On 28 November at 19:00, SVT's Kulturstudion showed the documentary "Johannes at the Staatsballett in Berlin" about our theatre director Johannes Öhman's time at the traditional German dance institution.
Johannes has been our director at Dansens Hus since last spring, coming here directly from his job as artistic director at the Staatsballett in Berlin. In the documentary, we follow him for three months on his job at the Staatsballett - an assignment that began in chaos but ended in praise. It's an insight into an everyday life of constantly having to balance budgets, artistic choices and the challenging shift between classical ballet and contemporary dance.
The documentary starts from the beginning, in 2018, when it was announced that he would take over the prestigious company with his partner Sasha Waltz.
- The company found out through the media that Sasha and I would be taking over, which was unfortunate. It created a really bad atmosphere. Both the fact that it was a dual leadership and that one of the artistic directors came from the contemporary field was very unpopular. Campaigns were started with written petitions and even demonstrations,' says Johannes Öhman.
But two years later, the boos had been replaced by praise. In 2019, the company was named "Company of the Year in Germany" by the dance magazine "Tanz", and the company sold more tickets than ever before in its history.
How do you now look at your time at the Staatsballett from a distance?
- The years in Berlin are an experience that lives strongly within me. It is a fantastic experience to have succeeded in pushing through a reform of such a conservative company as Staatsballett Berlin, and to come out on the other side with great and full confidence from both the company and the audience. I feel both humbled and proud of that.
After the initial turbulence, it became clear to me that what is programmed and put on stage is what is unfailingly superior to everything else. The dance won out over the destructiveness of the fearful! It was also an extremely powerful experience to work and operate in the midst of the enormous cultural commitment that is so deeply rooted in the German educational tradition. I will carry this with me for the rest of my life.
The programme was shown Saturday 28 November at 19.00 on SVT2. The documentary remains on SVT Play until 31 May 2021. In connection with this, Johannes also visited Kulturstudion's studio and talks about Swedish dance and the development of contemporary dance.