Season 1 / Episode 1 – Anne-Mareike Hess : my Life as a Choreographer

par Marie-Laure Rolland

Behind the spotlights of a stage, the work of a choreographer is patiently built up every day. What does it consist of ? Is this life as an artist as brilliant as it seems ? Choreographer and dancer Anne-Mareike Hess accepted La Glaneuse’s Carte blanche to take us into the intimacy of her work, focused on the « emotional body”. For three years, she will be an associated artist at the Cultural Exchange Center Neimenster in Luxembourg. She will report regularly from this adventure. In the first episode of this season 1, she tells us about her first period of residency, from 10 to 18 February 2020.


Season 1 / Episode 1 

10.-18 February 2020 : « Plans never match reality »

Unbelievable it’s already the last day of my stay here at neimënster! It’s not the first time I have been living and working here, but it is the first time in my role as associated artist. This basically means that each year I am allowed to spend up to 8 weeks in residency and neimënster will coproduce 2 new creations. Furthermore, I am invited to get involved in the reflections around the artistic line of the house and help to develop Neimënster as a kind of residency center.

Funny enough it did change my experience and it did change the relation to this beautiful place. I’m not a stranger here but am here for a reason. This sheds a different light on the many buildings and different departments and activities that are happening here. I suddenly had much more the urge to understand how this house is functioning and to get to know and participate in the life at neimënster, strolling through the numerous rooms, visiting their exhibitions and engaging in talks with different members of the staff, wanting to understand their perspectives and realities.

A room in Neimënster with a view on the fortress of Luxembourg (photo: AMH)

I had a planned for this residency to mostly work intensively and without distraction, diving into the research around my upcoming creation, Dreamer. Well… plans never match reality.

Arriving here, I was suddenly overwhelmed by all the exciting possibilities and potentialities this associated artist position could create and the workload that is related to it. In a way this was also a special week, because it was the beginning of this association and this involved a whole chunk of public relation work: press conference, press release and interviews. I always underestimate the amount of work and preparation this also needs. In the same way as when I am creating a dance work, I have also here to think about what I want to share with the audience. What are the right words to get my point across? Challenging but important!

Many hours I was caught by the administrational work in relation to all the upcoming projects and touring activities that needs to be organized and the time-consuming work related to writing applications for future works. This work follows me everywhere I go.

So, the days have flown by. I was like in a fever!

A place to work in Neimënster (photo: AMH)

Every day I spent more or less 8-10h in my spacious office. My thoughts were turning, my head spinning, my body flying, and my fingers tipping. I had to remind myself to slow down and take it step by step. I know this fever and I love to surf on it, it’s like a fire burning in me, but by moments it can also burn yourself!

Step by step

Pause – breathe in, breathe out

I became friends with a beautiful pigeon, visiting me every day at my window


In relation to Dreamer I worked on getting an overview of what I have been collecting, reading and thinking so far in relation to the theme and to concretize my interest in it.

I have this practice of surfing through information, meaning that for several weeks or even months I dream about a theme, dwell on thoughts, read many different articles and books about related themes, look at movies and pictures, diving deep into the WWW. Heaven!

Inspiring books (photo: AMH)

I voluntarily take off on side-tracks and side-thoughts, tend to forget where I started from and take long detours. I love this phase where everything is possible, and nothing has to be concrete!

But soon I will be entering the next phase of Dreamer. End of the month I will start to work with my creative team in a residency in Denmark. So, this week it was necessary to go through all my notes, to sieve my ideas, refocus and formulate. Where lies my interest? What do I want to share with my collaborators? How to start?

« Yes, small things matter »

Also, I did spend some inspiring time on the stage of the performance hall Robert Krieps. The Premier of Dreamer will happen on this same stage in 10 months and I imagined the jet non-existing work in this space. I was dreaming about a carpet of smoke, dark blue light, a specific smell, a mysterious atmosphere and a concert in the historical archway. Afterwards I checked the technical possibilities with the technical director Julien. Into what kind of space do I want to invite my audience? How can we share the same space? How can we create a more intimate space?

Highly motivated !

I did my daily yoga and movement practice. Bringing thoughts into movement in order to not get stuck… I still got stuck several times in my head, but then took a walk along the river, swollen with water. Or consulted with my dramaturge Thomas Schaupp. So valuable, walks as well as talks!

First brainstorming for « Dreamer » (photo: AMH)

This week I saw several very spectacular cloud formations in the sky. Yes, small things matter.

Today I leave and I am so grateful for the possibility of coming back here on a regular basis. I already regret that my year is already planned with so many other projects and residencies, because I could easily stay a little longer. Arriving and departing is my lifestyle. I get excited to spin on the thought of getting more involved into the reflections and the artistic thoughts of this house and the whole topic of mediation around contemporary dance. Let see, what will be possible and what ways we will find, but for now I feel good, filled with ideas and possibilities. I guess that’s the way to go.

Anne-Mareike Hess



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