‘A highly intensive sequence of pictures’
"In Daniel Goldin's dance theatre 'Tagelang und Nächtelang' ['For Days and Nights'], Alice Cerrato dances as the rebellious daughter of a despotic father, as a compassionate nurse to her dying mother, as a reluctant medical student surrounded by high bookshelves (whose compartments are actually letter boxes), and as a high-spirited young woman in the cafés of Prague and Vienna frequented by the bohème. Scenes of the convinced communist and Nazi resistance fighter are interspersed, with her pregnancy, her failing marriages – Milena as friend and lover, who pays for her absolute sense of justice and genuine will for freedom with the loss of her health and her life... Goldin's homage to this extraordinary woman in Kafka's life seeks not to offer biographical dance theatre, but to capture the atmosphere of the times and Milena's metamorphosis.... The predominant force is the poetic expression of the people....The music, a brilliant collage of late romantic and modern classical works through to dance music of the 1920s, Klezmer and chansons, provides the sombre, melancholy setting. But more and more often, the sounds and scenes become lighter and more light-hearted, only to finally become very serious once more, though no longer depressed. Daniel Goldin has once again created a highly intensive sequence of pictures – ciphers for a period of time, a personal fate, a passionate life and a tragic death."
Marieluise Jeitschko, Tanzjournal, Nr. 3, June 2004
‘A poetic distillation of a life’
"What remains of an average life decades after death? A short note in an archive, perhaps? Endless rows of filing compartments are piled up to the roof in Matthias Dietrich's stage set for Daniel Goldin's latest piece, and oppressively small is the space left in this archive for the dancers at the start of the work. The 9 dancers of the ensemble stand crowded together before the metre-high walls of shelving. For a moment, the dancers hold a trembling foot in the air, as if unsure where to place it. They repeatedly throw their arms in a typical Goldin movement away from their bodies in an angry, painful impulse, as if trying to cast the violent feelings out of their bodies. ... Those who are familiar with her (Milena Jesenská's) story already know that somewhere in the kaleidoscope of pictures presented by the Münster ballet director, a tyrannical father, a loutish journalist, a husband and shy writer will appear in symbolic form. A large part of the scenes, however, remain mysteries. A woman with a soldier's helmet and a black chiffon tutu over her face - the whore of war - presents her endlessly long, naked legs. Another one in a white dress dances in sacred rapture like a second Isadora Duncan, and a man produces flowers from his jacket like a conjuror - symbols for the time between two war catastrophes, presumably, for a society of bohèmiens and illusionists, who, sometimes with pathos, sometimes with bizarre humour, throw themselves into a hysterical artificiality. Daniel Goldin recreates the spirit of a time in dance, for as in his previous artists' portraits, he is not so much interested in a biographical narration as in presenting a poetic distillation of a life."
Nicole Strecker, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Scala, 11 May 2004
‘A memorable character portrait of a young woman’
"Daniel Goldin's ballet 'Tagelang und Nächtelang' is a homage to Milena Jesenská. However, it is not a choreographed history lesson. Instead, it is the memorable character portrait of a young woman who to the very end fights with all her strength for freedom from confinement. At the back are metre-high shelves full of documents, oppressive and frightening. In this eerie archive, Milena (Alice Cerrato) dances among beaux and artists to music of Dvorak, Korngold, Dessau. They may be her friends and companions, literary figures, reflections of herself... Milena appears in various guises. Dressed in an elegant evening gown and holding a candle in her hand, she stands on the desk like the Statue of Liberty, and dominates the pitiful horde of men like a muse. At other times, she appears to be in total despair. Daniel Goldin succeeds masterfully in devising movements that keep strict time to the slowness of these sounds, but through their tempo signal the prospect of eruptive escape. Equally original are the ensemble scenes of the nine-person group. Death is always symbolically present, most frighteningly in the figure of a chattering high-heeled diva dressed in a black robe (Perle Pinato). The audience in the Main Theatre gave moved applause."
Manuel Jennen, Münstersche Zeitung, 10 May 2004
‘Not fun and games, but deeper meaning’
"Goldin's dance evening is a homage to the Czech writer, Kafka translator and Kafka's lover Milena Jesenská. The title – Jesenská wrote that she could talk "for days and nights" about Kafka – and the stage set are the most direct references to the couple. The dancer Tsutomu Ozeki whirls like with virtuoso leaps across the stage like a man possessed. A restless figure – Kafka? -, with pages of manuscript rustling on his arms and legs. However, Goldin does not place Jesenská in Kafka's shadow, but makes up a character portrait out of abstract scenes. ... This is not fun and games, but deeper meaning: The company comes together to create scenes of trembling, suffering and endurance: Retreat, defeat. Couples join up and take turn and turn about as marionette and string puller, swapping places in the lifting figures – asserting herself against her father, husbands and lovers was one of the constant theme in Jesenská's life. In another situation, Alice Cerrato (who can be repeatedly identified as Jesenská) walks in a wide curve, her glittery sky-blue dress and the candelabra in her hands outshining the hectic, black-clothed men – as did her talent that of her bohème fellows."
Elisabeth Elling, Westfälischer Anzeiger, 12 May 2004
‘Atmospherically highly convincing’
"‘Milena‘ is not reduced to Kafka's girlfriend, but distils the life of a rebellious woman, writer and journalist in a dreamlike sequence of scenic images... The depiction of her death in Ravensbrück at the end is completely free of pathos: Milena (Alice Cerrato) rolls on a chair to the ramp, in her lap the last picture of Milena Jesenská, a police photo of 1940. The choreographic language is characterised by certain affinities to classical dance theatre, but also by almost serialesque movement patterns...In 'For Days and Nights' – a quote from a letter from Jesenská to Max Brod about Kafka – however, this style develops into new dance forms. To music of Dvorák and Janácek, but also Eisler and Weill and even early Klezmer, there are repeated allusions to fashionable dances of the time, the grotesque expressionism of silent films, and even the slapstick of Chaplin's 'Modern Times' (including its sentimentality). But none of this is ever mere quotation. Rather, the result is an atmospherically highly convincing web of associations between the choreography and the stage."
Marcus Termeer, taz nrw, 29 May 2004
"'How she lived, what she achieved and what she wrote evades idolisation.' A subtle sentence about a famous, unknown woman: Milena Jesenská, the addressee of Kafka's 'Letters to Milena'. Director Daniel Goldin adopts this subtlety himself. Instead of hastening from one clear, biographical station to the next, he draws pictures with the colouring of the restlessly cosmopolitan 20s and 30s between Prague and Vienna, between intellectual bohème and decadent demi-monde. The effectively simple stage of Matthais Dietrich packs the nervous wandering between worlds in clear forms: At the beginning, a sky-high Kafkaesque wall of files behind the figures in the half-dark towers threateningly over the totally controlled and administered world. Bit by bit, the wall shifts ...opening up ever different and ever wider spaces... Goldin fills these spaces with convulsing, over-full activity, in which the bodies are constantly in conflict with their own and the opposite sex, with the papers of intellectual production and of bureaucracy. The breathless new modern world is driven on by its music...- a tearing current of sound, skilfully compiled and interwoven by Goldin. And the music is paralleled by the equally inventive links of his scenic montage."
Uschi Körfer, GIG, June 2004