Robert Wechsler is a choreographer living in Weimar, Germany.
He made his first interactive dance in 1974 using homemade electronics and this basic idea -- movement-technology-music -- still plays a role in his work today. As a dancer in New York City in the 1980's he was a protegé of Merce Cunningham and John Cage and graduated from Purchase College (BFA) and New York University (MA).
His Palindrome Dance Company moved to Germany in 1990, and has created over 100 contemporary dance works and performed throughout the world. Wechsler is a Fulbright Fellow, and, together with Frieder Weiß, is winner of First Prize for interactive art at the Berlin Transmediale in 2002.
He has directed operas in Europe and U.S., including "Jenseits der Schatten", composed by Vladimir Tarnopolsky, which premiered at the Bonn City Opera and at the Stanislovsky Theater in Moscow. "Blinde Liebe" composed by Erling Wold, premiered at the San Francisco International Arts Festival.
He is CEO of MotionComposer GmbH, a company that builds sensor-based music devices for persons with disabilities.
Currently, a new dance work is in progress titled 1000Things.
Er ist Erfinder von MotionComposer,
Choreograf und Tänzer und war einer der Vordenker Interaktiver Technologien.
Er ist Gründer der Palindrome
Dance Company, hat einen Master in Choreographie von der New York
University und war Schützling von Merce Cunningham und John Cage.
Sein choreographischen Oeuvre (1975-heute) beinhaltet über
I started Palindrome Dance Company when I was a dancer in New York, in the 1980's. I was a student of Merce Cunningham and John Cage. The work of these two men had an enormous influence on me, as did the work of Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, Meredith Monk, Charles Moulton, to name a few. I danced on and off with different companies, but my passion was always making my own choreography.
Since the beginning, I have experimented with technology in connection with dance. My very first dance, in 1979, used an electronic device I had made that made sounds from my movements. After this, well, I basically have never stopped with this idea.
Palindrome toured Europe in the 80's and 90's. In the 00’s, we were based in Nürnberg. There I met Frieder Weiß, a brilliant computer engineer, and now video artist with whom I have worked on and off for decades.
Now we are based in Weimar and Berlin. For the last 7 years, I have concentrated
on the MotionComposer -- a device for persons with disabilities, but in
2019 I started to work on a new piece: 1000Things.
I grew up in a family of scientists in Tennessee and Iowa. When I was 17, I built an electronic device out of spare parts that made sounds according to how I moved. In that same year I started taking modern dance classes at my high school. Combining my interests, I made my first interactive dance (in 1974) and this became something of a theme in my life.
I spent a few years studying biochemistry and molecular genetics, but being the proverbial black sheep of the family, the call of the arts was too great to resist. When I was 19, I moved to New York City to focus on dance and choreography -- the artistic mileu of New York in the 80's was without equal (at least in my life)! We felt like rock stars taking classes from Merce Cunningham with John Cage looking on!
Along the way I earned a BFA in dance and an MFA in choreography from State University of New York at Purchase and New York University respectively. I spent almost ten-years at the Cunningham studio and influenced heavily by him and John Cage. I won a Fulbright Fellowship in '82 and soon after that, with friends, formed the Palindrome Dance Company.
We toured Norway, England, Germany, Austria and France and that taught me that there was a world beyond America. Well, duh. I mean this culturally of course, but also in the sense of how people relate to one another and feel about their role in society.
Without speaking a word of German, danke, I moved to Germany in 1985; first to Cologne and then to Nürnberg which supported Palindrome from 1990 to 2004. The US, for all its creativity and resources, does a pretty pathetic job of supporting its artists.
In 1995 I crossed paths with a computer engineer named Frieder Weiss, and, for ten years, we developed computer-based systems for interactive dance performance (including the EyeCon motion tracking software). Our work together, pioneering in its day, won a number of awards and we got gigs in festivals around the world.
From 2004 to 2006 I directed England's first masters degree program in digital performance at Doncaster College (Hull University). While I liked teaching, I found the total experience exceptionally boring. I did, however, do one thing that I am very proud of: With the help of artist Diana Wilschut and composer Erling Wold, I wrote and directed an opera about a young woman I knew about who had murdered someone in a crime of passion. "Blinde Liebe", an opera about obsession, was performed to critical acclaim in San Francisco and Nürnberg.
I would like to say that the next three years were spent practicing Zen meditation in the mountains of Japan, but instead I was deep in the Schwäbisch countryside. Schwaben, if you didn't know, is in Germany.
In any case, this period ended when, on a whim, I moved to Weimar. Soon after, on another whim, I applied for and won a grant to develop a device for people with disabilities to turn movement into music.
This project has grown; we have gotten over a million and a half euros in funding, from the EU, Thuringia, and elsewhere..
What else? I have written articles about dance and technology for Leonardo Magazine, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Ballet International, Dance Magazine, Dance Research Journal, Contact Quarterly, Der Tanz der Dinge and others.
I like to choreograph, rock climb, dance, sew clothes for myself.
Feel free to drop me a line.
I'm getting older... shit how did that happen?