This year?s edition of the International Contemporary Dance Festival ?Body/Mind? is set to take place between 30 September and 5 October (Teatr Studio and Hala Gwardii) under the wordplay lead theme ?Orient Yourself!?. As it has been the case so far, the upcoming edition of the festival will cover some of the latest trends in the broadly defined dance art, while also focusing on the Middle East, or as it came to be referred to within the historical yet still applied cultural framework, the Orient. As emphasized by Edyta Kozak, the artistic director of the Festival, the 17th edition of Body/Mind has also been inspired by the strong social and cultural movement in contemporary world, the movement towards one?s roots and national cultures. This phenomenon coincides with information noise, an overload of news that results in a mistrust towards the reports that reach us every day. Thus, it is the Festival?s goal this year to domesticate this conglomerate of multiplicity and ambiguity, while also answering several key questions. The presented pieces and accompanying events will focus around four chief notions: conflict, masculinity, identity, and exile, which will interlace both within each piece an between them, manifesting a glimmering multiplanar character of the four key themes. The major thread in this year?s edition of the Festival will be provided by artists from the Mediterranean basin, headlined by Omar Rajeh of Lebanon. A living institution: dancer, choreographer, director, founder of the Maqamat Dance Theatre and the BIPOD International Dance Festival (both based in Beirut), and the originator of the Middle Eastern network Masahat Dance, which supports and promotes Arab artists from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine, Rajeh?s oeuvre is dominated by corporeal expression and frequently features live music. The formula of his pieces is often compared to Western dance theatre but, as stressed by Edyta Kozak, such labelling is insufficient since it fails to account for the working conditions of artists whose output is created in menacing conditions. The impulse behind Rajeh?s #minaret (2 October, 8:30 pm) was the destruction of the Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo. The artist reflects on his own culture, contemplating contemporary conflicts and taking a stance of artistic defiance.
One chance to get introduced to the artists of this region will be the Arab artists? night (1 October, 6 pm). Although the selection is far from representative, the director of the festival intended it as a sample size of what is being created by the artists living and working in a given country, mostly non-migrants (except for Hamdi Dridi, a Tunisian based in France). Among the most intriguing notion was the way in which the artists tackle their respective themes, among others the dialogue between the East and the West. In ?volv?, Yara Boutsany of Lebanon inspects how the body and the mind cope with the situation of constant change and faced with an incessant stream of news. Hamdi Dridi?s I Listen (You) See juxtaposes the body of a dancer with that of a worker, seeking out their differences, most of all the poetic dimension of the dancer?s body. Another Lebanese artist, Bassam Abou Diab, examines the ways in which the body reacts to danger and war, what position it assumes, how it responds to triggers. His piece is accompanies by the rhythmic sounds of a drum.
A separate time slot has been reserved for Face ? la mer, por que les larmesdeviennent des éclats de rire (5 October, 8:30), whose title can be freely translated into ?facing the sea to change tears into laughter.? Its author, Radhouane El Meddeb, represents a double, French-Tunisian identity. Interestingly, back in Tunisia he was a theatre actor, which he remained upon moving to France, eventually turning towards theatre. The transition was inspired by a meeting with the exquisite improviser Lisa Nelson. In the words of Edyta Kozak, the piece presented in Warsaw can be said to be the return of a prodigal son, since it is El Meddeb?s firs project with Tunisian artists in twenty years. No wonder, then, that it is permeated by a yearning for the artist?s home country. A piece about those who disappear ? looking for work, for a better life ? the piece is conducted through motionlessness that guides the dancers towards a radical recognition. They stand and gaze forward, as if in a mute reassurance of their position. Accompanied by live music, the piece uses a typical combination of music and multiple cast shared by all Arab performances showcased at the Festival.
The Festival will also feature a presentation of Sons of Sissy by Simon Mayer of Austria (3 October, 8:30 pm), a musician-turned-performer, whose piece was advertised during the Body/Mind press conference by Natalia Wawrzewska of the Austrian Cultural Forum in Warsaw. The artist takes on the theme of folk dances which, similarly to any local folklore, are immensely popular in his home country, attracting a large audience on a regular basis (while in Poland the folk culture is gradually being revived, in Austria it has been part and parcel of daily life since time immemorial, and as such it has been continually sustained). To Mayer?s Austrian audience, the piece opens a plane for a shared ritual and self-inspection, one that the organisers hope will be ingrained with the Polish audience. The thematic axis of the piece revolves around the definition of masculinity, expressed through a redefinition of typically masculine dances ? the dancing men co-exist with one another, without a pretext for war and aggression; quite the contrary, dance is a trigger for tenderness and intimacy. Similarly to the Arab pieces featured in the Festival, Mayer?s piece highlights the role of live music, since the dancers also play the role of musicians, playing the violin, the double bass, and Alpine bells, while also making use of the acoustic capacity of their own bodies by yodelling (employed as a sound of rejoicing), clapping, hitting their hands against their (and their dancing partners?) thighs and buttocks.
One crucial field of activity taken up by the Festival (organised by the Association of Independent Dancers) and the Body/Mind Foundation, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, has been the support of Polish dance productions. In keeping with this tradition, this year?s edition of the festival will include two premieres:
Sorry by Anita Wach (4-5 October, 6 pm) and Manfred Macx by Tomasz Bazan (2-3 October, 7 pm). Anita Wach ranks among the best Polish contemporary dancers and choreographers, and has been featured at the Festival more than once, but so far only as part of various collectives. This year, Wach will present her original piece, developed together with Greg Zork of the Slovenian collective Via Negativa, with whom she has collaborated for many years. Wach?s piece builds on Michel Serves?s notion of parasitical communication, according to which any sort of relationship implies a disruption. The estimated duration of the piece is two hours, yet according to Edyta Kozak, no-one knows how long it will actually last, since this performative duo is based on momentary improvisation of its performers and auhors.
Tomasz Bazan?s collaboration with Patryk Rybarski, the master of pole dance, whose body Bazan refers to as a machine, which fittingly matches Manfred Macx, the eponymous protagonist of Charles Stross?s futuristic novel Accelerando. The author probes the possibilities of departing his own body and consciousness. According to Bazan, we are currently at an interesting crossroads where we have finished our evolution as biological beings. The choreographer thus looks into a departing body, perceiving people as evolutionary shards. Using Rybarski?s body, he launches an investigation of the new, unfathomed body.
Equally interesting is the programme of the accompanying events. Most presentations will be followed by artist talks; the organisers have also planned a discussion panel on Arab dance featuring the invited artists (moderated by dr Patrycja Sasnal). The programme also includes a film slate presented as part of the State-theatre cycle, devoted to cities understood as stages and architecture. The audience will have a chance to watch films by Berlin-based artists, presenting Berlin, Beirut, and Teheran (screenings on 1 and 5 October). Hosted by Hala Gwardii, the opening of the Festival will be provided with a special setting in the form of a dance-off between artists representing various dance styles (including one participant selected in the course of a workshop preceding the dance-off). The event will refer to street culture, which is by nature inclusive and open to the audience ? hence the dance-off jury will be made up of members of the audience. The Festival will also feature the project Zorientuj się! Porozmawiaj/ Napisz! [Orient Yourself! Talk/Write!], held in collaboration with the Centre for Dance Art in Warsaw. Created by Hanna Raszewska-Kursa, this dance criticism workshop will enable participants to meet in order to discuss the presented pieces in an intimate environment. They will also be encouraged to write a feature article on the Festival and submit it for a competition-based review ? the winning piece will then be published.
Young Arab Artists? Night
6 pm Hamdi Dridi (Tunisia/France): I listen, (you) see; Bassam Abou Diab (Lebanon): under the flesh
8:30 pm Yara Boustany (Lebanon), ?volv?
8:30 pm Omar Rajeh (Lebanon) #minaret
8:30 Simon Mayer (Austria): Sons of Sissy
8:30 pm Radhouane El Meddeb (Tunisia, France): Face ? la mer, pour que les larmes deviennent des éclats de rire
Premieres by Polish artists:
7 pm Tomasz Bazan (Poland): Manfred Macx
6 pm Anita Wach, Via Negativa (Poland/Slovenia): Sorry
The Festival will begin with a dance-off at Hala Gwardii. The event will refer to boxing trainings held at the venue, as well as break dance ?battles? between b-boys. The dance-off will feature seven dancers representing different types of contemporary dance, as well as the participants of the workshops held on the preceding day.
Apart from the performances, the programme will also include a review of films by the Berlin-based artists Daniel Kötter and Constanze Fischbeck, presented as part of the cycle State-theatre, showcasing the urban stages of Beirut, Berlin, and Teheran. The review will be accompanied by a discussion panel on the modern-day Arab dance stage, and a meeting with the artists featured at the Festival. o
As part of the Festival, the Body/Mind Foundation will host an open project Zorientuj się! Porozmawiaj/ Napisz! [Orient Yourself! Talk/Write!].The project is organised in collaboration with the Centre for Dance Art in Warsaw.
Performing at the Festival?s finale will be Wiktor Milczarek (Souvenir de Tanger).
Tickets are available at the Theatre?s box office and online at the Theatre website
Ticket prices range from 20 PLN to 30 PLN.
Palace of Culture and Science, Pl. Defilad 1, Warsaw
Orient Yourself! Don?t Miss the Body/Mind Festival!
Artistic director: Edyta Kozak
Organiser: Body/Mind Foundation
Co-organiser: STUDIO teatrgaleria
Partners: network apap ? advancing performing arts project ? EU Programe ?Creative Europe?, Austrian Cultural Forum Warsaw, Dance On Tour, Institut Francais, Institut Francais de Pologne, Centre for Dance Art in Warsaw, Samo Centrum Wszechświata, Hala Gwardii
Media patrons: Chilli Zet, TVP Kultura, Didaskalia, Teatr, Aktivist, Notes na 6 tygodni, In Your pocket, E-teatr.pl, Teatralia.com.pl, taniecPOLAND.pl
Co-financed by the Capital City of Warsaw and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
More information: http://2018.cialoumysl.pl/