Specially created for the exhibition “SIGNALWEGE” in the Rudolf Virchow Center for Experimental Biomedicine in Würzburg, Break it Down uses dance and rap music to explore complex issues involving science and religion and to find connections between the two.
The song lyrics, written in collaboration with the musician Young roDDie (Cameroon/Mannheim), quote biomedical research and existential questions. The choreography interprets biomolecular interactions, such as those between proteins and other molecules.
The exhibition, curated by Ulrike Lorenz and Anne Vieth, was part of “Joy and Hope, Grief and Fear,” an art project initiated by the German Bishops’ Conference, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Second Vatican Council in 2015.
Break it Down uses imagery and ideas directly stemming from the on-site working process itself. The source material is taken from conversations (with scientists from the Rudolf Virchow Center), from improvisation and experimentation (in a dance workshop and in rehearsals with professionals and amateur dancers), as well as from study and discussions (regarding “Gaudium et Spes” – “Joy and Hope” – the Pastoral Constitution of the Second Vatican Council).
Specific structures in protein molecules (i.e. “random coils”) as well as actual tasks of proteins in the cell were interpreted in the performance, such as the “motor proteins” that are responsible for transporting substances within the cell and through the cell’s membrane.
The final scene of the performance, as well as the refrain in the end of the rap song – “It’s a jungle in there” – refers to the crowded, competitive environment in every human cell, the so-called “molecular crowding” in the cytoplasm. At the same time, it is a reference to the incredible complexity of the human body – each cell is densely packed and full of many unsolved mysteries. This final scene was reproduced in a life-sized group of dancers, which stood on a ledge above the video in the exhibition.
Scientific consultation: Dr. Katrin Heinze, Prof. Dr. Caroline Kisker, Dr. Sonja Lorenz und Dr. Ann Wehman. Further support: Jessica Lutz, Jugendkirche Würzburg. Co-production video: SkyscreamArts