Léim Live

Sheila Creevey: Module B placement – Dance in Düsseldorf

Author: Sheila Creevey

Tanzhaus nrw

My third and final Module B placement was at tanzhaus nrw, a large and extremely busy dance house based in Düsseldorf, Germany. Over two weeks in August, I spent time getting to know more about the organisation – it’s structures and infrastructure, programmes, artists and ambitions.

My placement with tanzhaus nrw coincided with not one, but two festivals: the Opening Festival for the tanzhaus new season which showcased the artists associated with the organisation; and the (in)famous Tanzmesse – a huge European market place for dance. It was a very busy time for all the team, and I am very grateful they found time to make me feel welcome, and talk with me about their work.

Tanzhaus nrw has a broad programme offering. It includes education and outreach, an in-house academy programme, professional projects and residencies, as well as major European and international projects. Bettina Masuch took over as Director from Bertram Müller in January 2014, and introduced her first programme during the Opening Season festival. Bettina’s ambitions for the organisation have a long term vision of investment that aims to maintain and build on local activities, while also keeping the international horizon of the organisation. She sees the main challenges to this in political shifts and changes, and the impact of this on funding.

One of the outcomes of such a broad remit and programme is a complex staffing structure. I met with the Heads of the main departments (Programming, Young Dancehouse, ACTIVE) and learned more about how they develop their projects and programmes, and how they see their work developing under the a new leadership and agenda. I felt that while the team were positive about the changes being implemented within the organisation, there was a little uncertainty as to how their roles and relationships would develop – internally and externally. However, they all trusted the process, and recognised that once the initial busyness of the opening season had subsided all would become much clearer.

And for the festivals… I don’t think there is enough space in a single blog post to describe my hectic experience! Suffice to say that I had many long days and late evenings experiencing as much current work from across the world as I could handle.

The stand out performance in the tanzhaus new season programme for me was Alexandra Waierstall’s “Matter Of Ages”, which premiered during the festival. This piece was developed through the modul-dance European project. Waierstall is also an associate artist of tanzhaus nrw, and one I will be watching with much interest. Another associate artist (or ‘Factory Artist’) is Jan Martens, whose company performed his athletic and astounding ‘Dog Days are Over’ during this festival also – a piece that I experienced in Umeå at the Spring Forward festival, and was completely enthralled with again in Düsseldorf.

Tanzmesse was an introduction to the messy world of international dance markets for me. It was a fascinating experience – meeting so many artists (and a few programmers!), and seeing a broad range of dance from across the world. The programme was very hit and miss for me. I was disappointed with how some of the work was presented. The venues were not entirely appropriate for dance unfortunately, and therefore the work wasn’t shown in it’s best light. The most memorable performances for me were (1) La Veronal (ES) ‘Siena’ – for all the right reasons of beauty, engagement, and quality production (apart from the venue); and (2) Ballet Preljocaj (FR) ‘Empty Moves (Parts I, II & III)’ – for all the wrong reasons… beautiful dancers and movement, but a test of endurance which most of the audience were not willing to see through to the end.

This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work! Please upgrade today!