With an ensemble of ten dancers, the Berlin-based director Ersan Mondtag is developing his first choreographic piece at HAU Hebbel am Ufer, thereby intensifying the conceptual and performative approaches of productions such as “De Living” (NTGent/HAU 2019). In “Joy of Life” the dancers find themselves in limbo - in a realm of uneventfulness, in which they can neither die nor achieve happiness. After the sudden stasis, they fall into a leaden fatigue, haunted by nightmares. In order to not completely lose their bearings they try to keep in shape doing simple exercises. Gradually they learn how to align their movements with the others again to form a “corps de ballet”, enabling the soloists to have a brilliant performance. However, their movements only unfold to full beauty in an individual search for meaning, in which they coincidentally encounter others, yet still develop a choreography together. Dance – or rather dancing – becomes a metaphor for our “being in the world”.
We hear the children's and adolescents’ voices off-stage. Fallen out of space and time, they populate limbo. They recall the vastness of the sea and the moment they understood how the world expands around them. They talk about how they rebelled against their parents who determined their lives and, above all, their future and about the journey they embarked on when they set out into the world - to dance. The closer their fates approach the present, the more complicated the tasks they are confronted with become. Some organize protests and go on a hunger strike in order to reduce CO2 emissions and secure the survival of humankind. Others refuse to recognize the boundaries that are obstructing their future and embark on a deadly journey through the desert and the Medierranean Sea. The fictional conversation is based on interviews with the dancers in the production, with representatives of the Fridays for Future movement and with children and teenagers from Africa who came to Europe across the Mediterranean. A kaleidoscope of a time in upheaval is created in which children invoke science and applicable law to ensure their survival.