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What’s your Wupper-topia? 

Young people discussed what’s important in the world now, how they see the future and what they will need to get there. 

For 2 weeks in November 2020, mid-Covid-19 pandemic, Australian dancers and co-directors of OFEN Co-Arts Platform Gala Moody and Michael Carter moderated an interactive online symposium with students from Wuppertal’s Gesamtschule Langerfeld and Berufskolleg Kohlstraße. 

25 students explored themes of identity, likes/dislikes, art, culture and utopia, generating ideas for the future of Wuppertal and materialise these ideas into a group film project. The film finalises by proposing how the physical entrance to the future Pina Bausch Center could embody their utopian values.

This project was created entirely through WhatApp. Although we would have liked to use an open source app, we chose WhatsApp to work with as all participants were already familiar with this App and used it on a daily basis and could also easily send audio/video files which was the medium of our project.

A OFEN Co-Arts Platform project during the digital under construction festival 21-29 November 2020.


Gesamtschule Langerfeld: Momo Abou Salem, Gor Amoyan, Sharujah Antoncroos, Zakariya Boutchoukat, Kerem Cinar, Marvin Debus, Mic Matthias Fels, Milad Fries, Mauritius Hesse, Faris Jabaly, Sherdel Kamal Shammo, Serhat Kartal, Andreas Krivoshein , Ernests Krumins, Evin Dilara Pektas, Kinan Soubhieh, Luis Wagner

Berufskolleg Kohlstr.: Brandon Kengni, Willim Lukačević, Hariman Haji, Jenita Prabakaran, Lara Budo, Mohamed Kuruma, Sevin Ismail

Teacher collaborators: Christiane Schröder, Doris Eichler

Concept/Direction: Gala Moody, Michael Carter – Cie.OFEN

Music: Willim Lukačević

Editing: Michael Carter

Producer: Gala Moody

Artistic Assistance: Dymitry Szypura

Workshop Assistance: Felicitas Willems

Production Management: Barbara Falter

Production Assistant: Marvin Neidhardt

Education Programme Coordination: Adrian Gralinski

Online Youth Symposium and Wupper-topia film produced by: Cie.OFEN and under construction Festival.

under construction is realised by the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch.

General Director: Bettina Wagner-Bergelt & Roger Christmann
Programme/Concept: Dr. Marc Wagenbach
Project Encounters: Stefan Dreher
Production Management: Barbara Falter
Technical Director: Hanno Sons

Press, Public Relations and Marketing Officer: Ursula Popp
Project Management Website, Public Relations: Hanna Bosbach
Production Assistant: Marvin Neidhardt
Production : Carolin Lutz

Education programme
Searching & Finding Coordination: Adrian Gralinski


Wuppertal. What will the city look like in 2030? How should the Pina Bausch Centre be designed? This and much more was answered by the young people of Wuppertal with Michael Carter and Gala Moody.

by Anke Strotmann, Westdeutsche Zeitung

[translated from German]

The Pina Bausch Centre is to become a place that appeals to many people. “The content concept combines tradition and awakening, artistic excellence and democratic understanding of art, international charisma and involvement of the urban society,” it says on the homepage. To find out what young people want from this place, the dancers and project leaders Gala Moody and Michael Carter from Cie.Ofen came up with the symposium “Wupper-Topia”. Over a period of two weeks, as part of the “Under construction” festival, which took place from 21 to 29 November, they produced a film that summarises the ideas of pupils from the Berufskolleg Kohlstraße and the Gesamtschule Langerfeld.

What occupies young people in Wuppertal? What do they appreciate about the city? What do they need to realise their dreams? These were just some of the questions that Gala Moody and Michael Carter asked the students. The result is a 12.5 minute film collage that shows what needs young people aged 16 to 20 have. The project was mostly done digitally due to the Corona pandemic. “We worked 95 per cent online,” says Australian-born Michael Carter in a Skype interview. Questions and answers were exchanged via WhatsApp chat, in German and in English. This was a big challenge for the two because they did not know the students.

Between adaptation and the desire for change
“Two weeks is very short for a project like this, but we wanted to be able to talk to the young people about Utopia,” says Gala Moody. To have a basis, the two project leaders first ask questions about themselves and what they like about Wuppertal. “Then we slowly moved on to asking what they don’t like about Wuppertal and what they would like to change,” says Moody. These were very subjective approaches, he says, as the students had different socio-economic backgrounds. “It’s often more of a challenge for the young people to adapt than to change the environment to fit what they themselves would like to do in life,” says Carter. The artists wanted the young people to give the project the mandate, so to speak, to perhaps bring about change.

Racism is a huge issue
“We took part without knowing much,” says Christiane Schröder, teacher of the EF level music course at Langerfeld Comprehensive School. At the beginning, the students were overwhelmed with one task per day. But then they settled into a pace that suited them better. Using tasks such as “Imagine it’s 2030”, the students created a very personal utopia, which they sent to the two artists as audio or video. “In the films they told what they dreamed of,” says Schröder. The ideas ranged from personal wishes for a family of their own and a car to more cultural life in the city and world peace.

“Overall, it was very exciting, also for the students,” says Schröder. “It was not just academic learning that was required, but someone was also interested in their wishes and dreams.” To address their future goals and perspectives, he says, it is important to reflect on questions like “Where is my home?”, “Where do I position myself in the whole?”, “What are the perspectives and what is needed for that?”

Many students who participated in the project have a migration background. That’s why the topic of racism is a huge issue, says Schröder. Knowing that they are being listened to gives them courage. “One pupil said: ‘We say what we want. Those who hear us can also push it a bit’,” says Schröder. In small groups, the students worked out what the Pina Bausch Centre should look like. The students agreed: the centre should be a place for all cultures. One group even rolled out a red carpet for visitors of all ages.

Funders and partners

under construction festival was funded and supported by: