Franz Anton Cramer
“Contemporaneity is not enough. About the 8. Tanznacht Berlin”

Contemporaneity is not enough any more. The term once stood for new beginnings, experiment and sometimes even subversion, or at least for an artistic practice that challenged the status quo and wanted to embrace the new. Now contemporaneity has become a global mechanism, the rules, functions and claims to power of which collide with the original pluralistic concept. This also applies to dance. Through the continuous self exposure of one’s own creativity in an environment fraught with the pressure of innovation, contemporary dance has long ago become subject to the grasp of the market and its logic. The regional and specific is replaced by the myth of the global and its exchange functions.

Nevertheless, the longing remains for something truly one’s own, for authorship, for authenticity. The more mobile the means of artistic production, the more questionable the specifics of the individual work. It can tour the world and hold its own because the structures of distribution, trade and institutional integration broadly follow identical goals. Where contemporary art production is fundamentally based on differentiation and discrimination, the current art system turns strongly towards egalitarianism in order to serve the global market. In addition, ‘cultural capitalism’ favours the levelling of the authenticity of the product: even that which once seemed outside of the logic of the market – feelings, atmospheres, habits, individuality – has long since become a resource for innovation and discrimination, as Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello have shown.

The 8th Tanznacht Berlin’s mission to bring together the current landscape of dance in Berlin offers a different perspective on this background: It formulates “the question of the location and the origin of dance biographies”. In order not just to promote the latest thing each time, performances that have already premiered are programmed on the one hand while on the other, work is shown which “places artistic and popular projects in relation to each other”, making it possible for the makers of dance to “activate and examine their choreographic practice within the urban environment”, as states Tanznacht Berlin curator Heike Albrecht. This questions how the venues and spaces are chosen in which dance can even happen – in these times of a global aestheticisation of work processes. Even the term folklore is emphasised, as counterpart to the equally shrill term avant-garde.

Dance had in any case received early contact from industrialisation. In the early Soviet Union as well as in post war England, movement research was directed not only to art, but also to work. Dance became the interface between the increase in production and the creative process. Just as ethnological studies of non-European cultures showed how culture could be understood as an artefact, folklorists turned to the question of how the artificiality of dance can be read as authentic. In this way, folklore reacted in a totally different way the crisis of the modern to postmodern dance: both tried to free themselves from the clutches of history.

This characterises, perhaps, the current mission: to find a place in the now between exploitation and autonomy.

© 8. Tanznacht Berlin