Atelier History of dancehouses in Europe: sneak preview

EDN Atelier: History of dancehouses in Europe
Tanzhaus NRW Düsseldorf
22-23 May 2015

Over the next two years we would like to write the history of the development of European dancehouses. Following up the historical process of the so-called “free theater scene” since the 1970’s a.o. in Germany, the development of the dancehouses in Europe shall be retraced. It is intended to formulate questions and gather knowledge within the context of a first meeting, called “atelier”, to make the relatively young history in the context of the aesthetic and cultural – and sociopolitical development comprehensible. This “retrospective” is being developed in a dialogue with another plan of the European Dancehouse Network (EDN), which deals with future scenarios concerning the artistic European environment the dancehouses are part of.

Parallel to the creation of these free theater groups which, amongs other things, were developed outside the support structure of institutionalized theaters, within dance there were also initiatives which developed new aesthethic concepts beyond the established dance companies, questioning the hierarchy within the give theatre structures and developing new production and presentation models. Some of the independent dance centers arouse from citizens’ initiatives, which formulated a radically democratized concept of culture beyond elitism. Centers like Tanzhaus NRW in Düsseldorf or The Place in London, partially look back on a history of development of over 30 years. Places that once aroused within the periphery of traditional cultural stakeholders have now initiated new structures on their own, while also having managed to become well established in the cultural scene, competing with the dance companies belonging to municipal theaters and opera houses. After the first meeting, that might still put an emphasis on the development structures in Germany, the meeting will be also aimed at considering the European as well as the international context. This meeting will be the first within a series of editorial meetings within the next two years.

Culture scholars, curators and journalists will be invited to outline different topics and to set priorities within the context of presentations and round-tables.

Topics to discuss in the context of presentations and round-tables during the meeting:

  • Overview of the historical path of development of the movement of dancehouses in Europe in the context of exemplary developments
  • Relationship between established municipal theatre structure and independent dance scene
  • Institutional critique and institutionalization of “alternative” models
  • Building up international production structures and networks in the context of the regional orientation of dancehouses

More and detailed information will be provided soon.