"(...) It is remarkably rare that young choreographers are capable of creating works in the field of Tanztheater which are technically and musically almost as perfect as the latest work by Daniel Goldin. „Ermita“ is accompanied by a collage of international music which reminds of Pina Bausch´s works. The strange sounds drip from the loudspeakers - soft, quiet, meditative. Also the dancers´ movements correspond to this: most of the time they dance contemplatively trying to find out what´s deep inside of them. Ocassionally, absurd solos and exciting ensemble choreographies interrupt the soft movements. (...) With his fifth production „Ermita“, which was very well received in Münster, Daniel Goldin proves once more that he has mastered not only the techniques of choreography but also the instruments of theatre."
Horst Vollmer, Die Welt, 23 November 1998
Searching for Oneself
"The hermitage looks as expected: scanty and grey. Through a small window the audience is able to witness the changes of night and day. Cork granules cover the floor. The four columnes seem to be glad that they are fixed and cannot be moved, whereas the dancers seem to be losing ground. Confronted with unknown feelings the dancers sway desperately as if they were trying to free their souls.
One of the dancers moves, but he moves differently from the others. He searches for himself and tries to express his individuality. However, the question „Who am I?“ remains unanswered, and the enigma about identity remains unsolved. While the Christians in ancient times recognized themselves by painting a symbolic fish into the sand, Goldin´s dancers seem to call: Recognize yourself! The floor can be compared with a page in a lifetime diary, and the dancers write down their experiences with their hands and feet, sometimes even with their entire body. Just as fast as they mark the floor with their personal experiences, their traces are covered up again. The cork granules are churned up and cast shadows. They seem to reflect the dark, autumnal landscape of the dancers´souls. (...)"
Olaf Kutzmutz, Westfälische Nachrichten, 23 November 1998
Dance Training of the Senses"
(...) In short scenes, which are connected with perfectly smooth transitions, the eight dancers demonstrate the discovery of their bodies. Most of the time their movements are accompanied by folkloric music. The audience witnesses how the dancers with the help of their body language gradually discover their sensuality, how they express their individuality with the help of clothes and how they try out their personality either solo or within the ensemble. All this seems to be a game dealing with loneliness. Only the movements represent a possible way of escape - the Spanish word „Ermita“ means „hermitage“.
The scanty stage designed by Katharina Gault is an appropriate setting: the even, grey walls and the four sloping, angular columnes could also represent „Bernarda Alba´s House“. Only a small window in the back and a bright red sofa left-hand side suggest that there is space to be oneself.
But, before the dancers can really be themselves they have to find out first who they actually are. At the beginning of the performance the dancers still seem to be rather immature creatures. One of the dancers appears on stage dressed in pants only, while another one wears a jacket without wearing a shirt underneath. Both seem to have got out of bed hurriedly.
The male dancers touch their genitals while one of the female dancers dressed in a hostess´s costume flexes her muscles thus demonstrating her strength. All of them feel and churn up the cork granules which cover the floor with their feet. Later they cover their eyes with their hands or they lay down pretending to fall asleep. They show belly dances as well as ritual fertility dances. Sometimes their movements are accompanied by voice exercises dripping from the loudspeakers.
Though the performance did not tell a story and moved up and down instead, it was a dance training of the senses. The movements were often slow and meditative, sometimes abrupt. The dance of a couple was one of the few moments of male-female harmony. (...)"
Sebatian Loskant, Münsterische Zeitung, 23 November 1998
Leaving Traces on the Floor
The stage (stage: Katharina Gault) is grey and inaccessible. It resemles a bunker, and only four angular columnes indicate that the hermitage is originally a religious space. Only through a small window in the back light enters into the stone hermitage. The audience witnesses the changes of night and day, and during the dark nights some of the dancers´ movements remain unseen.
As Goldin´s production „Ermita“ does not tell a story, the scenes are not connected by the plot, but, nevertheless there are perfectly smooth transitions between the scenes. The scenes seem to comprise a wide range of human evolution. They present pre-historic life-forms (one of the dancers puts her feet like fins), the first movements of a toddler, who tries to find his way and finally they allude to death which makes the dancers sink back into the water of the fin creature.
Nature does not develop rapidly, but carefully, almost too slowly and ponderously. The movements of the dancers are not vertical. Instead, it seems to be more important for them to mark space horizontally and to leave traces on the stage floor, which is covered with cork granules. The sharp sounds caused by the dancers´ feet when they touch wildly the stage floor are the only individual sounds which stand out against the folkloric collage of music that accompanies the whole performance.
Within this world amusing and imaginative flowers start to bloom. A dancer e.g. moves ritually to the rhythmic beat dripping from her mobile phone. Although she does not speak to the person on the phone and remains silent all the time, her movements indicate a lively conversation.
Most of the dancers´movements seem to be very similar, but from time to time the dancers express their individuality. Above all the gestures of their hands reveal their different characters and personalities. Although absurd costumes like a jacket without lapel (costumes: Magali Gerberon) at first sight seem to cover the dancers´ individuality instead of emphasizing it, the dancers finally manage to express their identity with personal gestures and movements.
Goldin´s artistic concept of „Ermita“ is complete, profound and harmonious. However, despite of the smooth transitions between the scenes there are a few breaks, and various parts of the choreography are hidden in darkness. This enables the spectators to use their imagination and ask themselves: „What is mankind? What and who am I?“
After the two-hours performance the attentive audience thanked Daniel Goldin and his company with enthusiastic applause."
Hanns Butterhof, Recklinghäuser Zeitung, November 1998