Encounter Canada 1 · Highlights · By Guy Cools

From November 28th till December 1st an EDN Encounter took place in Montreal, Canada bringing together EDN members with their peers from the CanDance Network. The occasion was the recent opening of the Wilder Space for Dance, an impressive seven stories renovation project in the center of Montreal that offers space to four of the major, local dance organizations, Agora de la Danse and Tangente, the Montreal school for contemporary dance and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.

The four day meeting discussed amongst other the differences and similarities between the European and Canadian dance organizations; the opportunities and challenges of the growing networks; the role of the (artistic) curator in the triangle artist, dance house and public and it ended with a first braimstorm how future co-operations between Europe and Canada can be developed.

I was asked to moderate the meeting and over the four days, I took note of some of the following statements or questions:

– One of the main questions that seems to occupy all the dance organizations is how to connect between the own artistic content and the larger social environment they are part of, both by creating a physical, open space and by developing specific programs to do so.

– One of the main objectives of the networks is to exchange knowledge between all the partners. By doing so the individual partners contribute to a growing, shared knowledge base and the network supports the development of the individual partners in their local context.

– As the contribution of Laurent Meheust from KLAP, Marseille highlighted, creation should be at the hearth of all our actions.

– As artists we need to defend our own artistic language against the dominance of the economic jargon and quantitative measurements. We should also defend the singularity of our artistic practices against the standarization imposed by the market. Montreal choreographer Melanie Demers’ contribution offered a thoughtful and provocative insight of how it feels as an artist to be part of a “food chain”.

– Artistic curators such as Andrew Tay from CCOV in Montreal or Àngels Margarit from Mercat de les Flors in Barcelona develop projects which “addresses lacks in their community”; which “want to destabilize existing hierarchies” or “create constellations of artists to share knowledge”.

– Audience development projects combine “cultural mediation”, “community outreach” and new models of “activte spectatorship” and as Carmen Mehnert from Hellerau, Dresden stated: “There are many, very different audiences out there!”.

At the end of the meeting, invitations were exchanged to continue the intercontinental dialogue and to make it available not only to the directors, but also to other staff members, independent curators and the artists.

Guy Cools
Dance Dramaturge
December 2017