Apart from it being a mode of expession of emotion and sentiment, dance can also serve as a platform for expression of gender, that marked identity that we think is unchangeable. From the day we are born, or even much earlier than that, our sex and gender our socially defined. What we (should) wear, how we (must) walk, the amount of space we occupy in our everyday life is largely defined by the role of gender in society. In the dance context such observations become quite evident from the posture our bodies take, our facial expressions, and the costumes we wear.
Today is the 1st of May 2015 and it is 20.40 p.m. I am with my sister at the Lava, Laboratory of Arts of Valladolid, my city. The spectacle should have started fifteen minutes ago. The public has already been sat, however few people were still standing and talking audibly. This situation seems to me a little bit strange, as it’s the first performance-spectacle I attend in Spain since I came back home from Choreomundus Master last July.
I had already forgotten that people could behave that way in a theatre. So I made an effort to understand the behaviour of people who decided not to sit down until the dancers were on stage, or those who arrived fifteen minutes late and opened the door of the room without any problem, or that woman who had not turned off her mobile phone... So, thinking that these people were part of the show was my way of not being angry. In fact I could not stop laughing. I don´t know what exactly generated my laughter, maybe it was because the show had started 15 minutes late like in a rock concert, or because of those people who kept talking aloud, even in the dark, or, because I had the bad luck of being sat behind a woman with a big bun in her head (as an advise, I would suggest don´t go with extravagant and big hairstyles when you go to a spectacle like that, because those who are behind you may have to move their heads all the time in an attempt to see all what is on stage. It was my case, and I almost ended up with torticollis!).
To close this informal introduction of a personal experience, I consider this a really nice evening despite this peculiar pre-start.
For those who do not know about “Les Ballets Du Trockadero de Monte Carlo”, and in order to contextualize this experience, I will quote a passage from the theatre introduction of this Dance Company, information I could glance at in those fifteen minutes of delay.
Les ballets Trockadero de Montecarlo was founded in 1974 in the United States by a group of ballet enthusiasts for the purpose of parody the traditional forms of ballet. The original concept of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo Trockadero REMAINS AS is in its infancy: professional dancers company specialized in the range of classic style and original Russian repertoire. Its originality and enthusiasm led them to participate in various international festivals in Holland, Madrid, New York, Paris, Turin and Vienna. He has received awards among them the Excellence in Dance (Theatrica Management Award), award for its Repertoire given by Coalition of Critics of Dance of London (Dance Critics Award) and Positano Award (Positano, Italy).
Lava, Laboratorio de las Artes de Valladolid, Libreto de Mano 2014/2015)
I have to confess I have always wanted to see Les Ballets de Trockadero, but I have never had the chance to do so. When I knew they were coming to my city, a small city well known for the theatre, cinema, zarzuelas, and where dance is starting to be little by little more important, I ran to buy the tickets.
The spectacle we were going to see that night was divided in four parts: The Swam Lake, Don Quijote (Pas de Deux), Go for Baroque and Paquita and ... Shh, …ok, I will stop speaking, the Spectacle it about to start!
Suddenly the lights switched off and a woman's voiceover began introducing the Company. It was part of the performance, a really funny point of start with, full of jokes that showed that the whole performance would be full of humour, dance, and a different perspective of the classical dance seen with male bodies.
When the voice stopped talking the curtain rose and a man in black with point shoes, with a really interesting brown dishevelled wig started dancing. Then this picturesque character dragged a plastic swan that had sunglasses and was on four wheels and immediately disappeared, giving way to the white swan, her prince and the rest of the ballet representing the flock of swans. No doubt a very original way to begin the performance. The rest of the “Ballerinas" started to appear like classical ballerinas on their points, white tutús and with a lot of makeup and really muscular bodies. Exaggerated grimace, sometimes the dance moves were more like funk than classical. Some dancers were not following the same steps of their companions calling public attention... but overall keeping the idea of the story of the Swan lake.
It was a pure parody of Swan Lake but with a strong and solid foundation of dance controlled under so much comedy. The scenery was well-studied, costumes were very faithful to the original, the repertoire was well-chosen for all audiences and dynamic.
The second part was a pas de deux from "Don Quijote" ballet. The duo had a lot of Spanish essence. One dancer was wearing the traditional Cordovan black suit trousers, white shirt and red sash, and the partner was in a black and red tutu and an elegant Spanish hairstyle with a curl on her face. The complicity of the couple was remarkable, their movements were graceful and in accordance to the music, and they had made an excellent use of space. Once again humorous winks filled the room. A duet well chosen for the city in which they were, Valladolid, city in which Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, had once lived.
´Go for Baroque` was the next Ballet. In this piece, six dancers accompanied by the music of Bach, in black maillots and wearing flowers in their hair provoked a mad laughter in the public by their movements, comic twists, falls to the ground, static figures, jumps and lots of hugs.
The peak of the performance was what is better than a French ballet style but with a Spanish theme, Paquita. This time the whole body of dancers appeared on stage with a scenery featuring a French classical theatre. Dancers were dressed in elegant tutus of different colours and blonde, brunette, redhead wigs. Some dancers wore glasses and maintained an exaggerated makeup. In this ballet, the corps de ballet, which certainly stood out for the great classical technique it showed, accompanied and gave way to Paquita, the protagonist. Paquita was the only dancer wearing a white tutu, a white wig, and was accompanied by the only male-dressed in the room. Paquita showed to be a strong dancer who did not need a man to shine. In this comic scene Paquita looked like an arrogant woman. The male dancer, tired of Paquita ignoring him, chooses to leave Pequita and to join the rest of the dancers.
Paquita was certainly a good way to end the big show. In this last performance dancers gave themselves up to the point that the main dancer lost the wig in a sequence of twenty fouettés!
Of course the comedy was present at Les Ballets Trockadero but I will say that it is an elegant comedy. It is not easy supporting the body of a muscular man on points shoes, and the fact that male roles-run all the weight of a man balancing on the balls of your feet and pretending to be a swan, sylph, romantic princess, water nymph Females victoriana- enhances rather than ridicules classical dance.
Surely, this show far exceeded the expectations I had of this company and I am very content to see that my town has introduced this type of shows.
From the facial expressions of the public and their comments outside the theater, everyone seemed pleased and amazed. A sample of those who had enjoyed these two and a half hours of uninterrupted show of laughter of dance.
Undoubtedly I can confirm what their handbook indicates, Les Ballets Trockadero transmit the pleasure and grace of dance through its repertory in their performances.
The performers' elegance but also their dancing mood, their care, expressions, the use of space, interpretation of each of the characters and each of the ballets represented through humour, plus the scenography, costumes, makeup, art and love for what they do, have made of this show a welcoming gift for all those who had the opportunity, like me, to watch it. It was definitely a really good dance show.
If you want to know more about Les Ballets Trockadero de Montecarlo here its web-page: http://trockadero.org/
Although the term “Heritage” seem to have gained an international understanding through the UNESCO conventions of World Cultural Heritage (1972) and Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003), the interpretation and implementation of the concept in relation to dance differs greatly among countries. The following notes are drawn upon observations I have made on the topic during a year spent in Clermont-Ferrand, France.
As in many other European countries, the folk dance revival project is found in France as well, especially in Brittany and Provence regions where the dance repertoire is revived and practiced today (Guilcher: 1998). In the dance domain a direct discourse on the notion of “heritage” doesn’t seem to be highly audible. Instead, there are manifestations that can be indirectly linked to the notions of revival and safeguarding of dance that usually accompany the intangible cultural heritage discourse. One of these manifestations could be observed in Frères Champion's work. Frères Champion are Bourrée (A traditional dance of the Auvergne region) dancers and musicians conducting performances and workshops in the region, which could evoke the idea of dance revival encountered in other European contexts. Nonetheless, the brothers Champion collaborated in 2011 with Sidi Graoui, a contemporary dancer and choreographer, in an exploratory contemporary piece entitled ‘Trois, un, deux, le labyrinthe des origines’. The collaboration revolved around the body's capacities, musicality, dialogue and expression.
By: Natasa Chanta-Martin
Last weekend I participated in a 8hour dance workshop entitled Visualizing Sound. It was dedicated to the sounds and rhythms we produce while dancing, audibly or not, and it got me thinking: the inner pace we give to our dance stands as an immediate scene-setter in regards to the atmosphere we create for ourselves and the audience. One could more easily visualize sound during a tap dance or body percussion show, but what happens during a performance of ballet, contemporary, hip hop, dabkeh… What if we were to observe a dance without the "necessary" musical accompaniment? How easily could we "enter" in the mood of the piece without its music? I immediately remembered Jared's performance during our second year of Choreomundus. We were being assessed on Perfomance of Heritage and while he had a whole piece of choreography planned out, the music and the video accompanying the whole performance just froze. He had two options, he could stop and ask for a second run or he could continue. Having already set the scene for us, Jared chose to continue and used his louder breathing as tempo and feeling-maker for the rest of his contemporary-hip hop performance. It was so inspiring!
So after searching further into this phenomenon of visualizing the sound you want to dance to, I ask you to try and guess the music of this video:
Then try and imagine what music, sound, or rhythm these dancers had in their head, what was the common pulse that made them move together at times? How did they know when to stop? What had their choreographer told them?
The exact opposite, but equally interesting, is when the music itself defines the dance and does not let you think in your own musical sphere. When you watch the dance in collaboration with its music it seems that you are trapped for life in the sound-picture the participants created for you. Yes, there is always personal takes in what we see and subjective opinions on aesthetics and musicality, but isn't there a point where all you hear is what you have been culturally taught to hear? And doesn’t what you hear up to a point define what you see? I ran into this amazing example video which was also part of an academic project:
What do you think ?
I invite you to engage in a discussion on this complicated phenomenon: the numerous possibilities dance has to visualize sound!
It has been 7 months since I last heard this wonderful statement, “how to tell it”. The first time I heard it, it was quite innocent…a passing statement…a transition into a missing important thought in a speech or lesson. After a while it became so prevalent that even in the absence of the owner, His Excellency Professor Laszlo Felfoldi, we would still put it in our sentences. It had become fun and at times during formal and informal discussions with the ‘owner’ we could accurately foretell its coming, imminent or distant. We would even go as far as to count the number of times it was used in a particular session. The highest we have counted, if am remembering correctly, within a particular study session is 12 (I stand to be corrected). But to me this famous statement of “how to tell it” is indeed a profound statement no matter how much we trivialize it. In our everyday endeavours if someone should ask what you have gained thus far and why you chose this path, regardless the answer, it is preceded by a “how to tell it” (whether you say it out loud or not). How do you tell it? From what point of view does one collate and filter numerous answers to explain succinctly what one communicates eventually? How do you put it to make it sound understandable to the layman? From the words of my dance mentor, Kwaku Manu (aka Odotobiri) he opines that the reason we are in academia is to ‘make knowledge accessible to all’. “We are here to explain or to make “clearer” that which most men and women already know. We are just re-contextualizing and or re-clarifying knowledge to make it accessible for whoever has ears to hear. We simplify”. You may or may not agree with this statement but in its seemingly subjective openness, simplification relies on the poignant question of “how to tell it”. How do we simplify the knowledge we have acquired in academia to make it understandable to our own people? Do we simply relay the information in our program course book/syllabus to a curious person about our specialization? The question remains; how do you tell it? How do we essentialize our field in this competitive academic environment? The answer is itself a heritage to be discussed, dismembered, and reassembled again to validate its existence.
Back home, the challenge becomes how to simplify and reach out to ones colleagues. This is not because you are better than them or because you studied abroad, but by virtue of one’s traditional values that promotes the ideology that you owe your knowledge to your people. The statement “how to tell it” is political on two levels – the personal and the social levels. On the social level simplifying knowledge is problematic and precipitated by political correctness and the problems of translating English to the local lingua. For most of the uneducated Ghanaian hoi polloi, the problems with understanding the current discussions on heritage, whether tangible or intangible hinges on the globalization of the term and the endless conundrum of the English language. The problem with translation from English to one of the myriad local lingos is understandings biggest setback to date. As scholars how do we then reconcile the problems of communication between perhaps, the convention and the people it is trying to reach? How do we put it?
The acquisition of knowledge has been quite vigorous and purposeful with the two years of study on the Choreomundus master program. We have had loads of valuable information given to us within the time of study so much that sometimes it confuses me – I say this with all honesty and am not ashamed. But that is not the issue here. Where ever we find ourselves now, can we be able to titillate our colleagues on the importance of the academic discourse of heritage pertaining to our countries? Can we localise the knowledge we have acquired to make it more meaningful to our colleagues and people back home that are already living the heritage? How do we simplify the knowledge, practices, and heritage? So how do we tell it?
A journey of a thousand miles as said begins with a step and thus awareness creation, re-conceptualization, and recognition could be the steps in the right direction to help answer questions raised above. The realisation of what man and his society considers to be valuable begins with the recognition and the awareness of the potential of the identified as worthy of safeguarding. Hence, identification of the convention serves as a conduit to the recognition, awareness creation and the connectedness of such living expression to stakeholders. To simplify our knowledge back to our people because we owe them this knowledge is to create an awareness of re-conceptualization…that is perhaps how to put it – for in the simplification of telling, our sense of immediacy may become an agency for imposition. Nevertheless, we may tell that the knowledge, practice and heritage are a construct and through this construct living expressions become a venerated production. We as scholars engage in knowledge production that involves epistemological enquiry, hereinto – the re-conceptualization of heritage practice to the hoi polloi (stakeholders) is the reality in their identification. In that respect when the self or community becomes aware and recognizes the heritage, it affirms the construct and processes-making ideology of heritagisation thus making simplification foremost, as an imagined form of community knowledge. ‘Knowledge needs to be framed – given a name, established with provenance and applicability – before it can be “bought or sold” (cf. Napier 2002: 289)’.
Here again I suppose the above enumeration might just be considered as a mere foreboding into the heritage discourse but the question will thus resonate aloud again, - How do we essentialize our field in this competitive academic environment? Can we localise the knowledge we have acquired to make it more meaningful to our colleagues and people back home that are already living the heritage? With that said, I believe to proceed from the identifier in the heritage discourse is to instrumentalize. The process of instrumentalisation requires critical knowledge in investigation, dissemination of scholarly knowledge in the purview of cultural heritage, cultural and international politics, and the academia. If I may be so bold, then, I shall posit that our acquired scholarly ability to essentialize our field may be liken to the instrumentalisation process of making heritage. Thus if “I dance because I am” …whence I conclude… “Can we essentialize our field because we can”? After apotheosizing the fons et origo of … ‘How to tell it’ and or ‘How do we put it’…where is our scholarly Onus probandi?
Review of a physical theatre “Banglamerd”
Under the military junta government, “Banglamerd..The land I do now own” (2013 and restaged in 2015) is the piece of work that challenges existence. Critically discussed about freedom of expression, Ornanong Thaisriwong, the performer provides enough space for the audience to freely think about the deepest issue of our time - The State’s control over freedom of speech and cultural and artistic production.
Ornanong’s solo performance, Banglamerd, makes the use of art for representation and contestation of power and her political standpoint seems to irritate the Thai military government. This results in a close inspection of the production by the military officers as the content of the performance was claimed to be opposed to the government and threatened national security (email: Dakin, 2015). Thailand is not only the case, confrontation between artists and authoritarian states occur in many countries around the world. Just to name a few, one may think of Tania Bruguera’s open mic performance in Havana (Dec 2014), a Thai play “The Wolf Bride” (Oct 2014), Belarus underground theatre group “Belarus Free Theatre” (2005-present), and long censorship in the arts in Egypt.
Banglamerd is another reminder of how politics have a close relationship with the arts as a cultural production. A performance is an acting subject that provokes ideas and urges movements for destabilisation and change within a given social and political context. By using what cultural theorist Stuart Hall (2001) called “symbolic power” through representational practices, the performance addresses the topic which challenges the traditional order and doing so causes fears and worries to the dominated group of people. The sophisticated idea embodied in the work of art is an intellectual representation that forms power which is often considered as “risk” since it can foster social and moral revolution.
Within this atmosphere of fear, many States impose their power to silence and this limitation, control and suppress of the artistic freedom makes it difficult to produce and support a challenging work. According to The Democratic Legitimacy of International Human Rights Law, an unequal access to exercise rights of free speech is a disrespectful treatment and therefore a very undemocratic principle. Also, apart from limiting fundamental human rights, censorship triggers offence, leads to the formation of a violent public, disrupts creative economy, and creates the loss of cultural diversity.
The decision limiting by the State is often implemented without certain policy and legal basis - what constitutes public harm, and what violates laws. In a like manner, it has been reported that Banglamerd’s content offends public order, yet no clear explanation is given on the way such act is performed. Although, the local authorities maintain good relations with the performer including the production team (they are not arrested like the previous play “The Wolf Bride”, and the performance is still running in normal show time), such controlling act grows fears which in one way or another foster a greater system of censorship, pressurize artists, producers, audience, as well as donors to self-censorship – being fearful, avoiding to address, investigate, and support certain social issues. This course of action inevitably restricts the process of creativity, cultural diversity, and transparency policy.
The complexity of the interpretation between artistic freedom of expression versus hate speech is at the heart of this issue. For some, Banglamerd may be understood as a legitimate space for public dispute and therefore harmful or offensive, while others may believe that criticism in art is an essential tool for stimulating intellectual diversity of minds. Consequently, there is a broad spectrum of opinions whether artists should or should not explore issues that are sensitive and potentially bring tension to the society. In other words, it is about the same question of what is the role of art in the society? Should art please the society and doing so, artists should limit or even silence their voices OR should art ask questions and challenge the society by opening conversations? Ornanong’s Banglamerd is facing this same destiny of wide interpretation.
Banglamerd is assumed to have as many positive reviews as disagreements as the very complex argument regarding the artistic freedom and censorship has become a serious issue without clear guidance on law and rights. However, what remains certain is that Ornanong is stepping out from safe space to brave space, pushing the boundaries of her personal and society’s comfort zone.
As exploring the relationship between arts and politics, and observing how free speech has been controlled and by whom, one-sided and the use of power is shown over grounds of reasoning and mutual understanding. To the best of my knowledge and belief, remaining silent, regaining innocence, and forgetting about problems do not encourage diversity of opinions as a means to grow understanding of differences and possibilities. Banglamerd gives me a chance to question myself and the society again which I hope they will not be censored and one day will find authorised spaces for voices: Who benefits from censorship? Can we as audience not choose what we want or do not want to see with our own discretion, regardless of whether or not the art is tasteful? And what is actually wrong about being critical?
Dakin, N., 2015, e-mail, 1 February, email@example.com
Hall, S., (2001) ‘The Spectacle of the Other’, in Wetherell, M.,S., Taylor, & S., J., Yates (ed.)
Discourse Theory and Practice: A Reader, London: SAGE Publications
By: Natasha Chanta-Martin
There has recently been a global shout out to Greeks and the new Greek government. International media claim that the big twist from 40years of family-tree-driven governors to a left wing, young, independent president will make outstanding differences in Greece’s economy, human rights, education etc. Domestic news are bombarded with quotes from the new Ministers and their over-ambitious statements on how they will change our lives for the better: minimum wage will increase, second generation immigrants will finally get citizenship, the school system will change, unaccompanied youth criminals will be monitored by sociologists, each of these statements relating to their own ministry. However, the Ministry of Culture is completely ignored in media and in reality. Not a word has been said about the arts and culture sector of a country which has been declared as the “cradle” of “civilization”. So, what happens to all the dancers, musicians, actors, painters and all the other artists who have been struggling for decades and decades trying to make a living through their art? How can a country prosper in all possible ways when attention (not to mention funding) is not given to one of the most vital and important parts of everyone’s life and education? ART! Having studied at Choreomundus, this introduction seems necessary, because once again the Artist is neglected, and creeps up to the anthropologist’s lap for comfort.
Although (almost) every artist in Greece struggles financially for his/her personal productions, projects, performances and promotion, one specific individual has attempted the outspoken: to create an international festival of experimental percussive dance! One would think that it is a crazy idea trying to do something like this in Greece. Who will attend? Who can afford it? Who will fund it?
Coetáni Experimental Flamenco Festival took place in Athens a day after national elections. It was a 5day intensive festival that consisted of classes, performances, viewings, and discussions. Not only did it take place in Greece, it also experimented with a widely recognised traditional art form, Flamenco. Although, in performance contexts Flamenco has grown tremendously and is experimenting in various directions, Coetáni still is one of a kind for a class-based international festival. Classes included: flamenco dancing for the camera, flamenco couple dancing and more, and the teachers were highly established flamenco performers, such as Leonor Leal, Félix Vásquez, Chloé Brûlé, Marco Varga, who experiment with their art form in different ways. Guest artists included dancers from Canada, Greece, and Austria.
As I have mentioned in my previous Dance Diary, I am one of the founders and organisers of the Athens Tap Jams, another series of community-based events of percussive dance which does not receive any external funding. In a much smaller scale I do relate to what the organiser of Coetáni is going through, and I, therefore, have decided to write this post. Last Tuesday the Athens Tap Jam community hosted a fundraising Tap Jam to help and show its support to Coetáni Experimental Flamenco Festival. Tap dancers, singers, flamenco artists and jazz musicians all jammed together and experimented with their arts, their bodies, their shoes. ATJ is an official sponsor of Coetáni and the money raised at the JAM was added to the festival’s Indiegogo Campaign which you can find here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/coetani-experimental-flamenco-festival.
Coetáni wants to transform Flamenco dancing in Greece, give it another twist, look at it from another angle, EXPERIMENT with it; ‘just like the new government is doing with Greece’, an international news anchor might say! In order for Coetáni to become an annual gathering of important people and flamenco enthusiasts who are willing to experiment, and since it cannot find any domestic funding, it has to look into international funding organisations. In order for its audiovisual promotion to convince outsiders, Coetáni has sought help through crowdfunding in order to create a documentary film of the first ever international experimental flamenco festival in Greece. In support of dance, percussive arts, experimental arts and inaugural brave attempts, I urge you to take a close look at this campaign and to contribute in any way you can.
In dance we trust, because EARTH, without ART is just ‘EH’.
By: Tone H. Erlien
Finally, my project will be realized
For an update many of you maybe are curious knowing about, I can finally say IT`S HAPPENING!
As you all know I was working on applications and project plans during the last year of Choreomundus. Several times I returned to Trondheim for meetings and what I answered you when you asked how it went was; Well, the meeting went good but I have to wait and see if the applications went through. After revising the applications and plans thoroughly, we (Marit Stranden, the director of the now Sff-senter and I) sent in applications for the Trondheim municipality and South-Trøndelag county and the Norwegian Art Council. Mid-December we finally got positive answers of the two allocations. When Christmas came I could finally take a deep breath and be very happy with the thought of starting planning three dance exhibitions. The Norwegian center of folk music and folk dance will own the project, I will be the project manager and we will collaborate the three largest museums of South-Trøndelag and many others in a very exciting and growing network, collaborating about new museology, intangible cultural heritage and DANCE dissemination and practice.
The idea of the project is to make interactive exhibitions with the engagement of the dance communities, dance research network and the main museums in Trondheim. The goal is to produce three rich exhibitions that can serve as a start of permanent dance exhibitions and installations in Trondheim. I can´t wait to start officially 1st of February!
As for now I can say that the first exhibition, named “Dances in Norway” will be presented next spring (2016) at Ringve - the music museum in Trondheim, then one exhibition, “Dance hits the last 100 years” at the Folk museum Sverresborg and last but not least, a motion capture interactive installation as the third exhibition at Rockheim late 2017!
This three-year project will create a blog and a webpage for promoting development, events, the work with the exhibitions, great achievements in addition to post relevant dance research and material. This will also serve as a bank of knowledge material and practical dance tips for the exhibition guests and school classes coming to experience the exhibitions.
I´ll keep you posted!
By: Sara Azzarelli
After two years spent exploring, discussing and debating the anthropological intersection between dance and gender within my Choreomundus studies, I was waiting, even more intensely than in the past years, for the 2014 edition of the Gender Bender, an International Festival that takes place annually in Bologna, Italy, since 2003. The festival explores issues such as gender identity, sexual orientation and body representation stemming from contemporary culture. It proposes a quite various series of events ranging from films showing, visual art exhibitions, installations, dance and theatre performances, round tables and conferences. Also this year, from the 25th of October to the 2nd of November 2014, the city has hosted a number of artists, performers, writers and scholars who investigate and discuss, through a variety of media, the richness of cultural diversity.
Obviously, what mainly stimulates my interest about the festival and will hopefully intrigue the readers of the CAA’s blog, is the quite rich and variegated series of dance performances characterising the festival. In different modalities, dancers and choreographers from all over the world have used bodies and movements to stimulate reflections and create awareness among a heterogeneous audience, about the complexity of gender, sex, sexuality. I will attempt to give you the taste of some of the brilliant pieces part of the program.
Among the Italian artists in the program, we could find Francesca Foscarini with the piece Guft Gift, a solo that the Israeli choreographer Yasmeen Godder created for her, Welcome to my World by Ezio Cosimi and Alberi by Fabrizio Favole.
These pieces and many others have given to people from different social contexts and ages living in Bologna or coming from elsewhere for the festival, the opportunity to watch and feel how rich cultural diversity is. Diverse were the bodies that were dancing, the ways they were moving, interacting, destabilising their supposed socially accepted characteristics, deconstructing and reconstructing pieces of identity.
Like every year, the Gender Bender International Festival, had shed light on how differences structure society from a human, social, cultural point of view and make it rich, interesting and beautiful.
For the first time in Italy, we had the opportunity to assist to Legitimo Rezo, a solo created by the choreographer William Forsythe for Jone San Martin, Spanish deaf dancer he has collaborated with since 1992. The piece focuses on the space between what is merely heard and what is deeply understood.
We also enjoyed a lively dispute between men and women looking for their sexual identities though their relationships: Complexe de Genres, a piece with which the Canadian artist Virginie Brunelle participates for the second time to the Gender Bender Festival.
The duo Cascas D’ovo by Portuguese choreographer Patrick Lander presents a dialogue between bodies and emotions, in which two blindfolded men (Patrick Lander and Jonas Lopes) interact in the dark. The choreographer tells us ‘This is not a love story’, paraphrasing Magritte’s words ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’(this is not a pipe): these words describe a dance piece in which love is incessantly constructed and denied at the same time.
Journey is the impossible encounter, both on stage and through dance, of two generations quite distant from each other: Koen de Preter, 33 years old, Belgian choreographer and dancer, meets Alphea Pouget, 89, Swedish dancer and educator. The artists touch and explore the distance that separate them, until they are united through their common love for dance.
By Natasa Chanta-Martin
Sunday, Nov. 2nd 2014: I am very happy to contribute to this month's Choreomundus alumni blog as an important event has taken place in Greece: the Athens Tap Jams have finally begun! After almost a month's preparation, and just 4 months since Choreomundus 101 ended, I managed to make a contribution to the Greek tap dance community.
A tap jam is a gathering of tap dancers and (most likely) jazz musicians who engage in a live session of music making and rhythm trading! Tap Jams can be found in many parts of Europe and the USA, Australia too. In the past few decades, Europe has created its own style and attitude towards tap dance and has managed to host tap jams in a variety of European capitals. Today we can find the London Tap Jam, the Paris Tap Jam, the Amsterdam Tap Jam, the Basel Tap Jam, the Berlin Tap Jam etc…'So why not start the Athens Tap Jam as well?', I thought…
It all started from my active participation in the London Tap Jam (LTJ) during the last semester of Choreomundus. Participation meaning not only attending, but dancing, bringing friends and musicians along, even helping out in its organization! The lived experience of a monthly tap jam got me very excited and made me feel that sense of community through dance practice. My previous training in dance such as classical, modern, and jazz genres did not fulfil me in the sense of belonging in a community of equal dancers and dance enthusiasts maybe because I would either find myself in the dance studio or the theatre stage. In tap -rhythm tap that is-, I have had the opportunity to dance with live musicians, on the streets, with the spectators being next to me and/or right in front, on the same level…
So after Choreomudus ended and having obtained so much useful information and training on community dance practice, I decided to attempt organizing the first Athens Tap Jam. It took place at Kreuzberg Urban Culture Bar in the hot spot of Athens, Kerameikos area. My friend and fellow tap dancer, Elina and I took care of the organization- we found musicians, printed flyers, spoke on the radio, and spread the word to anyone we saw! The ATJ was becoming a reality!
In the late evening of this Sunday night everything was ready: wooden floors were installed in the bar, musicians had connected amps to instruments, our host and tap dance mentor, Thanos Daskalopoulos, was fully excited and we let the jazz-tap improvisation begin! Men and women, ladies and gents, youths and elders, beginners and pros took the leap and made their way on the wooden floor, where no-one knew what would come up next: swing, funk, bossa nova?? Musicians were dancing, tap dancers were playing music and the audience was cheering…
Not many people had seen such a dance event before and the fact that they first witnessed it in Athens and through the Athens tap dance community put a great smile on my face. My smile is now even bigger since the second Athens Tap Jam will take place on the 21st of December!! Stay tuned…
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in all posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the association or the MA program.