CriticalDance Forum

Duesseldorf Internationale Tanzmesse 2006
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:55 am ]
Post subject:  Duesseldorf Internationale Tanzmesse 2006

I've moved a couple of posts here:

annie wells posted:

Those with an interest can find a comprehensive guide to the Duesseldorf Internationale Tanzmesse at the following web address -

Its apparently jam-packed with interesting and exciting dance-happenings - performances from a wealth of international artists, workshops, open-studios, lectures and discussions. There's something suitable for everyone whether mildly interested or deeply empassioned.

I won't know where to start but intend to do my best to sample as much as I can!


Stuart Sweeney Posted: 14 Aug 2006 11:52 am


Sounds great, Annie: looks like you'll have an exciting time.

Author:  annie wells [ Thu Aug 17, 2006 5:28 am ]
Post subject:  Internationale Tanzmesse - NRW

Yesterday saw the official opening of the 6th International Tanzmesse which in a well-established manner now takes place in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen every two years {16th August}. Addresses from Anke Brunn, President of NRW GZT {Contemporary dance}, Hans-Heinrich Grosse-Brockhoff {State Secretary of Culture for NRW} and Hans-Georg Lohe {Head of Duesseldorf's Cultural Department} preceded opening performances from what the state officially considers to be two of the largest gems in a much be-jewelled dance crown - the Ballett der Deutschen Oper am Rhein and the Folkswang Tanzstudio. Each underlined, both on a personal and official level, their pride in and dedication to the continuing success of this fairly unique and ever-growing international dance conference. Not only does it seek to offer an all important platform upon which dance artists whether established or not can expose and indeed develop their work, but also to establish a central meeting point for anyone in anyway - amateur or professional - connected to dance. Artists, scholars, dance managers, writers, photographers, promoters and sponsors, whether livelihood dependant or simply curious - all are clearly, warmly welcome.

I must now hurry back as there is so much not to be missed. Watch this space for more on performances, showcases, lectures, discussions, exhibitors and exhibitions.

Author:  annie wells [ Fri Aug 18, 2006 1:01 am ]
Post subject:  Duesseldorf Internationale Tanzmesse - Jyrki Karttunen

:D :D :D :D :?

Author:  annie wells [ Fri Aug 18, 2006 6:23 am ]
Post subject:  17th August more from...

Alongside delegates the residents of Duesseldorf are clearly keen to get the absolute most possible out of the Tanzmesse. As far as I've witnessed performances in all the various venues have been simultaneously packed-out. Many of those who haven't gone through the pre-reservation process(for obvious reasons recommended) must stand in long queues for tickets. Though frustrating for those waiting, I think it is, paradoxically, a good sign to see so many enthusiastic spectators being turned away. I know that there are artists and companies in the contemporary dance context that do regularly sell out. But I think its the first time I've actually heard 'sold-out! No more seats!' being shouted for performances of relatively unknown artists - quite exciting! Perhaps logically, a showcase for the Compagnia Zappala Danza (Italy); Tanzcompagnie Giessen (Germany) and Cie Willi Dorner (Austria) on the Tanzhaus-NRW's smaller stage sold out first. But it was only a matter of seconds before the 6 remaining tickets for Jyrki Kartunnen's Human Imitations (Finland) in the large auditorium were also snapped up.

Amongst such a rich selection, I have been totally undecided about what to see. In such circumstances, I have been happy to let 'chance' guide me through. In this case it was Kartunnen's Human Imitations. Though I would love to find out what was going on in the next room (anyone?), in the moment of performance my eyes and thoughts remained pretty-much transfixed. I will explain further but in brief, it was FRESH, FUNNY, (in most part*) FAST-MOVING and brilliantly performed by a uniquely, quirky bunch of male dancers.

*My critique would be, in spite of the high praise I have for the work, 85 minutes (without interval) was as in almost all cases, simply too long. In my opinion, there were definately places were the work could favourably be cut. Would most agree that it is preferable to be left with not quite enough rather than too much of a good thing?

Author:  Karl Cronin [ Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:20 am ]
Post subject: 

Many thanks for these updates!

I personally opt for leaving the audience wanting more as opposed to overstaying my welcome. However, some of my colleagues argue that we are letting modern day concert-goers off to easy by catering to their short, TV-shrunk attention spans.

Author:  annie wells [ Mon Aug 21, 2006 3:28 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hmmm... I might be a bit guilty of having one of those at times. Yes and I do think that audiences should be prepared to take responsibility for their part in the performance contract. That is ready to do some work, some of the best art requires it! Interestingly 'Human Imitations' purposefully set out to explore the relationship between the performer and the spectator... However a spectator's thoughts and reactions to a work do not need to, nor in most cases will they be limited to the time in which that work is being performed. In this particular case, I felt that the choreographer might be shooting himself in the foot by slightly overworking some of his ideas, particularly towards the end. The spectator can be pretty unforgiving and the memory of ultimately getting bored and uncomfortable (even if a teensy little bit) can have a dulling effect on delight and satisfaction that has gone before.

So I think it would be a pity when, as in this case, there is so much delight and satisfaction to be had, if repeat audiences were to be put off by their last memory or potential audiences by comments along the lines of that 'the performance was good, but a little long and repetitive towards the end'. (That's a quote - I did a little mystery shopping afterwards.)

Author:  corrival [ Wed Aug 23, 2006 11:25 am ]
Post subject: 

Yes annie I agree. I think I have a fairly good attention span (not being of the MTV generation) and I still sometimes find a good performance somewhat hurt by being too long.

Author:  annie wells [ Thu Aug 24, 2006 7:35 am ]
Post subject:  Eiko & Koma - Death Poem

Thanks for responding Corrival.

Further to my last post I'd be interested to hear what other readers have to say about the spectator's role/responsibility in the performance contract of contemporary dance. What terms and conditions is/should he/she be agreeing to when buying a ticket to a performance and taking a seat in the auditorium? What on both sides of the equation should be expected or not expected, done or not done. Is there such a thing as a right or wrong reaction and what exactly do you think is acceptable or non-acceptable behaviour?

Are modern audiences completely within their rights or totally in the wrong to fuss, fidget, text, or even walk out when they are not 'getting', enjoying or being enthused by an artist's work? Should the onus be entirely on the performer or should the spectator be more respectful, self-disciplined, responsible, and, if necessary, prepared to work at finding an understanding for whatever they have 'agreed' to sit through? (Indeed should there be such a thing as necessity?)

Speaking in a general sense, have modern people really become so used to instant gratification that they can no longer be bothered to scratch beneath any thickness of surface? Or are the majority still prepared to pause before taking a position upon whether something is 'good' or 'bad'? That is to say, are they ready to consider artistic choices rather than simply react to them and therefore reach more substantial conclusions about a work’s possible merits and/or flaws? Or are instantaneous reactions all that should be heeded and all that dance performances should be about?

These may seem like obvious (or even naïve) enquiries that should have straightforward answers. But when I examine them more closely, particularly with reference to my own experience as a dance spectator, I would argue in fact they are not. While reasonably clear about what I believe to be the basic rules of engagement; I am less certain about the point at which either spectator or performer can consider these broken and therefore be free to take, whatever is felt to be, the appropriate, consequential action.

These questions came up a lot during the course and in the aftermath of the selection of performances I saw at the Tanzmesse. I think anyone present at Eiko and Koma’s performance of Death Poem on the large stage of Tanzhaus-NRW (18/06) will know in particular where I am coming from. I would say it pretty much divided the audience down the middle.

While some were transfixed by the raw and challenging nature of what the artists describe as their ‘meditation on dying’, others refused it to a degree and in a manner I don’t think I’ve ever experienced. Although there were no bold statements of outrage; protests were registered through fidgets, text messaging (girl next to me!?), and numerous clumsily executed exits. Goodness, I thought, where are these people’s guts? Surely if one is going to make a statement it would seem far more worthwhile if it was done with gusto! I don't think I'm opposed to walk-outs, but I did feel that these people made themselves look somewhat pathetic as they hopped and tripped, nervous and apologetic out of the auditorium.

Eiko and Koma must be used to provoking extreme reactions with work of this type. For a large part butoh-esque body paint was all that covered their smooth and delicate bodies as they performed their painfully slow, deeply intensive, body-racking movement sequences. This was the first time I had seen them so I was unable to tell whether the humble, subdued fashion in which they took their bow was characteristic; or if it was a reflection of the effect the unfavourable reaction from a significant proportion of the audience had had upon them.

Then something incredible happened. As if in counter-protest at what had gone on in the auditorium during the performance, the appreciative half of the audience united. In an action that I felt registered the fact that they like me had been blown away by the work, these people clapped hard, long and strong as if they were never going to stop. It was a moving and brilliant moment at which like the performance I am so grateful to have been present.

Author:  Karl Cronin [ Tue Aug 29, 2006 8:14 am ]
Post subject:  To leave or not to leave

You raised such great points that I had to wait until I had a bit of time to write down the thoughts it stirred up. The topic of the implicit contract between artist and audience member is a fascinating one, and the particular question of how a theatre-goer should behave when they are displeased is particularly interesting.

I believe we look to the artists in our communities to show us something about our world. In fact, we actively commit funds to that charter through commissions and the promise of ticket sales. We then commit ourselves to experience the produced work and provide feedback. We give positive feedback in the form of clapping, cheering, donations to the artists’ fundraiser, and good word of mouth to our friends and families. We give negative feedback by booing, writing a letter to the artistic director, deciding never to see one of their performances again, or in some cases leaving during the performance.

I feel the extent to which a person feels they must sit through an art experience that they are having a negative response to, has mainly to do with the individual’s understanding of and influence by the group-constructed definition of purpose in the performance space. The rules of the game are defined community by community, theatre by theatre, medium by medium, artist by artist. For instance, in a visual arts space, it is deemed acceptable to move from painting to painting, however it is extremely frowned upon to stand in someone’s direct line of vision.

Leaving during the final aria may be viewed as rude by opera aficionados, but departing is certainly not always intended as a gesture of negative commentary. Sometimes the reason for a person’s departure from a public space exists outside of their assessment of the performance’s merit. Perhaps they find the slow-development of Eiko & Koma’s treatment of death in Mourning personally upsetting, but beautifully and affectively so. Perhaps it makes them feel uncomfortable so they internally label Eiko & Koma bad artists and leave in a huff. No matter what the exit reason, I think most would agree that one should depart in a way that causes the least amount of disturbance to those who are staying. I believe that is more of a group psychology construct than theatre protocol.

The theatre, both on the stage and in the audience, is a microcosm of how we relate to one another in our communities and in the global community at large. There will be curmudgeons who grumble and grown at every uncomfortable moment or topic. There will be patient sorts who view confusion and dislike as an opportunity to grow and learn about themselves. I believe that by allowing space for variance in the ways individuals approach and engage with the performing arts ultimately respects the democratic nature of the social forum called theatre.

Thank you so much Annie for your Tanzmesse reports and for posing such interesting questions. I’m curious to hear what others have to say about this!

Author:  annie wells [ Mon Sep 18, 2006 9:11 am ]
Post subject: 

Fantastic response Karl. I have been extremelly busy but do intend to respond once I have fully digested and pondered your points.

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