In November 1998, less than ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a remarkable event took place at the Akademie der Künste: Tanzfabrik, Berlin’s longest-running institution for contemporary dance, celebrated its 20th anniversary with a grand gala. At the invitation of Claudia Feest and Eva-Maria Hoerster, 18 dancers, choreographers, and companies each presented the audience in the sold-out venue on Hanseatenweg with a “performative gift”. This glittering celebration was the birth of Tanznacht.
Since its first official edition two years later in 2000, Tanznacht has undergone numerous transformations: It has moved from Akademie der Künste to Uferstudios, grown from a one-night event to a multi-day festival with full-length productions, promoted a dialogue between dance and the visual arts, and appropriated ever more new spaces in the city. One aspect, though, has always remained the same: Each of the biennial editions has factored in the issues, concerns, and challenges affecting the independent dance scene in Berlin at the time. The history of Tanznacht Berlin thus also encapsulates the major changes that the scene has undergone since the festival’s inception.
This year the festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary. We want to take this milestone as an opportunity to recapture the original spirit of Tanznacht: From September 8, 7 pm, to September 9, 8 pm, we will hold a 25-hour dance marathon at Berlin’s Uferstudios. In a particular spatial setting, where 4 artists can perform at the same time, 80 Berlin-based dancers of different generations and backgrounds will simultaneously and successively present their artistic practice in the same conditions for all: one body, one light, one prop and one soundtrack.
We encouraged the artists to step out of their comfort zones, strip down their practices and ideas to the bare minimum, and express their unique artistic voice in a setting that allows the audience to move around freely, to explore the multiplicity of choreographic languages and see them in relation to each other. We hope that by reducing the theatrical machinery, and ensuring an equal setting and production means for all the artists, we can create a more horizontal experience — and unfold a kaleidoscopic vision of the Berlin dance scene that brings everybody involved closer together.
The reduced setting also acts as a multiplicator, as it allows us to empower many more artists to share their practice and so extend the spectrum of what dance made in Berlin is seen to mean. Still, we are aware that we cannot represent the entire scene in all its vastness, and we never intended to do so while devising the format. This is reflected in the fact that we neither had a strict selection process for inviting artists, nor did we aim to fulfil a specific aesthetic agenda. Instead, we extended the invitation to participate to as many artists as possible, many more than the 80 who will perform, and asked colleagues from other institutions to extend invitations as well. Not only that, some of the artists we invited who could not participate passed on the invitation to other colleagues. As a result, the lineup of this year’s anniversary edition stretches out in different directions and feels like a true birthday gathering.
Join us in celebrating the Berlin dance scene, one of the most distinctive and vibrant in the world! It’s a Tanznacht, once again!
Jacopo Lanteri, July Weber
& the Tanznacht Berlin team