‘Dr Churz, dr Schlungg und dr Böös’ tours India challenging conventional notions

Pro Helvetia Nuova Delhi, Arti sceniche

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This genre-bending performance piece by Johanna Heusser explores Swiss wrestling to challenge notions of body image, gender roles and more.

Dr Churz, dr Schlungg und dr Böös by Johanna Heusser confronts Swiss wrestling, a sport deeply interwoven with conservative, nationalistic, and patriarchal values. Through innovative choreography and staging, the piece invites audiences to reconsider the performative potential of the traditional sport of Shwingen, sparking conversations about its role in a contemporary context.

The performance serves as a critical exploration, probing whether Swiss wrestling, as a living tradition, can be a canvas for a counter-design that challenges conventional notions.

A workshop took place alongside the tour aiming to unravel the symbiotic relationship between seemingly distinct disciplines, inviting contemporary dancers and martial arts practitioners to delve into a two-hour journey filled with discovery, expression, and artistry. The workshop is a playful inquiry into the art of falling and grasping, and into the parameters of fighting and dance.

In the interview below at Khuli Khirkee in New Delhi, choreographer Johanna Heusser speaks of her work Dr Churz, dr Schlungg und dr Böös. This performance explores the vulnerability present in the very masculine Swiss national sport of wrestling, aka Schwingen. Johanna also speaks of the similarities between Indian and Swiss wrestling when it comes to the element of care that players extend towards each other.

About the Artists:

Johanna Heusser

Johanna Heusser is a graduate of HF für zeitgenössischen und urbanen Bühnentanz in Zürich. Since 2016, she has been creating her own works, which are shown at theaters and dance festivals around Europe. She is the winner of Atelier Mondial in 2018 and the winner of Double Tanz 2020 by Migros Kultur Prozent. With her first solo piece, “how to do a downward-facing dog?,” she was chosen in the pre-selection of the Swiss Dance Days 2021 and selected to be in one of eight Salon d’Artistes. She is a Semi-Finalist of PREMIO Switzerland 2021 and studying in the Master Expanded Theater at HKB in Bern. For the season 2021, she was working at Schauspielhaus Vienna, choreographing the Piece COMA.

Her latest work about Swiss wrestling was invited to the Schweizer Theatertreffen 2022. She was part of the ATLAS Programme at ImpulsTanz Vienna in 2022.

Johanna was nominated for best emerging artist in the Theater Heute Kritiker:innen Umfrage 2022.

David Speiser

Born 1984, In 2012 he completed his education as a dancer and performer at the school Bewegungsart in Freiburg im Breisgau. Afterwards he participated as a dancer and
choreographer in various productions (e.g. at junges theater basel, Kaserne Basel, Vorstadtteater Basel, Theater Biel/ Solothurn, Tanzhaus Zürich). Since 2014 he leads a youth club at junges theater basel. In 2017 he founded the company rufio. Their first play Im Ernst played at Vorstadttheater Basel, Tuchlaube Aarau, Tanzhaus Zürich a.o. In addition, he teaches dance and theatre to children and young people. David Speiser lives in Basel.

Dennis Freischlad

Born in Hesse in 1979, has been travelling the world continuously since the age of 20, moving between his homes in India and Cologne. Since leaving school, he has dedicated himself entirely to the nomadic dream and spends no more than three months at a time in one place.
The globetrotter made himself at home all over the world early on in order to report on his adventures.

The Dr Churz, dr Schlungg und dr Böös India tour took place in January 2024 in Bengaluru, Pune, Kolkata and Delhi. The performance took place in collaboration with Prakriti Foundation, Shoonya Center for Art and Somatic Practices in Bangalore, TIFA Studios in Pune, Padatik Theatre and Sparsh Studio Performing Arts in Kolkata.