Erica Getto is a writer based in New York. (November 2019)


Dancing to the Rhythms of Robert Walser

Daniel Pettrow, Maile Okamura, David Barlow, and Maira Kalman in Dance Heginbotham's HERZ SCHMERZ, October 2019

For HERZ SCHMERZ, John Heginbotham and Maira Kalman, the latter of whom appears in the piece, have strung together a series of vignettes inspired by Robert Walser’s writings that flicker with joy, frustration, and humor. The performance incorporates movement and spoken text—drawn heavily from the Walser short story “Nervous,” a monologue about aging and unease—to depict scenes of unfettered play and immobilizing distress. It’s a compassionate, tender treatment of mortality, but one that eschews the self-effacing understatements that are fundamental to Walser’s writing. Though HERZ SCHMERZ captures some of the more subtle pangs of delight and disappointment that underpin Robert Walser’s work, the performance resonates more as a homage to the writer than as a translation of his work.