MS Schrittmacher was founded in Berlin in 1998 by the choreographer Martin Stiefermann.
From the beginning, MS Schrittmacher saw itself as a pool of freelance and long-term group choreographers, dancers, composers as well as stage, costume and lighting designers. The pieces were shown between 10 and 30 times in Berlin. In addition to this there have been numerous guest performances, festival invitations and co-productions with other theaters.
This continuity in the work and the further development of forms and ideas were and are important aspects of the group’s identity. Over the last few years, the group and its broad spectrum of pieces received increased recognition and enthusiastic responses from audiences as well as the critics.
“MS Schrittmacher is currently one of the impulse-giving companies in Germany. Since 1998, their pieces have been created in a field of tension between art, dance and social realities.” (Tip Berlin)
MS Schrittmacher’s idiosyncratic signature is created by dealing with daily life, sociological theory and questions about general social phenomena. The dance pieces are choreographic phenomenology, always in a tension with a city’s – and its inhabitants’ – daily lives. Thus the group is constantly searching for traces, and in past productions has told stories of the human and typical…
“Stiefermann has both x-ray vision to see social pitfalls and the ability to translate his observations into a dance language that everyone understands, without it seeming facile or obvious. Intellect combines with sensuality here, the power of dance expression with scenic confidence of form.” (Bernd Feuchtner, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
It’s not just the bodies that tell the story; the character of the performers is also essential. On a foundation of dance and performance qualities, Martin Stiefermann develops a language of movement for the stage that can vary from piece to piece, but is always characterized by a choreographic wittiness and grotesque humor.
“The dancers unveil an incredible presence, not just because the audience is so physically close. Their sometimes marked poses, their vehement physical play, their bodies’ flexibility and the roughness of their physical language seems to directly penetrate the audience’s nervous system. No, it’s not so easy to escape the presence of these excellent (self-)performers.” (Elisabeth Nehring, Tanzjournal)
Stiefermann and his dancers are moving storytellers (in both senses), because they don’t just convey their own stories; they make the audience their accomplices and demand that they accompany them on the search for the core of the piece – to re-discover stories and emotions. MS Schrittmacher’s pieces are a structure made of abstract movement and action sequences, traversed by motifs with strong images and concrete stories.
“The result is a new kind of theater, understandable for the audience not as a piece of pure aesthetics, but rather a piece of themselves. The objective has been reached when everyone can say ‘That’s me´ and then has to laugh about themselves.” (Gerda Kaltwasser, Rheinische Post)
Stage designs are created parallel to the choreography, which is often developed via improvisation in the rehearsal process. The designs create spaces for the language of movement and moving images.
„Martin Stiefermann is his own stage designer; he connects contemporary dance to the visual arts. The result? Expressive images of movement with strong visual effects.” (Klaus Witzeling, Hamburger Abendblatt)
The company received numerous individual project grants and Basisförderung from the Senatskanzlei für Kulturrelle Angelegenheiten, Berlin as well as support from the Hauptstadtkultur Fonds, Fonds DAKU, Siemens AG and the Kulturamt Prenzlauer Berg. Tours have been supported by the Goethe Institute and the International Performance Network and have brought the company to Siberia, Hungary, Düsseldorf, Herne, Nuremburg, Essen, Ludwigshafen, Freiburg, Potsdam, Leipzig, etc. From 2001-2006, the company cooperated with the Oldenburg State Theater.