Breakdance in the Bode Museum

Dance is communication, more or less complex depending on the topic. Simple conversations like “I want to get to know you” or “I’m better than you!” – “No, I’m better than you!” Can be carried out without any problems.

In the video for Jason Nevins’ remix of Run DMC’s debut single “It’s like that” you can see a dialogue like this: Two breakdance crews, one purely female, the other purely male, “battle” each other to the beats in an empty parking garage of Nevins and the rappers. Sometimes the B-Boys “freeze”, sometimes the B-Girls; sometimes one of the girls does a headspin, sometimes a boy turns over in an airtwist. When the wig slips off your head while posing, the girls laugh each other out loud.

Non-dialogue storytelling has its limits, however. In any case, Katja von Garnier has taken multiple risks with her film “Fly”.

Producing a dance film in Germany is risky because the genre of classical ballet on the one hand and the highly professional musical scene or people like Detlef D! Soost on the other hand is dominated. The organic connection between hip-hop and breakdance culture, which is traditional in the USA, is also missing here. The average German skills are more limited to the “duck dance”.

And although the expressionist “contemporary dance” emerged at the same time as modern dance in the USA and creatives like Pina Bausch or Sasha Waltz brought it into the present day, dance film has remained a niche in this country. Despite works like “Into The Beat” or “Dessau Dancers”. Presumably one thinks too quickly and with a shudder of revue films like “Carnival of Love” from 1943.

The heroine dances from the prison rehabilitation program to the park battle

Katja von Garnier realized “Fly” together with the Berlin breakdance company Flying Steps and boldly relies on the power of purely physical storytelling: dance as action, dialogue, monologue, character description and emotional reaction. The framework story is limited to a somewhat predictable “outsider finds courage to face life again through an ambitious teacher” plot.

But the director stages and composes surreally beautiful sequences when her protagonist Bex (Svenja Jung), traumatized by an accident, dances from the rehabilitation program in jail to exhibitions and pas de deux under trees to the park battle.


The fact that the project manager Ava is played by Jasmin Tabatabai, the head of the prison by Katja Riemann and a pedagogue devoted to delinquent dance elders is played by Nicolette Krebitz, smells like a reunion of the prison band in “Bandits” – Garnier’s road movie success from 1997. But it has no further meaning. Especially since Tabatabai is not a dancer and her Ava has to hobble for a long time in order to be doubled later in her only dance scene. It’s kind of touching and understandable. In “Charlie’s Angels” the real Drew Barrymore doesn’t sail through the air either.

The composers Ketan and Vivan Bhatti who often with the Flying Steps e.g.Working together, have written a consistently modern, original and naturally rhythmic score for the moving choreographies by Phillip Chbeeb and Yaman Okur, which is supplemented by rap songs (including Busta Rhymes). The fact that German hip-hop only sounds once in the form of the usual insults from the car of an antagonist of the jail dance crew gathering together is a nice little blow in the direction of German rap and its big-pants protagonists. No, you don’t really spin really great beats here.

[“Fly” läuft ab 14. Oktober in 13 Berliner Kinos]

A little love story also garnishes Bex’s self-discovery; Ava too has to learn to overcome trauma. On the way to their goal, their own dance theater, the participants, who are mostly members of the Flying Steps, dance their way through the city, through water and a museum, through streets and parks.

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How the international professionals adopt Berlin as a backdrop is not a degradation of the city, but an upgrade. The great scene alone, in which they ensnare the sculptures in the Bode Museum and imitate their gestures and poses in “Freezes”, shows lived cultural recognition and poetic culture: How could you create a statue, the swing of the figure, the filigree of the sculpting trade understand better than by imitation?

The somewhat exaggerated conflict between ballet and modern dance theater, allegedly lurking in the background, is also reflected in the dispute between one of the prison superiors and the indomitable Ava: This is reminiscent of Alan Parker’s “Fame” about young people at the New York drama school and leaves the general plot more old-fashioned act as the movie is overall. And a little less fortune cookie wisdom might have done it too.

Nevertheless, “Fly” does one thing brilliantly with the feather-light-looking, but highly complicated movements of its protagonists: to prove how much communication there is in dance.

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