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Tanzkongress 2019
What do we need to gather around?

During the opening of the Tanzkongress in Hellerau near Dresden
During the opening of the Tanzkongress in Hellerau near Dresden | Photo: Klaus Gigga

Care, equity or empathy: What do we need to gather around? The Goethe-Institutes’ Tanzkongress in Dresden and the previous Tanz Salons connected dance with questions of encounter in new ways. Finnish choreographer Maija Hirvanen summarizes her personal impressions for "Goethe aktuell".

By Maija Hirvanen

We were hundreds of participants: Some of us knew each other, some not, some are a part of a Western dance canon of some type, some not. We were from different continents and generations. We were all invited to be free to propose, make our way.
 
It’s hard to define Tanzkongress 2019: A breaking point? A several days improve camp of thoughts and movements? An injection of chaos logic into the world of efficiency? A platform for being out of ones comfort zone? A substitute to the congress model of sitting on chairs all day long, sure? The layers of history from the modernist spectacles of early Hellerau to the Summerhill School tradition where students decide for their own time were present in the cracks of the walls.
“Table Time” with the participants of the international Salons in the Festspielhaus Hellerau “Table Time” with the participants of the international Salons in the Festspielhaus Hellerau | Photo: Klaus Gigga

In search for antidotes for too fast times

Many concerns of the artists in Helsinki were also in discussion at Hellerau few month later during the Tanzkonress: Care, equity, empathy, ecology. Our times are too fast and straining. Let’s keep asking for what and whom do we care for, though. Self care or caring for the closest - extended families, people similar enough - doesn’t guide our politics towards building more vivid societies. To me, an exiting practical utopia is based on expanding our empathic capacity towards people, beings, and environments not similar or familiar.
Workshop Workshop | Photo: Klaus Gigga

Sharing as a frame

When an open space is declared, it isn’t actually so free at all. It is more free to some than others, more open to those who know better how to navigate it. This goes to all big gatherings of people. Perhaps freedom and openness are not the way to make sense of Tanzkongress 2019. I’ll try Sharing, one of the frames given at the event’s opening. I find the concept of sharing crucial and complicated.
 
Moments of sharing in between sessions were meaningful, as much happens in informal parts of programs. Not understanding came up as an opportunity (missed or taken) to stop and listen. Cultural power operates through language. Many of us were slipping on different levels in our broken English. Broken language has potential, as an area where communication happens outside linguistic refinements. But translation, of not only words but whole cultural concepts, is equally important. The act of translating changes our relations. We should take the time for sharing and asking, in what way we want to share with others. The answers vary, but working with the question remain.
Group picture in front of the Festspielhaus Hellerau Group picture in front of the Festspielhaus Hellerau | Photo: Klaus Gigga

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