In Lebanon there were too many experiences to capture in this small post. The overwhelming flood of impressions, flavours and genuine human interactions was enough to feed my soul for a lifetime. I came to Beirut to be a part of the Bipod Festival with Loïc Perela. Bipod Festival is unique because it, in every sense of the word, connects dance professionals from the MENA region and beyond. At the festival I met the phenomenal dancer, teacher and choreographer, Hoor Malas from Damascus, Syria – one of the only choreographers left in her hometown. Beirut is also where I met a young man from Tehran, Iran and where he told me the story of how he and his colleagues are redefining the meaning of movement. These stories continue to resonate with me, long after we said goodbye.
Greetings from the country that gave us … Ikea! A business that prides itself on furniture for everyone. In Stockholm, the dance performances are for everyone. After meeting with Ida Burén I saw for myself how the Dansens Hus is a forerunner in accessibility when it comes to watching performances. Never before have I seen an institution with such a strong mandate in making sure that everyone, including blind people, can enjoy dance shows. Jac Carlsson from Cullberg Ballet shared with me the unique ‘flat’ organisational structure of the company, where the (freakin’ amazing) dancers have a clear say on which choreographers they want to work with. Stockholm, you are great.
Vienna. Whenever I’m there I feel as though I am stepping into a city where emperors and empresses could still be gracing the city streets by horse and carriage. The contemporary dance scene on the other hand, couldn’t be farther from that. It is a city where the underground thrives, avant garde is too mainstream and the edge is an elusive place that nobody will admit to ever having reached, let alone something to strive for. Speaking with Tanzhaus Wien, BRUT, Christine Gaigg and Stephanie Cummings (Liquid Loft) gave me insights into this buzzing scene – home to Europe’s cutting…I’m going to say it… edge.
Switzerland is a relatively small country, but with three official languages it is a country with layered identities. This can also be said for the various contemporary dance scenes throughout the country. Chatting with Catja Loepfe who runs Tanzhaus Zurich got the gears in my head going about what it means to be a place that invites international artists to play a central role in the development of a local scene. However, what was most fascinating was experiencing the contrast between the ûber-polished urban setting of Zürich as a municipality, and the sense of friction and unrest currently going on in the contemporary dance scene. Definitely a place to come back to after a few years to see how the dust settles.
Some call Germany the engine of Europe. North Rhine-Westphalia is that for the contemporary dance scene. The Tanzmesse, hosted every two years in Dusseldorf is a gigantic international conference. Tanzhaus nrw is a hugely successful dancehouse and Köln is a city with a booming independent dance scene. Sipping coffee, tea and wine… I mean having insightful conversations with, Douglas Bateman from MD Kollektiv, choreographer Sabina Perry and Stefan Schwartz from Tanzhaus nrw taught me a lot. Read the interviews to find out what.
In Dutch there is the expression ‘klein maar fijn’, meaning small but nice. The small part is true, so much so that I lumped all the Dutch cities into this one section. But when it comes to the dance scene Holland is not only nice, it’s great. There are a lot of opportunities for dancers, makers and those in between. If you haven’t been to Holland yet, you should book a trip and make Rotterdam your first stop 🙂
I will admit that the first thing I did in Paris was buy a pain au chocolat. It was to die for. Alas, I’m not here to talk delicious, fresh, warm, succulent culinary wonders such as these… Besides being the home of amazing pastries, Paris is the connecting place for European contemporary dance. Speaking with Elisabetta Bisaro from La Briqueterie and Benôit André from Theatre de Chaillot gave me a glimpse into the workings of key organisations within the international dance production presentation circuit.
Barcelona is in itself a stunning city. To come here to talk and see dance made it shine even more. While in Barcelona, I met with Marc Olive, Mara Maso, Sílvia González and Sebastian Garcia Ferro who all shared their passion and knowledge of this budding dance city with me. I learned from them that lately more and more dancers are returning to Barcelona to set up shop rather than staying abroad. If you ask me, it sounds like a smart thing to do. Even though there are limited opportunities within Spain, Barcelona’s contemporary dance scene is very well connected to the international community.
London. Buzzing. Bustling. Bursting. There is so much to see and do here for visitors and residents alike, how on earth does contemporary dance fit in to such a crowded urban landscape? My first impression is that while there are an incredible amount of activities happening within the city, London feels like it’s itching to connect itself more with the international scene. So naturally, I felt that London and I had a common goal. While here, I met with Eddie Nixon, director of The Place – London’s foremost centre for contemporary dance presentation and development. I also interviewed Avatâra Asuyo, international choreographer, teacher, dancer and film maker. The two perspectives gave me an idea of what it’s like to oversee a large institution and what it’s like to be right in the thick of making dance. London was my last European stop on my 11-city tour and where I bid farewell to Europe, but hopefully not for long!
Montreal is the cultural capital of French speaking North America. A city buzzing with world class music, dance, circus and comedy. And that’s just the performing arts. As the largest city in Quebec, Montreal residents and cultural institutions alike take its art scene very seriously. In regards to international connections with contemporary dance, Montreal is home to CINARS and Festival TransAmérique, two of the largest international performing arts festivals in Canada. While in the city that was once home to Leonard Cohen, I met with Caroline Ohrt from Danse Danse, a dance series hosted at Place des Arts. Her personal journey and expertise taught me about the not-so-distant connection between visual arts and dance. When speaking with Francine Gagné, director of Circuit-Est Centre I got an idea of the strong sense of community within the local contemporary dance scene and how that came to be. Montreal is not only the city with the best bagels and smoked meat sandwiches, it is an essential hub for contemporary dance in North America.
Greetings from a beautifully diverse city! In Toronto I spoke with a bunch of cool people including Amanda Acorn and Michael Caldwell to find out more about the dance scene. And… there’s a ton going on with lots of people doing there own thing. The sense of personal drive is inspiring! Interestingly, quite a few people told me that unfortunately the scene nowadays is pretty fragmented, even though in general it’s quite vibrant. In any case, I am really looking forward to moving to Toronto this May to be a part of this very unique scene.