Friday, April 8, 2011

Window shopping

Window shopping

You could buy a big window in this shopping cart!

Germans like to really let it all hang out sometimes - but according to a pre-arranged schedule, of course! In this case, Stuttgart decided to let people shop in the downtown area until midnight...once. You Americans may be saying "So what?", but in a country where opening times for stores are more complicated to read than operating instructions for a GM Hummer ("Get in. Guzzle. Get out."), this was a pretty big deal.
I don't know who was responsible for the weather on April 2, but it was perfect so there were thousands of shoppers, strollers and partiers downtown on Saturday evening. Fifty regular sized shopping carts secured with bike locks and filled with dirt and spring flowers were set out on the Königstrasse the week before the BIG EVENT.
I didn't really know what to expect and had no particular plans, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the Stuttgart Ballet performing in the window of the Breuniger Department Store.

They had choreographed a piece for twelve dancers especially for this day, performing the ten-minute dance four times. I caught the last performance at 8 p.m.

We don't normally get to see the dancers so close-up, which is perhaps a good thing if you like to imagine that the dancers float effortlessly across the stage. I'm here to tell you that these dancers are a mixture of muscle and muscle. Oh, and did I mention: muscle?

In order to entertain the audience, which they knew would consist mostly of casual passers-by, they added a light touch to the piece, dancing in five inches of popcorn and at one point sucking up some kernels and spitting them back out. As much fun as the audience was supposed to have, it looks like the ballet world is opposed to looking like it is having fun. Not a smile, not a smirk, not even a glimmer of humor could be seen in the eyes - not even from up close.

These pictures were perfect candidates for black-and-white processing because the colors were not interesting and the contrasting light and dark skin tones are what grabs the eye.
In Monday's newspaper the performance was reported on and there was a picture of me holding up my camera above the bobbling heads in front of me. I've drawn an arrow to make it easier for you to see me.

See the popcorn? Now go make yourself some, grab a coke and watch a short movie of the dance project.
After the performance, I walked through Breuniger briefly for the first time in my nine years in Stuttgart. This high-end department store certainly caters to people probably much different from me. I felt uncomfortable being in there after two minutes. (I'm just saying that €120 for a nylon jacket in the "College Look" for seven-year-old boys is at this point beyond my comprehension. And €50 for shorts for six-year-old girls? Sorry, I don't get it.)


  1. Holy Black Swan Batman! That ballerina needs to eat some spätzle. I think she spit out the popcorn because she had already eaten her one rice cake for the week.
    Amazing photos!

  2. If you have ever had any ballet dancer friends, you will know that your comments are quite apropos: they DON'T really have a sense of humor. They are work machines! If you further know that Balanchine was, at heart, a misogynist, then it becomes utterly clear why dancers look the way they do - no breasts, no hips, no ass - just sinew and muscles, muscles, muscles. No dancer would touch a spätzle! ;-) Gabriele