One doesn´t recognizes spiritual maturity from of the kind of emotions one has but from the distance one has to them. 

What is deceptive about „negative feelings“ is that, despite the fact that they are impermanent one believes them to be real and behaves accordingly. 

„Reichtum des Geistes“ by Lama Ole Nydahl.

The concept of this piece is loosely based on Buddhist ideas about life. According to these, life is not only impermanent but dominated by suffering. This suffering is caused by our having desire and making demands on life. Only when we stop this can we be free and happy. In essence these demands or claims have one root: greed. We are born unknowing into the world. Nevertheless we experience moments of absolute clarity and happiness very early, moments in which we are fell ourselves to be one with our environment. However this doesn’t last and it is negative emotions which dominate our lives.

They prevent us from reacting freely and without prejudice to the events happening around us. It is these negative emotions which block our perceptions and stop us from living to the full in the „here and now.“ This on the other hand leads us to make the wrong decisions, which in turn create further negative emotions. It is a vicious circle from which it is extremely difficult to break out. There is are innumerable negative emotions but they all develop out of the combination of a few serious ones: pride, possessiveness i.e. clinging, jealousy, ignorance, i.e. the lack of consciousness and the resulting narrow-mindedness and intolerance, desire and miserliness. Finally, anger which can intensify into rage. All these negative emotions are interconnected and provoke further problems, such as addiction, lewdness and violence. Freeing oneself from these feelings enables us to experience short moments of enlightenment and freedom. In such moments of recognition we find ourselves in the condition which should in fact be normal and natural, and which could be described by the word „acceptance“. This corresponds with the condition into which we were born, blessed from the beginning on.

It is the knowledge that these negative emotions are not for ever and actually irrelevant that helps us to overcome them so that thereafter we can react to our situation as humans-beings with a clear spirit. If we achieve this, we will react towards our environment in a similar manner. But even if we deeply understand this and make it our philosophy of life an enduring confrontation with our negative emotions will always remain. It will be a long, never ending struggle for enlightenment and freedom.

In the piece „Unknowing“ negative emotions or states of mind are represented through the medium of „dance“. In addition to this, the positive state of clarity i.e. enlightenment and the resultant feeling of being free. It is precisely this freedom which is destroyed over and over. We erect invisible walls around ourselves, entwine and shut ourselves up in our negative feelings. For this reason we become incapable of opening ourselves towards other people. Expressed differently, we are unable to bridge the „space“ between us and others in order to love. The „space“ around us remains closed, impenetrable. Each of us moves in his or her own „space“ and at his or her own speed.

Matthias Kass (choreographer & director)

Skinsurfers (composers)

Ralf Mohr (photographer)

Clément Bugnon (video)

Unknowing was created as part of “Think Big – Artist Residence Program 2013”, a joint initiative by the Ballet of the State Opera Hannover and the dance festival TANZtheater INTERNATIONAL.

Funded by: Stiftung Niedersachsen, Stiftung Kulturregion Hannover and State Capital Hannover / Kulturbüro.