Season 1 / Episode 3 – Anne-Mareike Hess : my Life as a Choreographer

par Marie-Laure Rolland

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”. In this review, she explains why she suspended her third period of residency in Neimënster and took the decision to postpone the creation of « Dreamer ».


@home residency November/December 2020

Many things were supposed to happen these past weeks and like so many of us I had to change my plans several times and adapt to the situation. 

What compromises am I willing to accept?

How much am I supposed to adapt?

… In a COVID free world, I would have had the Premier of my new solo “Dreamer” on 4thof December 2020 at Neimënster, but the development of the situation and the new measures brought me to the point of having to interrupt the project in early November and postponing it to autumn/winter 2021. This was a very painful moment, but I am relieved and proud that I did take this decision. It was the best for the team, for myself and the work. But emotionally it was hard and the days that followed were difficult.


Look into the sky…the clouds just fly by…completely unimpressed.

Now I am fine. Europe is moving into Lockdown again and I am not a fan of complaining and dwelling in what should and could have happened. There is always work to do and thoughts to think. Besides, I am tired of being depressed about this whole situation. Enough is enough. I need to move on and be active. I needed a little distance to “Dreamer”, so I rather quickly turned my focus towards what is possible now: making plans for 2021, preparing the upcoming projects, making hypothetical budgets, admin work…that’s something concrete to hold on to. After a while this work calmed me down and recently, I have entered a deep process of reflecting and listening in: 

What do I need at the moment for developing my work, while at the same time feeling well and supported?

What does my artistic work need to grow? 

What are my professional and artistic visions and ambitions? 

How could my work become more sustainable? 

How am I contributing to the different communities I am living in?

It is actually very refreshing and empowering to follow these questions and get a taste of the untouched potential that lies in them. 

In process

I am not alone with these questions, during the whole year and also in the last weeks I participated at several Zoom conferences on some of these topics and it is inspiring to exchange and fuel my thoughts.

Little flashback: two weeks ago (end of November), I met journalist Marie-Laure Rolland and photographer/cameraman Bohumil Kosthoryz for a film shooting session in the context of their documentary film about my work. We met on stage at Salle Robert Krieps at Neimënster. Empty stage, empty audience seats, lights off…mixed feelings. It was strange to sit there alone and speak into a camera, share my thoughts and feelings with a lens. What do I want to share? And how do I manage to find the right words in the right moment? First it made me feel very unsecure somehow, but after a while I managed to concentrate and speak true to myself. I feel privileged to be in this position of having the opportunity to express my thoughts and I am aware of my responsibility.

Shooting session for the documentary film on « dreamer » (photo: Bohumil Kostohryz)

Body in the dark

I feel at times very distanced from my physical practice. This pandemic has a big impact on our bodies, and I am not just talking about the symptoms when being infected by the virus, which luckily was not too severe for me, but also the impact on all bodies and our body perception. I have been talking with several friends and colleagues about a growing mistrust in the own body, the mistrust in groups of bodies, the contingencies of bodies. This is affecting my way of moving through my daily life but also of being in the studio. Not a surprise, but nevertheless shocking. I need to listen in much more: what is necessary? What I am capable of today? We are resilient yes, but nevertheless I feel much more sensitive and more vulnerable and this shows in the studio.

I trust the body and keep on moving.

What to say… On paper words come one after the other. Inside of me, feelings and thoughts are simultaneous and intertwined. 

Cut and breathe

The pandemic is of course on my mind every day: checking numbers and the development…this is tiering. Clashing realities of what I experience in my direct surrounding and what images the News show me: Crowds of people gathering to protest against the corona measures and crowds of people shopping in Malls and here I am, spending most of my time in this room in a village on the countryside…rain falls unimpressed…grey on grey. This is sometimes difficult to grasp. 

Daily walks through the woods:

One foot after the other, rolling through the foot and feeling the texture of the earth path through my shoes. I walk so slowly that I can see the light changing in the trees. One foot after the other, breathing into my pelvis.

Shift of focus

I miss being in touch with an audience and I fear it will take quite some more time before I can be on stage again… But I have a new project happening in spring ‘21…it’s called “Through the wire” and consists of an intimate meeting between myself and one audience member in a one-to-one phone call. This will be quite exciting and challenging. I have never done that before and am really curious on the process and on the meetings (more details

I feel the necessity to connect with colleagues and friends, reach out, check in and engage in discussions – private and zoom-public. There lies an enormous potential … if only we take the time and listen. 

How do I want to engage with my surrounding and how much do I care? 

Following this need, me and my colleague Simone Mousset, we have initiated and facilitated a peer-to-peer gathering among dance artists being active in Luxembourg on the 9th of december. We both were surprised by the positive feedback from our colleagues and finally we were more than 15 people gathering over Zoom, spending three hours together and checking in, connecting, listening. It felt very touched by the commitment and honestly. This is definitely something to be continued on a more regular basis.

Small things can make a change.

What else has been on my mind during these last three weeks here in Luxembourg?

Thoughts about feminism and how patriarchy inscribes itself into my body.

Thoughts about sexual violence and gender-based violence. #orangetheworld

Thoughts about “Dreamer” and how I am gonna change and continue the work for 2021.

Thoughts about living and working in two countries and how this has become even more difficult during the pandemic.

Thoughts about what “local” means.

Thoughts about international touring and wondering when this will be possible again.

On a last note, I am sending out my thoughts to all the colleagues out there working in the arts. #supportyourartists

Anne-Mareike Hess


Read more :

Season 1 / Episode 1 :

February 2020 – Plans never match Reality :

Season 1 / Episode 2 :

August 2020  – After the lockdown :


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