"Présence: that is the thin layer of ice on which the foot can remain just so long until it breaks in; but while the foot still seems to rest for a fraction of a second, it already breaks, the thin cover, and what remains is the certainty of the pack ice; ahead the look into the future with the certainty of the present of the splintering of the ice layer, which is always begun anew, and the absurdity that lies in the constantly undertaken attempt to gain a foothold. Thus, "Présence" appears as that present that connects past and future."
(B.A. Zimmermann)

In B.A. Zimmermann's absurd ballet blanc Présence for piano trio and dance, the composer has Don Quijotte, Molly Bloom and Roi - the ensemble's namesake - meet, three figures from world literature, each of whom is assigned to the instruments of the trio. With verses from poems by Paul Pörtner and with musical quotations rich in references, presented by a silent "speaker", Présence unfolds an enigmatic web of references, that either lead into the void or can be linked and spun further in the imagination of the listeners.

The revival of the work with dance, commissioned by the Bernd Alois Zimmermann Society, prompted the founding of uBu, making "Présence" part of the ensemble's DNA.

uBu played the work several times in combination with Michael Denhoff's Piano Trio No. 3, which is conceived as a darkly magical counterpart to Présence.

"Young musicians who show themselves well versed in playing Bernd Alois Zimmermann's "Présence" (...)"
(Bonner Generalanzeiger, June 9, 2017)

"(...) all perfectly rehearsed gestures and actions are precisely placed in space as components of an unusual combination of chamber and ballet music. The two works of the evening combine the instrumental and the choreographic into a mutually illuminating unity. (...)The music expands to the scene, and vice versa, seeing leads back to hearing. (...) The all-around successful concert and dance evening awakens anticipation for the 17/18 season, which is marked by Zimmermann's 100th birthday."
(Kölner Stadtanzeiger, July 17, 2017, Rainer Nonnenmann)

"That it only takes the right performers to quickly turn the impression of complicatedness into the opposite was shown by the "Ensemble " (...) In a mixture of Ballet Mécanique and the aesthetics of René Magritte, of Dada and the theater of the surrealist Alfred Jarry, everyone here acted together on stage in a spectacle that was as grotesque as it was poetic."
(Review of the concert at the Schwetzingen Festival, Rhein-Neckar Zeitung, May 12, 2018)

Cast & Credits

Choreography: Yves Ytier
Performance: Anna Neubert, Magdalena Öttl, Esther Saladin, Antonia Stäcker, Christoph Stöber, Yves Ytier
Speaker: Leonhard Spies
Stage and costume: Sophia Spies


  • 15.11.2019, 6:30 PM

    Konservatorium Athen

  • 08.05.2018, 5:00 PM

    Rokoko-Theater Schwetzingen

  • 29.04.2018, 2:00 PM

    Tanzmuseum des Deutschen Tanzarchivs Köln

  • 05.04.2018, 5:30 PM

    Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln

  • 15.06.2017, 6:00 PM

    Alte Feuerwache Köln

  • 07.06.2017, 6:30 PM

    WortKlangRaum in Bonn

  • 04.11.2016, 7:00 PM

    Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin

  • 24.04.2016, 6:00 PM

    Anneliese-Geske Konzertsaal, Erftstadt