Janne Gregor's next II and CorresponDANCE
Contrasts and Similarities

One young person filming another whose jumping in the air, next to a lake Photo: Antje Jandrig

By Sóley Frostadottir - I met the choreographer Janne Gregor late last week, when I spontaneously joined the warm-up of her dance workshop CorresponDANCE. Janne‘s warm and inspiring presence made everyone present sink into their bodies, using both words and movement as we got to know each other. The diverse group of participants consisted of children, teenagers, a couple of dance teachers, a photographer and myself. After class, Janne sat down with me to talk about the idea behind the workshop and her work next...II (Mali/Iceland) which will be shown on Thursday at the Nordic House.

How did this project start?
My original plan of going to Mali to work with the choreographer Kettly Noël, was postponed due to the pandemic. I wanted to form a partnership between dancers from different countries.
In next...II, I wanted to focus the aim more, setting rules and tasks for the video letters. There were fewer letters, but more time to think in between. The whole working period was a duration of three months in both next...I and next...II.

Can you reflect on the concept of long distance and what its role is in next I & II?
These are two very different continents with great contrasts. One difference is the landscape, the climate and the surroundings. I wanted to work with the ground and soil; where snow and the desert make those differences visible. Interestingly, both participating dancers were dealing with similar topics both as persons and artists. For example, they are not born in the countries they live in. They moved there, work there and might feel that maybe it is not their home and that they might leave at some point. They both even speak French. There are big contrasts and big similarities.

I don‘t choreograph their movement but we talk and get ideas together. I focus the material and collect things, like a moderator - looking for contrasts and parallels.

Janne Gregor

The video format makes it possible to bring something far away closer together.
Yes, and people get to meet someone they probably wouldn‘t meet otherwise. When I think about what the work is about, the topic is really the exchange itself. I don‘t choreograph their movement but we talk and get ideas together. I focus the material and collect things, like a moderator - looking for contrasts and parallels.
© The Nordic House

A couple of themes seemed to be at the core of the workshop CorresponDance; a focus on identity and the capacity to state an opinion, amongst other things.
When I was growing up, I had a pen friend and some of the questions when meeting someone new were often what my name was, what I liked and what I was good at. I find it more empowering to start with something positive and fun to talk about.

Can you talk about the choice of the camera moving and being a part of the dialogue?
The spectator, the camera—is an observer, a listener. It is important that it is not passive but that we keep the exchange active.

Will there be a continuation to this project?
I think I might continue. I was very happy to be invited to do a second part. This workshop is quite new, and it can be adapted for a different range of people and ages. If you are forced to be at home because of a lockdown, or because you are shy or in a non-healthy body you can still find ways to communicate within this format. I‘m interested in an exhange between generations, and creating oppportunities for people to meet.

Portrait Janne Gregor © Martina Thalhofer Janne Gregor

Janne Gregor, born in Berlin, is a choreographer, performer and member of the steering group of a dance education center in Berlin. As previously happened with next… I, with next… II Janne Gregor and her team are continuing to connect artists from different continents, generations, and cultures via dance.

Janne Gregor is working on next... II (Mali/Iceland)


Sóley Frostadóttir © private Sóley Frostadottir

Sóley Frostadóttir, editor-in-chief Dunce Magazine and practicing choreographer, will be writing texts and creating sketches based on the workshops and conversations that spring from the question of “How we have always wanted to live” and this will become a concrete documentation of the Goethe Morph* Iceland project.

Sóley Frostadóttir contributes to morph* talks
More on Sóley Frostadóttir here