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David Brandstätter



Michelle Jacques



Date(s) & Time(s): Fri-Sat, Oct 7-8, 8:00 PM, Sun Oct 9, 2:00 PM
Duration: 60 mins w/out intermission
Location: CounterPulse, 80 Turk Street, SF

Post Performance Friday: Reception
Post Performance Saturday: Artist Discussion

Ticket Information

General Admission: $20-$25
Full-Time Students & Seniors: $16

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FRE!HEIT Media Release

David Brandstatter Interview

Artist Sample Video

Funded in Part by:

NATIONALES PERFORMANCE NETZ, International Guest Performance Fund for Dance, which is funded by the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media; the Institut Français Paris and Région Normandie; WESTAF; Goethe Institut San Francisco and the German Consulate in San Francisco.

FREIHEIT is presented through CounterPulse’s curated Co-Production Program. CounterPulse is building a movement of risk-taking art that shatters assumptions and builds community. For more information, please visit

Media Sponsors: 48 Hills


Production Details

German performance artist, David Brandstätter collaborates with mezzo-soprano, Michelle Jacques for the US Premiere of FRE!HEIT (freedom in English). A treatise on the multiple meanings of, and negotiations around, the concept of freedom. Brandstätter remains in fragile suspension, balanced on white porcelain cups that he deploys into allegorical constellations; while Jacques narrates, sings and sermonizes from a repurposed pulpit in this thought-provoking, text-driven tour de force.

It is a ritual of questioning and liberating the imagination. Initially intended as a solo performance, Brandstätter has worked with international activists and artists to adapt the script and score for different renditions of FRE!HEIT, when touring outside Europe (he collaborated with journalist/activist Henda Chennaoui for the performances at the Carthage Dance Festival in Tunisia and the music ensemble, Darvesh at the Bunvat Festival in Karachi, Pakistan).

In essence, the piece has been thoroughly repurposed as a two-person multidisciplinary project. Further, this latest manifestation of the work is the first time it has been performed since the COVID-19 pandemic, which has added yet another layer of complexity to the meaning of Freedom.

Brandstätter said of this latest iteration of the production, “In my piece FREIHEIT I invite the audience on a meditative journey around the idea of freedom and it’s implications for an individual as well as for society. By sharing my own history and critique, I give space to the audience to reflect upon their personal notions of freedom as well. Working with Michelle on this particular version is a blessing. We share an intuition for details and nuances that make the process of rewriting a joyful ride of sharing ideas and give and take. It feels like we have known each other for years. Michelle's voice adds new emotions and musical precision to the words and their meanings. I am moved to the bottom of my heart when my own actions are juxtaposed with her singing.  I feel honored to share the stage with Michelle and am convinced the audience will be picking up on the vivid exchange, that we are having right now."

shifts - art in movement
shifts is an assembly for performance which seeks to cross between media and cultures. shifts adapts its artistic team and its form of expression according to the needs of each project, and the particular subject of investigation. In this way, therefore, it creates new and continuously evolving collaborations and connections. The shifts projects are conceived and guided by Malgven Gerbes and David Brandstätter. The foundation of shifts is based on a core conviction: that constant changes of perspective, shifting balance, the modification of starting positions and external parameters are all conditions essential to a serious and ongoing examination of the art practices to which they have committed themselves. The choreographers Malgven Gerbes and David Brandstätter present performances that put the certainties and uncertainties of their work up for discussion. Their productions don’t attempt to resolve topics, they don’t aim to beat them into submission. Each piece zooms in on the questions that sparked Malgven Gerbes’ and David Brandstätter’s interest, a close-up that they want to present to the audience.

Artist Biographies

David Brandstätter
Born in Wuppertal Germany, David Brandstätter studied applied music science in Hamburg. From the age of 15 he worked internationally as a juggler and unicyclist and became a practitioner of traditional Japanese martial arts. In 2001, he started his studies of choreography in Arnhem at the European Dance Development Centre (now called ArtEZ) and focused his research on the development of contact improvisation as a tool for choreographic purposes. He graduated in 2005 and funded the organization shifts – art in movement together with Malgven Gerbes.

David has participated in the organization of numerous artistic exchanges, notably with LAFT, Tanzfabrik Berlin, fabrik Potsdam, Ernst Busch HfS, UDKBerlin, Statdtheater Düsseldorf, ArtEZ Arnhem NL, Korean National University of Arts Seoul, Dartington College of arts – UK and Session House Tokyo. From 2010 until 2013 he was a board member of ZTB Berlin an association for contemporary dance in Berlin and is regularly invited to participate to symposium and artistic discussions in Berlin and abroad.

Since the creation of the organization, shifts has worked on long term collaborations with more than 25 artists – choreographers dancers, visual artists, writers and musicians – and has presented its work in more than 20 countries worldwide.

Michelle Jacques (Guest Artist, Vocals)
During a four-decade career in the music industry, Michelle Jacques is, was and has become: a singer, bandleader, composer, songwriter, musical-arranger and educator. Michelle has traveled and performed with many well-known artists including: Wynton Marsalis, Linda Hopkins, Ladysmith Black Mambaza, Pete Seger, The Persuasions, Al Green and Manhattan Transfer. Notable Festival appearances include Montreux, Gurten, Berne, Festijazz and the UN Conference of Human Rights, Geneva. She was also a founding member of Street Sounds a cappella quintet and an original member of Linda Tillery’s Cultural Heritage Choir. Michelle’s educational portfolio includes: director of the Select Vocal Ensemble at Oakland School for the Arts, San Francisco Symphony's Adventures in Music and Oakland Youth Chorus. She is a lecturer at University of San Francisco and also serves on the Governors Board of the Recording Academy’s San Francisco Chapter, and the board of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus.

FRE!HEIT Production Credits
Choreography, text, performance David Brandstätter in collaboration, for the performances at SFIAF, with singer and composer Michelle Jacques I Dramaturgic advisers & outside eyes Malgven Gerbes, Alexandros Mistriotis, Thomas Achtner, Howard Katz || Texts correspondances Jeffrey Gormly, Hatto Fischer, David Williams, Katja Kettner, Gabriele Wittmann || Narrators Michelle Jacques, Michael Turnbull || Light & Video Thomas Achtner, Maximilien Sautai II Production management Katja Kettner.

Production shifts - art in movement || Coproduction fabrik Potsdam: Artists-in-residence || Residences Collectif Danse Rennes Métropole, Tanztendenz Munich, Giesinger Bahnhof Munich, Wiesenburg e.V., Théâtre de Bouxwiller, Le Phare - CCN du Havre Normandie || Sponsor Kahla Porzellan || With the support of Fonds Darstellende Künste e.V; BLZT Performing Art Fonds; Kulturreferat München; DRAC Normandie / Ministère de la Culture; Région Normandie; Département de L’Eure || shifts - art in movement is com­pagnie conventionnée by DRAC Normandie / Ministère de la Culture and Région Normandie.

San Francisco International Arts Festival
Phone Number: 415-399-9554 | Email: [email protected]
1222 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94109



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