How to Queer History: ‘Queer Darlings 4’ at Sophiensaele

by Annalisa Giacinti // Mar. 28, 2023

Returning this year for its fourth and final edition is Sophiensaele’s spring festival series ‘Queer Darlings.’ The multimedia festival will showcase projects by local as well as international contemporary dancers and multidisciplinary artists engaged in personal and socio-political stories of change and transition. By overwriting traditional folk dances, fairy tales and myths with queer perspectives, fluid performances will be brought to the stage in a joint endeavour that celebrates the potential of queer imagination and envisions new possibilities of coexistence.

Artist Sorour Darabi performing 'Natural Drama,' 2023

Sorour Darabi: ‘Natural Drama,’ 2023, dance performance // Photo by Laurent Paillier, courtesy of the artist and Sophiensaele

The festival consists of six productions ranging from dance shows to concerts, theatre adaptations to film screenings. The first event to kick off the programme is dance performance ‘Natural Drama’ by Iranian artist Sorour Darabi. The show addresses questions related to nature, such as contemporary environmental issues, from a historical and socio-political viewpoint. Animated by a feminist spirit and an urge for transgression, Darabi moves beyond binaries and examines the hybrid space between man and woman, human and animal, physical and spiritual, natural and industrial. As a result, standard representations and constructions of the female body will be overcome and replaced by a “futuristic mythology,” a new narrative that tends to the future yet finds its roots in both long-standing and lost dance traditions.

Another stand-out will be Astrit Ismaili’s concert-performance ‘First Flower,’ which accompanies the release of their eponymous first solo album. Ismaili conjures up the story of the world’s first flower and retraces the transformation it went through. As a metaphor for queer fluidity, the album emphasises how queerness is a natural phenomenon within the botanical world yet still a battle for queer communities to advocate and fight for. All along their lyrical journey, Ismaili contends with beauty standards, gender dysphoria, the commodification of nature and binary realities. Their music taps into stylistic hybridity too–musical theatre meets hyperpop and trap–and, combined with contemporary sound design, reminds of how creativity can be crucial to overcome existential limitations.

Astrit Ismaili, 'The First Flower,' 2023

Astrit Ismaili: ‘The First Flower,’ 2023 // Photo by Jules Harather, courtesy of the artist and Sophiensaele

Glasgow-based queer artists Rosana Cade and Ivor MacAskill will present their ‘The Making of Pinocchio.’ A hybrid of theatre and film, shot and edited all in one take, the performance is a tale of love, transition and queer re-appropriation. While constantly shifting between reality and fiction, fairy tale and autobiography, the show explores the joy and contingency of queer creativity both from a political and personal standpoint. Akin to it, ‘URSA-X’ by Liz Rosenfeld is an interdisciplinary performance that explores gender, loss and life expectations while fusing cinematic and performative elements. Scheduled for the last day, ‘Untitled (Holding Horizon)’ is a choreography that continues Alex Baczyński-Jenkins’ engagement with negotiations of desire, the materiality of gestures and queer affections, as well as an interest in dynamics of collectivity, intimacy and interdependence.

Cade & Macaskill, 'The Making of Pinocchio,' 2023

Rosana Cade & Ivor MacAskill: ‘The Making of Pinocchio,’ 2023 // Photo by Tiu Makkonen, courtesy of the artist and Sophiensaele

Curated by Lena Kollender and Mateusz Szymanówka, the festival reflects Sophiensaele’s commitment to independent and experimental productions and performances within the performing arts. Through innovative formats and diverse programmes, the space constitutes a point of intersection between art and socially relevant topics, thus between the artists and the audience. In so doing, it continues being an occasion for new ideas to be brought forth, young talents encouraged and non-conforming stories acknowledged.

Additional Info


Festival: Apr. 14–23, 2023
Buy tickets here:
Sophienstraße 18, 10178 Berlin, click here for map

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