As I told you I visited Tanzplattform 2018, a festival of contemporary dance. These last days have been inspiring, full of thoughts and opened a lot of questions.
I had a pretty full schedule with discussions and talks in the morning then 2 to 3 performances throughout the afternoon and evening.
The main location of the festival was the Zeche Zollverein, a former coal mine which is part of the UNESCO-World culture heritage and opens its rooms for different kinds of cultural events and performances. The whole area is quite impressive and would at least be worth a visit for its architecture. It is a kind of unusual location for dance and theatre but that’s what makes it so interesting. Many visitors were students, artists, directors and curators or somehow different connected to the theatre scene. They came here to see a assembly of “impulse-giving” contemporary dance productions and to build new connections and exchange.
One of the main questions I asked myself during the festival was how do I experience dance.
I had a lot of talks to people from all kinds of backgrounds who are here right now to watch the performances and a phrase that I heard almost in every discussion was “Me as a dancer/scientist/anthropologist/dramaturgist… experienced the piece like this.”. I don’t really relate to just one of these groups and was not sure at all how I should present myself, as a dancer, as a theatre studies student or something else? Can I really just express my personal view by first telling everyone my educational background? Didn’t we all see the same performance and experienced it in our very own way? Dancers don’t only relate to movement, as scientists don’t only see the political or cultural context. In every “group” you will find a big diversity of opinions and perspectives. And you don’t always have to study for years to understand the message of an artist. Isn’t contemporary dance a language of all kinds of tongues? It is not an art form that is build by a certain technique, a certain vocabulary that only enhanced masters can understand. So why do we always stop believing that what we felt might be enough?
I had really big troubles in expressing my experiences because I couldn’t use this magic sentence that would have moved me into one corner of the room. I can relate to the movement but I am also interested in the structure, the dialogue between space and performer and the often very humorous reflection of contextualisation. I don’t think any of us has just one stereotyped perspective, it doesn’t really matter what our background might be, anyone has something to share and the most different perspectives can be the ones we learn the most from. So instead of stereotyping ourselves it might be wiser to first ask ourselves what did I see, what could I relate to, which feelings evolved and then finally why.
Text and Pictures by Verena