At a time when cultural systems are becoming increasingly interconnected, Sharing Potentials is the order of the day. The individual responsibility of actors within and outside of diverse structures is growing and brings with it new challenges and opportunities. Based on these changes, the main topics of the Tanzkongress 2022 were set: The focus on the professional reality of dancers, the strengthening of diverse approaches to exchange and cooperation, and the newly built bridges between repertory theaters and the independent scene.
The thematic modules are comprise different discursive formats and are embedded in the artistic program as well as in the digital Tanzkongress.NITEhotel. And last, but not least, we would like to celebrate with you!
Asian Connections through Bodily Expressions
Co-Creating with Communities
Dance and Digital Space
Dancers as Experts
New Friendships!? - Independent Scene and Cultural Institutions
Well-being and the Social Question
In these uncertain and troubling times, the overarching theme of Tanzkongress 2022—Sharing Potentials inspires us as Asian guest curators and global citizens to explore human relationships in both urban and rural spaces.
The pandemic with its lockdowns and social distancing had a far-reaching impact on the ways in which we live together and relate to one another: Does this change our everyday habits, the way we express ourselves through our bodies, and how we relate our bodies to those around us? Does it perhaps even change the very way we walk and move—individually and in groups, regardless of our cultural and geographical differences? And if the answer to these questions is yes, might dance—with its physicality, dancers, choreographers, theaters, and performance venues—have the power and potential to bring people together again?
On the web, digital performances are proliferating rapidly—but what about performative and mobile game boxes that connect immersively with public spaces to create a shared, inclusive, (e)motion(al) experience? What challenges does dance in public space pose for artists and audiences? After all, dramaturgies and technology change when moving from indoors to outdoors. How do theaters and institutions respond to artists and audiences, how do production and programming evolve, and how do we negotiate new ways of dealing with a pandemic or endemic?
It is a challenge and an adventure: to re-establish and re-energize relationships, to re-connect artists, communities, human relationships—art and artists, art and audiences, artists and audiences. To reignite love and passion for dance and to rekindle the need for movement and for the kinetic energy in all of us.
Can we experience and perceive a continent without knowing it? Can bodies convey landscapes?
For us, curating this module was compelling in terms of both research and design—after all, our continent does not only comprise diverse cultures, but also diverse landscapes that inform the fate of the bodies that inhabit them.
As an ancient form of expression, dance is deeply connected to the land and to nature. This is why we have chosen to focus on the idea of body-landscapes – a concept that allows us to look at body knowledge in all its diversity, and understand it as form of knowledge that has always existed—from the end of the world in the far south of the continent, to Amazonia, the center of the Caribbean, to the north.
The diversity of body-landscapes showcases our differences as well as our similarities. It demonstrates difficulties and problems, especially our long historical struggles to free our bodies from colonization. Dancing bodies today pay respect to nature, celebrating the permeability of boundaries, the harmony of opposites, and our own freedom to move and finally meet one other again after the numbness and distance that the pandemic has brought us.
What challenges, opportunities, frictions, and potentials for development arise in joint artistic work with communities in different contexts? What forms, models, and utopias of collaboration can there be?
In numerous conversations and projects, these questions will be explored, discussed, and experienced in this module. With inputs and workshops from Darren O'Donnell (Mammalian Diving Reflex) and Joke Laureyns (kabinet k), among others, we aim to illuminate and interrogate not only the changing role and influence of young people in society and in the arts, but also sustainable models of collaboration. In the workshop series city moves, artists from the Rhine-Main region, international guests, congress participants, and local dance enthusiasts are invited to play within the city's plazas and squares with dance. And finally, an Open Space, as the name suggests, opens up space for all the voices, ideas, and potentials that may not yet have come to the fore in the congress’ program.
How can groups or ensembles develop from within? How can individual and group development be advanced simultaneously? Based on these and similar questions, the idea for the Collective Growth module was born.
A process that both preserves established methodologies and allows for the conception of new paths of collaboration needs to be open and adaptable in all directions. In this module we want to show how such a collective development process can be designed. Our focus is on about connecting preexisting knowledge and experience with the needs of the participating groups and ensembles.
By means of Healthy Leadership especially those actors who are often caught in the middle can develop tools to promote sustainable growth of the group. To be able to face the constant onslaught of change, Booster Resilience builds on the strengthening of inner resilience—important for all those who are continually confronted with fundamental changes. "To go" we offer a toolbox that provides best practices to foster sustainable shared growth.
The curation of the module Dancers as Experts originated from our curiosity in the current self-understandings of dancers and is driven by our deep interest in their various perspectives. Dancers Now. What motivates dancers today? What do they experience? What burning issues do they bring forward? The multifaceted role of dancers moves, adapts and develops - an on-going negotiation between the dancer's self-understanding and the outside demands and expectations. This module offers possibilities for reflection on how dancers see and shape their role within their work context and beyond.
Dancers as Experts roots in the embodied knowledge, (physical) thinking and visions of dancers. How can these give impulses to and drive dance specific discourses as well as contribute to matters of global concern? Together with the participants we want to explore what can emerge from this potential.
Our co-curation was conceptually supported by a mentorship, deepened by dialogues with a feedback group and nurtured by exchanges with our colleagues at tanzmainz. Aiming to incorporate curiosity, trust and teamspirit - values we treasure in this company.
As part of our research we conducted a series of conversations with dancers from different contexts and with different lived experiences. We brought together exciting individuals we are fortunate to collaborate and shape the content of this module with. The topics of Dancers as Experts are structured by different headlines:
Dancers Experiencing. Diving into formats around gender, the navigation through power dynamics and critically exploring (structural) imbalances. Discussing practice related topics such as transitioning and engaging in conversations around mental health.
Dancers Speaking Up. Getting an insight into the intricacies and challenges of the work realities of dancers. How do dancers deal with these and when do they need to set boundaries? Exploring what solidarity can look like between dancers.
Dancers Shaping Spaces. Dancers are agents for themselves, each other and the dance field. What mechanisms and ideas have they developed to enhance the work environment and what ripple effects can be caused by these?
Dancers Collaborating. Delving into the collaborative nature of dance by discussing topics such as communication, responsibility and interdependencies.
Come to move the conversation and meet each other on the dancefloors - Dance More! We look forward to welcoming you here in Mainz!
(Mentorship: Prof. Ingo Diehl; Feedback group: Jone San Martin Astigarraga, Toke Broni Strandby, Natalie Wagner)
Moving together. Learning together. Creating together. Exploring something new. Connecting through dancing, falling, rolling, jumping, turning, flying, shaking, stomping, clapping, vibing, grooving, grounding, breathing, listening, expressing, being, imagining… What would happen if we just Dance More!? This module offers to meet one another and oneself through movement in a variety of formats:
Kick the day off collectively by joining the daily Morning Practice. Get to know invited dancers and their practices in the workshop series Dancing Conversations. Donate your movement in the MotionCaptureBox located in the Motion Bank Gallery, a unique way to engage with motion capture technology. Pass through the DanceTunnel, a space to channel inspiration, blow off steam and simply dance. Join the ARK Rave Studio, a session of high intensity dance to work out your humanity in all directions. Turn the congress upside down and hit the dance floor at the Party - Sharing Rhythm.
Bring yourself, each other and the Tanzkongress 2022 into motion!
With the "Call for Proposals" we invited dancers, choreographers, rehearsal directors, dramaturgs, producers, theorists, company and theater directors, and all dance professionals to present best practice models that showcase how to share knowledge and other resources.
Of the 115 project proposals, 21 made it into the program. Some submissions matched the program prepared by our 19 curators and, after a joint work process, are reflected in their modules. Topics include dance education, innovation and inclusion, distribution of money and knowledge transfer, digital tools, urban dance aesthetics, perspectives for rural areas, and much more. This diversity of perspectives enriches the dance congress and initiates forward-looking impulses.
Many of these formats are designed to facilitate a lively exchange among participants. Other events, such as tanzen/teilen by the Gesellschaft für Tanzforschung or urban dance utopia by Celestine Hennermann and Jonas Frey, are composed of various elements and in some cases integrate numerous other participants.
In this module, we want to collect, organize, and question what constitutes the profession of rehearsal directors today, in order to be able to formulate expectations, potentials, and challenges more clearly. This concerns us all—because the heterogeneous development of the dance scene in the last decades has created new challenges for rehearsal directors. Institutional theaters and independent productions alike demand artistic practice as well as production practice from their rehearsal directors. At established dance companies, rehearsal directors are increasingly often curators, meaning that they have to work together with different choreographers and thus be familiar with different choreographic concepts and methods. Contemporary dance in general as well as versatile repertoires due to guest choreographers and touring pose further challenges.
Moreover, the rehearsal director is responsible for organizing the daily practices and preparing the respective choreographies and, thus, responsible for the quality of the actual dancing. In addition to assisting with new rehearsals of pieces, "cleaning" the choreographies, and conducting revivals, the management of resources and logistics for rehearsals is an important part of the job. Excellent communication skills are required in dealing with dancers and choreographers, keeping the working atmosphere in flow, motivating and supporting dancers.
Last but not least, the responsibilities of rehearsal directors expand to ethical and social issues of artistic work processes, such as authorship and diversity, as well as to practical issues, such as stage management and production management (guest performance tours, sustainability, welcome culture, etc.). This requires extensive expertise in various areas: Training theory, choreography, coaching, management, communication, logistics, psychology, etc. All of this finally raises the question of how to counteract and cope with the danger of overwhelming and excessive demands when it comes to the position of rehearsal director.
Does it really exist, the frequently invoked gap between the independent dance scene and dance in institutions? Since the turn of the millennium at the latest, an astonishing transition has been taking place in Germany, both aesthetically and politically. While on the one hand repertory theater is opening up and structures are getting in motion, on the other hand some free groups are turning into (new) institutions. These developments open space for exciting forms of collaboration. In this module, we want to take stock of this new reality by asking in three panel discussions what opportunities and risks this bridge-building may hold.
The first panel discussion deals with overcoming the apparent separation of the institutionalized and independent dance scenes in Germany and presents ways of opening up. Where are the challenges, what are the opportunities, and who sets the limits? What is a curatorial model? Where is change already taking place within dance ensembles?
The second panel discussion ventures to look beyond the horizon. Using comparatively "young" institutions and companies from Europe as examples, best practice examples will be presented. How can institutions stay agile? How can one react promptly to current issues and at the same time offer artists, donors, and audiences the necessary stability?
In a number of countries, more and more artists switch between employments in fixed and independent structures. The third panel discussion asks how these transitions can be shaped and how new working models can be established for the future. How can we deal imaginatively with the circumstances and who has to adapt to whom?
Are streamed performances, video-call rehearsals, and choreographed avatars the future of dance or just a temporary phenomenon that will recede into the background again when the pandemic ends? One thing is certain: the pandemic has given new urgency to the question of the relationship between dance and digital space. While dance halls, festivals, and companies felt compelled to convert to digital and hybrid formats from one day to the next, the structural change seemed overdue from the point of view of a young generation of artists. Digital is no longer just a vision of the future. More and more choreographers show an enormous interest in reflecting their own life reality, which hardly distinguishes between virtual and supposedly real reality, in dance. In the process, a number of new aesthetics and interdisciplinary forms of expression have emerged that think dance together not only with other digital arts, but also with future technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, or artificial intelligence. In addition, new markets have developed that recognize economic potential in the digital communication channels of dance in particular: Never before has it been so easy for an international audience to experience dance classes, workshops and seminars, or the performances themselves. Will 21st-century dance be able to embrace its digital future without giving up its essence as an immediate and community-building live experience?
Dance education is concerned with providing knowledge of dance as well as hands on skills and abilities along with an appropriate repertoire of dance styles and physical translation methods. These skills are strongly defined by their application in professional practice, predominantly in the performing arts. Here they are developed and taught in a very practical way—which carries with it a tendency to repeat already existing repertoire. Beyond that, however, dance has had to be reevaluated and redefined again and again in the 20th century—through the lens of state funding, by politicians and academia, and in its numerous references to developments in other social and scientific fields. As a result, dance is present in academia as well as in education and health care. Dance knowledge is of great value to science in general, philosophy, public health and social research. So let's dare to look into the future, say into the year 2046, and start to establish possible relationships that could be helpful for the development of dance and our societies!
Bearing this in mind, I propose the following questions for the dance education module: What areas will dance education map in 2046? What skills will be needed in practice? What do inclusion and diversity mean for dance practice and pedagogy? How do we envision future dancers? What do we need to do to continue to teach dance—as human expression, as an art form, as a connection to nature and our bodies, and as a possible healing social force?
Since time immemorial, the mother continent of Africa has been associated with perseverance and the struggle for survival. "Perseverance is the art of survival", says the Omani author Saim A. Cheeda—and if we follow this quote, all Africans are artists. The participants from Africa share a common theme that defines their work: they use creative space to survive—and they survive as artists!
Self-expression and self-knowledge are essential tools for them, not least to address all the stereotypes, attitudes, and ways of conceptualizing "others" that exist in society. The challenges these artists face are extraordinary because they are existential, and they meet them through constancy and through the sheer will to survive of their art and their "human spirit".
This module is titled "Transcendence," and this is meant to express the spirit and energy that serves as fuel to the artists and enables them to experience and live their creativity beyond a 'normal' physical level. Or, as one of the participating artists says: "I am struggling as if in a coma."
We want to make the different voices of these artists audible, to embody them, and to show their great value—in interaction with an audience dedicated to solidarity and constructive criticism.
Our discussion of Well-being and the Social Question wants to focus on future-oriented issues. The pandemic initially paralyzed people, but then quickly put into hyperspeed our journey of developing transformative ideas for the new age. And it is precisely this development that seems to be driving much of our thinking today—the idea of "Safe Space" is in the process of changing into "Brave Space." It takes courage to break away from old ideas. What it means to "take care of each other" became more than clear during the pandemic. We are experiencing an increasing division of society and from this arises the question of whether and how art and culture can create regression. What contributions can dance make without allowing itself to be instrumentalized? Can dance offer answers to the many contradictions? And what does dance need to generate internal and external well-being?
In this module, we will approach questions of mutual care from different perspectives and in different forms. We’ll explore new approaches and methods offered to us by dance in order to develop ways of shaping this time of social and ecological upheaval with more emotional intelligence and to counter a creeping loss of meaning.