Dancing is fighting

Belgrad -
View of Belgrade

Boris Hamer

Who knows the Serbian dance scene? Nobody. Even the Belgrade Dance Festival only shows guests from abroad. The other side of the coin, Serbia’s independent scene, is full of surprises.

Exactly half of Serbs are – albeit with reservations – in favor of their country joining the European Union. The other half – also with reservations – vote for Russia.

Every election result is a neck-and-neck race that can certainly be easily manipulated. Every election result in this country, south of Hungary and east of Croatia, is just as fundamentally questionable as one half of the population contradicts the other half on principle.

We are familiar with this division from many countries, such as the USA or Slovakia. Where two sides defend their respective ethos, in Serbia that of communist-based partisan pride here and there that of economic liberals who look enviously at the fallen trade barriers within the EU, something is probably really wrong in this country.

The population may have eyed the election result in early 2024 in favor of President Aleksandar Vučić with suspicion. However, they did not demonstrate against this at home, but traveled to Belgrade, the lively capital, which is always to blame anyway.

Belgrade Waterfront – brand new office towers on the banks of the Sava River

Vladimir Opsenica

And there, in Belgrade, a particularly remarkable dance premiere took place with the enchanting title: “The Desire to Make a Solid History Will End Up in Failure”. Half of the piece is set in the past, while the other half reflects the attitude of the present towards Serbia’s thoroughly complicated past.

Famous contemporary Serbian dancers perform on stage throughout. In Igor Koruga’s choreography, nostalgia meets reality. Serbia’s own history meets the expectations of a nation that would simply like to be as free and powerful as all the former occupiers of this country are today: Austria, Germany, Turkey. Or Russia as the warring nation of Europe.

Public performance in the 1990s – police and the dancing resistance shaped a time when Serbia was at war with its former brother countries

Russia has now replaced Serbia – because it was Serbia in the 1990s that was the villain, a country that wanted to feel powerful again, finally autonomous, and paid dearly for it. But, unlike in Russia, it was a time when the contemporary dance scene was able to rub up against resistance and contradiction with particular vigor. Dance wanted to fight. Not against something. But for its existence and necessity. Just like today. When the veterans from this period return to stage, the story continues. In contradiction. Because it is in conflict that the best ideas, the most interesting moments, the most urgent movements are born. Curtain up for “The Desire to Make a Solid History Will End Up in Failure”.

Read on …

The Desire to Make a Solid History Will End Up in Failure.


In Belgrade, a dance piece of this title takes failure as an opportunity – in a country between the fronts, surrounded by the EU, embraced by Russia.

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