Durham residents will soon have the opportunity to experience groundbreaking performances from halfway across the world.
“Berlin // Durham,” taking place from Dec. 17 through 20 at the Carrack Modern Art on West Parrish Street, is a produced by Culture Mill, an artist-driven nonprofit organization that looks to push the boundaries of dance and the performing arts. Tommy Noonan, co-director of Culture Mill, said the organization serves artists, pushing performance, dance, and performing arts and experimenting and creating more disciplinary works and collaborations.
“The audience generally searches for meaning, and we’re really interested in trying to have something that can resist that urge, and instead offer a really profound moment-to-moment experience,” Noonan said.
The weekend at the Carrack will feature two performances: “La Mula” and “What Doesn’t Work.” “What Doesn’t Work” was directed by Noonan himself and was created in 2013, when Noonan lived in Berlin. Noonan described “What Doesn’t Work” as a piece focusing more on experience than pointing to a particular set of ideas.
Noonan said he received inspiration from free jazz music and the relationship of the instruments in the style. After spending time listening to the music, he took the sounds he heard and transformed them into dance.
“The instruments interact, and there’s this kind of chaos that ensues, and at the same times there’s total logic that emerges,” he said.
The piece will be performed by Noonan and his wife and co-director Murielle Elizéon, as well as Anja Müller, one of the residents at Culture Mill.
Müller hails from Berlin and is both a dancer and a choreographer. Her piece was inspired by five muses—Dennis Deter, Jochen Haker, Hermann Heisig, Alma Söderberg, and Hendrik Willekens—as she spent time with each of them while crafting her piece.
Müller will also be performing her own piece, “La Mula,” Dec. 17 and 20. “La Mula” reflects on Berlin and the artistic Underground themes within the city. Müller said that more artists have recently come to Berlin, but there is not enough funding to support their endeavors. The performance is centered around a character described by Müller as “a girl from the streets,” who wants to be famous but cannot achieve her goal.
“It’s like this person who really wants something, but it’s just not there,” Müller said.
“La Mula” combines singing and dance into a small musical. Müller primarily performs the piece by herself, with additional help from musician Jochen Haker.
Müller got to know Noonan when she worked with him in Europe and was invited as a resident to the Culture Mill. Currently, Müller is enjoying being able to work on experimenting without feeling pressured to release a final product.