The Relevance of Dance Atelier · Day 3 · By Lisa Reinheimer

The Relevance of Dance Atelier – EDN, Dansmakers Amsterdam 11-13 March 2016


After feeding ourselves for the last two days, we opened the day with a panel discussion led by Euripides. In the panel: Natasja van’t Westende (Dancing on the Edge), Mirjana Smolic (dramaturge, actress, coach), Alet Klarenbeek (communication specialist, initiator community projects), and Pia Krämer (O Espaço do Tempo, EDN). After an intense discussion, shaking it of with Andrew Greenwood’s presentation of Dance for Health. Dance improves the quality of life. As we also see, from a different angle in the film PS Dance!. About dance education in public schools in New York. Dance in the school’s curriculum improves the daily learning process of students and their development as individuals. Ending the Atelier with the invitation to Olot.

The last day of this pressure cooker brought things together. Concepts and theme’s that were touched upon the days before, became more concrete. But off course also raised new questions.

The artist as community worker = money

One of the questions raised was whether artists are making community projects because that’s where they find funding and whether the funding is now too orientated on community. Suzy Blok reflected on this by saying that makers should stay true to themselves and to their honest urgency to create. Some will coincide with community aims and some may not -it shouldn’t be a “must”. The basic question she often uses is the Triple Why-question.

The WHY question

Why do I want to make work?
Why do I want to make this work?
Why do I want to make it now?

In Tilburg they yearly organize a 5-day program called: The choreographer as change maker. Not only does this thought involve the why-questions, but also questions such as: what is my responsibility as a maker? How can I let an idea shift in my colleague’s or audience’s head? How do we start this dialogue and how can we maintain it?

We are not out of questions yet

The panel discussion brought other very urgent themes to the table.

Money, Authenticity, Politics, Organization, Responsibility, Dialogue, Urgency, Community, Sustainability

There is no question of choosing one form of dance above the other

– Dance is an organic part of our daily lives. We need to stand up against politic(ian)s to make clear why we, dance, are important.

– Art can be a Trojan horse, to address (reflection on) theme’s and force dialogue.

Money can be a spoiler for authenticity – Did community art/work overtook our funding systems?

– Nowadays dance as community art and autonomous art are co-existing.

Be involved in the world. Find new connections, where and what are the physical places to/for dance to make these new connections. High quality artists are able to do this.

– Artisic urgency comes before money. There needs to be space for experimentation.

– We need to keep on dialoguing.

– We can’t change the (economical) system at once, but we can try to translate our needs and importance into a dialogue and words the system understands, try to understand their ground.

– Artists should not feel endangered by political decisions based on funding social community-aimed projects vs. artistic aims. Both need to co-exist and be created departing from an honest urgency from the point of view of the artist.

Hot topics presented as hypes are not sustainable, nor do they commit audiences to dance = urgent themes are not worked out in a blink of an eye into (a) valuable work.

The politics of funding need to change. It can be good that funding parties address special themes, but to a limited extend.

To wrap it up with a CONCLUSION

Many questions have been posted during the Atelier. We could conclude that the questions have become stronger and also more concrete.

First of all, the question about “the relevance of dance” can be posed from several angles, like for WHOM?

– Seeing it from the angle of the dancer the question is clear, versatile and positive.

– From the choreographer as well – also speaking from the creative urgency of the maker to transmit and transfer skills and perspectives.

From the angle of the audience however, it’s still a challenge to answer the question because the “audience” is a large concept.

– Participation enlarges the experience and the kinesthetic empathy.

– Skills from creative practice and group behaviour (in this) are transferable to other domains and therefore relevant to incorporate in other situations.

It’s still a question of how much “participation”:

– As in participating in amateur classes doesn’t necessarily enhances audience in theatres.

But “participation” directly linked to performances seem to enhance the (live) experience. Audience is attracted to what they can connect to – in any way. The connection needs to be made in several ways: education, family, friends, etc.

Lisa Reinheimer
15 April 2016