Benz & ballet – How arts and automotive themes go hand in hand

Plié, Tendu and Nijinsky… may sound like something delicious to an outsider who is unfamiliar with the world of art. But these are neither French dishes, nor famous chefs.

Instead, it was the set menu for around 20 CAReer Program alumni, including me, who participated in the “Cultural Education Art & Inspiration Series 2017” workshop. Aching Feet and an insight into the world of dance and choreography made us sleeping like babies at night…

A newly established collaboration between Daimler AG and “Festspielhaus Baden Baden” set the foundation for the final chapter of the 2017 series. This new framework between Daimler and the Festspielhaus demonstrated that arts and automotive themes go hand in hand, for example when pianist Alice Sara Ott performed at the CAReer Alumni Conference in Stuttgart.

A one-day workshop can only give one a brief insight into this art of body movement and its history. But, with the agenda set for the day and the people involved, everything and everyone was ready for a deep dive and an enjoyable learning experience.

Arts & Automotive

Baden Baden’s Festspielhaus press spokesman Rüdiger Beerman welcomed and then led us throughout the entire day with his professional, charming and enthusiastic guidance. He didn’t leave the slightest doubt why Daimler and the Festspielhaus are a perfect match for a long-lasting collaboration and friendship.

Dance instructor Johannes and his team from Iwanson Dance Academy slowly introduced the initially shy and anxious, but curious Daimler students to the world of dance and choreography – i.e. a whole new territory for a group of people who usually sit at a desk the entire day. Literally “kicking off” with a stretching “Plié” and “Tendu” – two classical ballet moves – to warm up, the group moved from classical to contemporary dance. What seemed so simple and easy until that day had suddenly become quite challenging once being actively involved.

While working out in everyone’s individual and regular behavior and patterns, the focus in subsequent exercises was to consciously conceive one’s own body posture. The awareness of your own body language, including gestures, mimics and breathing, which typically define ones personality and appearance, demonstrated how to emphasise those in various situations of professional life, especially in corporate giants like Daimler.

The self-proclaimed “Daimler in-motion family” managed to rehearse a whole choreography in contemporary style. The presentable result was not only an eight-minute semi-professional performance, but an even more professional looking family-group photo.

Daimler in-motion family

Nijinsky and Neumeier

Certainly a highlight, motivating all participants to keep on movin’ during the workshop, was decidedly the opportunity to attend the ballet premiere of “Nijinsky” on the same night. The ballet, conducted by the renowned Hamburger Ballet, is choreographed by John Neumeier, a staple of Hamburg’s Ballet ensemble for 45 (!) years. He surely did not miss this occasion to be present on the first day of his masterpiece hosted at Festspielhaus Baden Baden.

But prior to this and after the physically demanding workshop session, the day was topped off with an exclusive sneak preview during the afternoon’s Nijinski rehearsal followed by a backstage tour. With “Nijinsky,” John Neumaier pays homage to Wacław Nijinsky who could be described “as the Michael Jackson of ballet dancing” during the time he lived. Nijinski was not only a pioneer in choreographing and conducting ballet, but also shaped the landscape and techniques of ballet dancing which are still exercised today.

The newly minted Daimler Dancers were also given the opportunity to have a one-on-one chat with two of the female and male lead dancers of Hamburg’s Ballet ensemble to get a first-hand impression of the life of a ballet dancer.

1st solists Anna Laudere and Carsten Jung with Managing Director Ulrike Schmidt

It was inevitable to mention how physically challenging the job is. And how, despite the restricted wages and the time one can have in the spotlight, it is predominantly for the passion of dancing why one chooses the profession of ballet.

“After the show it’s the after party!”

Before the sold-out premiere finally began, John Neumeier surprised the Daimler Group with a quick chit chat and a group Picture.

After an extravagant two and a half hour performance and a similarly long standing ovation for John Neumeier and his ensemble for its performance in Baden Baden, it was time to move our feet again – one more time for the night.

This was at the after show party which was attended by director Andreas Mölich-Zebhauser and John Neumeier – both with their full entourage from Baden Baden Festpielhaus and Hamburger Ballet, respectively. According to the intensity of the workshop day and the saying “after the show it’s the after party, then after the party it’s the hotel lobby”…the hotel lobby remained empty that night… since 20 newborn dancers were sleeping like babies that night.

The perception of Daimler being “just” a car manufacturer has already changed long ago. The “Cultural Education Art & Inspiration Series 2017” in collaboration with Festspielhaus Baden Baden acts as further proof of Daimler’s role in taking the lead towards an innovative working culture.

Always striving for the best (or nothing) with initiatives like Leadership2020 , regular team building events, hackathons, design thinking and ideation workshops, innovation challenges or an introduction to Daimler’s Art Collection (currently Chinese contemporary art), the mindset of Daimler’s employees is in the process of creative and fast change.

All in all, events like these demonstrate Daimler’s broad and intensive initiatives towards gaining insights into fields and lifestyles outside of the Daimler world. Efforts like these not only help to make Daimler the company it is, but to make working for Daimler as enjoyable as it is.

Bilder von © BEBAGO&CO|Dr. Benjamin Bhattacharya-Ghosh, © Martin Kaufhold und © Kiran West

He had his first encounter with Daimler in 2001, followed by internships, seminar papers and his final thesis with Daimler-Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz in Detroit and Untertürkheim. Subsequently, Dr. Benjamin Bhattacharya-Ghosh completed his PhD in Biomedical Engineering at University College London before he joined the CAReer Program in 2015. He worked with the procurement department until the beginning of 2017 and is now in the lead of “University Collaboration” at Lab1886 (formerly called Business Innovation). Benjamin is also a member of the German Press Association. More of his work is published on BEBAGO&CO.