May 19, 2024

In the bustling heart of New York City, amidst a global dialogue on identity, diversity, and the pressing issues of human rights, Charly Wenzel’s dance theater production, “HUMAN,” emerges as a profound narrative of empathy, unity, and the celebration of human diversity. This striking production, which premiered in 2023 at the Theater for the New City and HB Playwrights Theater, transcends the conventional bounds of performance to become a powerful call to action against the backdrop of societal division. Wenzel, through the evocative language of dance, crafts a narrative that delves into the complexities of human connection, highlighting the shared experiences that unite us across cultural and geographical divides.


“HUMAN” – A Deeper Dive into Identity and Unity

“HUMAN” is inspired by the evocative themes of Kabir Singh’s poem “My Race is Human” and is set against the alarming rise of hate crimes that mark our current era. The production is both a reflection on and a response to the pervasive divisiveness that threatens the fabric of global societies. By selecting a diverse cast of 10 female performers from eight different countries, Wenzel not only pays homage to the rich tapestry of human diversity but also sets the stage for a profound interrogation of identity, belonging, and mutual understanding.

The production’s choreography is a meticulously crafted blend of individual and collective narratives, offering a window into the personal journeys of the performers while weaving together a larger story of resilience, empathy, and the quest for common ground. Through a series of interconnected dance pieces, “HUMAN” facilitates a dialogue that transcends the spoken word, breaking down barriers of language and culture to reveal the underlying unity of the human condition. The movements and sequences are designed to provoke thought, stir emotions, and ultimately, foster a sense of interconnectedness among audience members from all walks of life.

Human at Theater for the New City. Image Courtesy of Charly Wenzel.

Expanding Horizons: The Vision Beyond the Stage

The journey of “HUMAN” doesn’t end with its initial run. Wenzel’s broader vision, “HUMAN – Layers of Identity,” aims to take the production on a tour across 20 U.S. cities, especially targeting communities that have been directly affected by hate crimes. This initiative is not just about expanding the reach of the production but is deeply committed to sparking essential conversations on discrimination, empathy, and the power of inclusivity. Through this tour, Wenzel seeks to leverage the universal appeal of dance to bridge divides, challenge preconceptions, and create spaces for healing and understanding.

Charly directing Human. Photo by Vasilis Skentzos.

A Glimpse into Charly Wenzel’s Influential Career

The inception of “HUMAN” and “HUMAN – Layers of Identity,” and their message of unity and diversity, are deeply rooted in Charly Wenzel’s extensive career in dance and choreography. Her journey is marked by a continuous exploration of human emotion and the dynamics of society through the medium of dance. From her early choreographic endeavors in Munich to her impactful performances on the global stage, including the Munich State Opera and the Bollywood sensation “English Vinglish,” Wenzel has demonstrated a profound ability to communicate complex narratives through dance.

Charly presenting her film “Global Tides” at New Dance Cinema. Image Courtesy of Charly Wenzel.


Her leadership and creativity have been evident in her lead performer and dance captain roles within immersive theater productions like “Then She Fell” and “Tammany Hall,” and her directorial positions with Naganuma Dance and Bodystories: Teresa Fellion Dance. Wenzel’s experimental dance films, such as “Global Tides” and “PAUSE,” have not only won numerous awards but also showcased her knack for blending cinematic storytelling with dance to address universal themes. Her ambitious choreographic projects also include engaging 50 dancers in a recent live spectacle in New York’s Times Square, further attesting to her skill in orchestrating large-scale performances that captivate and engage diverse audiences.

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Conclusion: The Transformative Power of Art

Charly Wenzel’s “HUMAN” stands as a powerful reminder of the transformative potential of art in fostering dialogue, empathy, and understanding across the divides of culture, language, and identity. Through this production and her distinguished career, Wenzel affirms the role of dance as a catalyst for change, a medium for expressing the inexpressible, and a bridge to a more inclusive and compassionate world. In the face of division, “HUMAN” offers a hopeful vision of what can be achieved when art and empathy converge to reveal the fundamental unity of the human spirit.

(Text: Amy Jiang)

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