a scene from a theatre show. A figure with shoulder length hair wearing underwear and a white t-shirt is standing and lit from the back so we can't see their face. Behind them is another figure is lying tense on the ground.

Review by Nicole Strecker (Tanzweb Krefeld)

Not To Be Held Back, Not To Be Saved

Gala Moody and Michael Carter succeed with “THE VASE” in Krefeld

By Nicole Strecker

(translated by Veronica Posth)

October 25, 2017

a scene from a theatre show. A figure with shoulder length hair wearing underwear and a white t-shirt is standing and lit from the back so we can't see their face. Behind them is another figure is lying tense on the ground.

A woman who is not to be held back, not to be saved. Medea, the most brutal, most uncontainable hero of all the Greek myths, mother and monster, lamentable victim and incomprehensibly vindictive perpetrator. In 2014, dancer Gala Moody played Medea in Wim Vandekeybus‘ production “Booty Looting“, and it is understandable why this character who is a primitive force of nature even in the present-day, who radically destructed the concept of the love story, doesn’t let go.

A year later, Moody and Michael Carter started development on “The Vase“ which is a piece about a couple in the mode of eternal power-struggle, like at one time Medea and her husband Jason. But who manipulates whom? Moody and Carter succeed magnificently in making the emotional power struggle between man and woman cliche free, with steep calculated changes, to stage. It remains a game – and yet it is painful harassment.

The performer Gala Moody – already the name is a promise! – appears in a long beige dress as a pale hero. Her fair hair uncombed and her arms, legs, also fingers, feet, all fairylike, long and thin. She seems to come from another era, but then she mundanely goes to a mixing console, which stands in the middle of the stage; she dims the lights and tips a sound file on the computer. Preparations for her scene, a self-made setting and a statement: – what is happening here is just a theatrical illusion, an experimental arrangement to understand the nightmare “love“ – Here, Euripides’ tragedy Medea is quoted and its adaptation by an unknown Chilean author, Ariel Dorfman who, in his biography written in Chile during the the dictatorship by Augusto Pinochets, was clearly possessed and obsessed by the themes of revenge and forgiveness. In The Vase we find ourselves in Sartre’s hell, which is what others are for us. We are in Heiner Müller’s famous piece about a lovers quarrel „Die Quartet“, in which man and woman are playfully destructing themselves, in the process changing the gender roles. Thats what occurs with Gala Moody and Michael Carter.

After Moody, alone, continuously recites the first words of the Euripides drama, Carter appears. They measure each other up. Their bodies are tense as if the bare look of each other provokes a painful spasm, as if Jason has already betrayed Medea with another, or as if she had already murdered their children. Then Moody suddenly jumps back with a laugh to a much earlier point in their relationship.

Carter then claims “I am her”. He is Medea; the immigrant, the powerful. And while he babbles to his beloved one, she jumps around and grabs him, keeps his mouth closed, jostles him, bounces on one leg as he accidentally steps on her foot. The rough tenderness of two bodies without suspicion nor shame. But are not the shoves now a bit crude and the arms around the neck a bit too tight? These are kisses that become Penthesilea-like deadly bites, the interaction between Moody and Carter becomes imperceptibly harder, from stroking to clawing, from gentle tangle of the hands into forceful constraining.

This evening the two have worked sensationally on the ambivalence of each gesture. Two star dancers. She worked with the wild fellows of the dance scene: Romeo Castellucci, Ivo Dimchev and Wim Vandekeybus. He has been with the Tanztheater Wuppertal since 2014.  Having the charisma of a sensitive melancholic, he us intrinsically a wonderful counterpart to the rigorous action women Moody, this makes their still young company “Cie. OFEN“ absolutely attractive.

This time, however, Medea-Moody removes her gentle Jason to the corner, as if his sarcastic, cruel attacks are more like cautious attempts to subdue, the ’suspension of hostility‘ in the erotic power play is somewhat unbelievable.

Nevertheless, it is captivating how the two have so enchantingly and intensively rummaged into the physical sensibilities of their characters and how cleverly they reflected on the stereotypes of the subjects doing it without any chintzy effect, it wins you over. Love as a war in which there can be no winner. Gala Moody and Michael Carter tell of this age-old disillusionment of all romantics with the passionate resignation of two psychologists, even with the most shrewd analysis, one will not be exempt from the pull of emotions. – By Nicole Strecker


Original article by Nicole Strecker


Interview with Marc Wagenbach (Ear Productions)


Having a Voice





M: Welcome both of you at Ekeby. Maybe you can introduce yourself by telling us a bit about your work.

Mi: I am Michael Carter and a dancer from Sydney. I am co-director of Cie.OFEN and dancer of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch.

G: And I am Gala Moody also dancer and co-director of Cie.OFEN, which we’ve had for five years now.

M: And you know each other from Australia?

Mi: Yes, we know each other from 2005. We worked at a company together called Leigh Warren & Dancers in Adelaide. Since then, we both created different works for stage or film and we were both in each others creative lives. We did two and a half pieces together: One Final Evolutionary Note and Evolution/Repetition, and The Vase.

G: So, two full works really.

M: And this is basically the beginning of the research for the third one.

G: Yes.



M: How would you describe your artistic process?

G: We are very much rebelling from our own comforts. We don’t believe in having a set vocabulary in our work, that doesn’t sit well with us at all. So in that way we are mainly a research company and we create movement purely from an idea and a conceptual stand point rather then fitting the movement into a concept that is new. For example for: “One Final Evolutionary Note“, we worked with the idea of evolution from Charles Darwin. We researched movement over 4 months: from the positioning in space to the movement decision itself and the timing. It was all directly influenced from the research material.

M: Which kind of research material was it?

G: We had the book: “On the Origin of Species“ by Charles Darwin and…

Mi: … we watched lots of videos on how animals and organisms interact, fight and survive.

G: What are symbiotic relationship with animals?

Mi: ….and how planets move, and evolution in thought “I think therefor I am’.

G: In our second piece, I was going though a very hard break-up, when we started; and I was also studying Medea for a theater play. We were looking for a text to start with and we found a modern version of Medea which we both found interesting. We wanted to work more theatrically with body language. We used a lot of text in the piece also.

Mi: .. and we wrote a lot of stuff and quoted from emails.

M: So text was a very strong reference in this process?

G: Yes. We were very curious about text and the voice, and very scared also. In the piece we quote the theater play that we were looking at; “Purgatorio” by Ariel Dorfman, and Euripides “Medea”, and our own biographical texts. It had these three layers of the narrative which had all the same themes but different time periods.

Mi: We wanted the movement to be true to the idea that “Everything is valid“. We were interested in the randomness of life and we wanted to make movement that was true to that, also feeling it would work well for these volatile characters of Jason and Medea.

G: We also liked the idea that we could play with theatricality. So one minute we were Michael and Gala on stage and then next we were Medea and Jason. Therefore, we could leave the characters and retake them again throughout the piece.

Mi: Physically we had to learn how we were as well. Because as a performer you usually go into performance mode and your body changes for the role, but we had to be ourselves.

G: We found when it came to performing the clue was in each other. As long as we keyed into each other.

Mi: In that moment. In that day. How were we reacting to that movement and the text. Otherwise, it became something that was learnt and rehearsed and distant somehow and actually we weren’t in the moment.

G: It had very much the feeling for us of Performance Art. You are there and paying attention.



M: Now to your new production: “New People“. Could you tell us something about the idea?

G: After re-premiering The Vase last month, we had a really great response, and we weren’t expecting that. Somehow it gave us a whole new lease of life for the company..

Mi: …to trust in the work.

G: What we were trying to say got across and that was huge for us.

Mi: That was especially great because we didn’t make it easy for an audience. We wanted to challenge the audience also. For example we wanted to see how long we can wait before we did an action.

G: There was no music hardly. We weren’t following anything we have seen on stage before. It was really a conglomerate of randomness. It was clear that we had to make another piece!

Mi: Somebody said on the last piece that they felt they were seeing something they haven’t seen, that was something, we worked hard to get that. We are not on the worst track we could be. So let’s make a new piece.

M: And why aliens?

Mi: When we are on stage, we are often seen as a man and a woman, people project ideas like lovers, married..

G: Married lovers. Lovers married.

Mi: We also talked a lot about gender: How people perceive you in public if you are dressed more feminine more masculine. It is a kind of a common topic what we like to talk about. So, we thought, we take all this away.

G: Those things don’t aline with our own ideas of gender. In life we are much more gender fluid.

Mi: And so we just thought, we take gender away from the audience straight away and make these two characters aliens that do not have race or gender or skin color. Actually, we will have a skin color but we not quite sure what color. So, the conversation is not about that. To have a look at the “real thing“ we are doing: not a man or a woman.

M: And what is the real thing?

Mi: Identity. Integration. Power-play. Power struggles. Finding your place in life and then learning to adapt.

G: Having a voice.

Mi: Yes, having a voice. Existing. Having some control over your life in terms of your surroundings and the people around you.

G: And therefore, what is it to be human? Can an alien try to be human?

M: Is there also a wish to fit in?

Mi: Anyone that comes from a foreign place to a new place find that the people around them want them to fit in. Everyone loves the “happy foreigner“ who makes an effort and not the angry foreigner who doesn’t want tochange and adapt. We thought, these aliens would be happy and would really make an effort, who really want to be part of this society. But I think in terms of us: do we want to fit in?

G: Well, I think it is quite prominent in our lives, fitting in, putting down roots.

Mi: To be part of a group. To move to a new place. To able to fit in. To get a house. Or to learn a language. The bureaucratic side of it. It is always so complicated. You can do it with humour, or you can do it with bitterness. We would like to see if you could make a funny piece.

G: I think in life there is a need to touch subjects that are difficult with lightness, in our friendship we like to joke and in our work we use humour to get through things that are hard.

Mi: I think, Australian humour is quite sarcastic, it had a dark side.

G: It is also a new medium for us. You don’t get to explore this too much in dance.






How do we want to live today?

ear maintains a network of independent artists and scientists: the Ekeby Associated Artists and Scholars Program. Research undertaken at Ekeby is focused on developing and documenting methods and strategies for the description of work processes in the arts and research. Our research is driven by the experiences of artists, scientists and friends of Ekeby – their beliefs, world views and inspirations. They are Ekeby.

We are Ekeby!



Executive Director Dr Marc Wagenbach

+ 31 613 40 77 68


Residency: Ekeby International Research Center for Contemporary Arts

Cie.OFEN just spent a fruitful week in residency at Ekeby International Research Center for Contemporary Arts in The Netherlands where we plotted out our new creation for 2017/18. 

New People (working title) will be a cross-disciplinary sci-fi comedy featuring homeless aliens who come to Earth hoping for a better life. Premiering end of 2018 as a live performance, New People will also involve a year-long dramatic lead up including live and online media events including TV interventions with the main characters.

The development of New People continues the following month in residence at ROSAS in Brussels, Belgium.

Cie.OFEN would like to thank Marc and Jan at Ekeby for a wonderfully refreshing and inspiring time in their beautiful early twentieth century summer house and studio. You will find interviews into Cie.OFENs creative process on the Ear Productions website in the coming weeks. 

Gala: Residency at LWDance Hub, Adelaide.

Gala is in Adelaide commencing some research, please read below.

The concept for this piece was the result of research I did when I was artist in residency at WAM Festival in Faenza.  My initial proposal to the festival director (Paola Ponti) was that I wanted to interview residents in Faenza about their everyday gestures. For example asking them how they express themselves through body language, what actions they repeat everyday, gestures that are specific to their region or ones that they identify with personally. I wanted to curate a body of gestures that I would construct a work out of. The director agreed to this approach and at the start of the residency, equipped with a translator and camera man, I started to collect material door to door. It soon became apparent to me that people were not in their homes during the day and in the evenings they were too busy with commitments to be interviewed, and as I had limited time I changed my approach. I took to the streets and noticing people were self concious when approached in this environment I decided to film scenes of people on the street in a documentary style without their knowledge. This was a very natural way to gather material, people were acting authentically and going about their business in their usual ways.

One thing that became important was that this would be a study; and therefor the material would be collected in an academic manner. I constructed a grid over a map of the city and my video footage spanned equally the whole city. I was not interested in movement that stood out from the everyday crowd but rather the details of the most normal ways people respond to their surroundings and each other. In this way it has its heart in social anthropology.
Afterward gathering the video footage, I learnt the material trying to stay as exact as possible to the original, and then constructed it as a long line of segmented movement sections. Some sections were several seconds and some were longer, they all began where the other left off but the tempo and quality changed from one to the next.
Because of the short time period of my residency, I wasn’t able to delve deep dramaturgically into this piece, I could only brush the surface, but I had very interesting feedback from the local audience. I had the sense that this performance was equally about what is not done then what is, by the way we don’t act as the way we do.

Gala is in residency at LWDance Hub in Adelaide, Australia and then in Rosas in Brussels, Belgium.

Chance Encounters – moving image screening

Come along to the Marion Cultural Centre this Thursday and check out Cie.OFEN in the moving image screenings, live art making and interactive chance encounters!


Stay for 5 minutes, 1 hour or all day

11am–5pm short film screenings

1pm–5pm visual art, 3D interactive presentation, dance

Marion Cultural Centre

Plaza and Foyer,

287 Diagonal Road,

Oaklands Park, South Australia


Review: Gala Moody & Michael Carter, Cie.OFEN: THE VASE, at die börse Wuppertal

by Frances d’Ath, www.supernaut.info

5th June, 2017

Photo by Frances d’Ath


Six hours on the Autobahn and straight into the theatre to find Gala and Michael hard at it. I reckon they must be near the end, arriving so late as I did, but they keep going, like they were waiting as long as possible for me to get there before they started. In the end I missed maybe 20 minutes of their pre-general on Thursday evening and had the delight of their sweaty hot bodies jumping on me the instant they realised who the tardy arrival was.

Turns out missing the beginning is crucial to understanding what’s going on. Without Gala’s first monologue the piece only has the meaning I put on it; it’s a strong argument for context and against interpretation. So I’ll start with interpretation. A woman in a long, pale-lemon dress, cut just below the half-way line of her calves. Sleeveless, but over a dirty white short-sleeved shirt. A man in Oxford Blue corduroy trousers and a blue-grey unbuttoned shirt over a dirty white singlet. Both bare foot. A stage coated with ash, four wooden chairs, and downstage where the stage manager’s box would be if it were on-stage instead of off, a table, chair, computer, sound and light desks, spaghetti-ing cables onto the floor into a red effects box, and a single microphone on a long cable.

It’s one of the enduring clichés of dance theatre, ballet, contemporary dance and all, the single man and woman on stage, dressed so, performing the clichés of heteronormativity. It would be a comedy, except it’s not. It’s a cliché also of gay male choreographers making such work, almost a compulsion, like having to ‘reinterpret’ Giselle or Swan Lake. I’m watching these two dancers, tall, lithe, strong, who I’ve known for well over a decade in various cities and countries, who have danced together for thirteen years now, who I adore— so let’s not pretend I have any interest in lip service to ‘objectivity’ here — who I love watching dance, especially when it’s their own dancing, especially together. I’m watching them, and without the benefit of that first monologue, wonder how awkward it’s going to be if they fall over into that cliché. And giving them credit here, I know them for mercilessly mocking all the tropes and stereotypes of dance, both with their words and with their bodies. Yet sometimes the piece makes itself, and sometimes even the most caustic find themselves wanting to say something on those roles and identities and selfhood which are real and lived, which we have to negotiate even if we ourselves are not fully part of, even while they are so often used to fill the void of ideas.

The next day I see the whole work. I pay attention. I listen to Gala say, “Have you said any words of love today? There are no words of love today.” Say, whisper, bellow. Her voice is a typhoon blasting the stage, pushing the air before it. Rage, hate, anguish. This is the story ofMedea, who kills her children after her husband’s betrayal. This is the story of Gala. InGenesis, Michel Serres says,

The more I think, the less I am me. If I think something, I am that something. If I simply think, I am no longer anyone. In any case, me thinking am nothing.

[…] Dance is to the body proper what exercise of thought is the subject known as I. The moreI dance, the less I am me. If I dance something, I am that something, or I signify it. When I dance, I am only the blank body of the sign.

When Gala and Michael reference the story of Medea and Jason, the Gods take an interest.Not to say it’s an invocation, but rather to recite the lines from Euripides’ Medea, and to find or thread together multiple variations, be it Euripides, Ariel Dorfman’s Purgatorio, or their own private lives deferred through these variations is enough to reverse the relationship. It isMedea who dances her life through Gala as much as it is Gala who draws on Medea to tell her own. It is a repetition across time, through each work referencing a predecessor, tracing branchings and bifurcations back to Medea. It is a repetition also in their bodies, dancing themselves, dancing each other.


Photo by Frances d’Ath


I want to diverge from philosophy here and write of the awe I feel seeing these two together.Because this is becoming something of a review and not just photography and a travel document, Gala and Michael first danced together in Leigh Warren & Dancers, coming from Oz Ballet; Gala from WAAPA (by way of me and a couple of pieces back when I actually made dance). Michael went on to Compañía Nacional de Danza in Madrid, whileGala went to Charleroi Danses then Ultima Vez in Brussels. As for why I was seeing them in Wuppertal, Michael joined Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch a while ago. So we’re talking about two highly capable dancer-performers, who have worked across dance, theatre, opera in Europe and Australia while making their own work together for much of that time, and ‘officially’ since 2012 under the name Cie.OFEN. They move, alone and together, with brutal clarity. This isn’t the kind of work you can make in six weeks by throwing together some steps and ideas; it’s a knowing of self and each other down to their bones, worked into their bones. Even if they had gone fully into the cliché, I’d be destroyed by the beauty of them together.

The inevitability in their dancing. They compound that with dialogue, or with just the mundane acts of technical concerns, changing the lights, sound. There’s a moment whereGala is on all fours, around the centre of the work, the light and the energy has gone into a dark place, like blood is going to be spilt — or already has and you don’t even feel it yet —and Michael, barely above a whisper, spits, “Get. Up.” Savage. A slap to the face. Hatred where there was supposed to be love; betrayal and resentment and spite. You want to see work like this. You want the shit mediocrity of the cliché exposed for what it is: violence and abuse. Those saccharine dramatic conceits of the love story rest on the unmentionable bodies of murdered women, and while Medea might have murdered her children, this is projection: it is not women who are the murderers, not terrorists who women must fear, but the men in our midst, the men closest.

It’s a fucking hard, brave work.

It’s a beautiful work. I’ve said that already. Here is the violence of abuse, and here also is something to aspire to, here is a way out. Michael and Gala, Gala and Michael. Maybe a decade and some years is what’s needed for such a work. The care they take with each other, the familiarity, even or especially when they get rough, when it needs to be endured.The matter of fact getting on with it, like digging in the garden, there’s a complete absence of pretence that also doesn’t try and be some shite authenticity, like here’s the genuine, essential, real Gala and Michael for your entertainment. I want to say more, but then it becomes personal, and the point of a performance is to defer biography. So I will end with the end. Michael is back at the table. He and Gala have danced together, separate but together, increasingly apart, the light has increased for this last somewhat third or act, he sits and watches her as she comes from upstage in front of the chairs, dancing, dancing, and fades the lights, she’s smiling. Alone, survived, no longer Medea, Gala dancing, smiling.