We’re back y’all!

by Lily Kelting & Nina Branner, 7 Aug 2017

Last year we got sweat on and brought home confetti in our bras and are hoping this 29th Tanz im August is as intimate and impactful. We think it will be.

Everyone complained that 2016 was the worst year ever but how naïve that seems now. 2017 is a parade of bad news beamed straight from cell phones into my eyeballs. As Jia Tolentino wrote in the New Yorker at the close of last year, “I’m worried that the “worst year ever” feeling is half a condition of the Internet, of the way we experience the news as delivered through social media. There is no limit to the amount of misfortune a person can take in via the Internet, and there’s no easy way to properly calibrate it—no guidebook for how to expand your heart to accommodate these simultaneous scales of human experience; no way to train your heart to separate the banal from the profound.” Yes.

And how far away even December seems. At a performance of Turbulence (a dance about the economy), Keith Hennessy stood and shouted himself hoarse, incanting “watch dance more than news, watch dance more than news, watch dance more than news.” In 2015, it seemed irresponsible to suggest, art-world insular and self-congratulatory. Now it’s another voice in the chorus that it’s time to put our phones into airplane mode and move a little more slowly. And watch a little more dance.

So this August, that’s just what we’re going to do. Not that dance a form of escapism: the opposite. This year’s program is political—just non-illustrative, unexpected. A perfect example: Anne Collod recreates Anna Halprin’s experimental 1967 piece, Blank Placard Dance, where 30 volunteer performers march silently, holding blank placards, through the streets. The program is also truly and delightfully diverse. There are performances from across Africa commenting on post-coloniality. There are feminist performances which challenge the definition of feminism…and finally put an end to that tired line, “there are no women on our program because we couldn’t find any”. Well, producers, please come to Berlin this month and see for yourself.

There’s the world premiere of Arkadi Zaides’ multimedia solo performance TALOS, which deals with the EU’s newest technological initiative for prevention of illegal border crossings. There are talkbacks and Meeting of the Minds and Dance Circles (after all, one of the finest errands of a contemporary dance festival is to engage its participants in critical, curious discussion). There is also good plain FUN! (That’s next weekend, from Berlinerin Lea Moro).

Next year marks the big 3-0 for Tanz im August, but thanks to Virve Sutinen and team it’s no calm before the storm of the festival’s big anniversary. The storm before the storm blows its way through this August: dancing feet and limbs from far and wide,  performances in turn playful, provocative and profound. We’re here to help you navigate. Welcome aboard.

Lily and Nina
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We’re back y’all!
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The Bloggers

Lily Kelting Born 1986, Stage editor, Exberliner magazine. Works internationally as a freelance dramaturg, writer, and editor. She holds a Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of California, San Diego. Postdoc at the Freie Universität, Berlin. Originally from New York City, she lives in Berlin.

Nina Branner is a freelance cultural journalist from Denmark, based in Berlin. She has studied at the University of Copenhagen, Berlin University of the Arts and at Copenhagens Academy for Music, Dance and Performance with awarded choreographer Kasper Ravnhøj. She writes about theater, performance and music for publications like Weekendavisen and Gaffa. Writing for Exberliner since March 2016.