Tension/​SpannungVienna: Turia + Kant, 2010
Cite as: Laura Taler, ‘Kleist’s Puppet Theatre and the Art of Tango: Looking for the Back Door to Paradise’, in Tension/​Spannung, ed. by Christoph F. E. Holzhey, Cultural Inquiry, 1 (Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2010), pp. 109–18 <https://doi.org/10.25620/ci-01_06>

Kleist’s Puppet Theatre and the Art of TangoLooking for the Back Door to ParadiseLaura Taler


This edited transcript of a presentation by filmmaker/choreographer Laura Taler responds to Heinrich von Kleist’s text by taking him on as a dancing partner. It follows a simple structure of proposal and response similar to that found in the movements between leader and follower in Argentine tango. Engaging Kleist’s text in the double form of a speech and a tango performance, this critical contribution follows a twofold direction: it questions Kleist’s representation of dance as a mechanical activity deprived of any form of intelligence and it refuses his attempt to force the aesthetic experience of dance into a framework that privileges theory over bodily experience. These two classical philosophical positions are questioned and provocatively opposed to the dynamic, situated, and dialogic thought performed within a witty tango interaction.

Kleist, puppet theatre, tango


  1. Kleist, Heinrich von, On the Puppet Theatre, in An Abyss Deep Enough: Letters of Heinrich von Kleist, with a Selection of Essays and Anecdotes, ed. by Philip B. Miller (New York: Dutton, 1982), pp. 211–16