What follows is a series of quotations from 35 interviews conducted during the conception phase.

The objective of the interview-process was to find out what is at stake in the field, which potentials and problematics can and must be tackled.

The quotations are presented here in an anonymous form. Their original language and style are maintained with the different nuances and personal tones and accents of each interviewee.

The quotations were extrapolated during the evaluation phase, which took the form of a shared transversal reading process among the steering group and Elisa Ricci (who developed the Interview). Each member of the evaluation team chooses about five, six interviews. Each member read her chosen interviews with the task to extrapolate quotations, sentences, thoughts that she found relevant, moving and that were recurring in more than one interview.

The most recurring topics were discussed and taken over to set the focus for the further development of the concept phase.

In the following you find in bold some of the questions of the interview and after each question quotations from different interviews in which, as you will notice, recurring topics become evident. The interviews were answered in written form. Some question could be answered with drawings or similar. Support for accessible answering of the interview was provided.

 

Wie erleben Sie das Feld der Tanzvermittlung gegenwärtig? 

How do you experience the field of dance education and transmission (Tanzvermittlung) at present?

  • I experience participative dance in Berlin (and nationally) as a rather disconnected and fragmented field.
  • Wo können sich Tanzvermittler*innen mit Behinderung ausbilden lassen?
  • Das Feld der Tanzvermittlung erlebe ich als vielfältig: von „klassischen“ Publikumsgesprächen über physical introductions zu Produktionen bis hin zu aktiven künstlerischen Tanzprojektangeboten für Nicht-Profis oder einer Kombi aus Profis und Nicht-Profis (in Schulen, als Community-Projekten an Theatern etc.). Wenig Diskussion über Begrifflichkeiten führt zu fehlender Reflektion.
  • Ein allgemeiner Überblick fehlt, teils bedingt durch unterschiedliche Interessen, Gründen die im Weiteren mit Wertschätzung zu tun haben. Fazit: ein gemeinsamer Konsens besteht auf Grund von Verteilungskampf und Abringen der Fördergelder nicht wirklich, bzw. verschärft sich, weil kleine Institutionen weniger Geld bekommen.
  • Mir kommt es oft so vor, als wenn unterschiedliche Tanzstile in ihren eigenen Szenen/ Communities und gesellschaftlichen Milieus verhaftet bleiben. Den sog. Zeitgenössischen Tanz z.B. finde ich sehr in der weißen Mittelschicht wieder. Auch wenn momentan ein Aufbruch stattfindet und z.B. die intersektionale feministische Perspektive oft in der Kuration wieder zu finden ist (…), ist die Bühne dann doch für viele Personen in der Gesellschaft weit weg. Diese unübersichtliche Situation hat aber ja nicht nur Nachteile. Es bietet auch eine heterogene Tanzszene und die Möglichkeit sich kleine oder größere Nischen zu suchen.
  • Ich habe in meinen Ausbildungen eine hierarchische Unterteilung gespürt zwischen „künstlerischem Schaffen“ und/oder pädagogischen Tanz- /Theaterprojekten (z.B. für Jugendliche in Schulen).
  • In meiner Erfahrung sind viele Tanzschaffende/Tanzvermittler*innen sehr mit der eigenen Arbeit beschäftigt. Verständlicherweise, denn es ist eben in dieser Situation auch nicht einfach, sich einen „Student body“ aufzubauen. Es kann schnell ein Gefühl der Konkurrenz entstehen.
  • Viele hörende Tänzer sind im Tanz aktiv, aber es besteht ein normatives Einverständnis darüber, dass Tanz so viel mit Musik zu tun hat. Deswegen ist die Kultur der Tauben so weit weg von Tanz. (…) Es gibt zu wenig Angebote speziell für Taube. Vor allem im professionellen Bereich.

 

Wo sehen Sie Blockaden, Schwierigkeiten und Hindernisse innerhalb der Zyklen der Tanzvermittlung?

Where do you see blockages, difficulties and obstacles within the cycles of dance education and transmission?

  • Es gibt „Vermittlungsangebote“ sicherlich zu unregelmäßig. Es sind selten durchlaufende Angebote, sondern häufig punktuell.
  • Ich empfinde, dass die Tanzvermittlung gegenwärtig wenig sichtbar ist. (…) Das liegt auch daran, dass ich das Gefühl habe, der öffentliche Raum ist nicht der Ort des Tanzes und der Tanzvermittlung. Und auch gerade in Abgrenzung zu südeuropäischen Ländern, in denen ich schon oft war – was auch immer eine Frage des Klimas ist, was man ja hier auch nicht ausblenden darf. Das führt dazu, dass Tanz wenig sichtbar ist und stattdessen in geschlossenen Räumen stattfindet, in die man gehen muss und nicht zufällig reinstolpert.
  • The blockages are essentially due to a segregation of dance forms into different categories. These in turn lead to obstacles (in the mind) in opening up proper discourse.
  • Lack of pathways of understanding and education between subculture, contemporary dance scene and “high culture”.
  • There is a deficit of training for dancers in the field of participative/participatory dance.
  • The gap between academic dance institutions and the value of self-taught dancers on a high level is much too big.
  • Berlin is a bubble. Art is made for artists and less for general people, this leads to a perception of stereotypes and doesn’t allow openness and cross sectional interests.
  • Keine Nachhaltigkeit, kein eingebunden sein in längere Prozesse.
  • Der eigene Körper als nicht leistungsfähig genug, nicht biegsam, nicht schön, nicht tänzerisch genug; die eigenen Ideen und Impulse als nicht interessant oder innovativ oder technisch versiert genug.
  • Dürfen Tänze da sein, die oft als nicht künstlerisch wahrgenommen werden? Der Kreistanz, der gerne im Familienkreis getanzt wird, die Choreo, die die Grundschüler*innen im Netz gefunden haben, der indische Kampftanz, der mit Kolleg*innen nach der Arbeit geprobt wird?
  • Wenige Theater/Spielstätten haben eine Vermittlungsabteilung, die sich regelmäßig mit Tanz beschäftigt. Der Vermittlungsbereich für Erwachsene ist kaum etabliert.
  • Leitungspositionen sind zudem von nichtbehinderten Personen besetzt, auch in inklusiven Formaten von Tanzvermittlung.
  • Für mich fehlt das wirkliche Anliegen und auch Interesse Kinder und Jugendkultur, bzw. Tanzvermittlung mit Erwachsenen in der Hochkultur eine wirkliche Anerkennung zu zeigen.
  • Eine flächendeckende und längerfristige Verankerung von qualitätsvollen Vermittlungsangeboten im Bildungswesen ist nicht gegeben. Empirische Studien über die Wirkung von Tanzvermittlung besagen dass universitäre Studiengänge mit dem Berufsprofil Tanzvermittlung in der Gesellschaft fehlen.
  • Bei den Förderinstrumenten sind zwar neue Fonds für Vermittlung entstanden, dennoch fließen die Mittel nach wie vor vor allem bei den größeren Kulturinstitutionen.
  • I believe some main blockages exist in the circles the elderly as they are not identified as potential beneficiaries from the dance education and outreach services. I specify here more the older women from migrant background, and even more specifically those older women from Arabic origin, and more specifically who are veiled, and not recognised as dancing bodies. With this blockage, I also see an obstacle for Arabic cultural dances, specifically in (…) field of belly dance/Baladi Dance/ Raqs Sharqi, which is historically exoticised, commercialised and objectified, and with it all expressions of female sexuality and ownership of identity and body, while this form of dance can really be very empowering and speaking to the individual and collective identities of women from a feminist perspective.
  • In einer Umgebung, die nicht westeuropäisch geprägte Verständnisse haben, ist es herausfordernd für häufig westlich ausgebildete Tanzvermittler*innen, Begegnungsräume zu schaffen, wo die Menschen einerseits ermutigt werden, mit ihrem Körper etwas so auszudrücken, wie sie ihn erleben und anderseits dort abgeholt werden können, wo sie sind, um ihre eigene Körpersprache weiter zu entdecken. Das geht dann auch anders rum: Wie kann das Publikum in Deutschland kultiviert oder vorbereitet werden, andere Bewegungssprachen zu „verstehen“, ohne sie von vornherein mit ihren gewöhnten Blicken zu „beurteilen“?
  • Strukturelle und institutionelle Barrieren finden sich auch in der Tanzvermittlung auf universitärer Ebene. Hier wird aus meiner Sicht oft ein Bild von Tanz und Choreografie vermittelt, welches zu sehr auf interkultureller Ebene stattfindet und somit Künstler*innen ausbildet, die Kunst für ein bestimmtes Publikum machen. Hier sollte Tanzvermittlung diverser und publikumsorientierter gedacht werden.
  • Es werden immer noch zu wenig Menschen aus marginalisierten Communities in die Entwicklungsprozesse von Tanzvermittlung eingebunden, so dass Diskriminierung und Stereotype in der Arbeit reproduziert werden. Diese münden in zur Schau stellen von Leidensgeschichten immigrierter Menschen, von Menschen mit Fluchterfahrung. Ich finde es super wichtig, diese Erfahrungen zu erzählen, diesen Menschen eine Stimme zu geben, aber dies passiert auf einer wenig empowernden und wenig aktivistisch-künstlerischen Ebene.
  • Die Jugendtanzensembles sind leider oft mit privilegierten jungen Menschen besetzt. Soziökonomische Kriterien legen hier fest, wer die Chance hat, Teil dessen zu sein. Dabei geht es nicht darum, ausschließlich die Frage zu stellen wie wir es schaffen, Menschen in die Ensembles zu bringen, sondern vielmehr auch in die Ursachenforschung zu gehen.
  • Dolmetscher*innen (Gebärdensprache) können auch eine Barriere sein, weil immer die Frage ist, WER dolmetscht? Man braucht immer jemanden, der eine hohe Sprachkompetenz aufweist und am besten jemand, der auch im Kulturbereich gebildet ist. Es geht nicht mit jeder Person, die DGS kann, das reicht nicht.
  • Aus meiner Erfahrung liegt die Diskursmacht zum Thema Vernetzung am Ende bei denen, die sich aus ihrer Festanstellung heraus damit am beschäftigen können. Freiberufliche Künstler*innen oder Tänzer*innen sind da vielleicht für kurze Zeit mit am Start, können das aber nicht in gleichem Maße durchziehen. Daher sind es letztlich immer die selben Personen, die aufgrund ihrer Arbeitsstelle den längeren Atem haben, auch für so Prozess-Sachen.
  • Gleichwertige Vergütung gleicher Arbeit, besonders mit Freiberufler*innen und Ehrenamtlichen Arbeiter*innen.

 

Das Projekt eines Tanzvermittlungszentrums verspricht Wachstum und Veränderung für das Feld. Was ist für dieses Wachstum nötig? Wie kann die Veränderung aussehen?

The project of a “Tanzvermittlungszentrum” promises growth and change for the field. What is needed for this growth? How can the change look like?

  • The biggest change necessary is in the training of dancers – skilling up the next generation of dances for the challenge they face. This includes supporting them to widen their definition of art-making, to access work which functions in economies beyond subsidy, to experience body and choreography at the intersection on education/society/politics.
  • Kunst und Bildung müssen zusammen gedacht werden. Bildung von Kultur zu trennen ist eine der effektivsten Wege die es gibt, um Ungleichheit zu begünstigen. Der Kunstbetrieb müsste also z.B. vor allem auf die Qualität der künstlerische Vermittlung achten, also auf die Ausbildung der Kunstvermittler*innen, auf die Qualität und die Diversifizierung je nach Kontext von Inhalten, Methoden und Institutionen, statt darüber zu streiten ob künstlerische Vermittlung in der Gesellschaft Kunst sei oder nicht. Diese Prozesse finden schon statt, müssen aber auf einer größeren Skala durchgeführt und empirisch erforscht werden.
  • multiple languages in funding applications
    removing barriers to access for funding applications
    LONG TERM projects so each time the hard work of making partnerships is not always needing to be redone
    mentoring programmes
    working with institutions and organisations to anchor initiatives beyond individuals and in organisation structures
    platforms targeted to specific communities – developed in dialogue with those communities
    Collective working structures integrating multiple perspectives
    Listening
    responding with action
    facilitating others being able to take action
    Acting
    Changing ingrained ways of working
  • Change would hopefully function by breaking the barriers and hierarchies between forms and disciplines, as well between cultural dance, artistic dance, community dance and institutional dance, while uniting the efforts of dance mediators with educational/pedagogical workers, and social workers. It could look like a space of intersectional and interwoven change and growth, based on an understanding of the current reality of the needs of the society in all its diverse sectors and communities.
  • Ein Wachstum macht für mich nur Sinn, wenn es auch eine inklusive, gleichberechtigte und diskriminierungsfreie Praxis verspricht. Dafür braucht es einen Lernprozess der Szene, was diese Praxis überhaupt bedeutet. Vor allem sollen Akteur*innen, die sie längst praktizieren, in die Entscheidungspositionen kommen. Um Veränderungen bekommen zu können muss auch dafür Platz gemacht werden.
  • Partnerships which are based upon identifying the needs of all parties involved and an ongoing negotiation of these needs.
  • Entwicklungsprozesse auf institutioneller Ebene wie auch die direkte kulturelle Praxis sollten aus einer wissenschaftlicher Perspektive begleitet werden. Im Rahmen eines reflexiven Prozesses und im Sinne der Nachhaltigkeitsprüfung.
  • What is needed is a decolonised perspective towards dance, its definition and the related notions of normality, beauty and ability. It is necessary to do the effort of re-visiting and re-examining the history of dance in Germany and the related notion of “Tanzvermittlung”, to understand if it was inclusive, diverse and providing equal opportunity in expression and service.
  • Indem man Vermittler*innen einlädt die marginalisiert und ausgeschlossen sind, indem man Alternativen sucht zu den Praktiken die sehr präsent sind (Improvisation statt Ballett, Butoh statt Gaga, Gartenarbeit statt zeitgenössischer Tanz), indem man Formate gestaltet in denen man die
  • Chance hat, Marginalisierung körperlich zu erfahren, das regt die Empathie an, indem man mehrere Medien mischt um Wahrnehmungsverträglichkeit zu fördern, indem man Leitungsfunktionen und Kuratorische Positionen regelmäßig wechselt um neue Sichtweisen zu erlauben.
  • Sharing different perspectives of the definition of Dance.
  • Go to them, support their creation of their own dance and their own embodiments, and empower their expressions of identity and transformation. Stop framing dance as a western practise, and stop presenting “aesthetic” dance as a white practise while looking at the rest of the forms as inferior, or “not aesthetic/not artistic”, or “cultural” or “not professional” or “under-developed”. Stop racialising dance, stop stigmatising the dancing body. Dismantle categorisation and polarisation. Deconstruct the history of colonising the dancing body.
  • I believe collaborations and partnerships with social centres, family centres, youth centres, groups of mothers, churches, i.e. Flüchlingskirche, Berlin Mondiale and Wasserwerk program. This type of partnerships expands the possibilities of dance education and outreach, its potential for reaching out, and for touching marginalised groups and providing them with creative opportunities for self expression, participation and empowerment.
  • Wie können bestehende Kunst- und Kulturinstitutionen mit Grassroot-Organisationen arbeiten, so dass mehr marginalisierte Perspektiven mit einbezogen werden, ohne dass die einzelnen Akteur*innen sich noch zusätzlich zum Inhalt viel um die Struktur kümmern müssen?
  • Practice based research is of vital important. To give voice to all the experiences and opinions, even if they are labeled as “not knowledgeable”. To connect academic research with individual testimonies, and with practice-based research. To question who has the right to research and why, to question what research is, and according to which pedagogical discourse.

 

Wir laden Sie ein, eine Vision für das Tanzvermittlungszentrum zu formulieren.

We invite you to formulate a vision for the “Tanzvermittlungszentrum”.

  • Tanzvermittlung in Berlin braucht eine Gesamtstrategie um für und durch Tanz Interesse, Sichtbarkeit, Innovation und mehr kulturelle Gerechtigkeit zu schaffen. Dafür sind, je nach Handlungsfeld der Vermittlung, differenzierte Kompetenzen notwendig.
  • To reach with formats that work with schools, houses of the elderly and family centres. And to reach out with dance workshops and classes to employees who are always sitting behind their desks. People who dance have more immunity against sickness, dance provides more richness for the creative minds. Among the bureaucratic employees who would urgently need Tanzvermittlung  are those at the job centres, Finanzamt and Ausländerbehörde! They MUST dance!
  • Das Tanzvermittlungszentrum könnte z.B. ein Festival oder einen „Monat der Tanzvermittlung“ oder einen „Tag der Tanzvermittlung“ organisieren, in ganz Berlin in allen Stadtteilen, wo überall DRAUßEN in Parks auf den Straßen, überall wo es geht, Tanzworkshops in allen Stilen und Sprachen stattfinden…
  • The “field” of socially engaged dance – participative/participatory/community dance – will be needed to lead the way into what comes next for the whole of the dance scene.
  • Ein Ort , der den unterschiedlichen „Tanzkulturen“ Raum gibt und die Vielfalt in Berlin zeigt. Ein Ort der Vernetzung der Communities und der Tanzvermittler*innen bzw. der entsprechenden Organisationen. Ein Wissenspool, eine Fortbildungsstätte, ein Zentrum mit internationalen Kontakten, Laboren zum Ausprobieren und Verwerfen, zum Diskutieren und Veröffentlichen, eine Anlaufstelle für alle, die sich informieren wollen.
  • The house of many – Ein fluider unbürokratischer Raum, eine spontan lebendige administrative und performative Plattform  – Soziale Plastik (Beuys) des Austauschs, eine Wissensbank, die für alle interessierten Menschen zugänglich und erlebbar ist.
  • Die Teamaufstellung sollte das möglich machen – administrative Vorgänge, Beratungen etc. Ein steter Dialog durch Kommunikator*innen, Multiplikator*innen und Koordinator*innen die nicht nur überfordert und gestresst am Tresen stehen, das muss möglich sein und eine Menschlichkeit zulassen. Ich habe leider häufig solche Situationen in der Hochkultur erlebt, weiß aber aus eigener Erfahrung, dass bei entsprechender Teamaufstellung das auch anders zu lösen ist. Ich sehe bei so einem Zentrum zwei Hauptbereiche: 1. die performative offene Plattform (nicht über kuratiert), veranstaltet durch Player der Tanzvermittlungsszene (nach unserer Definition: Diversität, Inklusion, antidiskriminierend and so on). 2. den Ansatz/die Philosophie vertretend: entsprechende Multiplikator*innen/Player der unterschiedlichen interkulturellen Tanzszenen initiieren ein repräsentatives divers aufgestelltes Programm für das Publikum. Eine Art fluides Happening, Wissensbank mit Beratungs-/Konferenz-/Dialogräumen und Plattformen – Strukturen schaffen der alltäglichen Begegnung, organisierter Austausch von KnowHow, Beratung etc. Organisches Chaos darf sein, wo nicht alles durchgetaktet ist, denn die Situation vieler Gruppen und Teilnehmerstrukturen und ihrer Lebensrealitäten lässt dies gar nicht anders zu,  sprich es gibt die Dringlichkeit, spontan agieren zu können. Ein wertfreier Raum in dem sich unterschiedliche Player, unabhängig ihrer eigenen Interessen begegnen und sich dem Ziel verschreiben, Tanz und performativem Ausdruck allen zugänglich zu machen. Eine symbolische Vernetzungs-Lounge, Plattformen der Expertise werden konkurrenzfrei vermittelt. Ich würde behaupten, dass das Selbstverständnis des Tanzes als Etwas im Alltag Sichtbares wachsen muss. Dafür braucht es Anlässe und die Erschließung des öffentlichen Raums für den Tanz. Es braucht außerdem die praktische Nutzbarkeit jener Flächen – Überdachung, Stromanschlüsse.
  • I wish it would be a polyvalent space, bright and open, cozy, have the most precious and impossible to find documentation – like one-off booklets, exhibition catalogues, audiovisual inspirations –, that it would be perfect for testing out a format or sit down for a meeting. That it would be thought for bringing mind and body together.
  • I imagine it as a platform that is de-centralised, working in circular patterns, or spiral patterns, within each spiral there are meeting points that intersect with other rounds of spirals, which guarantees circulation, continuity and intersections and horizontal expansion.
  • Was wäre wenn diese Orte so stark in die gesellschaftlichen Räume hineingetragen werden, dass sie als eigenständige Orte nicht mehr erkennbar sind?
  • Ich würde gerne von Wirken sprechen. Im TVZ sehe ich das Potential in der Tanzszene eine diversitätsorientierte und diskriminierungskritische Perspektive als Grundhaltung zu etablieren und Akteur*innen der Szene dahingehend zu sensibilisieren und zu stärken. Das TVZ als ein Ort, der kulturpolitische Ziele für Tanz und dessen Vermittlung formuliert und ein diverses Netzwerk von unterschiedlichsten Akteur*innen bildet, das das Feld der Tanzvermittlung in einem kontinuierlichen Prozess über Austausch und Forschung weiterentwickelt. Ich erhoffe mir ein Wirken auf Aus- und Weiterbildungsebene, auf der Ebene der kulturellen Praxis (Ausschreibungen, Projektentwicklung, -durchführung, -verwaltung etc.) und auf politischer Ebene (mehr Ressourcen für Tanzvermittlung, also Geld und Räume). Desweiteren bedeutet dieses Wirken Veränderung einer gesamtgesellschaftlichen Haltung, in der Tanzvermittlung in ihrer künstlerisch-edukativen Arbeitsform als substantiell und unentbehrlich gilt und als Kunstform gleichwertig zu Tanz und Theater gesehen wird.
  • Mein Traum wäre es, wenn taube und hörende Künstler*innen auf Augenhöhe arbeiten und es nicht als besonders angesehen wird, dass taube Menschen auch tanzen können.
  • I think it is vital that the (de)centre is not attached to ONE house in terms of its content/initiatives. It can be located in an area that is not well served by dance opportunities. Participative processes which work with communities who are not yet engaged in the dance scene can initiate change in the scene which the scene itself would perhaps not initiate. An independent centre would be free to ask questions, spotlight topics, further discourses which might bring together different “bubbles” who are concerned with a similar topic or theme.

On 26 February 2021, an online lab took place to analyse and engage with the content of the interviews. The questions answered by the individual stakeholders in the interviews served as the starting point for a collective discussion and exchange.

 

Participants

The lab brought together a total of 19 participants from a broad range of contexts in the fields of of art and dance education and outreach (in alphabetical order): Medhat Aldaabal, An Boekman, Barbara Greiner, Eva-Maria Hörster, Martina Kessel, Athina Lange, Bahar Meric, Jo Parkes , Livia Patrizi, Rajyashree Ramesh, Ron Rosenberg, Sven Seeger, Robert Segner, Esmir Srdanovic, Diana Thielen, Axel Timm, Teo Vlad, Maren Witte and Marie Yan.

Many of the participants were present in various roles, for example as freelance artists, choreographers and teachers, curators, dance scholars, actors and as representatives of institutions (Marameo, Inter-University Centre for Dance Berlin [HZT], Mobile Dance, Raumlaborberlin, Zeitgenössischer Tanz Berlin e.V., Chance Tanz, Theater Fratz, Maxim Gorky Theater).

 

Co-moderation: Nora Amin, Elena Basteri, Janne Gregor, Elisa Ricci and Gabriele Reuter.

Technical moderation: Angela Alves

Translation into German Sign Language: Carola Otto and Rebecca Haupt;

Language: German with English translations in the chat (by Elisa Ricci).

 

For the lab, Yorgos Konstantinou conducted the graphic protocol displayed below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In November 2021, I was invited to participate in a lab as a concluding step in the conception phase for a future Tanzvermittlungszentrum in Berlin. I was asked to attend the lab, provide a critical response at the end of it, and to archive the content and experience of the lab in a text.1

My critical response and this text are informed by my role as member of the advisory board, the so-called ‘extended team’, which supported and advised the work of the steering group between 2021 and 2022, focusing on questions of accessibility, diversity, power-sharing and leadership models.

 

Time, access and solidarity are three keywords that neatly recap or synthesise what was discussed and highlighted during the lab. These three keywords also provide a concise reflection of the conception phase for a future Tanzvermittlungszentrum in Berlin, including its achievements and failures.

For this reason, I have taken these three keywords as guiding principles, in order to map out the ethics and working cultures of the future institution and the 2022 pilot phase Access Point Tanz. To do this, I interweave the three keywords with concepts borrowed from an article that has been central to my advisory work in the conception phase with the steering group.2 The article is called “White Supremacy Culture”, and is part of the body of work Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun (2001)3. Jones and Okun describe a set of characteristics of what they call “white supremacy culture”. The most impressive aspect of this article, which is based on years of anti-racism work in the USA, is that it offers so called “antidotes” to the “characteristics” of white supremacy culture. These antidotes seek to deliver practical solutions that can be applied and become inscribed in the working cultures of cultural organizations and institutions, in order to liberate them from the toxic habits of a white supremacy culture.

The characteristics that the authors list as the foundations of white supremacy culture are: perfectionism, a sense of urgency, defensiveness, quantity over quality, worship of the written word, paternalism, either/or thinking, power hoarding, fear of open conflict, individualism, progress is bigger and more, objectivity, the right to comfort (Jones and Okun 2001).

I find that these characteristics outlined by the authors speak for themselves, and in fact, they really do not need further explanation. I would go so far as to assert that anyone who works for a cultural organisation or art institution would certainly recognise at least a few of these dynamics. Whether we’d like to admit it or not!

In the following, the characteristics and antidotes identified by Jones and Okun help to reveal the centrality of time, access and solidarity in creating healthy working cultures and for the quest to leave white supremacy behind.

 

Time

 

During the lab, the wish for a constructive, non-toxic culture of time management was expressed in various different ways: time for self-care, time to find out how team members want to work together, time for long-term strategies, time to reflect and deal with conflict openly, time for critical self-reflection processes, time for evaluation.

Interestingly, all these wishes about time also mirror the kind of time that was lacking during the conception phase, which took place under pressure because of bureaucratic structures of time management. Despite the time pressure generated by this culture of urgency, the steering group and the advisory board invested time and energy into establishing accessibility as a foundation for the future Tanzvermittlungszentrum, as well as healthy working cultures, and a critical culture of self-reflection. Paradoxically, this investment of time and energy, led to an unhealthy culture of overworking and burn-out for some people.

The authors of “White Supremacy Culture” bring up what they call a “sense of urgency” as a characteristic of white supremacist culture, and they help to explain how this works:

  • continued sense of urgency that makes it difficult to take time to be inclusive, encourage democratic and/or thoughtful decision-making, to think long-term, to consider consequences
  • frequently results in sacrificing potential allies for quick or highly visible results, for example sacrificing interests of communities of color in order to win victories for white people (seen as default or norm community)
  • reinforced by funding proposals which promise too much work for too little money and by funders who expect too much for too little (Jones & Okun 2001)

The antidotes to the spread of an invasive “sense of urgency” and its consequences provide a perspective that includes time and access. The proposed antidotes to sense of urgency are:

Realistic work plans; leadership which understands that things take longer than anyone expects; discuss and plan for what it means to set goals of inclusivity and diversity, particularly in terms of time; learn from past experience how long things take; write realistic funding proposals with realistic time frames; be clear about how you will make good decisions in an atmosphere of urgency (Jones & Okun 2001)

Time and access are clearly intertwined. A culture of time born out of a “sense of urgency” blocks processes of access, as Jones and Okun clearly describe. Therefore, the dismantling of this kind of time culture is a precondition to approaching processes of accessibility and to fostering critical diversity.

 

Access

 

Access was discussed by the groups at the lab as something that travels from inside to outside (outreach) and from outside to inside (in-reach), characterised by a movement which recalls a moebius strip. Processes of marginalisation were central to the discussion. Issues of internal and external access to the field were discussed, as well as formats of access for communication with funding institutions; and of providing funders and administrators in the field with access to discourses around accessibility.

Of course, cultures of access are complex, and a different time culture is not the only ingredient in providing accessible structures. The analysis of further categories laid out by Jones and Okun are therefore central to tackling this complexity. Lack of accessibility is related to phenomena such as “power hoarding”, “defensiveness” (above all of those in power), and “objectivity”. The first two characteristics speak for themselves, so I would like to take some time to introduce Jones and Okun’s notion of “objectivity”:

  • the belief that there is such a thing as being objective
  • the belief that emotions are inherently destructive, irrational, and should not play a role in decision-making or group process; invalidating people who show emotion
  • requiring people to think in a linear fashion and ignoring or invalidating those who think in other way
  • impatience with any thinking that does not appear logical to those with power (Jones & Okun 2001)

The definition of “objectivity” as a characteristic of white supremacy cultures offers two aspects which have a particular potential to transform the field of art institutions: on the one hand, the invitation to break taboos on emotions and emotional labour, and on the other hand, the invitation to welcome non-linear thinking.

If initiated in art institutions, both processes would make an immense contribution to the dissolution of (emotional) blockages concerning racist and patriarchal structures, and to transforming the sense of guilt among white people into a political and social sense of responsibility, which would in turn foster accessibility and diversity based on healthy emotional environments.

Dance, movement and the body are amazing instrument for navigating these processes, and it is in fact odd that industry professionals working in dance institutions very rarely seek to tap this potential for engaging in processes to transform working cultures, and combat structural racism and discrimination.

 

The antidotes that Jones and Okun offer to “objectivity” are:

Realize that everybody has a world view and that everybody’s world view affects the way they understand things; realize this means you too; push yourself to sit with discomfort when people are expressing themselves in ways which are not familiar to you; assume that everybody has a valid point, and your job is to understand what that point is. (Jones & Okun 2001)

Raising consciousness around distorted perceptions of objectivity has the potential not only to create healthy working cultures that are able to welcome mistakes and process conflict, but also to destabilise beliefs about artistic quality and the centrality of the canon.

 

Solidarity

 

Solidarity came up in the lab in terms of the (in)capacity to support each other and through an interrogation of existing forms of collaboration, as well as with respect to the fear of losing control and power. How do we cultivate a form of solidarity that is able to infiltrate and pervade deep into the tissue of cultural organisations and institutions and become structural, enabling it to take into consideration the interweaving of different forms of discrimination? In fact, an understanding of several of the characteristics outlined by Okun and Jones along with the antidotes they offer can help us to envision and construct a form of solidarity that can be called structural and intersectional. These characteristics are: “individualism”, “fear of open conflict”, “power hoarding”, and “defensiveness”.

I would like to foreground “power hoarding” here as a characteristic that must be tackled in order to install cultures of solidarity, with the antidotes to power hoarding offering a way out of toxic working cultures. Once again, I would assert that anyone working in art institutions is very familiar with the dynamics of power hoarding.

 

Okun and Jones define power hoarding as follows:

  • little, if any, value around sharing power
  • those with power feel threatened when anyone suggests changes in how things should be done in the organization, feel suggestions for change are a reflection on their leadership
  • those with power don’t see themselves as hoarding power or as feeling threatened
  • those with power assume they have the best interests of the organization at heart and assume those wanting change are ill-informed (stupid), emotional, inexperienced

Reading these points, it becomes clear how necessary it is to raise awareness among those in power if we are to build up cultures of solidarity. In order to achieve a structural and intersectional form of solidarity, art institutions and organisations need to radically rethink the hierarchical model of the “singular white curatorial sovereignty” (Liepsch, Warner and Pees 2018).

 

The antidotes offered by Okun and Jones are as follows:

include power sharing in your organization’s values statement; discuss what good leadership looks like and make sure people understand that a good leader develops the power and skills of others; understand that change is inevitable and challenges to your leadership can be healthy and productive; make sure the organization is focused on the mission (Jones & Okun 2001)

The task is in fact to slow down in order inhabit leadership differently, to rethink models of leadership and approach leadership as co-learning, as co-caring, as co-moving along non-linear paths. To abandon known forms of leadership is another path towards creating accessible and diverse environments in the arts, since a plural, diverse leadership will be slower and lead us beyond regimes of urgency and toward decision-making processes pervaded by diverse perspectives.

 

 

Notes

  1. The concept lab was conceived by the steering group as a concluding dialogical aspect of the concept phase for a future Tanzvermittlungszentrum in Berlin (2020–2021), before formulating the concept paper for the upcoming pilot phase under the name of Access Point Tanz. The lab participants were made up of stakeholders and experts in the field in Berlin. Some of them had previously taken part in the interview.
  2. A workshop on working cultures with the steering group and the advisory board (based in part on this text) took place in autumn of 2021.
  3. More information about Jones and Okun’s workbook, the original article (2001) and its developments, as well as for an updated version (2021) can be found here or here. The 2001 version, which I have quoted from here, can be found here.

The first public event of the steering group for a “Berliner Tanzvermittlungszentrum” in the Wasserwerk in Berlin-Kreuzberg took place on 28 September 2021.

In cooperation with Wasserwerk and the Refugee Church, the team around the steering group offered some insights into their work. They gave a rundown on the recent activities of the group, including a description of the project “Mobiler Tanzsaal” and the artists involved in it, and outlined the current state of work on the project.

 

After a welcome by Nora Amin and Janne Gregor, a number of short contributions were made: Elena Basteri gave an overview of the stocktaking within the conception phase, Elisa Ricci and Sven Seeger reported on the project “Mobiler Tanzsaal”, Amelie Mallmann provided input on the field of dance education and outreach work with children and young people, and Laura Werres reported on the field of dance education and audience engagement within the network “Berlin Mondiale”.

 

Afterwards, the participants exchanged ideas in different working groups and reflected collectively on the state of dance education in Berlin with a focus on a critical understanding of diversity. They discussed participatory dance work in the context of urban practice and interdisciplinary dance practice in areas on the edge of the city, and talked about the issues of centre and periphery, as well as dance practice and decolonization in the context of festivals and artistic platforms.

 

Finally, the attendees celebrated the end of the summer through dance and music.

© Veronika Wagner

Concept, coordination and moderation: Nora Amin

Co-moderation: Janne Gregor

Contributions: Elena Basteri, Amelie Mallmann, Elisa Ricci, Sven Seeger, Laura Werres

Moderation working groups: Nora Amin, Felix Dompreh, Martina Kessel, Gabriele Reuter

Technical support: Dennis Dieter Kopp, Kanishka Sarkar

Graphic recording: Daniel Freymüller

Video documentation: Hannes Schulze

Translation: Waael Fares (AR), Lucia Rossi (EN, RUS), Undine Schäfer, Oya Ataman (DGS)

Campus Esche

Campus Esche is a location in the middle of Berlin-Westend. The site, which is now home to two refugee accommodation facilities, two day-care centres, and a neighbourhood cultural and meeting place, was the site of the “Westend Treatment Centre for Patients with Nervous-System Disorders” from the late 19th century. Since the summer of 2020, the area has been transformed into a vibrant campus and a community and neighbourhood hub, involving all local institutions and seeking to be accessible to all local people. The vision of Campus Esche is a place where people come together and collectively shape society. The goal is encounter, creative work and the personal development of the users, whose talents and ideas are developed through initiatives.

The Campus Esche project is planned and run by MORE THAN SHELTERS in cooperation with the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf integration office as well as with local stakeholders and initiatives, and with the participation of several branches of the Berlin Senate. The project is funded by the district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

 

Sources

Campus Esche

Pilotprojekt Campus Esche

Stadtwerk mrzn

Stadtwerk mrzn is an open and experimental construction site, an international future laboratory, a space of possibility.

Craftspeople, architects, artists and gardeners are working together with young and older people, new and long-standing neighbours, and local initiatives and associations to create joint ideas for open spaces, new ways of working and new models of community-based urban development. The goal of Stadtwerk mrzn is to build something together with local people and to recreate this place for the present day. The site offers a number of ongoing workshops. Designers (both with and without migrant backgrounds) from various civil society initiatives, universities and the local neighbourhood have taken the Stadtwerk as their starting point to discuss urban design, utopias, climate change, architecture and new concepts for an open and diverse community.

Stadtwerk mrzn is planned and run by S27 – Art and Education, in cooperation with Berlin Mondiale. The project is funded by the European Social Fund Germany and the Lotto Foundation Berlin.

 

Sources

Conversation with Vera Fritzsche on 21.02.2022

Stadtwerk mrzn

station urbaner kulturen/nGbK Hellersdorf

The station urbaner kulturen is a decentralized venue run by the Neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK) in the large housing estate at Berlin-Hellersdorf. With a programme of discussion-based events, exhibitions and interventions in public space, artists and residents work together on the development of the neighbourhood.

With the exhibition space station urbaner kulturen and the outdoor site Place Internationale, this practice has two very different sites for reflection, debate and collaboration with the local community. The outdoor site Place Internationale is an extensive green space crossed by residents between the subway station Cottbusser Platz and the intersection of Carola-Neher-Strasse and Maxie-Wander-Strasse. Today, the green space is becoming a space where local communities can engage in dialogue, and new audiences can emerge – here, the past, present and future of Hellersdorf converge.

 

Sources

station urbaner kulturen / nGbK Hellersdorf

Place Internationale

Haus der Statistik

Haus der Statistik near Alexanderplatz in Berlin-Mitte, formerly the headquarters of the East German government’s Central State Administration for Statistics, has been empty since 2008. Until 2017, the building was owned by the federal government, which wanted to demolish it and sell the site, but the Berlin Senate was able to acquire the building complex as part of the Capital Financing Agreement.

This large empty space offers an opportunity to create a place through the cooperation of urban society, politics and local government, creating a connection between existing neighbourhoods and Berlin’s diverse urban society. Administrative uses, a new city hall for Mitte, and integrated forms of living and working as well as space for art, culture and social activities are currently being created there. To achieve this goal, a constellation of stakeholders came together from the Senate Department for Urban Development and Housing, the Mitte district office, the state-owned companies WBM and BIM, and the ZKB. These organisations share the responsibility for implementing the public welfare-oriented developments generated by the Haus der Statistik in the form of new cooperations, while ensuring the widespread participation of urban society.

 

Source

Haus der Statistik

Wasserwerk/Berlin Mondiale

Wasserwerk in Berlin-Kreuzberg is a location and hub of Berlin Mondiale – here, people can come together, experience and make art and culture, meet each other in an egalitarian environment, and celebrate community and diversity. For 2021, an eight-person jury has selected six partners and projects that have taken place at Wasserwerk. In response to the theme “Social Imaginations – What kind of city do we want to live in?” one of the projects was a travelling garden. Play, circus and movement, Raqs Sharki & Raqs Baladi, rap and culinary narratives also invited people to experience and take ownership of the neighbourhood in a new way.

Berlin Mondiale is a Berlin-wide network of cultural practitioners and artists whose work engages with urban spaces and communities with experiences of migration, asylum and exile and employs a radically diverse, collaborative and responsive approach.

 

Sources

Berlin Mondiale

Wasserwerk

How did you come to the field of cultural education and outreach work, and what is your personal connection to it? 

I come neither from dance nor from art, but from social work. In general, I would say that the content of what you do in these formats doesn’t really matter. Whether you dance together, build something together, or cook – it’s about belonging. The people who come here are extremely marginalized, both in terms of who they are and the environment they live in. It even shows in the architecture that surrounds them. They have strong structures in their communities, but outside of that they are not connected. So we are asking ourselves how we can create workshop formats that function as a kind of corridor toward participation in other spheres of life in Berlin. If they have the experience that this is their place and their event, that can set something in motion. If you can remember what is shared, then you are part of the city. And right now, many people here are not part of the city. But it would make our city better if everyone who lives in this city can participate.

 

How did you experience the time with the Mobiler Tanzsaal?

I think that the simpler and more open the workshop offer is, and the fewer rules there are, the more people are interested in taking part, because they think: I can go there, and I can also leave again if I want to. I don’t have to be afraid of being kicked out again; it’s related to my own interests. And then I also identify myself with it and then it’s my thing that I do. I believe that dance is well suited to these processes because on the one hand it takes courage to move your body in front of others, and because dance can function as a universal non-verbal language. What I have often observed in dance formats is a kind of work across styles and ages. For example, when dancing, people spontaneously switch from hip-hop to Afghan pop music, and yet somehow it works together.

 

Where should dance education and outreach work in Berlin go, what do you think is important for the future?

Above all, we need places where something like this can take place. I think dance education often fails because of the lack of venues in public space. I’m also not sure whether something always has to become permanent, because something new can always pop up. Of course, continuity is a good thing, but I don’t think that all institutions, sponsors and associations are equally well suited. If, for example, an arts and culture institution draws attention to a precarious, marginalized situation, this institution does not automatically have to be responsible for the long-term maintenance of the youth-welfare infrastructure that addresses this situation. I think some groups are better at campaigning, and others are better at implementation. And that’s why, first and foremost, places are needed that can then be used for a variety of purposes, and possibly on a temporary basis.

How did you come to the field of dance education and what is your personal focus? 

I was born in Turkey and moved to Berlin-Neukölln with my parents as a child and grew up in clubs and youth centres. That was my second home; I learned to dance there even though my parents were against it. My first dance teacher often sat with us and we first listened to CDs, talked, and then the dancing was no longer the most important thing, but rather this coming together, the familiarity of it. That’s what I try to do when I teach dance in youth centres myself today – build a relationship with the kids. Later I became an educator for children, but on the side I continued to dance, teach, organize dance battles for young people, I founded an association and developed international exchange formats, for example between dancers from Berlin and Cuba. I have also had a lot of contact with contemporary dance, and would describe myself as an all-rounder, not just a hip-hop dancer.

 

What insights and experiences have you taken away from your practical experience with the Mobiler Tanzsaal?

First I always ask myself how I can grab these children, and to do that I have to understand them. Where do they come from? What do they want? What do they need right now? Maybe what they need right now most is to let off steam. Then I forget about the dance, and I run a few laps around the building with them first. When you work with young people from so-called “problem districts”, forging a relationship is the most important thing, I remember that from my own past. What we did with the workshops also always went well when there was a contact person on site who the children knew really well.

I’ve also noticed that the workshops go best when they’re outside, and when they’re open, when people can come and go. And if it goes well, and the kids are motivated, then it’s important that it continues. I think it’s better to have fewer locations and to build something sustainable instead of offering something in many places for a short time.

 

Where should dance education and outreach work in Berlin go, what do you think is important for the future?

I have the feeling that everyone in the dance scene is busy with their own projects and that this basic networking is missing. I would also like to see more dance in public spaces. I wish that it would be more part of everyday life. I also sometimes wonder what the purpose of dance education is supposed to be, and who actually benefits from it. Maybe it only makes a difference for 3 or 4 children out of 100. But if I have to answer the question honestly, I can only say that my whole life today has to do with dance – my friends, my job, my child, all the trips I have made. Even the fact that we are talking to each other here now has something to do with it. And all this because I came into contact with dance at the youth club. It wouldn’t have happened on its own, my parents would never have sent me to a dance school. And then I pursued it, and that set something free inside me, shaped my life.

How did you come to the field of dance education and what is your personal focus? 

I studied dance in Dresden and came to Berlin in 2004, where I came into contact with hip-hop, urban dance and vogueing. For me, the hip-hop scene is a place of dialogue that is very accessible. Anyone can be there, regardless of age, background, appearance, or education level. You learn from each other through doing, you can enjoy the moment with the music, the energy, the people. For me, that has become an important balance to contemporary dance, which is often more concept-heavy, which of course can also be exciting. The hip-hop scene is not so hierarchical or dependent on institutions. We train in youth centres or outside, meet spontaneously in the park or in the club. But many very good hip-hop dancers don’t have formal dance education – it’s hard for them to apply or audition without a degree. Maybe I’m a kind of traveller between the scenes, I learn from both and try to mediate between them.

 

How did you experience your time with the Mobiler Tanzsaal?

Working with the refugees was instructive for me. You can’t go there and say, we’ll do whatever we want here, but you have to ask yourself, what do they need? What are they interested in, who do they already know, who do they trust? I always had to react very spontaneously and see what the people on site are like. Of course, it can’t be compared to a class in a dance school, and I don’t expect it to be. And of course we were on their turf – we were visiting them and behaved accordingly. Sometimes we also asked them if they could show us something from their culture, and then suddenly we were doing African dances or learning Syrian ones. And then you see how dance can really build bridges. When the kids were happy and asked me when I was coming back, that really touched me. I think if the project had lasted longer, the outcomes might have been more sustainable.

 

Where should dance education and outreach work in Berlin go, what do you think is important for the future?

In Berlin there are the well-known festivals for contemporary dance, but there is little that directly appeals to people who don’t come from the art scene. That’s when the classic questions arise: Is this dance or not? The Berlin style is more conceptual, which is okay. But then maybe you shouldn’t be surprised when artists make pieces for artists and everything stays in a bubble. But my feeling is that a lot is changing in the Berlin dance scene at the moment. There is an increased interest in actively engaging the broader public, in dialogue, and also in transparency. I would like to see a centre for dance in Berlin that functions as a gathering and contact point for everyone. A physical place that is accessible to everyone and where people who are connected with dance or want to know more about dance can go – a place for dialogue, networking and inspiration.

How did you get into dance education and what is your personal focus? 

As a dancer originally educated in classical and contemporary dance, I have been working for over 20 years in art and cultural education and outreach work, including in youth and cultural centres, and in intercultural networking and community art. In the past, countries such as France, the Benelux countries or England were further along in this field than Germany, even with regard to the issue of appreciation. In Germany, art education and outreach work was often judged disparagingly. This has largely improved in recent years, even if there is still much to be done. My personal experience is that the majority of artists working in this field are experienced, and cool, very unique things come out of it. My focus is on conveying a multifaceted view of dance and art, and in doing so, also questioning the Western understanding of culture behind it. The use of intercultural crossover and mixed styles in dance education is always helpful when it comes to building these bridges.

 

What insights and experiences did you take away from the practical experience with the Mobiler Tanzsaal?

We asked ourselves: What does urban practice in areas on the outskirts of the city mean in terms of a critical view of the concept of centrality? In doing so, a non-hierarchical community approach was important to us, i.e. an intensive dialogue with the local areas in order to find out what the people there need. We also wanted to offer the workshop leaders a good working atmosphere and not leave them alone when problems arise. We were also interested in artistic quality, e.g. fresh impulses and different styles from the field of urban dance – working with different stakeholders with intercultural backgrounds was a prerequisite. There were also hurdles: the project-related time pressure for one, and the pandemic-related measures and planning difficulties were another. Accordingly, we offered uncomplicated services such as artistic interventions in public spaces (e.g. pop-up workshops and happenings) to see if this could work. That was a good approach, also to see what could make sense in the future for a continuation.

 

What do you think is important for dance education and outreach work now and in the future? Where should it go?

What’s needed are opportunities for spontaneous interactions in urban space, based on acute needs. But that collides with the funding reality at hand – with the permits alone that have to be obtained, such projects quickly reach their limits. So one wish would be for funding programmes that are less complicated to implement in terms of urban practice. In general, I would like to see Berlin first of all fanning out, what could dance education and outreach work comprise? Fortunately, there are no longer the hard boundaries that there used to be; that seems to have dissolved a bit. Now it’s more a matter of considering what is possible and how dance education can be thought of as omnipresent. Nobody wants to question high culture. But education and outreach work that is based around community and participation – for that you need active artists who come into contact with people and implement artistic projects. And that only works with appreciation and continuity.

Developmental Process and Methodological Foundation

The interview and evaluation methods were developed by dance scholar and curator Elisa Ricci. The guidelines were developed by way of an extensive dialogical process within the broader team, with a focus on accessibility, critiquing discrimination, and perspectives that are critical of hierarchies of power. Thematic foci of the guidelines are 1) capabilities and weaknesses of dance education and outreach; 2) currently existing forms of structural discrimination; 3) visions for a “Tanzvermittlungszentrum” in Berlin. These topics were discussed in depth with the interviewees during the lab that took place on 26 February 2021 (see above).

Interviewees

The interview was specifically targeted at experts in the field of (dance) education and outreach.

The interviewees are An Boekman, Angela Alves, Athina Lange, Be van Vark, Bahar Meric, Chang Nai Wen, Christoph Winkler, Diana Thielen, Esmir Srdanovic, Eva-Maria Hörster, Georgina Philipp, Jo Parkes, Joy. C. Alpuerto Ritter, Laura Werres, Lea Martini, Livia Patrizi, Maren Witte, Marie Yan, Martina Kessel, Medhat Aldaabal, Nora Amin, Rajyashree Ramesh, Robert Segner, Ron Rosenberg, Sophia Neises, Sven Seeger, and Teo Vlad.

 

The experts in question are active in a number of different capacities, including as freelance artists, choreographers and teachers, curators, dance scholars, stakeholders, and representatives of institutions (Marameo, Hochschulübergreifendes Zentrum Tanz, Mobile Dance, Raumlaborberlin, Zeitgenössischer Tanz Berlin e.V., Chance Tanz, Theater Fratz, Maxim Gorki Theater, LAFT Berlin, TanzZeit).

 

The interviewees were selected via a process conducted within the broader team, the aim of which was to strike a balance between “contemporary dance” institutions, initiatives and stakeholders from urban dance cultures, organisations that place a focus on dance and social work, and practitioners of dance styles that are not represented in “contemporary dance” institutions (for example, raqs sharqi, baladi dance, various styles of Indian dance).

Evaluation Methodology

The evaluation is based on a transverse, collective reading process conducted within the team (steering group and Elisa Ricci) and on a system of coding using qualitative evaluation methods adapted for dance research (Elisa Ricci).

The ideas and suggestions outlined in the evaluation are shared knowledge in the sense that they emerged from a participatory process involving the steering group, the broader team, and the interviewees.

Evaluation based on main themes

1) STATUS QUO: Weaknesses and Capabilities

Dance education and outreach is generally regarded as the driving force behind structural change in the sense of critically engaging with forms of discrimination – a change that is emerging in both the dance world and the broader art world, and is already underway in certain areas.

There are a number of excellent options for dance educators and practitioners in Berlin, but there are still some gaps that need to be filled: for example, services for people with disabilities, for adults, and for older people. The interaction and exchange between dance educators with and without disabilities needs to be strengthened and promoted on a professional level, and the same is true for education and training opportunities for dance educators both with and without disabilities.

An overall lack of consistency was identified by participants on the level of funding, both for areas that already boast excellent models, and for areas that still have room for expansion. It is vital for the continued evolution of dance education, dance transmission and outreach work – which also has the potential to effect societal change – that long-term funding be ensured, and thus also the capacity to support projects over a period of many years: not only the number of participants, but also – and most importantly – how long they can be involved in the projects in question is a key factor when it comes to ensuring access to education and culture.

Precarious working conditions arising from work conducted on a project-by-project basis were also cited as an issue for freelancers. Similarly, respondents also cited an inequitable distribution of resources, in particular between large and small institutions.

Fragmentation was seen by some to be a strength in the sense that it could engender heterogeneity, but it was perceived by others as a weakening element. It would appear that fragmentation is perceived as a weakening element in cases where it degenerates into hierarchical divisions between different fields: for example, the rift that is perceived as hierarchical that exists between the institutions of “contemporary dance” and the social-work initiatives operating in the dance world; the same can be said of the evidently hierarchical distinction between artistic creation and projects produced in the context of dance and theatre education, as well as between academic dance institutions and self-taught dancers and dance educators.

Fragmentation and a lack of proper coordination go hand in hand with a reduction in the visibility of dance education and outreach, compared with education options in the field of visual arts and theatre of the spoken word, for example. This lack of visibility is further compounded by the inconsistent provision of free, accessible services in public spaces, which should be supported. Expanding free, publicly accessible services has the potential to ensure equal access for all those who are interested.

Structural discrimination can also be found in the field of dance education and outreach. Forms of dance that are labelled as non-artistic are excluded, such as circle dances, urban dance styles, and dances that are considered traditional (as opposed to “contemporary dance”). Respondents saw an urgent need for the concepts of both dance and art to be expanded.

The representation of perspectives that are generally structurally discriminated against is lacking at the leadership level. For example, leadership positions are in some instances occupied by non-disabled people, even within formats that purport to be inclusive. This clearly also pertains to other forms of marginalisation resulting from race- and gender-based discrimination. The issue of class also underpins and amplifies the aforementioned forms of discrimination, both at the level of access to professionalised services and that of reception.

 

2) VISIONS: Change / Strategies

On the whole, there was a clear indication among respondents that they wished to see change in the form of eliminating the existing fragmentation.

Partnerships were repeatedly cited as an appropriate strategy for overturning the fragmentary status quo: partnerships that transcend national borders; with institutions outside of the dance world (for example, beekeepers’ associations, urban gardening); partnerships between institutions in the social, cultural, and education sectors; partnerships with institutions for elderly people, centres for mothers and children, physiotherapy practices, institutions for refugees, institutions offering trauma therapy.

Having the capacity and opportunity to work on partnerships on a long-term basis should be viewed as a privilege; this is something that smaller initiatives are not able to do in the long term. Partnerships should also be continually renegotiated according to the needs of all parties involved.

Concrete, overarching visions for a potential future “Tanzvermittlungszentrum” indicate a desire among respondents for decentralised forms of action and were expressed for example in the following ways: “the centre as a site or series of sites for coming together”; “(ce)centre as in not attached to one institution (…) located in an area that is not well served by dance opportunities”; “a de-centralized platform”; “a network that is not made up of closed, specific teams”; “a bus that is flexible and not tied to a single location, combined with a stationary office and several locations such as rehearsal spaces and studio theatres.” The potential future “Tanzvermittlungszentrum” was also referred to by interviewees as a concrete location encompassing a multiplicity of perspectives. In order to ensure this multiplicity in the long term, leadership roles and curatorial positions could be changed on a regular basis, for example; facilitators from the most disparate dance scenes could develop a truly representative, diverse programme for an audience.

There was a strong common desire expressed by participants for equity and defragmentation, especially on a conceptual level; interviewees repeatedly cited the need to dismantle existing Eurocentric definitions and categorisations of forms of dance. Ultimately, the idea here is to open up and decolonise the concept of dance – to remove labels that are historically defined and function in a hierarchical and discriminatory manner.

Ultimately, what is being striven for is an intersectionally conceived form of equality in the sense of inclusiveness and diversity. Concrete examples of this include deaf and hearing artists meeting on an equal footing, without it being seen as something exceptional that deaf people are also able to dance; another specific example concerns the need to broaden the concept of dance so that dances that are read in connection with a particular culture (for example, with Arab culture) are also read as dance and art as a matter of course. In order to accomplish this, there are a series of complex steps and processes that need to be consistently promoted in the long term; however, what is most important and pressing here is the need for stakeholders in the field of dance education, transmission and outreach to critically examine their own practice with regard to the reproduction of stereotypes and Eurocentric perspectives and content. In this respect, participants expressed a desire for short- and long-term education and training for those involved in the field of dance education, transmission and outreach in order to help reduce discrimination and eliminate stigmas and barriers. Further strategies for overcoming structural discrimination and the ensuing forms of marginalisation are aimed at strengthening and promoting existing services, practices, forms of dance, and forms of expression – both where they occur and in the potential future sites of the “Tanzvermittlungszentrum”. In both cases it seems to be of crucial importance that the dance educators involved from these areas are afforded a degree of decision-making power when they participate. The representation of stakeholders who are generally structurally discriminated against at the leadership level is essential here.

Prospects for the Future

The participants contributed an abundance of approaches, expertise, and ideas that we are unfortunately unable to present here in its entirety. A more in-depth analysis of the data in question that aims to elaborate visions and realise them in concrete terms is both necessary and very much welcome. Further roundtable discussions could be conducted with experts from the group of interviewees, with the goal of planning specific measures or particular aspects. The contents of the interviews, which are summarised here on a macro level, constitute the basis for further stages and topics of the conceptual development process. Suggestions raised by the interviewees – such as visions of fostering a productive connection between research and dance education/outreach, as well as specific strategies for eliminating structural discrimination, which could not be addressed in detail here – will continue to be incorporated into the process.