Leipziger Ballett

Reflections

In the first part of the series #marioschroeder10 the choreographer talks about how he became a dancer.

von Nele Winter Thursday 03.12.2020
Nele Winter with Artistic Director and Chief Choreographer Mario Schröder in his office © Ida Zenna

For ten years now Mario Schröder is the Artistic Director and Chief Choreographer of the Leipziger Ballett. He describes his work here with the term »cosmos theater«. From his home planet in the Leipzig Opera House the choreographer and his dancers create their own cosmos, bring new planets into being in their solar system and send spaceships and spacecrafts to close and distant galaxies. In the series #marioschroeder10 we will take a closer look at this cosmos, whose centre is the choreographer. In the first part we talk about his first dance steps and how his enthusiasm for this art form began.

Body Language

»When I played as a child, I loved enacting different roles, almost like in a play. But at this point I never thought, that I would work at the theatre one day. What fascinated me already then, were the silent films with Harold Lloyd or Charlie Chaplin. How they talked with their bodies and told stories, the way they dealt with humour but also with melancholy and sadness, all that really fascinated me and I could watch these films for hours. I was very active in football back then, but had gotten a little tired of it and was looking for other sports. I tried athletics and apparatus gymnastics, but nothing seemed to be the right fit. My mother noticed that and suggested, that I try ballet. I didn't even know, what that was back then. My mother said intuitively: ›It is similar to what Charlie Chaplin does.‹ And so i got to the ballet.«

© Ida Zenna
© Ida Zenna

First Steps

»A situation that vaulted me into a completely new world, was the admission exam at the Palucca School. I was a little shy as a child and now I stood barefooted in my football pants in the middle of many other children, who were running around me. Now I was asked to dance and improvise. Gret Palucca noticed, that I was feeling uncomfortable and asked me, if everything was ok. I said, that I didn't know how to dance. She answered spontaneously: ›Just dance how you feel, without words.‹ And I tried to do that. She didn't expose me in front of the others and was very sensitive. I made my first steps, minimalistic, probably rather pantomimic moves. When it was over, I was relieved on the one hand, but on the other hand I realized, that this had changed something in me, that I couldn't explain. And of course I was happy, that I was one of the 30 children who were taken out of hundreds. Dancing has taken hold of me since then.«

Mario Schröder with his sister Silvana Schröder © Ida Zenna
Mario Schröder with his sister Silvana Schröder © Ida Zenna

Freedom Inside and Out

»I wasn’t an extroverted dancer. Especially during my first improvisations I had inhibitions. But when I was alone, I started dancing for myself. That was the first time I had this feeling of freedom. But I realized that I still needed a closed room, a capsule in which I could cut out everything else. To work in this almost self-involved self-reflection was important to me at first. Later I noticed, that the more I learnt, the more freely I could move. That wasn't just about technique, but also about the mind. I also realized, that I couldn't get along without the external space and other people and how precious they are to me. Dancing is like a foreign language that you learn and eventually know inside out. So you not only speak it, but also feel and dream it. I soon noticed, that I could speak more an more through dancing. Since for me dancing goes hand in hand with freedom: the freedom to express oneself, the freedom to ask questions, the freedom to think, the freedom to contemplate, the freedom to absorb.«