage and backstage due to the heterogenous composition of the participants of different cultural backgrounds
(4) Promoting the next generation via continuing education and transfer projects.
The company was named an official »cultural ambassador of the European Union« for the anniversary year of 2013. It received the 2014 »george tabori« prize of the Fonds Darstellende Künste.
Sasha Waltz & Guests is funded by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe.
1992-1999: The founding of the company and the Sophiensaele
Sasha Waltz received a scholarship to come to Berlin in 1992 and work as an artist-in-residence at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien. During that year, she showed her work in various spaces in Berlin, including Tanzfabrik, Kunsthaus Tacheles and the Hackesche Höfe.
Sasha Waltz founded the Sasha Waltz & Guests company with Jochen Sandig in Berlin in 1993. The »Travelogue« trilogy was created in 1993-1995 with various different guests; it was performed in over 30 countries. The majority of the dancers from this period are now choreographers themselves, such as Thomas Lehmen from Berlin and Nasser Martin-Gousset from Paris. After the trilogy was completed, Sasha Waltz decided to work with a new generation of dancers. She replaced all of the members of the ensemble except for Japanese dancer Takako Suzuki, who has worked with Sasha Waltz continuously since 1992. Dancers such as Luc Dunberry, Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola, Laurie Young, Nicola Mascia and more joined the company.
Their first collaboration, »Allee der Kosmonauten« (1996), coincided with the opening of sophiensæle, a new production and performance space run by Sasha Waltz and Jochen Sandig. The sophiensæle soon came to fill an important gap in Berlin’s cultural landscape. Today, 20 years after its founding, it is one of the most important independent theaters in Europe. »Allee der Kosmonauten« was invited to the 34th Theatertreffen, and the film version of the piece by arte won the Adolf Grimme Prize as a pioneering production in the category of dance on television. »Allee der Kosmonauten« also went on tour around the world, with great international success.
The piece was followed by »Zweiland« (1997) and »Na Zemlje« (1998), for which Sasha Waltz added six Russian dancers to her ensemble. In 1999, she developed two large-scale »Dialoge« research projects with 20 dancers each, which were studies of the relationship between dance and architecture and of the topic of the human body. »Dialoge I/’99« took place in the emptied-out ballroom of the sophiensæle, while »Dialoge II/’99« explored the as-yet empty spaces of the Jewish Museum by Daniel Libeskind, two years before its official opening.
1999-2004: Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz
Sasha Waltz and Jochen Sandig were enlisted to join the artistic direction of the Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz in the fall of 1999, which thus became the first ensemble and repertory theater in Germany to place contemporary dance on an equal footing with acting. International artists such as Emio Greco/Pieter Scholten, Christine de Smedt, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Benoît Lachambre were invited to the Schaubühne to develop guest choreographies. Major choreographers such as Alain Platel, Meg Stuart, Jérôme Bel, Gilles Jobin and William Forsythe gave guest performances or participated in co-productions. Furthermore, Sasha Waltz and Jochen Sandig hosted a yearly choreography workshop at the Schaubühne, which was an experimental forum to promote young talent. The dancers of the ensemble had an opportunity to present their own pieces alongside guests such as Constanza Macras and other independent choreographers.
Sasha Waltz’s premiere of »Körper« in January 2000 inaugurated the Schaubühne under its new artistic direction. The premiere of »S« followed in November 2000. In addition to these repertory productions, research projects entitled »Dialoge« continued to play an important role in the work of Sasha Waltz. »17-25/4 / Dialoge 2001« utilized all the in- and outdoor spaces of the Mendelsohn Building at Lehniner Platz. This research project resulted in the piece »noBody« (premiere 2002), which completed a trilogy on the human being and its body. The choreographic installation »insideout« premiered in Graz in September 2003. It was a co-production with the city of Graz, the European Capital of Culture that year. 2004 saw the creation of »Impromptus« to the music of Franz Schubert. Luc Dunberry developed two productions for the Schaubühne, »The rest of you« (2000) and »Seriously« (2001). Pieces such as »My Dearest … My Fairest« (2000) and »Colours may fade …« (2004) by Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola and Australian musician Joanna Dudley as well as »d’avant« (2002) by the choreography collective of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola, Luc Dunberry and Damien Jalet were also created during this period.
2004 – now
Since the summer of 2004, the independent company Sasha Waltz & Guests has once again become the main focus of Sasha Waltz, Jochen Sandig, and the artists and choreographers that they collaborate with regularly, such as Luc Dunberry, Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola and many others.
The company’s renewed independence was launched with the opera production »Dido & Aeneas«, which was developed in the winter of 2004-05 in collaboration with the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and in coproduction with the Grand Théâtre de la Ville de Luxembourg, the Opéra de Montpellier and the Staatsoper Berlin. This first choreographic opera became an international success. It was followed by co-productions and tours, as well as an ongoing collaboration with the Staatsoper Berlin.
The Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz continued to show the productions which were developed there, i.e. »Körper«, »S«, »noBody«, »Impromptus« and »Gezeiten«, on a one-off basis throughout the following years.
Jochen Sandig and Folkert Uhde founded radialsystem in 2005 as an open space for dialogue between the arts. The Sasha Waltz & Guests company rehearses and works there regularly.
The company first participated in the spielzeit’europa festival at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele in 2010. It has since shown current productions there every year, by now also independently of the festival.
From 2010 to 2014, the company was composed of 14 permanent dancers. Together, the team gave up to 80 performances per year around the world. Many years of collaboration yielded artistic relationships across several generations, as well as a shared artistic language, between artists and coworkers from Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Madagascar, Mexico, Mozambique, New Zealand, Portugal, Rumania, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay, the USA and Venezuela.
In 2014, the company reacted to the increasingly disproportionate relationship between its continuously developing cultural output and stagnating funding. Public funding from the state of Berlin and the federal government reached a yearly sum of 1.85 million Euros at the time, and financed approximately 50 percent of the company’s budget. Sasha Waltz & Guests generated the remaining 50 percent, a comparatively high ratio, independently by touring and participating in international co-productions. However, this limited the company’s ability to plan ahead, increased business risks excessively, and intensified its dependence on external decisions, e.g. with respect to the availability of rehearsal time at different theaters and performance spaces.
Although the Berlin government’s department of cultural affairs recognized the company’s need for an additional 970 000 €, the Senate and Parliament decided not to contribute to a further institutionalization of the company. Thus, to stabilize its finances, Sasha Waltz had to dissolve her permanent ensemble and let go of approximately one third of the permanent employees in 2014. The company has since employed the dancers as independent contributors for approximately 70 performances per year and 20 repertory pieces, performed internationally.
Sasha Waltz’s Biography
Sasha Waltz is a choreographer, dancer and director. After her first studies at the School of New Dance Development in Amsterdam she joined the postmodern oriented New York City dance scene that worked in interdisciplinary exchange with the other arts. In 1986 and 1987 she danced in the New York based companies of Pooh Kaye, Yoshiko Chumo & School of Hard Knocks and Lisa Kraus & Dancers. Following her return to Europe in 1988 she began an intensive phase of collaborations with choreographers, artists and musicians such as Tristan Honsinger, Frans Poelstra, Mark Tompkins, David Zambrano and Voré. In 1992 she came to Berlin with a grant by the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, where she developed the improvisational format »Dialoge« driven by the spirit of her interdisciplinary and international work. She chose the young German capital as the center of her activities where she practiced new choreographic approaches in self-developed infrastructures. Together with Jochen Sandig she founded the dance company Sasha Waltz & Guests in 1993 and in 1996 the Sophiensaele as a venue for dance and more, nowadays a center of the independent dance and theatre scene not only in Germany. From 2000-2004 she was one of the directors of the Schaubühne at Lehniner Platz. In the season 2019/20 Sasha Waltz was director of the Berlin State Ballet together with Johannes Öhman.
During her first decade in Berlin she created internationally renowned and influencial dance pieces such as the trilogies »Travelogue« and »Körper« as well as the immersive dance installation »insideout«. In the following years she applied the language and strategies of contemporary dance to vitalize and explore historical and new operas and ballets. With »Dido & Aeneas« (2005), »Medea« (2007) and »Matsukaze« (2011) she realized three pieces about women and at the same time established the genre of the choreographic opera. In 2007 she directed »Romeo et Juliette«, interpreting the dramatic symphony of Hector Berlioz, for the Opéra national de Paris. From this followed »Sacre« in 2013 set to the Music of Strawinsky commissioned by the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, and in 2014 »Tannhäuser« at the Staatsoper Berlin conducted by Daniel Barenboim. Simultaneously Sasha Waltz has been pursuing the sharing and teaching of dance knowledge and promoting dance as a medium of social and sociopolitical communication. As part of this endeavor, she founded the Berlin based »Kindertanzcompany« (Children’s Dance Company) in 2007 and, following an invitation from the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, developed a choreography with over 100 pupils to dance Schtschedrin’s Carmen-Suite. In 2016 she founded the event format »ZUHÖREN« with which she opened a »third space« for art and politics. She expanded the »Dialoge«-concept to incorporate danced responses to architecture wherein the audience is invited to act as an equal part of the choreographic happening. Examples of this are »Dialoge 09« performed in the still vacant interior of the Neues Museum in Berlin after the renovation by David Chipperfield (2009) and the choreographic installation »Figure humaine« for the inauguration of the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie (2017). In her present choreographic work, Waltz is focusing on the intensification of collaborative processes, such as the synchronic development of choreography and music. In collaboration with Soundwalk Collective and the costume designer Iris van Herpen (among others) she created the choreography »Kreatur« (2017) followed by the work »Exodos« (August 2018), both premiered at radialsystem in Berlin. In March 2019 her latest project »rauschen« received its world premiere at the Volksbühne Berlin.
In 2020 Sasha Waltz reacted to the challenges of the Corona pandemic with different projects on- and offline. From March to June 2020 the dance company Sasha Waltz & Guests published an online »dance diary« in which dancers presented their interpretations of solos from choreographies by Sasha Waltz from the security of their homes. In August 2020 Sasha Waltz developed the open air project »Dialoge 2020 – Relevante Systeme«, which was performed at the Berlin radialsystem. For this evening Waltz developed an adaptation of her choreography »Sacre« creatively dealing with the limiting conditions and circumstances of our current situation, and premiered a choreography to Maurice Ravel’s »Boléro« as well as solos to Georg Friedrich Haas‘ »I can’t breathe«. In September Waltz opened the festival Romaeuropa with the open air project »Dialoge Roma 2020 – Terra Sacra«. In December Sasha Waltz concluded the year 2020 with a series of improvisations with the title »Dialoge 2020 – Relevante Systeme II«, streamed live from the radialsystem in Berlin.
In 2009 the choreographer was awarded the French cultural order »Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres«. For her special services in 2011 Sasha Waltz was granted the German Federal Cross of Merit. Since 2013 she is a member of the Academy of Arts Berlin.
More on Sasha Waltz in the German Press
Sandra Luzina: »Wer ist Sasha Waltz?« Der Tagesspiegel, 14.11.2010
Michaela Schlagenwerth: »Die Erforschung von Mensch und Raum«, Berliner Zeitung, 24.10.2013
Deike Diening: »Die bewegte Frau«, Der Tagesspiegel, 25.10.2013
Kathrin Bettina Müller: »Ein Lebenstraum begraben.« taz, 13.12.2013
Peter von Becker: »Sasha Waltz gehört nach Berlin!« Der Tagesspiegel, 24.05.2014
Children’s Dance Company
The Children’s Dance Company started out as an initiative by Sasha Waltz, Hanna Hegenscheidt and Livia Patrizi. They took over a group started in 2005-6 by a project called “TanzZeit – Zeit für Tanz in Schulen” (DanceTime – time for dance in schools). At the time, the children had the opportunity to train their movements and develop their talent once a week. By now, the Sasha Waltz & Guests company has four dance groups for young talents (ages 6-8, 8-10, 11-13, 14-17), focused on engaging them in dance through play. Led by dancers associated with the company, the children and adolescents explore themselves and each other through movement. They regularly develop small pieces with their groups and present their work at radialsystem.
Registration, Admission and Prices
Admission: according to availability. Any free spots will be advertised on our website.
Prices: 120 EUR for half a year. No classes during school vacations or on bank holidays.
Location: radialsystem, Studio A
Children’s Dance, Professional Trainings and Workshops
Sasha Waltz & Guests GmbH
Tel: +49 (0) 30 24 62 80 26