The framing question for ABOUT DANCE, Vol 3 was, “What Do We Need?” Over the course of two days this question provided the guiding thread for an exploration of the stakes — personal, practical, and systematic — in making art. What became clear is that the work of dance/dancer, performance/performer and art/artist is an ever evolving process of negotiations. Here is a summary of how the weekend unfolded:
Marcela — In introducing herself and her role as Lake Studios Artistic Director, Marcela remarked on how carefully she and her partner (in life and in all things Lake), Mark, named the forum series. They landed on About Dance as the word “about” felt both focused and open; an indication that the forum is a place where an expansive conversation can happen in and around the field of dance. The second part of the name, forming futures is a signpost to how these conversations might ripple out beyond the forum itself, expanding in space and time.
Gabi — Director of ada Studio & Bühne, Gabi gave a brief history of the evolution of her approach to running a studio and performance venue. Initially, she saw her work as a programmer — less about hand picking artists and more about creating a space that is an anchor of opportunity for dance makers in Berlin. Of course, the funding structures that made ada’s continued existence possible required her to take more of a curatorial position and this led to a philosophy of curation that is grounded in the idea of taking care.
Julek & Diethild — As co-curators of the A.PART Festival (ada’s initiative for Berlin dance students and alumni), Julek and Diethild introduced the challenge they faced in curating a performance festival during corona lockdowns. They had to re-think artistic practice and presentation formats from the ground up. This gave rise to a focus on sharing process, as opposed to product, and to the richness of exchange in unexpected collaborations.
Particpants — And then we came to the circle of professional artists that attended the forum live, including: Iris,
Lenka, Tabi, Julie, Siontu, Dakota, Jessy, Raphael, Frederike, Sonya, Maria, Asya and Teoma. As a group, we represented dancers, choreographers, students, teachers, cultural managers, art administrators, performers, performance makers, executors, creators, and scholars.
II GETTING LOST After the round of introductions, participants were paired up with a stranger and sent off to get lost at the lake. The task was simple: have a conversation. We were encouraged to share personal artistic practices, and to keep our eye on the forum’s group Telegram chat, where conversational cues would drop as we wandered.
Upon return each duo shared a re-cap of their conversation and/or path to and from the lake. And out of the sharing, a collective vision board began to take material form. On an oversized sheet of butcher paper tacked to the outdoor studio’s back wall, participants and moderators began taping smaller pieces of paper upon which they wrote responses to the question, “what do we need?”
III CAKE And then we braked for cake!
IV PERFORMATIVE INTERVENTION The first performative intervention was given by Tabi, who guided the group in a personal practice that explores emotions via qualities of movement and their manifestation in increasingly specific regions of the body.
V VISION We returned to the large butcher paper, — our collective vision board — and continued to build a written mental map of what we need. DAY 2
I INTERVENTION The second day began with another performative intervention, this time from Asya. Asya spoke about coincidence and synchronicity, shared some of her personal video work, as well as her collaborative work for A.PART festival, and then opened the intervention to a small group discussion.
II VISION Next we returned again to our vision board. This time, it was Gabi who started us off with an orientation to Berlin’s funding systems and structures. Gabi stressed the necessity of keeping in view the long arc of an artistic career and encouraged us all to envision possible funding systems from the lens of career continuity and sustainability.
After a group discussion on funding structures, we began to physically rearrange the pieces of paper taped to the butcher board into categories of likeness.
This process continued: we were encouraged to keep rearranging as we saw fit. The exercise unfolded in silence and was wrapped in a meditative atmosphere of wordless negotiation. Here are photos of the vision board at different points over the course of the weekend:
III INTERVENTION The final performative intervention was offered by Iris, who gave a brief introduction to how a background in psychology influences her work and then performed a brief and captivating movement solo followed by participants written and spoken reflections.
IV — 1 MINUTE The two days culminated in a sharing round where everyone was given one minute to speak. The minute was timed and the time was strictly adhered to. In the spirit of working within pre-set parameters, here is summary of each person’s one minute closing remarks in no more than ten words per person:
- Iris — everything is of value
- Lenka — felt no pressure
- Tabi — change the system from the outside or the inside
- Julie — how/now what
- Siontu — perfect location
- Jessy — the conversation never gets old
- Dakota — woke up to what we still need to research
- Teoma — the curation of a discussion on curation very well curated
- Raphael — you can start the one-minute timer
- Sonya — we need more impulses like this
- Marcela — the one-minute is the embarrassment performance
- Maria — grateful to join
- Gabi — came with plan, the participants took over, made it rich
- Asya — how to deal with the themes, challenge working process
- Julek — how to practice, how to keep telegram groups alive
- Diethild — how to get rid of the pressure to summarize
And with that, the vision board was floated down from the wall and carefully folded as the moderators and participants said good bye and wandered back into their individual lives and practices, tethered to the forum by a Telegram chat group.
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*About Dance, Vol 3* — links to dive deeper!
- Peak behind the forum scene and continue the discussion in the Telegram group: https://t.me/joinchat/WZggOVHqYjBhODMy
- Check out A.PART Festival’s Artist Blog: https://apart-festival.blog/
- Sign up for the Basic Income Lottery, Mein Grundeinkommen: https://www.mein-grundeinkommen.de/
- Explore ada Studio & Bühne : http://www.ada-studio.de/index.html
- A visual diagram of Berlin’s Funding System:
- Some inspiring book recommendations:
Artistic Direction: Marcela Geische
Assistance & Documentation: Maria Kousi, Jessy Tuddenham
Camera & Editing: Noam Gorbat
The ABOUT DANCE, Vol 3 participants included the following artists:
Tasha Hess Neustadt, Dakota Comin, Julie Peters, Sointu Pere, Lenka Vorechovska, Raphael Beau, Frederike Doffin, Sonya Levin, Teoma Naccarato.