Beatrice “Trixie” Cordua has been dancing for over 60 years. She herself doesn´t really know why she is so often naked at the same time.

It’s hard to believe that this woman is already 71 years old. With her long, reddish-brown hair and her smooth face, Trixie Cordua could easily pass for someone twenty years younger. She stands in the doorway of her old-style Neukölln home where she has lived since 1994, and invites us in.

Books and film rolls are piled right up to the ceiling in the narrow hallway. The living room is a hotchpotch of pictures by her husband, the artist and film-maker Ludwig Schönherr. A doll of the American comic figure Wonder Woman hangs between photographs of adverts from the 70s. The curator of the Venice Biennial just dropped by to see Schönherr’s pieces. “There’s not much of me on show here actually”, says Trixie Cordua with a slight Hamburg accent. “His first film in 1968 was about me. But otherwise my husband tended to photograph the other ballet girls”.

For years, Trixie Cordua danced for the American ballet director and choreographer John Neumeier in Hamburg. She spent years as his prima ballerina, and later became the first female soloist on the Berlin Volksbühne. Today she produces her own works, often in collaboration with the artist Thomas Langkau and usually in Dock 11, an off-stage studio in the Prenzlauer Berg area. “They are always really controversial pieces”, Trixie Cordua explains as she pushes a DVD into the computer.

Against the raw backdrop of a warehouse she can be seen dancing the folk dance “Schuhplattler”, naked. In the next piece she is performing a bust-ballet by moving her breasts in time with the music. The invitations to her performance-before-last feature her washing her feet in a bowl of water, naked. Why she desires to be naked? “I don’t really know myself why I’m always naked”, she says with almost a hint of coyness. “That’s how it’s been for a long time. I shot naked scenes for friends of my husband’s, all filmmakers. I also danced a naked solo for Neumeier. It didn’t bother me. I was brought up really liberally“, she adds.

Since she’s been living in Berlin she has started to feel happy in a city for the first time in her life. “Berlin is so unusual because it reveals such a great amount about Germany. It shows our history and our strengths, but also really underlines our weaknesses. It must have something to do with the fact that it isn’t finished. Or even that history is so clearly visible here”. Even her Neukölln neighbourhood has been undergoing some upheaval: since the Tempelhof Airport was closed and replaced by an enormous park, the area around the Schillerpromenade has become popular. Before the arrival of the artists and small galleries it was something of a social flashpoint, but now there are pretty little cafés opening up one by one. Trixie Cordua feels good here, even if there are still a number of social problems. “The mix has improved, and that’s a good thing. I prefer the people of Neukölln to the superficial exteriors of Charlottenburg inhabitants”. 

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