Barnes Dance – an opera / installation

for seven singers, 4 drummers and a joker
Berlin, 2010

BARNES_DANCE_2010 excerpt // a video

The stage is a tilted square in the middle of the room.
Seven singers walk across the stage.
a drumer sits at each of the four corners.
The audience sits or walks around the square.

The problem was the ever-increasing traffic on the streets of American cities and towns.
The “Barnes Dance” was the solution proposed by the pioneer traffic engineer Mr. Henry Barnes. He created a pedestrian crossing system that stops all vehicular traffic and allows pedestrians to cross an intersection in every direction, including diagonally, at the same time.
In the case of the Street-Opera Barnes Dance, the problem is the voices of the singers that cannot be more diverse. Barnes Dance attempts to create a composition that accommodates the foreign. It is based on the library of songs of each of the seven singers, which are then woven into an overall composition by Nicholas Bussmann.
The composition arises out of the necessity to have traffic laws which enable the individual to sing in his or her private space while facilitating the group in their communal chorus.
The seven singers are all composers and songwriters themselves.
They will be supported instrumentally by four percussionists. The time structure of the composition is based on the rhythm of a traffic light. This sequence is divided between the steps of the pedestrians at a crossing and the drum beats of the percussionists.
Starting in the 1930’s, Henry Barnes – his office sporting wallpaper of automobiles – was the designer of the definative modern American traffic concept while simultaneously creator of a new profession: the traffic engineer. He studied city maps, walked through the streets and examined the motives of drivers and pedestrians in order to understand and optimize the flow of traffic. His job description is the motto of this opera: “The traffic engineer transforms disorganized confusion into orderly chaos.”

the singers:
Charles Ndubisi (Nigeria),
Chico Mello (Brazi),
Hanayo (Japan),
Laura Mello (Brazil),
Schlopsnies (Germany),
Yvonne Harder (Switzerland),
Yusuf Ergün (Germany)

the drummers:
Martin Brandlmayr,
Tony Buck,
Brendan Dougherty,
Hanno Leichtmann
the crew:
composition & directing: Nicholas Bussmann
production: Ilja Fontaine
dramaturgy: Lindy Annis
stage: Benjamin Förster-Baldenius (raumlabor)
costums: Katja Wetzel