Ljubljana, 25 November − 4 December 2016
This year’s CoFestival – international contemporary dance festival – brings a series of top international and national contemporary dance works and events that use different approaches to the issues of collectivism and individuality and their symptoms at the permeable border between the private and the public in order to question the potentials of new social cohesions. The programme of the festival grew from the interests and ambitions of its artistic committee interested in contemporary approaches to choreographic practices and ways of communicating with the public and audience. As always, the programme of the festival is problem-oriented and a result of collective efforts and consensus.
CoFestival emerged from the final productions titled Short Cuts and made in the course of the education cycle of the Nomad Dance Academy taking place in 2008 and 2010 in Ljubljana. Because the short cuts spontaneously acquired the form of broadened international festival programme, we decided to organise Pleskavica festival in 2011; the hall and other rooms of Tabor Secondary School Student Residence hosted 36 foreign artists and experts active in the field of contemporary choreographic practices. Pleskavica 2011 initiated an original, participatory and inclusive form of festival programme and choreographic work on the margins of dramatic financial cuts in the cultural budget. In 2012, we thus had to link several festivals and international programmes from the field of contemporary dance that we created or participated in: Pleskavica (Fičobalet and NDA Slovenia), Ukrep, festival of dance perspectives (PTL with Rok Vevar, Sinja Ožbolt and Živa Brecelj), EDN network activity with European project Modul Dance (Kino Šiška with Goran Bogdanovski, Mitja Bravhar and Simon Kardum), and activities of the regional network Nomad Dance Academy (Dragana Alfirević, Dejan Srhoj, Goran Bogdanovski, Jasmina Založnik and Rok Vevar). The result was CoFestival, which underwent modest growth and changes in 2012 and 2014 and consolidated in 2015 into the only true and serious international contemporary dance festival in Slovenia. In terms of contents and funds, we can speak about a miracle of programme and production.
This year’s festival programme was drafted just before the national funding plan was published. This is when it became clear that contemporary dance in Slovenia faces the darkest year since the country declared independence. The situation, namely, borders on the public erasure of this art practice. The field of contemporary dance in Slovenia has become brutally segregated owing to the absence of professional criteria, the absence that actually decides on the right to work. This will have long-term consequences for our creative sector. This we need to be aware of. In our programme orientation and work, the CoFestival artistic team persist in the strategic strengthening of the field, and attempt to continue this practice. Our tactics may become somewhat harsher, too.
This year’s edition of CoFestival brings Collective Jumps, a mass choreography of the established German choreographer Isabelle Schad that questions the emancipatory potentials of the massive dancing body. Traditional patterns of dance collectives under the optic of corporative economic exploitation are the subject of anthropological approach of choreographers Amanda Piña and Daniel Zimmerman in Dance and Resistance from the Endangered Human Movements series. The aspects of collectivism and aesthetics are the topics of Goran Bogdanovski’s piece 2:0, which revives the dissolved ballet and football collective from 2000 that helped the choreographer stage his contemporary ballet hit 1:0 at the Ljubljana Opera, and of Alberto Quesada’s Solo on Bach and Glenn that focuses on choreographic procedurality that replaced choreographer’s instance with egalitarian use of dance scores in the recent history of dance; this brought about the de-hierarchisation of the choreographic field of dance modernism. The aspects of physical violence in the contemporary society are addressed by Violent Event, a piece of young German artists Verena Billinger and Sebastian Schulz, which analyses forms of contemporary spectacular physical brutality in different forms of mediatisation, while Still Standing You performed by Flemish-Portuguese duo Pieter Ampe and Guilhermo Garrida exposes the violence of male friendship in the context of heteronormativity. The performance of Slovenian artist Bara Kolenc titled Rhetoric – Private Thoughts tackles the institution of justice and legal rhetoric in relation to the measured rhetoric function allocated to an individual within the judiciary apparatus, while Only Mine Alone by Serbian dancers, performers and choreographers Igor Koruga and Ana Dubljević is a touching study of forms of contemporary psychopathology that poses a question of whether stepping out of private resolution of systemic contradictions may bring about new social consolidation.
Approximations #5 made by German-Serbian tandem Martin Sonderkamp and Darko Dragičević reveals that the social and political space or the space of emancipation cannot be understood without a fundamental understanding of the particularities of phenomenological – material dynamics of (individual or collective) bodies in relation to a location and its utilitarianism (space), while Roberta Milevoj’s solo Roberta Again, built on subtle dance expression, asks the question of whether any reconciliation and contact is possible between the natural and artificial spaces, or whether escapism is the only possible solution.
The side programme will deal with broadened views of the notion of choreographic, dance and culture work and with temporal (historical) physical and artistic traces. Historical dance contexts and communities will be addressed by exhibitions Ksenija Hribar: Between British and Slovenian Contemporary Dance Context and professional meeting Archiving Choreographic Practices in the framework of the Nomad Dance Institute programme. Different phenomena of accumulations of time in bodies will be addressed at the Extensions #1 workshop led by Martin Sonderkamp and Darko Dragičević, by Michael Maurissen’s film Body as Archive, and in the discussion with dance dramaturge Guy Cools at the presentation of his new book Imaginative Bodies. Nina Božič Yams and Dejan Srhoj, leaders of workshop Use of Choreoghraphic Tools in the Context of Organisation, will attempt to expand contemporary dance to other fields of social activities, while the presentation of Franco “Bifo” Berardi’s book Cognitarians and Semiocapital, soon to be published by Zavod Maska, will offer an opportunity to discuss the burning issue of precarious work with Katja Čičigoj.
We are therefore encountering the fifth edition of CoFestival and the ninth edition of our common work. CoFestival, international contemporary dance festival, is understood as a choreographic manifestation of active citizenship and artistic consolidation of differences that require agreements, arguments, negotiations about the ways of cohabitation, and mindfulness of others. We are building on the expanded conception of choreographic practices as a specific artistic activity and on a broad view of choreographic and dance work, which is not only related to the production of stage works, but also to the ways of productivity and above all creativity, which do not tend exclusively towards the established forms of cultural product and which are usually held outside public, although they have a decisive impact on the ways of working and thinking in dance and choreography. Process-oriented, continuous, long-term and thorough work in the field of choreographic practices and their culture, as well as in the broader field of cultural production, is extremely important to us. And such work has our particular support. We are aware of the national erosion of the cultural and choreographic contexts that affects creative processes especially because of uncertain access to financial sources and dramatic aggravations of survival modalities of artists and creators. If contemporary capitalism is largely subject to the production of subjectivities, which subsequently means the production of individualities and immunitary strategies of individual isolated entities (individuals or communities), CoFestival resists it by promoting intersubjectivity, different relationships seen as a prerequisite for the formation of (artistic, cultural) community, common thinking and ways of coexistence. Although our common work is full of negotiations, disputes, argumentations and management of differences, we understand this as a process of our common and individual growing and learning. We can see the challenges and joys it brings us. The time of our collective work is also understood in the historical context: as a process of class struggle which fostered the processes of change in cultural and artistic practices, including contemporary dance and choreographic practices, so their placement in the wider historical context is something that we want to continue. We want our audience to be aware of the fact that dance is inhabited by an extensive time of history.
We wish you a lot of pleasure while watching performances, many meaningful questions that they will raise, and we would like to see a great number of you at film screenings, discussion events, lectures and workshops, so: socialise with us and coexist with our CoFestival.
For solidarity, humanity and love for one another!