Rage, beautiful rage

Dancing is the pleasure and also the happiness of throwing oneself full force against the world. As Jan Fabre made it possible in "Mount Olympus "

Sam De Mol

The art of thinking about the body, of writing about it, of collecting its traces, is constantly changing – sometimes for the worse. By now there is hardly a publishing house left that would dare to publish a dance book. And hardly any newspaper prints a longer dance story unless it is about a star, scandal or a salsa party in the local town.

Dance is no longer a cute amusement for high-born wannabe starlets. Dance is professional teamwork, a joint struggle for the realization of a sustainable idea involving many trades, not just designers as is the case in classical theater. People have long been pursuing multimedia strategies. They are fighting for new, improved structures. Never before have dance professionals been so well trained as to be at the cutting edge of technique and involved in redefining their production methods. These production methods are becoming more elaborate and are motivated by the idea of depicting relevant issues, opening up new spaces, and doing more than just physically illustrating pleasant-sounding music.

Jevan Chowdhury

British choreographer Akram Khan even became a world star thanks to this realization. The (La)Horde collective, which recently took over the directorship of the Ballet National de Marseille, is following in his footsteps, as are others besides. This gang believes that contemporary stories – such as those of young people who connect with each other globally as jump stylers – can only be told in flexible structures. Until recently, they used to only upload their short, explosive video sequences to the Internet and exchange ideas there, comparing and competing with solos that consist of a kind of on-the-spot gallop, of angling thighs, shins, knees, and feet that freeze as quickly as they unfreeze. “To da Bone” was the name of the (La)Horde find. For the first time ever, this jump styler scene has now been hoisted onto a real stage. This is the kind of story that authors like Thomas Hahn tell in tanz.dance.

Laurent Philippe

Yet everyone agrees that the future of the body, its increasingly comprehensive medical treatment, its modifiability to create resistance to viruses and cancer, its genetic mutations as well as the fluid attributions of gender and all of the no longer normative bodies of a “different beauty” are one thing. On the other hand, there is the knowledge that this body is entering a three-dimensional metaverse of digital simulations and that we, as bearers of names, including our identities and passports, are subject to increasingly complete control – and it is not just a worldwide industry of researchers that is behind this. Seismically sensitive artists are also finding their stances, reacting, applying the future to their own bodies, trying out new narratives, designing redemptive landscapes or dark dystopias. Like in Hong Kong. There, the ubiquitous control over the body is being legitimized via a new Chinese security law. How is the dance scene reacting to this? What happens in and with their bodies when every movement can be suspected of subversion, when every non-normative step, every dance, can be interpreted as a critique of the status quo? Critic Joanna Hoi-yin Lee describes this situation in a breathtaking report.

Jevan Chowdhury

Or take Bangladesh. It has been a long time since we have heard anything about the exploitation of seamstresses and since the West briefly debated whether it was still okay to wear cheap T-shirts following the collapse of a textile factory. Choreographer Helena Waldmann spent months researching in the capital Dhaka, interviewing workers and banned trade unionists, as well as factory owners and representatives of Western retail chains in order to create a dance piece entitled “Made in Bangladesh” with locals which has toured worldwide. Her research remains a historic document.

“Made in Bangladesh”, the dance professionals from Helena Waldmann’s production in front of the ready-to-ship products with the same seal of quality

Georgia Foulkes-Taylor

Bodies exhibit a beautiful rage

The rage of bodies can be found in all corners of the world – including in Berlin dancer Raphael Hillebrand, who no longer wants to exclude activism from the art of urban dance. Not even on the Canadian West Coast, where indigenous rights, trampled underfoot, are to be healed by hypocritical displays of respect. All this can be found in the exciting report by dance editor Kaija Pepper from Vancouver.

„Paper Doll“ (2005) by Padmini Chettur, Photo: Jirka Jansch
„Wall Dancing“ (2012) by Padmini Chettur, Photo: Sara
„3 Solos“ (2003) by Padmini Chettur, Photo: Laurent Phillippe

A beautiful rage can also be found in curator Marietta Piekenbrock throughout the “Global Groove” dance exhibition in the city of Essen, which very critically confronts accusations of cultural appropriation, just as dance critic Darrell Wilson critically confronts the sexual coercion and harassment perpetrated by Flemish choreographer Jan Fabre, living in Antwerp , in his major work: “Mount Olympus.”

Mari Bernhardt focuses on the reappropriation of an almost extinct culture in Lusatia on the German-Polish border, among the Sorbs and Wends. Modernism in India is also under threat. Choreographer Padmini Chettur from Chennai introduces dance writer Brygida Ochaim to the almost forgotten history of Indian emancipation, in which dance played a central role.

Olaf Martens

Gro Benjaminsen

In his last publication, recently deceased theater scientist Hans-Thies Lehmann discussed theater as a landscape on a Norwegian island, just 2,000 kilometers from the North Pole. Martial arts seem to have distanced themselves even further from dance in the opinion of choreographer Yotam Peled in Zurich. And yet further away, so it seems to author Zorena Jantze, is the preoccupation with colonialism in Namibia – although – no, rather precisely because – it is the daily bread there.

Rage is a mainstay in the art of dance because it generates courage. This courage is necessary to step out of the ostensibly protective bubble, the daily dance training and honing of one’s technique. Both are necessary, but only in order to achieve at least a degree of connection between dance and the very world on which dance is performed. Dance never stands alone. Of course, people like to dance their way through intoxication and drunkenness, all alone in a mass of ravers. But in art, dance touches the ground on which it is danced. Then it means more than just the dancer’s ego, at least to the audience and even beyond: because in art there is no dance in and of itself. There is only “dance and…” (colonialism, Parkinson’s, transgression…).

Excerpt from the film „Nimîhtowin Askîhk | Dancing the Land“

And only this combination allows us to think and write, research and investigate dance in a way that gives meaning to this art form, as an art of the body, to consider the body as art, as The Body’s Art.

Only anger and courage make visible the boundaries that enclose us. Dance, in so far as it is an art, also reveals the boundaries worldwide – in every culture, in all societies, because everyone is in motion, not frozen, because there is a constant rumbling and this feeling of restlessness inevitably sets people in motion. And while this motion may not always tempt us to do a perfect plié, it leads to progress and the overcoming of obstacles.

The Iveroni Ensemble

The Iveroni Ensemble

These stories can be found in tanz.dance – this bilingual journal of wanderlust – and follow more and more closely the relentless curiosity about all that is still possible and feasible. The body is the only tool available to us that grants us awareness of the world. Stay curious, pay for good stories on occasion, and keep them bookmarked on your computers. Think outside the box and yearn for the dance in this world.

Supported by

Diehl + Ritter