Credits: Iris Janke (Photography), Claudia Hill (Costume/Make-up), Jemima Rose Dean (Model)
A dance festival on the contemporary is a good occasion to ask the question, “Where are we now?” There are no easy answers. The year 2016 is a turbulent time for Germany, Europe, the US, and our planet. Categories written on and experienced through the body – race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality – are policed violently. Even formalist and non-narrative movements within dance can no longer ignore the world in which we live. Thankfully, this year’s Tanz im August is insistently contemporary in its political thrust and aesthetic reach. On the blog, we’ll share how this year’s artists make sense of this fractured world through dance, movement, and the body in these coming weeks.
The role of the dance critic is an odd one. As Susan Leigh Foster writes, “dance remains an ephemeral event whose immediate appeal can never be captured in words – at best, criticism is able to provide a historical perspective and an aesthetic judgment for what is otherwise too fragile or fleeting for comment.” We don’t speak from the authoritative position of the dance historian or dance theorist – we are theatre scholars and art journalists. So we’ll speak from these very subjective and personal experiences to provide a lens onto the festival, giving context for this year’s programme and insight into the festival’s atmosphere. We’ll have interviews and reviews, features and audio stories.
The relationship between dance and writing has been so fraught for so long that we’d like to think of this blog as a space to ask questions, rather than pose answers – a space for dialogue around this year’s festival, which includes new performances by both well-known dance artists and newcomers. We're excited to experience Emanuel Gat's return to Tanz im August – this time in company with electronic producer and musician Awir Leon – in what will most likely be a dynamic fusion of sound and motion. Syrian choreographer Mithkal Alzghair examines the physical experience of escape and displacement, and Jaamil Olawale Kosoko’s #negrophobia exposes the ways in which racism is constructed. The programme looks equal parts visceral and thought-provoking, challenging and delightful. So based on the program, we’ll ask questions like: how can we rethink the relationship between dance and aging? What new models of immersive or participatory performance have opened up in the last year? How can Black perspectives on contemporary dance help complicate conversations about race in the United States? How could we capture or engage dance through other forms – even a library?
Thank you for asking them with us. Hold this space.
See you in August,
Lily and Nina