Just as sculptors work with paper, stone and wood, Barbara Cleff has consciously chosen to work with the bodies of older people who have no particular experience with dance as an instrument of artistic and theatrical expression.
Her main focus is on artistic work with older people whose visible and hidden potentials she can integrate into the artistic process, thereby expressing them in a wider choreographic relationship.
The personal potentials and characteristics of each individual provide the primary impulses. They are a part of the choreography in which neither the dancers’ age nor life experiences play a central thematic role. Barbara Cleff mixes and remixes the elements that are created in the space between a fixed structure and each dancer’s personal type of movement. She brings them together and sets them in fresh, new relationships. Her eye is open to the expression inherent in a mature body which can reflect all the themes and phases of a lifetime. It is a great pleasure for her to “read” into the bodies and movements of the dancers. The result is a multifaceted world of images, patterns and structures which can also fascinate, move and inspire young people.
Barbara Cleff’s first dance theatre production was 'Paloma' at Theater Basel in the year 2000. Since then, in her capacity as a freelance choreographer, she has continually been responsible for a huge number of different projects and shows with non-professionals, primarily with people over 50. In addition she works in cooperation with other people and organisations to develop not only inter-generation stage shows but also shows which bring different generations together.
Barbara Cleff was a choreographic assistant at the Bremen Dance Theatre for several years. Here she worked under the direction of Susanne Linke and Urs Dietrich before moving to become artistic assistant to Joachim Schlömer at “Theater Basel”. Following this she was appointed assistant director and head of body training and choreographic advice at the “Theaterhaus Jena”.
In 2009 Barbara Cleff set up her Senior Citizens’ Dance Theatre as part of the ballet company’s work at “Theater Dortmund”. For the next three years she was artistic director of the company, during which time she was responsible for choreographing the following shows: 'da-sein', 'paradiso' and 'stunden-weit', all of which were premiered at the Dortmund Schauspielhaus.