Conference How to make dance relevant 5 · Analysis of best practices · By Quim Bigas

After a methodological research to look for best practices in Europe focused on relevance, a catalogue of 25 cases was created to be used as working tool in the framework of the EDN conference How to make dance relevant? Examples and practices, that took place in Olot (Spain) from 31 March to 3 April 2016.

The team contacted the responsibles of the 25 projects and asked them to provide the following information:

– Index card: title of the project, organisation/partners, city/country, years of operation, brief description and a question that the project responds to.
– Online information: website, video and other relevant links.
– Classification of the project following 4 items:

– Lead by: artists, institution, independent agent, other (to be specified)
– Beneficiaries: professional community, individuals (personal benefits), social groups (social benefits), other (to be pecified)
– Scope: local, local with international connections, international, other (to be specified)
– Location: at a particular place, itinerant, virtual, other (to be specified)

– A description of the project of maximum 1000 words taking into consideration the following questions: what, how, why and for whom. In other words: the aims, the context, contribution to the field, methodology/philosophy and other specific actions that best describe the project.

With the material, a working catalogue for the conference was created.

As part of the contents of the conference, and based on linguistic analysis and labeling methodologies, the artist Quim Bigas proposed a selection of key words and conceptual links among the different practices to co-create, with all participants, a global picture of the working catalogue. The working session aimed to be a trigger for the rest of the conference.

An edited version of the catalogue has been published afterwards. The proposal by Quim Bigas was based on the working catalogue and doesn’t correspond to the published and final version.

AIM AND METHODOLOGY OF THE SESSION

25 cases were included in a catalogue that might face, in one way or the other, the topic of relevance in dance. Then, 25 cases talks implicitly about their way of dealing with a certain urgency with dance as one of its main agents. 25 cases are talking implicitly about institutions, responsibility and relevancy in very distinctive ways. Despite all, perhaps it’s interesting to look at the commonality of those projects and less on the singularity of those.

Being invited by the European Dancehouse Network and independent agents Mònica Pérez and Steriani Tsintziloni, I attempted to lead a session that had as a main focus the analysis and the indexation of the information that each of the cases were given. By the use of quantitative methods, we might be able to talk about the relation between those projects and the current dance policies in Europe. The session was meant to exist through an accumulation of questions as well as pointing out how the representative aspects of those cases might be playing a crucial role in the way we activate in the European dance scene.  By seeing what those cases generate in common, maybe we can talk about habits, assumptions, values and vocabulary in the field of European dance.

During the process there has been 3 different actions that are attach to this documents: a classification of the projects by initiators, scope, beneficiaries and location, the creation of 4 or 5 different groups that includes 4 or 5 projects to be discussed on a specific topic and a list of the most frequent words use inside of the catalogue.

After that procedure, many questions arise and it is precisely by observing the data that further questions can take place. Perhaps, those questions can be answer by the way each project activates itself. The possibilities of finding answers in each singular project are endless. Nevertheless, they do emanate certain answers by the juxtaposition of them together and it’s precisely that perspective which could generate stimulating further discussions.

With the wish to trigger your curiosity and after all this months, here are some of the questions that are still resonating: Are we creating a bubble inside of artistic community? How do we talk about ourselves? When do we include ourselves in the discourse and when are we excluding ourselves? Is there a discourse inside of the European dance scene which is fully inclusive? How is the representative taking a role inside of some of the standards of the different projects? Are dancehouses meant to work with the notion of projects? Who is talking about whom? Is dance something to be defend or just an umbrella for policies to take place? Are those cases generating a sense of continuation which goes further than us? Which is the role of the institution when artists are deciding to take over their role? Which is the role of artists when institutions are deciding to take over their role?… The list of questions and thoughts can go to many different directions and formulated in contrasting ways. Genuinely speaking, I’m keen on each of us finding questions, concerns, assumptions, problematics or dreams on the European dance scene while watching at those documents. Of course, is an exercise in speculation but, what would happen if our dance scene it’s like that?

At the same time, the aim of sharing these documents is to be able to keep posting questions and reflecting on the way we are using narratives which are affecting the structures of work and the way we activate inside of the European dance scene. Perhaps other projects would generate a different discourse but, what if that’s it?

INDEXATION AND POSSIBLE QUESTIONS

6 groups of projects was proposed together with a list of questions to trigger the discussion. Each group was proposed to read the cases and to

– Decide 5 words that could describe the 6 topics
– Write 3 questions that relevant to address regarding these cases
– Add an extra project that is not in the catalogue and that might be relevant to know

Afterwards, a dynamic for the common discussion was proposed.

1. VIRTUAL

Cases involved:

– From Stage to Page
– Be SpectACTive!
– Eines del Dan Dan Dansa/CaixaEscena
– DRAFF
– Planet Dance
– Re:Rosas! The Fabuleus Rosas Remix Project

Possible questions to have in mind:

How the virtual work takes place? Who is addressed to? How is the action documented? How it becomes another work or another input than the work itself? Is there any example that deals with the complexities of documentation and the legitimization of the art works? In case there is, which are the similarities? Would you be able to distinguish between the virtual projects and the sites of other projects that are not virtual as such?  How are those cases contributing to give access to dance as well as generating an information platform which is inclusive?

2. PURELY LEAD BY INSTITUTIONS/PURELY LEAD BY ARTISTS

Cases involved Lead by artists:

– R.I.C.E.
– Tipperary Dance Residency  & Tipperary Dance Platform
– The Performance Shop

Cases involved Lead by Institutions:

– CAMPING
– Act your Age
– Take-off: Junger Tanz
– MOV-S Chile. Importancia de la Sociedad Civil Organizada y su Incidencia en la Política Pública

Possible questions to have in mind:

What’s the role of economy in those projects? Are there any differences? Which are the similarities? Which is the role of the institution when artist decide to take over all the roles? Are there any specific reasons behind artist or institutions starting a project? Is it possible to have a dance project inside of an institution without artist? Are there any commonalities between all those projects? Which action would put all of those cases together?

3. LOCAL VS INTERNATIONAL

Cases involved Local:

– En Residència. Creadors als instituts de Barcelona
– Skytali
– Floor on Fire
– Gala

Cases involved International:

– Re:Rosas! The Fabuleus Rosas Remix Project
– Dancing Museums
– Love-ism

Possible questions to have in mind:

How do we differentiate between local and international projects? How do they contribute to the artistic tissue? Is it possible to measure their impact? How? What would be a good way to evaluate those projects? How do these projects answer the question of sustainability in the arts field?  How do we define the local scope? And the International?

4. FOR PROFESSIONAL COMMUNITY

Cases involved:

– CAMPING
– Festival Deltebre Dansa
– Green Park Cultural Occupation
– Skytali
– Moving Futures Network & Moving Futures Festival
– MOV-S Chile. Importancia de la Sociedad Civil Organizada y su Incidencia en la Política Pública
– Maska, insitute for publishing, art and education

Possible questions to have in mind:

How can we talk about “taking care” of the professional community by those examples? What do they have in common? Which are the concerns that you can abstract from those examples? Who has access to those projects? Is there any difference regarding inclusion? Is there any of those projects dealing with the hermetism of the dance field in relation to a more broad sense of community? Which is the main focus of those projects?  How can we define the professional community by these cases?

5. SOCIAL GROUPS AT A PARTICULAR PLACE

Cases involved:

– Dance for Health
– Festival Deltebre Dansa
– Green Park Cultural Occupation
– Tipperary Dance Residency & Tipperary Dance Platform
– Love-ism
– The Performance Shop
– Gala

Possible questions to have in mind:

What does it mean to work with Social Groups? How is the place sustained? Is the place becoming by the implication of the social groups or are the social groups being changed by their implication into the space?  How relevant are the inclusion of social groups into those projects? How relevant are the projects for the social groups? Could it be possible to define the characteristics of projects at a particular place for social groups by just taking these examples?

6. EDUCATION

Cases involved:

– Maska, institute for publishing, art and education
– Eines del Dan Dan Dansa/CaixaEscena
– Sadler’s Wells Summer University
– Skytali
– R.I.C.E.
– Planet Dance
– Dance for Health

Possible questions to have in mind:

Which is the most common procedure among these cases around education and knowledge? How education is taking place? If we would give a definition of the educational procedures through these examples, what would it be? Which is the place offer to the witness of these educational contexts? And the hierarchy?

FREQUENCY OF WORDS IN THE CATALOGUE

1476 times: the
980 times: and
767 times: of
319 times: dance
133 times: artists
112 times: their
97 times: project
90 times: work
79-70 times: audience, we, performance, they
69-60 times: people, artistic, art
59-50 times: festival
49-40 times: contemporary, artist, workshops, performances, research
39-30 times: choreographers, school, local, process, open, development, cultural, context, professional, group, audiences, international, public, well, place, our, stage, schools, programme, experience, creation
29-20 times: together, them, social, program, own, develop, body, participants, movement, residency, how, actions, works, performing, working, theatre, education, community, young, world, space, production, I, resources, practices, practice, city, time, partners, field, educational, dialogue, active, teachers, students
19-10 times: life, choreography, sector, platform, partner, exchange, culture
9-1 times: relevant