2013: babel.torre viva


A "tower-dance-art-piece", "babel.torre viva" revives the indistructible myth of the tower: choir sounds of different eras are layered on border-crossing dance and music performances, building up to a Babilonian polyphony. The tower and the nave become a place where imaginary beings and earthly figures coexist. The tower itself is a magical mediator between contrasting worlds, embracing the image of the searching man, leading the way for the singing and dancing pilgrim.

Under artistic director Brigitta Luisa Merki, an international cast of dancers and musicians from nine countries revives the old myth with new images and sounds. This year, Argovian artist Ruth Maria Obrist is in charge of the interior design: for "babel.torre viva", she erects a twelve meter-high tower in the nave of the church. Roland Fitzlaff directs a choir of 50 singers, composed of Schola Cantorum Wettingensis and Vocappella Wettingen, creating a rich vocal foundation for the production.

"babel.torre viva" plays with the possibilities and the utopia of a common pursuit which relativizes personal, linguistic and cultural differences. In the meantime, the bounderies between dance, music, art and space are blurred. Building the tower is experienced as an organic, creative process. The tower stands firmly anchored in the nave - at the same time, it remains unfinished as a "vital platform".


Choreography:Brigitta Luisa Merki
Singer:Karima Nayt
Rocio Soto
Guitar:Pascual De Lorca
Juan Gomez
Choreography collaboration:Mohamed Benchegra
Tower:Ruth Maria Obrist
Choir director:Roland Fitzlaff
International Dance Company:Eloy Aguilar
Mohamed Benchegra
Leon Feizo-Gas
Carmen Iglesias
Julia Maria Koch
Raquel Lamadrid
José Moro
Ricardo Moro
Karima Nayt
Mohamed Shafik
Martina Sommer
Percussion:Fredrik Gille
Choir:Schola Cantorum Wettingensis
Vocappella Wettingen
Flute:Maria Toro
Costumes:Carmen Perez Mateos
Light design:Serge Schmuki
Photos:Alex Spichale
Assistant:Anne-Sophie Fenner
Lighting engineering:Tonio Finkam
Sound:Markus Luginbühl, audiopool
Photo poster:Michael Slobodian
Producer:Pitt Hartmeier




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Proben im Studio



Interview with Brigitta Luisa Merki in eter.es

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Mercedes Albi, eter.es, 23.06.2013

Swisslos-Beitrag SF1

Swisslos-Beitrag SF1, 10.06.2013


Struggling Angels and Pilgrims

The production is a declaration of love to life itself without the exclusion of pain and mourning. The pilgrims, on their journey through life as it were, drum and stomp as they cleave their path through uncharted territory. While doing so, they enjoy ever-changing constellations of togetherness and forms of sociability as well as the company of angels. At the end of their struggle they are rewarded with a new path.

The Tower of Babel, built by Artist Ruth Maria Obrist from wooden boards vertically fastened together fits into the church setting as if it had always been there. On three levels the dancers - supported by varying types of illumination - conjure up angels and goddesses before the audience's eyes."

Irene Wegmann, General-Anzeiger, 23.05.2013


„babel. torre viva" - a Beacon in the World of Dance

A Masterpiece by Brigitta Luisa Merki Performed in the Königsfelden Monastery Church

"'tanz&kunst königsfelden' stands for a new brand of art, namely for the newly-created beacon of Argovian culture. With her production ‘babel. torre viva', Artistic Director Brigitta Luisa Merki has not wasted any time creating an extraordinary oeuvre, a stroke of genius that more than satisfies the intended purpose of this new stage setting. The audience is enthusiastic!

No doubt, this comprehensive work of art with its fascinating tower designed by Ruth Maria Obrist, Roland Fitzlaff's choir from Wettingen, and its instrumentalists leaves an indelible impression. However, most outstanding are the extraordinary feats of the dancers of Flamencos en route and the hand-picked ensemble, together with Karima's voice and Maria Toro's solitary flute tones.

Sung, performed and danced in different languages and forms of expression, but tamed by the artistic and creative will of the choreographer, ‘tanz&kunst königsfelden' is undeniably the dance event of 2013."

Ernst Rothenbach, Regional, 23.05.2013



ART-TV, 23.05.2013

Der Landbote

On a Journey Together

"babel. torre viva" performed in the monastery church of Königsfelden shows how the visual arts, music, and dance can be integrated into one all-encompassing work of art

All the elements of this opus and its performance fit perfectly: It starts with the atmosphere in the church. Then there is the tower designed by Ruth Maria Obrist, which is built from copper-colored wooden boards and stands firmly on the ground. It offers three performance levels and features an unfinished top portion. Two choirs, the Schola Cantorum Wettingensis and the Vocappella Wettingen, conducted by Roland Fitzlaff, represent a group of pilgrims. While expertly integrating themselves into the performance, the singers delight the audience with beautifully sung choir music from the 16th century to the present. And then there are the artists from Flamencos en route, who play various instruments and dance in the styles of flamenco, neo-classical and modern dance, thus blurring the boundaries between the different styles.
Brigitta Luisa Merki is a master at showing the differences through her choreography and production, at creating conflicts, which are solved on stage in intense artistic dialogues. She does not downplay differences; instead, she emphasizes common aspects and integrates them into a diverse, well-organized whole. Merki is not all that interested in the human-arrogance aspect and God's punishment in the story of the Tower of Babel. Her new interpretation of the biblical allegory focuses on what humans can still do after the destruction of the tower and the resulting linguistic confusion. The new object is to build smaller towers - still with an emphasis on height, but without the ambition to conquer Heaven. In addition, there is an increased focus on accepting differences, trying to co-exist, and improving mutual understanding. Merki has created impressive scenes for small groups from her ensemble as well as overwhelming, all-encompassing tableaux to represent these ideas. The premiere of Brigitta Luisa Merki's new production on the Whitsun weekend left the audience spellbound.
The Königsfelden Festival was founded in 1973 by Jean Deroc, who organized performances based on biblical themes set to music of the 13th to the 20th century. The most recent festival took place in 2012 and was integrated into the "700-Year Anniversary of the Founding of the Monastery and its Church". The festival celebrated the founding history and the importance of the sacred location. In 2007, in order to revive and continue the festival tradition, Brigitta Luisa Merki initiated her dance-based pilot project "tanz&kunst königsfelden". Due to the big success of the trilogy "resonancias", "caleidoscopio" and "orfeo. euridice. das paradies", the "tanz&kunst königsfelden" event under Merki's artistic direction has become a permanent institution and a cultural beacon in the Canton of Aargau.
"babel. torre viva" is an excellent example for how the famous cultural monument and its surroundings can be turned into a stage. Every other year, a production harmonically combining the visual arts and music - just like the current one - is created for this specific location.

Ursula Pellaton, Der Landbote, 23.05.2013


The Destruction of the Tower of Babel Has Fortunate Consequences

Algerian singer Karima Nayt is spellbinding. The petite woman with the velvety voice instantly captures the audience at the monastery church of Königsfelden. The performance program actually also lists her among the dancers. However, an accident at the start of the premiere prevents the multi-talented artist now from demonstrating her dance skills. While some audience members might find this regrettable, they will not miss anything in this very successful production merging dance, music and art from different eras and cultures into one poetic, comprehensive work of art.

Brigitta Luisa Merki, founder of the well-known ensemble flamencos en route and, since 2007, artistic director of tanz&kunst königsfelden, presents her audience with a stroke of genius in this new production. "babel. torre viva" starts where the biblical allegory about the Tower of Babel ends: The attempt to reach God's realm by climbing a tower rising towards Heaven has failed, and humanity has fallen out in the subsequent linguistic confusion in Babylon. The choreographer uses this situation as a departure point for a parable about people learning to get along with each other. After all, in order to continue existing, the various cultures must find a common path into the future, despite their differences.


Barefoot versus Heeled

Some barefoot, others wearing shoes with hard heels, the dancers form couples of the most harmonic kind, whose dance styles meld together effortlessly during the pas de deux. During the solos, outstandingly performed by the men, a firework of virtuosity is unleashed: rhythm and tempo dominate the flamenco parts, lyrical lifts and leaps enthrall the audience.

The cultural cross-over proves just as effortless in the music. The audience not only loves the French and Arabic songs performed by Karima Nayt, but is just as moved by the flamenco songs sung by Rocio Soto. Excellent musicians (two guitarists, a percussionist, and a flutist) accompany the two singers. However, this would not be Königsfelden if there was not a choir that makes the nave of the church oscillate. About 50 singers from the Schola Cantorum Wettingensis and the Vocappella Wettingen, directed by Roland Fitzlaff, sing works from the 16th century to the present. Just like the other artistic elements of this production, the tower designed by Argovian artist Ruth Maria Obrist and forming part of the stage setting, bridges the gap between time periods perfectly. Featuring three levels and an empty space in front, it offers an ever-changing ambiance for the dancers and musicians in which to display human differences and commonalities. The latter keep intensifying and finally culminate in "viva", a lively and powerful ode to the strength that results from concerting one's efforts.

Nina Scheu, Tages-Anzeiger, 23.05.2013


Building the Tower of Babel - A Dance about Differences

For the fourth time choreographer Brigitta Luisa Merki reunites dance, visual arts, classical music, flamenco, and contemporary dance in Windisch. Merki intends to make her productions an institution - a lucky chance for the Canton of Aargau.
Stomping legs, thrashing feet, clacking shoes - these are the sounds of this unholy flamenco of the monks. Until the choir takes over and Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei can be heard. Now calm returns, and with it confidence and fascination. The dancers walk through the group of singing pilgrims, laying their head on one or the other's shoulder. A beautiful sight. And the beginning of a wonderful evening, for which Argovian choreographer Brigitta Luisa Merki has once again managed to gather an ensemble of artists who work very well together.
.... And so "Babel Torre Viva" was created as the collaborative oeuvre of Merki, the flamenco and modern dance choreographer, her phenomenal dancers and flamenco musicians, Argovian artist Ruth Maria Obrist, conductor Roland Fitzlaff and two choirs, the Schola Cantorum Wettingensis and the Vocappella Wettingen.
.... The production lives from the various converging styles, from the way hot Spanish rhythms and songs from the 16th and 20th centuries intertwine. The music choices span from Thomas Tallis to Antonio Robledo, who - for years - was the heart and soul of the musical aspects of all flamencos en route productions. Most moving are the songs performed by Karima Nayt. Her voice crosses styles and cultures, travels from light into darkness, until it reemerges again. The same way, the dancers suddenly become heavy and start to stomp; and the same way lightness and heaviness meet and compete with each other, perhaps even fight - without any one of them coming out the winner. A remarkable evening.

Lilo Weber, NZZ, 21.05.2013


Finding a Way into Heaven Using the Tower of Babel

.... During the pilot phase from 2007 to 2011, Brigitta Luisa Merki explored the possibilities offered by the monastery church three times. Together with Christof Rösch, Gillian White, and Beat Zoderer, all active in the field of visual arts, she created productions that enthralled her audiences. For her latest oeuvre the choreographer has chosen a biblical topic. The construction of the Tower of Babel stands for the human quest - or presumptuousness, rather - to become God-like: man, who wants to find his way into Heaven. Ruth Maria Obrist's multi-level tower superbly represents the utter folly behind this endeavor. Rising to a height of 42 feet, the tower is gigantic, but not overwhelmingly so. Once again, the sacred space of the church has been transformed in a masterful way.

... Music by Barber, Rheinberger, Tallis, and Robledo as well as flamenco sounds offer the acoustic framework for the choreographer and her dancers, Eloy Aguilar, Mohamed Benchegra, Leon Feizo-Gas, Carmen Iglesias, Julia Maria Koch, Raquel Lamadrid, José Moro, Ricardo Moro, Karima Nayt, Mohamed Shafik and Martina Sommer. Dance, music and space continuously interweave, thus creating an unforgettable maelstrom effect.

... "Classical ballet with its fluid movements and steps conflates with the more contoured dance idiom of the flamenco - as demonstrated for example in the scene "Struggling with the Angels" performed by Eloy Aguilar and Mohamed Benchegra. Their duet is as riveting as it is captivatingly beautiful. With babel. torre viva Brigitta Luisa Merki has succeeded in creating a haunting oeuvre, which shines from within and invites reflection long after the sounds and images have faded away."

Elisabeth Feller, AZ, 21.05.2013


DateTimeLocationTheaterTicket pre-sale
21:00WindischKlosterkirche KönigsfeldenInfo Baden 056 200 84 84, Web
18.05.201321:00WindischKlosterkirche KönigsfeldenInfo Baden 056 200 84 84, Web
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