In 2006 Berlin staged the first Tanzkongress of modern times. Now in its third iteration, the conference has established itself as a vital part of European dance discussions. Supported by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, Tanzkongress draws participants from around the globe including New Zealand, USA, Australia, India and throughout Europe. Tanzkongress 2013 has the theme of 'performing translations' exploring commonalities and differences in dance and how we can work across communication forms.
Translation takes place not only between practices and competences, art forms and styles, ideologies and generations. Art meets politics, practice meets theory, dance meets technology. Tanzkongress program
Around 1000 participants worked with nearly 200 presenters—dancers, choreographers, academics and teachers, producers, and critics—covering areas such as choreography, education, journalism, dramaturgy, politics, architecture, sociology, philosophy, and medicine.
The Dance Congress is a congress for dance, yet one that treats the concept of dance in an extremely broad sense and thus proves the art form's relevance to other disciplines and the connectivity of its discourse beyond dance. Tanzkongress program
It was impossible to be everywhere and be part of everything, but highlights for me included the ‘On Mentoring’ discussion led by renowned choreographer Jonathan Burrows.
Jonathan presented his thoughts on the idea of mentoring, noting that any application for arts funding in the UK these days needs to include a mentoring component. The audience then broke into smaller groups to reflect and share experiences. Important in an international forum was the cultural implications of mentoring—in that some places only respect direct teacher-student relations rather than the cross-beneficial concepts understood in mentoring. There was also shared recognition that while mentoring can happen in quite fluid ways, there is benefit in formal mentoring relationships that bring with them time, commitment and patience.
East-Western Perspectives on Dance Journalism
A panel discussion titled 'The Contemporary and the Critical—East-Western Perspectives on Dance Journalism', explored the cultural understandings of dance performance and review. Session participants were witness to an interesting discussion on the need, or not, to have a cultural understanding on a dance piece being witnessed. Traditional and contemporary as dance forms were dissected, as was the overlap of ritual and entertainment. Indian based choreographer Anusha Lall commented "If I have been moved, shifted in my skin" then that moment of empathy is valuable, even if the cultural background or understanding isn't there.
The Renaissance of Dance Cities
Bureaucrats, ballet directors and former politicians gathered for a fiery debate about the place of dance within a city's development. The recognition that people of all walks of life enjoy living in a culturally rich community has supported the development of dance and arts hubs; however, recent economic pressures have seen programs across Europe rolled back. It is clear having infrastructure developed while economic times are good can help maintain connection and development in leaner times; however the priority needs to be supported across all levels of bureaucracy and government.
And outside the lectures and panel discussions...
Tanzkongress participants were able to take dance classes, be part of research, see performances and catch-up with colleagues from around the globe. The German Federal Cultural Foundation have indicated their commitment to Tanzkongress continuing, but in the meantime outcomes from the 2013 conference continue to be added to the Tanzkongress website.