AW: December Meeting

Hi dears,
finally i can answer to all of you, from march on I get suddenly involved in different projects and I didn’t have so much time left! But I continously thought about the Medencounter and how to develop it.
First to Rui: I confirm you to be able to come in December.
Good to invite a dramaturg and a philosopher, to spend the morning with themes but also for feedbacks in general. I just don’t understand if you Rui already have some specific persons to invite or if you are asking to us who we would like to invite. I have the same questions concerning the others participants.

So, let’s work to arrive to the next meeting with a clear starting point or projects.
Since we don’t have so much days to work there, I would think to avoid morning presentation of our work, we can spend this during late evening or at night. Anyway, as we said in february, I feel necessary to have a space/room organized with dvd player, pc, table, books, stereo, etc… , a space where we can share ideas at any time of the day. I would be excited
to create a “group performance/project” where each one of us can insert his own ideas/body but I can see this difficult for many reasons. Maybe I’m wrong, unless we find a clever idea.
If we work in groups, I think the best is that we decide with who to work, also indipendently from the groups we had in february. But I also consider that maybe we want to continue some ideas that rized up in february.

Actually, I would like to continue to work with Karima, maybe touching the same ideas we had find out but also differently. It was a pitty that we didn’t have time to discuss our research with all of you guys/girls (and I think it wasn’t so clear in the last presentation!). If others participants are invited, It will be nice to open the “small groups” to themes, maybe during the afternoon, announcing the themathics of the workshop in advance and saying what the we are going to research.
Let’s propose themathics and way of work in those months before december, it will be useful also for all of us, if somebody wants to change and join another group.
This is my propositions, what do you think?

Hope to hear from you soon guys & girls
Greetings from Andrea (Fagarazzi)

P.S.If you are interested, I will send you few words concerning the work that we have (Karima, Noora and me) developed in February.


AW: Meeting in December

Hello Everybody,

I'm glad that I will be seeing you and will have the chance to work with you once again. Greetings from İstanbul.
The working process to me can be with groups again or couples. The idea of working together with the whole group is also exciting but it may be inefficient since we're many but we can practice that each one of us choreographs one day from morning till evening and makes a piece at the end of the day like in a choreography workshop.
Also the idea of inviting a dramaturge and a philosopher is great . I know the importance of getting suggestions from a dramaturg in a choreography process if we're heading forward for creating a piece altogether. Actually this is a question or maybe we'll find out about it in Girona.

Morning talks with the philosopher would be good or maybe just after lunch like this we can have the time to digest. Knowing Girona L'Animal this fantastic place! to go to lunch takes time either by car or a long walk through the woods. It can be good to cook there some of the days.

If we decide working in couples I'd like to work with Masu. I guess the agenda will proceed after everybodies say.

Have a nice rest of the summer,

P.S: By the way I have met Carlos in istanbul. Never worked with him but saw the solo he did on a friend and I liked it only that it felt a little long towards the end.


Meeting in December

Dear all,
Greetings from Barcelona.
I hope you're all doing very well.
Here, everything is going well, there are happening some changes (good and bad ones) inside our organization, and we’re going through a “reinvention” process. Will let you know in December.
As you all know we’re having our next encounter on December 10th until 16th in L’Animal a L’Esquena, Celrá Girona. I got a confirmation from most all of you for these dates, but there are still some people’s confirmations missing... That’s the case of Andrea (Fagarazzi), Karima, Noora, Florent ... please confirm us your availability for our next encounter in December. We need to know it... time is running. Thank you!
Concerning our encounter in December, we would like each one of you to tell us how would you like the next encounter to be (activities, etc.) because we want you to be the ones who decide how this next encounter will be... so please tell us:

We would like that these encounters turn into a rich research, experimentation and exchange space for all of you...
What kind of activities you would like to develop during the encounter?
Does it make sense to you the working groups?
If yes, would you like to keep working with the same people you worked in February? If not, how you think we should be organized ?
We’re thinking on inviting new people (participants) and two persons (dramaturge, philosophers, artists, etc) to accompany and give feedback to the artistic work/research the group (our groups) will develop during this project. Do you have some suggestions of people that you would like to work in this context?
Or you think this doesn’t make sense?

I’m looking forward to hear from you... .
Your contributions will be very important.
So please tell us about your thoughts in order to make of them what will be our next encounter...

Warmest regards,



DBM MEDITERRANEAN DANCE MEETING in Beirut, Lebanon | from 9 till 11 November 2007

Organized by DBM, in collaboration with Maqamat Theatre Dance, with the support of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures (ALF).


» Conference “Opportunities for the development of Contemporary Dance in the Middle East and its artistic, social and civic implications”;

» Conference about the Mediterranean Dance Map project by DBM, in the presence of collaborating researchers and dance critics from the Mediterranean Region;

» Contemporary dance workshops;

» Artists’ Residencies;

» Dance Platform of Contemporary Dance from the Middle East.

Programme coming soon… please check the DBM - Mediterranean Dance Network Website


DANCE IN GREECE TODAY by Megas Mentie & Tsintziloni Steriani

At first glance, dance in Greece seems to be thriving. There are several festivals that are well received by the public and host a wide range of performances by Greek companies, a fair number of which receive state funding and produce at least one performance per year. Participating in these performances are energetic and talented young Greek dancers, who do very well in foreign companies and teach in the everincreasing number of dance studios in the centre of Athens. At the same time, dance schools for amateurs are very popular and growing in number. A closer look, however, reveals that all the above are hanging from a thin thread, and this thread is the love and zeal shown by the dance community for their art. Most festivals spend the whole year agonizing about whether their next event is going to be funded; choreographers are forced to make tremendous compromises in relation to their work and dancers still work for a pittance, putting at risk their health and artistic integrity. And although, in practice, as shown above, dance seems to be surviving, on a theoretical level, its birth has yet to take place. It has made a timid entry into university studies, but there is still
no university department in Greece that can offer a degree in dance or a dance-related theoretical subject. On the other hand, the public has the opportunity to see a substantial number of performances, some good, some mediocre, some of low quality and interest. After the Olympic Games, Athens 2004, which were for various reasons a reference point for dance in Greece, we are, it seems, at a crucial turning point.
The artistic scene in Greece at the moment is complex and the abundance of its expressions and manifestations makes it difficult to give a detailed picture here. If we consider the 20th century to have been a century of borrowing, the challenge for the new century would be not to tag along behind but to develop a dynamic and original dance scene that would evolve in parallel to that of the rest of the world and especially Europe. Of course, this has been an aim for Greek art throughout its modern history, but today’s globalised cultural landscape renders it even more urgent. Reaching the end of the first decade of the millennium, it is difficult to give a thorough and constructive account of Greece’s contemporary dance status since there are two prevailing views: the nihilistic view that unfairly disregards any steps forward that have, undoubtedly, been made; and the romantically patriotic view that the dance scene has
veritably thrived over the past few years, as a result of the impressive process of rebirth that it has undergone. This last view is encountered mainly in retrospective texts read on the occasion of big cultural events, but it does not attempt a deeper analysis and does not employ criteria of comparison with the developments of dance worldwide.
The first view on the other hand, the nihilistic one, both rigid and unconstructive, derives from a pessimistic notion of Greece as an eternally inferior country as far as modern culture is concerned. Whether or not this last decade has been a period of prosperity, it remains an undeniable fact that any references apply almost exclusively to the capital, Athens, with Salonika (Greece’s second largest city) following as a dignified but limited contributor. This is wholly due to the failure of the state to create circumstances and incentives for decentralisation in dance; it is over-centralisation that has made dance initiatives from the rest of the country weak or non-existent. It should be said, though, that the same situation is true for virtually any cultural expression in Greece; decentralisation is a goal that the state needs to address urgently.

If dance for the stage in Greece has a limited history, the way this history has been recorded and analysed is even more limited. During the first three quarters of the 20th century, there were five or six important figures whose actions, ideas and research played a determining role in today’s dance scene. This short list of names contains the founder of the State School of Dance Koula Pratsika, the founder of the first prestigious dance company in Greece, Rallou Manou, the famous choreographer Zouzou Nikoloudi and others. Very often this generation of choreographers and teachers is referred to with a slightly exaggerated awe that is partly due to the strong respect felt for their persons by the newer generations and partly a symptom of political correctness. At the same time, though, we come across the other extreme, people who judge them very harshly, with a steadfast intention to demerit them. This last tendency, however, does not take into consideration the special circumstances of the Greek situation. It does not seek out the reasons for the country's artistic conservatism in its social and political
structures, but attributes it to the specific artist’s incompetence or lack of dance education. The weakness of critical speech in general is felt very strongly in the dance world and results in a situation where most criticism has a personal tone and the value of anything and everything varies according to personal opinion. An indicative piece of information regarding the level of critical speech for dance is that up until the 90s reviews for dance performances were written by the musical editors in newspapers and magazines; this also points to the very close relationship dance has always had withmusic in Greece, a relationship mostly of dependency.
Given the difficulty of analysing the early and mid 20th century dance scene, the evaluation of what is called ‘the flourishing of dance’ that has taken place in the more recent history also proves problematic. The limited critical texts that exist are flawed by fundamentalism and have left choreographers and audiences at the mercy of narrowly subjective and superficial evaluation. This has made it difficult to spot promising and subversive choreographic propositions, when they were still in their infancy and to then financially and otherwise support their further artistic development. Also, it has led to – what I would call – an automated process that favours conservative and "safe" choreographic propositions; those that please big institutions and lure big audiences.
Let us not forget the claim that every development in the history of modern art was accompanied by an analogous development in theoretical reflection and writing. If this is correct, then we could, with a certain anachronistic optimism, assume that during the last twenty years there have been performances or choreographers that have had a seed of originality, but which, were unfortunately not appreciated or given the chance to reach fruition, owing to the absence of a theoretical framework for their creation.

For the year 2005-2006 the Ministry of Culture, the State institution responsible for dance funding, distributed the amount of 519.500 Euros to 31 dance companies. The highest subsidy amounted to 32.000 and was given to Mr.Papaioannou, the director of the opening and closing ceremonies for the Athens Olympic Games, and the second largest amount of 27 thousand went to two companies. From then on comes a list of about 24 companies that got between 15 and 21 thousand Euros and finally three small new companies that got 7.500 Euros. Apart from these private dance groups, there is the ballet company of the National Opera in Athens that has recently begun a process of radical reform, attempting to experiment with modern repertoire and give the opportunity to young choreographers to create dance pieces for the company. The
dance company of The National Theatre of Northern Greece also underwent a similar process a few years ago and made a big opening towards contemporary dance, but unfortunately, the lack of a specific policy left it exposed to administrative changes and commercial demands. The third company that is linked to a state institution is the Hellenic Dance Company, which resides at the State School of Dance in Athens. This group has been working on an experimental level for the last few years, but was only recently given official recognition, along the principles of well known companies for young dancers belonging to big European contemporary dance schools.
Attempting to pinpoint the most characteristic trait of the recent dance scene in Greece, I single out the impressive growth in the number of dance companies and the persistent lack of dance institutions, resulting in a greater number of small budget performances. This difficult situation arises from the lack of a specific cultural policy on the part of recent governments. With regard to dance, this has resulted in the difficulty of planning ahead, the misuse of what can only be described as the meagre funding set aside for dance, the problematic area of dance education and the very limited presence of Greek dance abroad.
During the first years of the new millennium, the dance world went through a phase of stagnation, as far as political will was concerned, owing to the concentration of interest, and of course funding, on the forthcoming Olympic Games, Athens 2004. The current Minister of Culture, has so far shown willingness to create an institutional base and allot responsibility to those closely involved, especially through the setting up of advisory committees. It seems that the Minister’s policy is to allow the dance field to selfregulate, both as far as managing its capital and mapping out its policy are concerned.
Last year, the Ministry of Culture announced the founding of a National Centre for Theatre and Dance, which will operate along the lines of two existing centres (for Book and Film). The bill for this centre was passed by Parliament in mid May, after a long period of negotiation and stalling. A great deal of hope has been invested in this institution, which will hopefully give the dance world the space to breathe that it has been denied for so long. Its aim is to put dance (and theatre) issues into order, and end the random and fragmentary moves that have up to now characterised the development of these two arts in Greece. It also aspires to play an important role in the planning and application of a national policy for dance and the theatre. The Centre’s domain of responsibility will span theoretical research, multimedia records of all dance related events, the appointment of committees in charge of distributing the subsidies
to dance companies and the promotion of Greek productions abroad. It will also support research into theatrical and dance forms, ranging from traditional and folk culture to that of the avant-garde, experimental and all contemporary creation. On the whole the artistic community of Greece awaits this new institution with eager expectation.
The Ministry of Culture has also announced another initiative concerning an ‘Academy of Arts’ – it may come as a surprise to some that Greece still does not have one. It had been announced that such an academy, which would specialise in music, theatre, dance and film, would open its doors to students in the autumn of 2008, after a test period of one year, but that was not the case. We can only hope that the bill will be passed by the Greek parliament soon, and that its test period will start this autumn. An academy seems to be necessary in that it will fill an enormous gap in the field of dance education, but – and this is its biggest drawback - it will not offer the equivalent of a university degree course.
Another move that is awaited with expectation by the Greek dance world is the designation of a theatre specialised in hosting dance performances. A few months ago, the ministry of culture announced it would allocate the celebrated Embros theatre in Athens, for this purpose, which is a step in the right direction but by no means an adequate one. At present, there is no theatre in Greece that is fully devoted to and equipped for dance performances that can offer opportunities to young people with no funding to make their first attempt at choreography.

The Greek dance scene, and every country’s dance scene for that matter, has certai distinguishing features that have to be taken into consideration in any attempt to make a historical analysis. For example, even though it has an extremely rich and diverse tradition of folk dance, Greece does not have a tradition in stage dance in the form that it started to appear in Europe during the reign of Louis XIV in France. Another distinguishing feature to consider is the great cultural heritage of the nation's ancient history, the Byzantine age and the folk culture of the last centuries. Modern Greek artists have responded to this historical weight in a variety of ways: some with apprehension, some with mimetic worship and others with a phobic denial or rejection.
The notion of ‘Greekness’ became a serious issue in all the arts during the first decades of the 20th century, and especially for the literary movement known as ‘the generation of the 30s’. The debate generated strongly influenced dance and prompted it to seek interesting collaborations with artists in other fields of art. At the same time though, dance was drawn away from the directions it was taking worldwide towards abstraction and radical, non-narrative forms. To quote two of the dance critic's, Natasha Hasioti’s,expressions, ‘pompous Greekness’ and the ‘quaint regionality’ that this search for ‘Greekness’ sometimes resulted in, still plague Greek dance today and keep it a captive of out-of-date and retrogressive ideas. Today, when the reflection on issues of tradition and history has been enriched with new parameters and subtle nuances, coming from the fields of anthropology, sociology and psychology, the notion of ‘Greekness’ could perhaps come to signify a fresh approach to dance, evolving into a contemporary aesthetic, far from stereotypes and introvert nationalistic ideas.
If contemporary dance worldwide is starting to bring back forms and approaches that 20th century modernism had exiled from art, then in our country it feels more like continuing along a well-known pathway than a return to something long-forgotten. I say ‘continuing’, because Greek dance did not experience the violent rupture induced by modernism, which has altered the standing of the contemporary artist, has shifted his point of view and enriched it with unforeseen parameters. We can safely say that Greek dance (with of course a few exceptions), never really gave up the narrative form, never really embraced abstraction to the extent that we could discuss a radical exploration of form and movement. Given however, the circular movement that characterises the evolution of the arts, during the last few years Greece’s orbit seems to have synchronised itself with that of Europe, so that as far as aesthetics and influences are concerned, our cultural fields seem to be in fertile communication with each other.
Influences from the European scene in general and especially the German dance theatre, and more recently the Flemish school, are easily observable in the work of many Greek dance companies. In many cases however, the lack of theoretical grounding and stimuli combined with the difficult conditions under which they were created still leave their mark, especially as far as content and dramaturgy are concerned.
For many reasons, including low budgets, many recent performances have been solo pieces or duets performed in highly visual and usually ultra modern spaces. According to dance critic Climentini Vounelaki, the ‘installation’ aesthetic has attracted many Greek choreographers during the last years. As it is a form that makes the human body the focal point, providing it with a surrounding that lends it meaning, one could say that it is less demanding as far as dramaturgical processing is concerned. This leads Mrs. Vounelaki to discern a ‘mood of isolation’, along with ‘a preference for form at the expense of meaning’. The paradox is that although the body is put under the spotlight, a ‘decline of the senses seems to be permeating and de-energising the dance scene, and leading it to a dead-end of ‘aesthetisism’’.
Over the last few months a small number of young people who have done theoretical studies in dance abroad have undertaken a significant initiative in collaboration with certain choreographers and the Isadora Duncan Dance Centre in Athens, to bring forth the role of dramaturgy in the contemporary creative process. Through seminars and a formal meeting on this subject, all interested parties had the opportunity to come into contact with some of the most influential practitioners in the field of dramaturgy in Europe.

During the ‘80s, the mediocre quality of dance performances in Greece was attributed mainly to the dancers' technical and interpretational weaknesses. However, this is not the case today; indeed one could claim almost the opposite. On the whole, Greek dancers today undergo rigorous training, which equips them with a high level of technical and expressive ability. Many, having completed their main training in Greece, go abroad for post-graduate studies or to start their career. Over the last few years, many Greek dancers have joined prestigious foreign dance groups in Europe and America, working for choreographers like William Forsythe, Wim Vanderkeybus, Jan Fabre and Pina Bausch, to mention only a few, and thus creating important links of communication between Greece and many other countries. As the big companies, both abroad and in Greece, grow older, many dancers strike out on their own, to create their own groups from the position of choreographer. Their long experience is thus channelled into their own performances usually in the form of a rich movement vocabulary, wide-ranging in historical references and new influences.
During the 90s, and as the number of dance companies and performances grew dramatically, the lack of male dancers made itself felt. Coinciding with this lack, the wave of refugees from Albania reached a peak and also left its mark on the Greek dance scene. A substantial number of male dancers, who had studied in the State Academy of Dance in Albania, appeared on the scene, giving dance a small but, at that time, very much needed impetus for the next few years. Today, the situation seems to be changing fast as the number of male dancers is continually increasing and the age at which they begin dance is decreasing. Two phenomena are quite indicative of these changes: firstly the definite rise in the number of applications made by young boys for professional dance schools, and secondly a substantial inflow of men into dance from other areas of artistic expression, like the theatre.
I would like to say here that the gender issues arising in connection with dance in Greece are of great interest, as it is country with a strong patriarchal tradition within the family and other social structures. The feminist movement, although it existed and, in some instances, was quite active, did not manage to make a significant mark on the history of the 20th century, or provide a point of reference for arts and culture in general. This is a very complex question, which cannot be sufficiently addressed here.
The truth is that everyday life is difficult for the Greek dancer, both male and female.
The majority of dancers are very poorly paid; they work without insurance and have no financial support between projects. In order to survive in their field, they are obliged to have two or three jobs simultaneously, and make their daily programme as if it were a puzzle that needed to be solved in order to incorporate rehearsals, teaching, performances and (if they are lucky) a class for maintaining their own fitness. It is obvious that this life style has repercussions on their performance and often takes away the joy and contentment of creation. At the moment, there are about seven or eight dance companies that pay their dancers respectable wages, in most cases thanks more to the institutions or production companies with which they collaborate, than the state subsidies themselves. But generally, the contribution of dancers to the development of dance has not been adequately acknowledged in Greece, even though their role is continually upgraded in contemporary choreographic processes.
The situation for Greek choreographers is not much easier. In 1999, choreographers organised their first union, mainly with a view to pressurising the state into satisfying some of their demands, rather than functioning as a labour union. Today, it has seventy-five members and has successfully secured government funding for the ‘month of dance’, a festival presented later on in this text. Dance companies generally consist only of the choreographer and his or her dancers and are seldom organised in a manner that would free the choreographer from managerial work. This means that many choreographers have to do literally everything within the production of their piece, resulting in the first compromises in the quality of their work. In most cases, therefore choreographers are in the difficult position of not being able to offer what they would like to their dancers and collaborators, but are obliged to proceed with the
production of their piece, since their only other alternative is not to work at all. The adhoc nature of relations within the field of dance is reinforced by the fact that it is difficult for choreographers to organise auditions, since no funding is available for this, so in most cases they choose their dancers by watching other choreographers’ performances.
In the year 2004, the Olympic Games, gave many dancers a financial breather, as great amounts of capital were allocated for the Opening and Closing ceremonies. At the same time, many dancers and choreographers had the opportunity to work for various peripheral happenings that took place in Athens and other cities, which were aimed at enriching the ‘Olympic experience’.

All the Festivals presenting here are financially supported by the Ministry of Culture directly or indirectly through local authorities. Some of them were also initiated by the State. In addition all of them are supported by private sponsors.
The older Festival in the country is the Hellenic Festival, formerly Athens Festival, which was founded in 1955 by the Ministry of State. It is an artistic festival, not exclusively orientated toward dance, which at the beginning had an extreme contribution to the cultural life of the country. Until the ‘90s this festival was the only organization presenting the international scene to the Greek audience. Concerning dance, major international companies, ranging from ballet to modern and postmodern dance have being presented (such as Maurice Bejar, Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Pina Bausch, Bolshoi Ballet, Opera de Paris et.al). Greek dance was presenting selectively and the choices included mainly ballet (the National Opera) or folk companies. An artistic crisis was obvious during the ‘90s leading to radical changes in the organization almost ten years later. In 2006 a new phase started for the Festival, more attuned to worldwide contemporary developments, and with an innovative philosophy which attracted
younger audience. Contemporary dance, from Greece and abroad, has now a central position in this context. The Festival not only presents major contemporary dance productions, but also, through its particular multidisciplinary avant-garde philosophy, reveals the importance of dance within interdisciplinary contexts. It uses a variety of venues in Athens, from the prestigious Odeon of Herodes Atticus to a former factory in Peiraios street and the Benaki Museum, and it, also, organises educational activities. www.greekfestival.gr
The Kalamata International Dance Festival (KIDF) is the first international festival dedicated exclusively to dance in the country, and it is also, the institution which by its actions redefined the role of a festival in the country. It came into life in the spring of 1995 with a profile “open to a diverse range of dance styles and far from the logic of exclusion… In its programme co-exist Greek and international companies, while seminars, workshops, lectures and parallel events also take place”. (Programmes of the KIDF). It is organised by the Kalamata International Dance Centre, an initiation of the Ministry of Culture, and uses diverse venues of the city of Kalamata, from the Castle amphitheatre to a school gym. The KIDF has presented acclaimed international contemporary companies, many of them for the first time in Greece. It is the Festivalwhich introduced Trisha Brown, Twyla Tharp, Meg Stuart, Wim Vandekeybus, JeromeBel et.al to the Greek audience. It has also supported Greek dance production by commissions and co-productions, an arts policy unknown for a Festival in Greece of that time. It was also organised during the Festival educational activities, with foreign teachers and workshops with the artists participating in the Festival. www.kalamatadancefestival.gr
The Athens International Dance Festival, founded in 2002, is organised by the Cultural Organisation of the Municipality of Athens and it is focused on contemporary dance from the national and international scene. This Festival, also, has made the decision to build its reputation on presenting artists for the fist time in Greece. Its venue is one of the most interesting sites of Athens, the old gas factory which was restored into a cultural site named ‘technopolis’ (city of culture). It also gives opportunities to younger artists to present their work, while it organises dance seminars and parallel events.
VideoDance festival started in 2000, as part of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. Soon, it widened up to include more experimental films on movement and the moving image. The main festival consists of films from all over the world presented in thematic programmes, while retrospectives like those on the works by Maya Deren (2003), give the Greek audience an opportunity to contact the first attempts of the experimental non-narrative cinema which use movement as its main source. www.filmfestival.gr/videodance
The Dance Festival of the Association of Greek Choreographers, started in 2002, as an action organized by the Association of Greek Choreographers and supported by the Ministry of Culture. It is an annual event presenting exclusively Greek companies in several venues in Athens. In addition, trying to support the promotion of Greek dance abroad the Association initiated in 2004 the Dance Platform. This is a showcase, organised biannually in collaboration with the Athens Concert Hall, aiming to present Greek dance to foreign promoters and critics. Finally, the Association organises the Dance Panorama, a condensed presentation of short versions of productions, aiming to familiarise the general public with the choreographic production of the country.

The history of contemporary dance in Greece can be assumed to begin with the foundation of the first professional dance school by Koula Pratsika, a key figure for contemporary dance in Greece. The School was first founded in 1930 as an amateur dance school and it acquired the status of professional in 1937. In 1970, Koula Pratsika donated her private school to the Greek State, and thus, in 1973 the only State School of Dancing in Greece started to operate.
Dance Education in Greece is orientated towards training dancers, teachers and choreographers, meaning practitioners. Students in all professionals dance schools are accepted after their graduation from secondary education, meaning that they are at least seventeen years old, unless they choose the dancer’s degree. In this case they must be graduates of Gymnasium, meaning around fifteen years old. The majority of professional dance schools (seven in Athens and three in Thessaloniki) are private institutions, under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, and they operate based on a curriculum similar to that of the State School of Dance (1983). The curriculum includes both practical and theoretical subjects, however, its application varies according to the philosophy of each school. It is almost clear a division between private schools which in their majority seem to represent a ballet orientation and the State School which has amodern dance philosophy (Lyra, 1992:19)1. There are, of course, exceptions to this division, as for example the Rallou Manou Professional Dance School, which had a historical connection to modern dance since its foundation (1951).
Undergraduate or postgraduate dance degrees in an academic context do not exist.
There are however dance subjects taught at a University level, usually in Theatre Departments, and dance anthropology, focusing on folk dance, is included in Physical Education and in Musicology Departments. No sufficient structure for studying dance theory, history or criticism exist. However, a dance major on folk dance in provided by the Physical Education Department, and it is expected a new named award in choreography from the Theatre Department in the University of Peloponnese in 2008.
As far as the vocational training is concerned, the curriculum content, the structure and operation of dance education in the country seems outdated and it has raised a 1 Lyra, Anastasia. 1996. Valuable dance or dance of value? Dance. Vol. 21. Jan-Feb-
March. pp. 49-51 controversy. Many articles have commented on the problems regarding a discrepancy between the knowledge provided, the examination system, the needs of a professional career, and the current developments internationally, but most importantly, on the need to re-examine the aims of dance education, or even of education in general (State
School of Dance. 1992; Lyra. 2000; Xassiotis. 2001; Vounelaki.1996)2.
After the ‘80s many graduates, dancers and choreographers have studied abroad bringing new knowledge and experiences to the country. It can be noted a domination of the USA during the ‘80s and the early ‘90s and a European preference nowadays.
There are three institutions which support postgraduate dance studies abroad through their scholarship programs: the Alexander Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, the Scholarship Institution of Koula Pratsika and the Greek State Scholarship’s Foundation.
The Fulbright Foundation is also supporting artistic activities abroad, in the sense of career development rather than education. Despite the problems regarding thesescholarships, for example the criteria for a successful candidate are the same regardless if the studies are on practical or theoretical level, their contribution to dance developments is undeniable.

In this section will be mentioned only those venues which present dance independently and not as part of a festival. All of them are in Athens. In other cities the situation regarding the venues is almost the same, adding that presenting dance is extremely rare.
A major problem for dance is the absence of a theatre especially for dance and dance studios for rehearsals. There are some small-scale theatres, which regularly present dance in their venues (Theseion, Roes, Altera Pars, Chytyrio et. al). Gradually dance started to be presented during the whole year, albeit irregularly, and in a variety of venues, 2 S State School of Dance, ed. (1992) ‘Professional Dance Education in Greece’.
Proccedings of the Conference (19-20 Oktober 1991). Athens: State School of Dance. Lyra, Anastasia. 2000. Dance Education and reformation. Choros. Vol. 37, Spring pp. 10-1 9 Asiatic, Natasha. 2001. The (much afflicted) Dance Education in Greece. Avgi. February, 25 Vounelaki, Klementini. 1996. Dance education in crucial crossroad. To Vima. Dec, 1, multiplying the conditions under which dance can be presented, and reaching a wider
audience. A few months ago the Minister of Culture announced that theatre Embros is going to be used as dance venue, and this prospect is long awaiting.
The prestigious Athens Concert Hall started its activities in 1991, as a concert hall. The expectations were great due to the international standards of the building and the lack of any other theatre appropriate for music concerts. Symbolically, the premiere of the Organisation was on 25th of March 1991, relating the festivities for the new theatre with the National Day. In 1993 the Athens Concert Hall started to present international dance companies and, in April 1995, commissioned works by Greek dance companies.
By now, the programming of the Athens Concert Hall has managed to built for itself a conservative profile, presenting dance companies with international reputation, without however fulfilling the expectations it arose at the beginning. The National Opera House is the venue exclusively used by its company, and that is the case with the venues of the National Theatre of Northern Greece.
From the mid ‘90s onwards, many dance companies started to create their own studios and organise workshops with international artists trying to open the communication channels between Greece and the international dance community. In addition, many new studios started to operate, providing open classes to professionals and amateurs and organising seminars with distinguished artists. At last, I would like to note that there is now a generation of new teachers, exposed to international conditions as dancers, who are transmitting their knowledge. It is also worth noting that Greek choreographers themselves rarely teach (technique or repertory) or curate workshops.
There is also a great gap to choreographic research and support. The Isadora and Raymond Duncan Research Dance Centre in Athens started from 2002 to develop actions into this direction, which are further intensified when it became associated member to IDEE. Finally, despite all efforts, there is neither a dance library, nor a videodance library in Greece.

One of the greatest difficulties that Greek dance faces today is its diffusion, by which I mean its communication with its audience. In 2005, a Greek arts magazine called ‘Highlights’ conducted a piece of research regarding the Greeks’ cultural behaviour. It showed that dance as a form of expression ‘highly expresses’ 48% of Greeks, a percentage that decreases as we ascend in social class and level of education. This shows that Greeks on the whole express themselves through the body, but mostly in social events such as going out in the evening, traditional festivities and religious celebrations like weddings etc. However, 71% never or seldom goes to dance performances. When the participants were asked to mention a contemporary choreographer or dancer, Mr Papaioannou (the choreographer of the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games) came fourth in order, following three choreographers of the unmistakeably commercial dance scene. Regardless though of these statistics, the artistic circles have an unquenchable thirst for new and original performances and artistic propositions and respond with great eagerness and enthusiasm to the choices made by big dance festivals, ensuring in most cases their financial and artistic success.
Dance recently came into the spotlight with a television series that hosts a big dance competition and has its roots in American television. The words modern and contemporary dance had never before been uttered with such frequency on Greek television. Unfortunately, the nature of the game made it impossible for it to enlighten Greek audiences as to what contemporary dance really is today, leaving in its place a commercialised and stereotyped taste of the art form. Generally, the Greek audience’s perceptions of dance range, from traditional and popular Greek dances to latin, the tango, rock and roll and recently hip-hop street dancing. This wide field of interest insures great success for big commercial dance shows or musicals and companies like the De la Guarda group, Stomp, dance on ice etc.
As a result of this situation, production companies show little interest in supporting dance. In other words, most dance companies rely almost exclusively on state subsidies and in some cases on private sponsors, which of course subsequently have a right to be advertised in the programme of a performance. The conditions under which sponsorship in the arts can occur are quickly changing, as the laws concerning it are currently being revised. The Minister of Culture has already shown his good will, by removing the ‘thorn’ in the first draft of the bill. He agreed that sponsorships that amount to less than 30% of a business’s profit, are 100% exempt of taxes. According to Colin Tweed3 ‘it is heartening news that the Greek government are now seeking to improve the tax legislation that will encourage partnerships (between business and the arts) in Greece.[…] The challenge now […] is to take full advantage of these changes todevelop a momentum that will see a new paradigm develop in Greece.’
To conclude I would like to say that dance in Greece is very much alive and actively seeking inspiration. It is yearning for support and theoretical guidance. Beyond any doubt, it owes its achievements to the devotion and self-denial of the people who serve it. With only a minimal income, insecurity and uncertainty on offer, dance relies on the zeal shown by its devotees for the art that found its muse in the name of the ancient Greek Terpsichore. We can only hope that in the future she will dance in sneakers, or bare foot again, proving that dance, like all the arts moves forward in spirals.



Dear all,
I post here the text about the contemporary dance scene in Spain, that La Mekanica comissioned recently for the Mediterranean Dance Map, project by DBM - Mediterranean Dance Network. This text will be very soon on-line at the new DBM website .
HIND, i think this text will be of your interest, considering your post some weeks ago... hope it could help you on having an idea of the contemporary dance scene in Spain for you conference.



Text by Jaime Conde-Salazar Pérez
commisioned by La Mekanica within the framework of the Mediterranean Dance Map, a project by the DBM (Mediterranean Dance Network). May 2007

1. The territory
The territory occupied by what we call nowadays Spanish State, has been traditionally seen as the Western doors of the Mediterranean Sea. The classical tradition tells the story of Hercules separating two columns and letting the waters flow into the space we know as Mediterranean Basin. That opening point would be that point we now call “Estrecho de Gibraltar”.
As a threshold, Spain, has been a territory crossed and transformed by many different cultures: Celtics, Íberos, Greeks, Cartaginensis, Romans, Visigothics, Muslims, Sefardís, Almohades, Mozárabes, Catholics, French revolutionaries etc. All these currents have shaped a space in-between, a land where everything is mixed up and where limits not always are clear. Paradoxically, this ground crossed by a constant movement is also a space that tends to isolation. The Peninsula is closed towards the continent by the stone wall of the Pyrenees; and it is separated of Africa by the actual Mediterranean sea. What we call “Spain”, has also been a place where diverse cultures have remained stuck. As a result, we can also find hybrid cultures that remained in the peninsula reifying existing traditions and developing peculiar cultural expressions. These original phenomena used to embody isolation as part of their character avoiding any interest for the rest of surrounding realities. This fact made this territory appear as a territory of the “exotic” inhabited by the Other as seen from “European” eyes. As Lynn Garafola has pointed out, the characteristics traditionally assigned to Spanish dancers are quite similar to those that helped Edward Said defining “orientalism” . A territory that escaped modern Western white hegemonic subjectivity appeared below the Pyrenees. In fact, it happened a moment of “discovery” right after the French revolutionary invasion of the Spanish Kingdom at the beginning of the 19th C. In that moment, that same modern colonialist impulse that took different European countries to expand their limits, appropriating cultures and territories perceived as peripheral, constructed an image of “Spain” that is still alive. The opening of the Spanish Painting Gallery at the Palais du Louvre the 7th of January of 1838 marks the beginning of that process . Darkness, passion, primitivism, flamenco, cruelty, darkness, bullfighting, spontaneous dancing...were put together to create a figure that invaded London and Paris venues and still nowadays can be found in any souvenir shop. If we just take a look at ballet, we will easily find the new found “Spanish Other” in company of other Others like “Chinese”, “Indian”, fairy tale characters etc.

2. Cultural landscape
If we attempt to make an objective observation of the Spanish cultural landscape, we will notice that the events that involve more people, that use more economical resources and that consume more political efforts, are those linked to catholic tradition. This does not mean that the country has a intense religious life dependent on Roman Catholic hierarchies. On the contrary, in those enormous performances in the public space, the catholic morality or religiosity appears somehow removed, silenced or even cancelled. A few examples will make clear what I am referring to: Fallas and Fogueres (Valencia and Alicante): big fires and fireworks in the nights of Sain Joseph and Saint John; Procesiones (Andalucía, Castilla-León, Castilla La-Mancha, Murcia, Aragón etc): crowded demonstrations in the streets following images of Christ’s Passion during the week before Easter; El Rocío (Huelva): multitude pilgrimage to Ayamonte to worship an image of the Virgin Mary ; El Camino de Santiago: pilgrimage route that connects the Pyrenees and the Western extreme of the country, where the tradition places the corpse of the Apostle; Corpus Christi (Toledo y Sevilla): a 2 m. gold and silver “custodia” containing the Holy Host is walked along the streets that are covered for the occasion with sheets and stepping rosemary branches and rose petals; La Asunción de la Virgen: National Feast on the 15th of August; Sant Jordi (Catalunya): everybody gives a rose or a book as a present; Los Reyes Magos: compulsive consumption period during the days before the 6th of January; San Fermín (Pamplona): freed bulls in the city streets run together with people during the first week of July. All of these cases come from very different contexts within the “Spanish State”. All of them imply an extraordinary cultural commitment happily assumed by individuals that enjoy joining this kind of public performances. Besides all those big events, every city, every small village has its Patron Saint whose celebration day brings again important cultural live performances. But none of them can strictly be considered only as spectacles of religiosity. Obviously, the catholic root is present, but it is more an excuse than a performance of faith experience.
In relation to that fundamental cultural landscape, Bourgeois Culture occupies a limited space. Theatre dance or any other theatrical performance, involves only a small part of the population and it is rarely present in the collective cultural imaginaries. Contemporary dance, as well as ballet, is still considered just as (sophisticated) “entertainment”. They don’t really play an important role in the construction of the fragmented and vague cultural identity of the country.
Focusing on contemporary dance, we could consider it a familiar but really secondary phenomenon within bourgeois culture. Flamenco, “Spanish Dance” and even ballet, receive more attention and respect than any expression that may point out to any small deviation from mainstream theatre. As an example, we could remember the astonishing scene performed by audience in the opening season of the new Royal Theatre in Madrid in 1998 when Pina Bausch’s 1982 work, Nelken, was blatantly booed.
One last image completes this picture of the Spanish cultural landscape. During the past decades and thanks to the economical support of the European Union, regional administrations have had access to an important amount of money to be spent in development and infrastructures. Due to this situation, the typical signs of bourgeois culture have been appropriated and used to build images of wealthy and progress. A big amount of opera houses, cultural centers, concert halls, modern art museums and theatres have flourished around the country. Star-architects have designed projects that have served to construct a disturbing image of modernity. But rarely this impulse has been followed by coherent cultural projects. Usually, big infrastructures remained void of content and only served to host second line mainstream programs. It is very rare to find one of these big new venues developing programs supporting contemporary dance creation . As a consequence, these infrastructures have not engaged new audiences and theatrical dance has remained as a secondary cultural manifestation.

3. What could be the meaning of “contemporary dance” in the context we call Spain?
1978 marks the beginning of a new moment in the socio-political life of Spain. After forty years of dictatorship, the Spanish people approved a democratic legal framework that established the foundations of what we know nowadays as Spanish State. As José A. Sánchez has pointed out, we can find in this fact the origins of the process of deep cultural transformation. In this new context the phenomenon we call “contemporary dance” took place.
During the following years, all possibilities of“modernity” in the field of dance arrived mixed up and at the same time to a country that was somehow thirsty of anything that sounded new. But contemporary dance in Spain cannot be understood as a project. There wasn’t a program, an ideological drive that could clearly define the limits and aims of the movement. We cannot find in that times groups of dance artists or companies producing coherent and solid discourses about dance, theatre, live representation etc. There wasn’t either a clear stylistic/ linguistic goal pursued by artists. The eighties saw how jazz dance, Graham technique, release technique, break dance, aerobic, contact improvisation, dance-theatre etc. mingled forming a sort of promise of the possibility of “being modern” after many years of repression. The aim was to dance not depending on ballet or Spanish dance systems. In that sense, any influence, no matter where it came from or its connotations, could result interesting and useful. Therefore, it is impossible to define clearly what “contemporary dance” meant exactly in terms of style. Finally, there wasn’t a clear political intention of using this kind of dancing as an image of the new times. It is true that during these years the country underwent a deep institutional transformation. For the first time, in a long time artists lived a sort of confidence in the new democratic structures. In 1978 it was created the Ministry of Culture and the CDN (National Center for Drama) ; in 1984 opened the CNNTE (National Center for New Performing Arts Trends); in 1985 appeared the INAEM (National Institute for Performing Arts and Music); and in 1990 the Ballets Nacionales de España ( Nacional Ballet Companies of Spain) where transformed into the CND (National Dance Company) under the artistic direction of Nacho Duato. Besides, the new decentralized regional institutions also had the power of developing independent cultural policies and structures. All these facts helped contemporary dance growing. Artists and companies found then, the possibility not only of existing in a regular basis but also of thinking production in a long term basis. But despite that new institutional situation, it was never achieved the goal of creating clear, stable, durable, focused and useful cultural policies and structures. When the post-Olympic Games crisis arrived, the political commitment revealed its weakness and soon state investments in culture were radically reduced producing a profound crisis in the field of dance creation.
The lack of an ideological, stylistic or political project makes difficult to think contemporary dance in Spain as a phenomenon similar to what happened in France, United Kingdoom, The Netherlands, Belgium or Germany. During the euphoric eighties, contemporary dance was a vague movement that, through repetition and absorption of exported patterns, attempted to define itself as a “new” current within dance. And indeed that goal was achieved: it can be said that a break happened. A break that left apart the 20th C. “modern” tradition in the field of dance and that focused on practicing and exploring new dance forms. But it is difficult to identify any aim of producing discourses on dance, creation or life itself.
Contemporary dance (if we accept that this expression refers to something concrete) in Spain only achieves its first maturity during the nineties. The 1993 economical crisis, the rise of the Right and the participation on the illegal invasion of Irak, draws the limits of the new situation. Artists no longer found in institutions a fruitful support and society (generally speaking) didn’t find the need of taking care of culture, education and arts. Madrid is profoundly devastated by successive ultraconservative regional governments. And the rest of regions vanished in terms of artistic creation. The case of Catalonia may appear as an exception. Despite of their successive conservative nationalistic governments, the support to arts and, especially, to dance, was maintained during the nineties. Somehow, Catalonian institutions got to understand that arts could be extremely useful in the definition of a national identity. In relation to the rest of the country, artists and companies based in Catalonia survived “easily” this period. We can also consider other exceptions in that cultural desert (Teatro Pradillo, Madrid; Teatro Central, Sevilla; La Fundición, Bilbao) but they were strictly punctual, deeply isolated in their contexts.
Surprisingly, this situation didn’t lead to the vanishing of contemporary dance. On the contrary: the crisis made some artists change their strategies and achieve certain awareness on the ideological implications of the established systems of production. It resulted urgent to question dance itself, the aesthetic values assumed and imposed in any stage performance, the patriarchal and never innocent intervention of the State, the relation with spectators, the economy of 19th C. theatres and official structures of representation, the role of festivals, programmers and market, etc. Somehow, dance moved away from official visibility and started creating alternative contexts in which artists could work in a newly defined freedom. It was the case of independent festivals and events like Desviaciones (Madrid), Situaciones (Cuenca), InMotion (Barcelona); or small theatre venues such as Sala Pradillo (Madrid), La Cuarta Pared (Madrid), La Fábrica (Bilbao), Conservas (Barcelona) or even collectives of artists like UVI. La Inesperada,(Madrid), El Bailadero (Madrid) or La Porta (Barcelona). Obviously, not all artists engaged this new critical impulse. Some of them remained stuck in conventional contemporary dance struggling to survive as small companies, remaining in a second line and usually sacrificing all their artistic interest.
While that crisis was taking place in Spain, it appeared in Europe what was called “New Dance”. That movement (if we are allowed to use that expression) also responded to a crisis situation (of a quite different nature to the Spanish one) with a critical approach to the established and traditional discourses of dance. Coming from very different cultural contexts, artists from all over Europe met in that critical aim. Very soon the presence of artists such as La Ribot, Olga Mesa, Olga de Soto, Javier de Frutos, Juan Domínguez or Cuqui Jerez in Europe was constant. And thanks to the small independent structures directed by artists, the presence in Spain of artists such as Jerome Bel, Xavier Le Roy, Marco Berretini, Vera Mantero etc. wasn’t rare. Astonishingly and despite of the catastrophic situation, Spanish artists found the way to connect directly with a movement that was proposing a new definition for Contemporary Dance. Somehow, a kind of short Golden Age took place in the first half of the nineties and artists that started their careers in the eighties reached a first and brilliant maturity. But the situation got worse with the generalization of neo-liberalist cultural policies, and artists found in exile the only possibility of surviving. By the turn of the century, the majority of these artists linked to New Dance, were based in different European countries, leaving in Spain an immense generational void.
Since 1997 exile is a big shadow over Spain. It produces no only an absence or a minimum presence of these artists in Spanish venues but also a lack of schools. Young artists based in the Spanish State have grown up without direct references and in an cultural context that avoids the development of their works. The youngest generation is used to work precariously, to follow very irregular processes of creation, to present their works in very small not properly equipped theatres, to face the constant institutional denial of their existence, etc. As a consequence and again paradoxically, “young” artists like Lengua Blanca, María Jerez, Idoia Zabaleta, Amaia Urra, Amalia Fernández, Paloma Calle, Claudia Faci, Lola Jiménez, Sergi Fäustino, Sonia Gómez, are slowly creating a new independent current that is only moved by their stubborn determination of keeping making art. Finally, it can be said that contemporary dance is being redefined once more. Nowadays, creation in the field of contemporary dance means an underground, independent and small movement that finds its sources in any kid of art or cultural discipline, and that is focused in producing visual, live discourses linked to the body.
4. Tips in a map
The following list is just an attempt to address some of the issues that are (and have been) present in the field of contemporary dance in the Spanish State. We don’t want to trap a vague phenomenon establishing a list of characteristics. These are just ideas or qualities that may be useful to keep in mind when figuring out a map of what happens in the field of Contemporary Dance in Spain.

We can understand this concept in two different ways. The first one makes reference to artists living and developing their work in other countries. In that sense we can say that Spanish contemporary dance happens mainly beyond the frontiers of the Spanish State. If we just make a quick recall, we will find La Ribot in Switzerland; Olga Mesa and Germana Civera in France; Olga de Soto, Iñaki Azpillaga, Blanca Calvo, Ion Munduate in Brussels, Juan Domínguez and Cuqui Jerez in Berlin; Paz Rojo in Amsterdam; Javier de Frutos in London; and a long etcetera that draws a disturbing image. But there is also another sophisticated kind of exile: what can be called “inner exile”. This is, artists that live in Spain and assume the deep limitations of the cultural context; or that remaining in the country, they only find the possibility of developing and presenting their works in a regular basis, overseas. It is the case of Mónica Valenciano and El Bailadero, Lengua Blanca, Elena Córdoba, María Jerez, Angels Margarit, Andrés Corchero, Sonia Gómez, Cristina Blanco, Mateo Feijóo, Las Santas, etc.


There are no official educational structures that offer the possibility of learning contemporary dance discourses and practices. The Royal Conservatory in Madrid and the Institut del Teatre in Barcelona, offer classes of Contemporary Dance understood basically as a “style”. Students learn to dance in a “contemporary dance” manner, as well as they learn “ballet”, “Spanish dance” or “castagnettes”. The main goal of the curriculum is to train “executors”, no artists. One year ago, the Institut del Teatre incoporated in its board relevant choreographers like Angels Margarit, Andrés Corchero and Lipi Hernández to develop a contemporary dance curriculum. Although it is an absolutely positive decision and it may deeply change the situation in Barcelona, it is still not clear how far is the institution going to let this team go in the actual realization of their project .
Private academies use to offer workshops and seminaries addressing methods and issues related to contemporary dance. These are the only opportunities for students to learn something beyond “steps and style”, of meeting artists and getting involved in creation processes and of getting in touch with real problems related to dance. But small academies cannot develop coherent and constant educational projects. And though they keep alive the interest of students on contemporary dance practice, their educational offer is limited. Nowadays, if anyone wants to join a deep training process, has to find his/her way overseas.
There are some projects that interrupt the situation described above. Once the student has developed a clear aim of working in an artistic project, s/he can some find small independent structures that can help reaching some kind of maturity.
It is the case of Mónica Valenciano and Elena Córdoba in Madrid. Both choreographers remained in Madrid in the late nineties and formed small companies conceived not as enterprises but as collective spaces of research. Around them students have formed a kind of “school”: young artists join their creation methods of both artists and perform in their shows, and at the same time they develop their own projects. These “schools” define the two main trends within contemporary dance in Madrid.
L’animal a l’esquena is a structure directed by the choreographers Maria Muñoz , Pep Ramis and the dramaturgist Toni Cots based in an old recovered country house in Celrà , Girona. The place serves as studio for the company but also as space for residencies, seminars, meeting point for artists.
Mugatxoan is a biannual program hosted at Arteleku ( Donosti) in the Basc Country directed by Ion Munduate and Blanca Calvo. They select a limited number of projects for a long term residency. Mugatxoan also supports (not in terms of production) the presentation of the resulting works (if that is the case).
Finally, the Centro Coreográfico de La Gomera is a small center in the small Atlantic island in the Canary Islands. It works as an actual cultural center that hosts a school of dance, a creation center, an international artists-in-residence program and an archive. It has also developed an extraordinarily active education department that participates in the educational life of the island offering to High School students the possibility of taking their Philosophy and Physical Education classes in the Center.

Due to the cultural situation in Spain, it is ludicrous to expect big productions in the field of contemporary dance. Artists are forced reduce their works to the basics: solo works or involving no more that 4-5 artists; flexible or small stage designs in order to fit in any space; use of domestic technology; low cachets, etc. But this doesn’t mean that artists work in these conditions only because of the limits imposed by the context. Nowadays artists share with artists of the past a strong attachment to the quotidian, domestic and everyday life. Brown cardboard, recycled objects, old blankets, real clothes, real food, cheap commodities found in any street market reused plastic, chalk, sarcastic use of street language, etc., create environments that elude the use of sophisticated displays and the dependence on expensive high tech appliances . It is not difficult to establish a connection with the objectual work of modern Spanish 20th C. Artists like Alberto Sánchez, Joan Miró, Joan Brossa, Antoni Tápies, Alberto Greco, Lucio Muñoz, Millares, etc. Maybe it is not too inappropriate to find in the artists of our times the heirs of that naturalistic drive present constantly since the 17th C.

Bourgeois culture and especially contemporary dance is concentrated in big cities. Territories among big cities lack that kind of cultural activity.
During the last two decades, big cities like Madrid, Bilbao, Valencia and Sevilla have invested a lot of resources in activating their cultural life. But efforts use to be focused on marketing strategies rather that in developing structures supporting local artists or the presence of foreign artists. As a result, creation in the field of contemporary dance has practically disappeared in some places or never fully developed in others. The paradigmatic example of how a region can destroy an emergent and intense current in the field of contemporary dance is Madrid. Decades of ultraconservative neo-liberal cultural policies have resulted into a sterile space that doesn’t offer an appropriate context for artists to develop their work. Creation in the field of dance is nowadays in Madrid is an underground activity that hardly grows under the shadows of big mainstream festivals that haven’t achieved, in decades of existence, a clear character or international presence.
The other side of this unbalanced landscape is Catalonia and specially Barcelona. The history of the development of this region (nowadays also called “nation”) has been linked to the development of bourgeoisie. While opera or ballet never really existed in the most part of the rest of the country, Barcelona always had an intense life linked to those artistic fields. That served as a rich background for contemporary dance that lived a fruitful period during the late seventies and eighties. The extraordinary permeability to new languages and contemporary discourses resulted in the appearance of a lot of contemporary dance companies that, very early, achieved a revealing maturity. It was the case of Anexa, Ballet Contemporani de Barcelona, Gelabert-Azzopardi, Grup Heura, L’Espantall, Accord, Angels Margarit / Cia. Mudances, Lanónima Imperial, etc.. The crisis of the nineties and the spreading out of conservative cultural policies reduced notably that intense activity. Some companies disappeared and discourses became somehow self-absorbed in their local identity. But it was also in that time when a new impulse emerged. Artists faced the lack of institutional support creating their own independent structures. This way, artistic creation turned into artistic management transforming radically the cultural landscape. Structures such as L’Animal a L’Esquena, La Caldera, La Porta and new structures like La Poderosa or La Mekanica, have gained a territory that remained closed to artists. Nowadays cultural policies in Catalonia are mostly designed following needs and advice expressed directly by artists. As a result, cultural institutions have started to respond to the actual situation of contemporary dance instead of imposing obsolete production patterns. An example of this new situation is the creation of special funds and grants for contemporary creation and research and the project of creation of an independent Arts Council that will define all cultural policies in the future. The success of these new impulses depends on the stability, independence and artistic commitment of the new structures.


Spectacular Dance from Colombia