A Contemporary Dance Piece About Youth & Uniforms

*PREMIERE* 4.5.2024, ESTHER, fabrik Potsdam

2024/ Performance (13+)

In ESTHER, her new piece for audiences 13+, Reut Shemesh explores the self-discovery process and identity development of young people by looking at different clothing and uniforms. 
What does the clothing of young people and children signify? How conscious are they in their representation of an overarching belief or ideology?
By exploring the nuanced relationship between uniforms, symbols, behaviours and rituals as well as social class, Reut’s latest commissioned work sheds light on how young people deal with the delicate balance between conformity and individuality. 

Photos: Jonas Zeidler

An interview with Reut Shemesh about her new production

What inspired the theme of your latest stage production: ESTHER?

The theme of ESTHER revolves around youth and uniforms. Over the last seven years, I’ve dealt with this topic a lot in previous plays, for example with women and military uniforms in Israel and with the Funkemariechen in Düsseldorf. For me, it’s also about uniforms in society and how young people can be instrumentalised with uniforms. The uniforms usually come from adults and I’m interested in how the view of children and young people changes with the uniforms. I was a gymnast myself as a girl. Today, I think we wore very tight clothes. There are a lot of questions that need to be asked!

How and with whom are you working specifically for the premiere in Potsdam?

I want to work with “re-enactment” – in other words, re-enacting and recreating existing photos of young people in different uniforms. Some of the photos were taken by myself, others are from an open call that we shared in Potsdam, Hamburg, Dresden and Munich, sometimes with old uniforms that are no longer in use, like the pioneer uniform. We have a large collection of pictures. I also met young people from different cities: a boys’ choir in Dresden, scouts in Munich, hockey players in Hamburg, as well as young people from Potsdam.

What can the experience of dance pieces trigger in young people?

Dance pieces can bring a lot to young people! Teenagers’ bodies change a lot, but when I was young I was already dancing and I was proud of it. Dance can be a little remedy to look at the body in a different way. It can be experimental, surprising and unexpected. It’s something very cool and appealing for young people to experiment with.

What is your background? What was your youth like?

I grew up in Israel. My youth wasn’t easy – my parents got divorced, I wasn’t so good at school – and I literally escaped into dance. It was a very beautiful and helpful place to strengthen myself. Then I studied choreography and art. I moved to Germany 10 years ago. Coming to Europe was a kind of liberation for me, which had to do with the fact that I was identified in a certain way in Israel, which was no longer the case abroad. In Germany, I was simply someone from Israel…


ESTHER is a joint production by fabrik moves Potsdam and Reut Shemesh, in co-production with K3 | Tanzplan Hamburg, Fokus Tanz | Tanz und Schule e.V. München and HELLERAU – Europäisches Zentrum der Künste Dresden as part of the cooperation explore dance – network dance for young audience. Funded by the Jupiter – Performing Arts for Young Audiences programme of the German Federal Cultural Foundation. Funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.
The explore dance network is supported by the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne.

Direction, Choreography: Reut Shemesh
Dance & Creation: Juliana Bastos Oliveira, Kelvin Kilonzo, Mihyun Ko, Brit Rodemund, Enis Turan
Choreographic Assistant: Katja Pire
Light and Stage Design: Ronni Shendar
Costume Design: Marie Siekman
Music: Micha Kaplan

Upcoming & Past Performances:


Featured picture above: Ronni Shendar

Pictures from the Research by Reut Shemesh: