Sonja Heller

As long as I can remember art in its various forms has been my tool to process the happenings surrounding me. As a young adult I created my first performances for the so-called “Schauraum Parties” in Frankfurt/Main. In 1999 I encountered Butoh through a workshop of Minako Seki who should become one of my main teachers. After moving to Berlin, I studied acting at the European Theater Institute.

But soon I became disenchanted by the meat market of theater and television castings and concentrated on my Butoh training with Atsushi Takenouchi, Yuko Kaseki and Imre Thormann instead. During that time, I supported myself mainly through a freelance editorial job at the city magazine Tip. Between 2007-2008 I also became an ensemble member of the children’s theater “Varia Vineta” and completed my teacher education of the morning exercises of Fe Reichelt, a former student of Mary Wigman.

In 2009 I got invited to moderate the symposium “50 Years of Butoh – A beginning” during the Butoh-Festival in Berlin. Around the same time my friend Daniela Schmidtke and I had started a training in the Yellow Room in Kreuzberg where experienced students of Butoh taught each other for free. From these sessions arose our performance collective “O.G.M.” (Organisme Génétiquement Modifié) that performed during the year of 2010 in Berlin.

When on the 1st of June 2010 Butoh-Founder Kazuo Ohno passed away, I got the idea to organize a worldwide Butoh-Flashmob. So, on his next birthday Butoh performers from Australia over Russia to Chile danced in his honor and showed the world that Butoh was still blossoming. Soon after this event
I got invited to teach my first Butoh workshop in Switzerland and then took off for an intensive journey of teaching and performing that led me to Sweden, Iceland, Chile, Brazil, Russia, Austria, Latvia and Lithuania. One of the most important collaborations during that time was with Poema Theatre as well as with Patrick K.-H., Asya Mukhina and Oleg Makarov in Russia. Another one with my dear friend Juliana Calligaris who hosted my work in her theater in São Paulo and became my producer in Brazil. For several years I created my solo performances there and brought them then back to Europe.

In 2014 I landed exhausted back in Berlin. Adrian Shephard alias TESTCARD who had invited me in the past to join his “Dreammachine”-Performances, agreed to experiment with me on sound and movement. We presented variations of our work at “25 Years of Schokoladen Festival” and “Destruktiva VII Noise Festival”. Another great friend of mine, composer and actor Leo Solter, developed with me the pieces “The Discipline of Do Easy” and “Europe – An Exorcism” that tackled the problem of creating sound through movement in different ways. At the same time, I created movable collages as well as several drawings and made my first steps under the name of “Marlowe” in stop-motion-animation. This led for instance in 2018 to the video of “The Story of the Eye” that was presented during the exhibition „One cannot be too careful“ in Berlin, St. Peterburg (RU) and Brighton (UK).

In the past years I concentrated mainly on my philosophy studies as well as being an author for magazines, short stories and my first novel. For this work I adapted the name “Herr Sundermeier”.
But I will be back with new interactive formats of dance, of storytelling and my unique take on Butoh soon.