Training the Future: Context, Difference and Awareness in Dance Education

The second edition of the Artist in Residency programme Training the Future: Context, Difference and Awareness in Dance Education will run from 2 to 6 September 2019. Students and teachers of the Expanded Contemporary Dance, Modern Theatre Dance and Urban Contemporary study programmes will take part in this event organised by Angela Linsen, Bojana Bauer and Gerleen Balstra and co-curated by Bauer and Linsen. A limited number of spaces will also be available to students from other ATD study programmes who will participate in the open afternoon and evening programme of discussions and performances. 

During this second AIR session we will focus on the matter of agency. To what extent is dancing about agency? And what can we learn about agency in general through dance?

The approach will be threefold. 

First, we will approach the notion of agency as a subjective sense of self that is intimately related to the experience of movement and action. How does a sense of self emerge through the distinct but interrelated experiences of initiation, control, authorship or ownership of one's movements and actions? If these aspects of embodied subjectivity are integral to the developmental process of everyone from very early childhood, in some dance practices and somatic techniques particular attention is given to them. We’ll try and understand why and to what effect. Does bringing focus on the operation of the dancer’s attention, perception, sensation or affects – focus that is practiced in somatic techniques – contribute to shaping dancer’s agency? Does it increase the dancer’s potential to act freely and autonomously ?  And if it does, how is this achieved, and what personal, subjective and relational processes are at stake? What kind of personal agency are we talking about? And how does this agency play out in dance and choreographic work? 

The second approach, directly stemming from this first series of questions, is angled on the dancer’s status and role in today’s professional field. Nowadays, ‘open’, or ‘expanded’, dance practice is rich, diverse and bewilderingly demanding. The list of possibilities open to dancers – and of expectations and demands placed upon them – is very long: they may need to knowing many dance styles and physical techniques; cross from one artistic and cultural world to another; be able to also sing, speak and perform in interdisciplinary works in various settings – from staged spaces to museums to site-specific performances. How can a dancer find personal and artistic agency in an environment that can easily subject them to neo-liberal workforce conditions? Must they be flexible, multi-tasking, adaptable to anything and everything, and... exhausted? Where is the positive potential for developing personhood and community? How does one find an artistic voice and make choices? What are the consequences of the choices we make and how do we deal with their consequences? How does a dancer find or choose work? How do they construct a sense of agency in an artistic process? How do they enter and relate to the different choreographic idioms of artists they work with?

Last but not least we will look at agency as a socio-political concept that applies to individual as much as to collective subjects and defines their capacity to act autonomously and freely in relation to social and political structures. In this context many dance forms can be understood to offer an opportunity to gain and shape the agency of its practitioners in relation to historical determination, assigned positions and identities, structures of oppression, and domination. How do dance communities and collective agency emerge together? How can the potential for emancipation be constructed through dance? How is the relation negotiated between such dance practices and the institutional and economic appropriation? 

Over the course of the week, the participants will unpack these questions through a rich programme of workshops, discussions and performances. 

We are delighted to announce that our guests, fellow artists and thinkers will be:

Bertha Bermudez, Benji Hart, and Romain Bigé & Antonija Livingstone 

They will lead week-long workshops and share their artistic practice and research with us. In a variety of ways, we’ll gain insights and open new perspectives on our question of the week. 

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Performance as Protest / Protest as Performance
by Benji Hart

Benji Hart is an author, artist, and educator from Amherst, MA, living in Chicago. The writer behind the blog Radical Faggot, their commentary has been published at Teen Vogue, The Advocate, The Chicago Reader, and others. Their solo performance piece Dancer As Insurgent, which explores voguing as a practice of Black queer resistance, was featured at CA2M (Madrid), and the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum (Chicago). Their current project, World After This One, examining the myriad ways Black art forms rely on the materials of the present to construct liberated futures, premiered at BRIC (New York), and is still in progress.They have held residencies with the Rauschenberg Foundation, the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, and are the recipient of the 3Arts Award in the Teaching Arts.

Vandalism [ répertoire & exploration ]
by Romain Bigé & Antonija Livingstone 

Romain Bigé, PhD, digs, writes about, curates, and improvises dance and philosophy. Lives and teaches nomadically in and out of Paris, Europe.Fell in dance in North America with Steve Paxton, Lisa Nelson, Nancy Stark Smith, Matthieu Gaudeau, and many others. And investigates the somatopolitical potentials of dance for mobilizing sensitivities to other critters. 

Antonija Livingstone ( CA/DE)
Operates at the intersection of performance & plastic arts practice. Graced by a self-directed non- institutional education with choreography and performance studies, her outlook is informed by her family of geologists living in nomadic gold mining camps in the Yukon. Kinship with the elements. Exploration. Affection for the makeshift. Formerly, as a dancer choreographer working most extensively with Meg Stuart / Damaged Goods as well as in a variety of projects with Benoit Lachambre: Recently, as an Associate Artist at Ménagerie de Verre, Paris and Darling Foundry Montreal 2018; curating, coaching, creating new sculptural works. Her body of work includes a decade devoted to creating, producing and touring a series of co-authored feminist performance installations including : Culture Administration & Trembling with Jennifer Lacey, Stephen Thompson, Dominique Petrin, Supernatural with Simone Aughterlony and Hahn Rowe, les études ( hérésies 1-7) with Nadia Lauro and CHAUD collection 20 with Mich Cota. She coaches performance practice and facilitates workshops at École Supérieur Nationale de Paysage, Versailles, EXERCE CCN Montpellier, MDV, Paris, DOCH, SE Impulstanz,AT Movement Research, NYC, PACAP Forum Danca PT, HZT Berlin, Lovein and other hives. 

Public Programme: 

We are not moving, we are being moved
HALf6 moderated by Bojana Bauer with Romain Bigé and Antonija Livingstone 
September 3 & 4 - 17.30 Central Hall ATD

What can dance do to limit environmental catastrophe? Everything. During our Half 6 conversation with Romain Bigé and Antonija Livingstone, we will take this bold idea seriously. Beware, we won’t be commenting dance pieces that are about ecology, and we won’t be discussing how to lower the carbon foot-print of dance industry. Instead we will try and find out how dance practices can help us redefine the very idea of what is « human » and its relation to other earthlings. We’ll consider dance as a precious space of experimentation in which we can try and disturb anthropocentric ideas of personal and collective agency. We’ll procede by asking a couple of simple and at the same time difficult questions: Who is moving? Am I moving, or am I being moved? Through different answers to these questions, we’ll try and embrace a multi-focal and multi-agent perspective of ourselves and of the world. In other words, through dance we will try and reach a shift in thought that makes the survival of our world imaginable. 

Dancer As Insurgent - A Performance by Benji Hart 
September 5 - 19.30 Theaterzaal ATD

Dancer As Insurgent explores the dance form of vogue as a tool for radical social transformation. Through improvised movement and original spoken word, the piece traces the form’s roots back to its inception in Riker’s Island prison, grounding it in a history of queer struggle, and insisting that vogue is not only a source of individual empowerment, but a portal for revolutionary social and political reimaginings.