Is it just a good idea for a campaign or does it really effects the people and the dance professionals, if the German Federal Cultural Foundation supports a format named Dance Congress and calls the year 2016 a “Tanzjahr” (year of dance)? The Dance Congress held in Hannover from 16 to 19 of June was the 4th edition of its kind and the first one I experienced as a participant. I was thrilled to go and join all the performances, lectures and dance workshops and it was way worse it, to make that effort.
You simply know it’s a once in a lifetime chance to join a talk by the leading German dance artist Susanne Linke, who was a student of Mary Wigman and is now 72 years old, and to be able to even join her for a short teaching moment. She invited us to participate in a short practice rehearsal slot, because it is one thing to listen and to think about dance and another thing to experience a dance technique that is called “Inner suspension”. What a gift for young people like me, who only know her work, because we studied the VHS tapes and the DVD’s in the dance archive, that she is still so very motivated to share her knowledge. She surprised me in her talk being so open, deeply honest and overall humorously and moved as all deeply, when she talked about her friend and colleague Dore Hoyer (German expressionist dancer and choreographer) who committed suicide in Berlin on 31 December 1967.
I started my report with one of the highlights, but let’s go back and talk about the opening of the Dance Congress: a public warm-up in front of the Opera house in Hannover and therefore in the heart of the city. I can only support perception of Boris Charmatz, the choreographer and moderator of the warm-up, that this event is so popular that we should have a dance congress every year (not only every 3 or four years). We all stretched our legs and our minds and the dancers of his production Musée de la Danse: Common Choreographies was the best version of a vibrant dance archive I can think of. How cool to see a former dancer at the company of Pina Bausch (the German legend for the development of Tanztheater) in a performance, where she dances and talks about how Pina would teach at the same time. This playful game with the audience was just hilarious.
The opening night was followed by a long Friday. I started at 9 am with a warm-up called “dance and gyrotonic”, went to lectures, used my lunch break for another physical exploration in “Jazz” (loved it), went to lectures again and last but not least saw the dance performance “Der Besuch” by Jörg Mannes (another highlight) in the evening of course. You can tell by now that I’m really up for dance and should become a dance dramaturge, don’t you? And guess what: I did all that again on Saturday and on Sunday.
I also joined a lecture and a workshop called “Releasing the Archive” given by Carol Brown (New Zealand) and Thomas Kampe (Germany / UK). The two artists talked about the Viennese dance avant-garde of the 1920s and 1930s. The research is based on the Jewish dancer Gertrude Bodenwieser, who migrated to Australia in the 40ies. One of the main questions was: “How does the appropriation of past methods influence present-day bodies?” Carol worked on a little choreography with us. She was so nervos when she gave the official theoretical presentation and relaxed when she worked with us in the study that I was glad that she found her Kiwi like peace of mind again. Thomas introduced us to the Feldenkrais method. The sense of self part of the method is very useful, but I can’t really enjoy the esoteric part of it. It depends on the teacher I guess. I just experienced another Feldenkrais teacher here in Ludwigsburg (Natan Gardah, a former dancer of the Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv) and it was quiet different.
Last but not least we had the chance to meet and talk with leading choregraphers in round tabel discussions on Sunday, that took place in the big studio of the Opera house. I happend to listend to Simone Sandroni, who talked about his first year at Theater Bielefeld as artistic director of the Dance Company. I had a job interview with him last fall and I’m still sad, that it didn’t worked out, but of course I was too nervous to tell him or ask him about the reason. I’m not able to talk or network in these kind of situations…too much respect. I don’t want to force anybody to hire me. 😉 Second round I switched to Jörg Mannes, who workes for the Dance Company of the Opera in Hannover right now. He had a very honest and likeable why of talking about his own work as well and don’t took himself to seriously either. Third and last talk for me was with Richard Siegal, who talked about his brand new company “Ballet of the Difference” that is based in Munich now.
I was exhausted on my way back home, not ready for another working week, but happy and charged with ideas. My conclusion is yes, the Dance Congress is a platform that is able to affect people, to promote dance as an art form and to boost the exchange between theory and practice and people and professionals. I moved my body, I was moved emotionally and what remains is movement in my brain. Having said this: Dance on!
PS: You can find more information’s about the Dachverband Tanz Germany here. They webside also offers English data.