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Natalia Alvarez: Module B placement in Tanzhaus nrw

Author: Natalia Alvarez

tanzhaus nrw

I was in Tanzhaus in Düsseldorf for my second placement. It was from 11 to 18 May. My priority was to learn about the artistic program there. That is why my planning had been divided into two parts. One focused on meeting the artistic program chief; and the other focused on meeting choreographers of this area. Both parts were complemented with my attending the shows being represented there.


Founded in 1977, from the very beginning Tanzhaus was driven by the idea of offering art and culture for all. To this day the house remains open to a diverse array of target audiences of all ages both culturally and socio-culturally. It now offers 200 classes and workshops for nearly 2500 participants.

It fosters communication between styles and between students and amateurs on the one side and professional performers on the other, between children and youths and established artists, between the local scene and international developments.

In addition to focusing on regional support, it has concentrated on bringing international artist to Düsseldorf to develop their Works from the very beginning through international coproduction networks.

Artistic Program

I had meetings with the staff in charge of the program: Stefan Schwarz, Head of Artistic Program; Dorothee Schackow, Head of Courses, Festivals of World Dance; and Bettina Masuch, Artistic Director.

Each one of them explained to me what their work inside the Tanzhaus was, and how they organized their work and how their budgets were. In these days the institution is going through a great change. After 35 years of being managed by Beltrand Müller now it has a new director, Bettina Masuch.

Up to this point there have been five lines of work: academy, stage, production, youth program and communication; all with a clear vision of dance as a global concept with different styles or aesthetics. They had been working around contemporary dance, hip-hop, world dance, even a flamenco festival or focuses on in India, Japan, Africa, Latin-America or the Arabic world.


In the block of meetings with the artists, it was very interesting to see their lines of work as well as to learn how programming and support systems work in Germany.

My first meeting was with the choreographer and artist Alexandra Waierstall.

Together with her father, visual artist Horst Waierstall, she co-founded TheArtSpace – a project space for movements of thought within different artistic disciplines.

The next day I visited the Ben J. Riepe space. Since 2010 the Ben J. Riepe company has been running its own studio space in Düsseldorf, where current productions are rehearsed, training takes place and artistic research is undertaken.

The Ben J. Riepe company consists of several permanent dancers; and project collaborators from the fields of dance, music/composition and costume as well as installation and visual arts.

My last meeting was with choreographer Stephanie Thiersch who was developing her latest project using a residence in the Tanzhaus; and the release of which would be there also.

It was an installation piece entitled The Memory Machine, which revives dance-history of the 1980s on until 2000, using reports from contemporary witnesses. The testimonies were held in balls which could be read or listened to, and which could be interactively fed into a machine whose design emulated brain-structures, in imitation of learning and recollection.


Geographic proximity easily allows the establishment of connection to artists associated with the Tanz-theater Wuppertal, and Folkwang Dance Studio in Essen. That is why the shows that I attended were in these two institutions.

The first show that I attended was a work-in-progress of the new production that Sidi Larbi entitled Fractus. After the presentation of twenty minutes there was a talk about his work and his career.

The next day we went to Essen where the FolkwangTanz Studio is. It was founded in 1928 by Kurt Jooss. The Folkwang Tanzstudio is an international touring company, which currently employs 10 dancers from many different cultural backgrounds. The FTS is part of the Department of Dance Studies at the Folkwang Academy in Essen. The company gives importance to co-operations with international guest choreographers.

The last show that I attended was the piece Ruhr-Ort, by the choreographer Susanne Linke. This work was part of a programmed season in the Tanzhause, about dance and heritage.

In 1991, Susanne Linke created her legendary piece Ruhr-Ort; and now she, together with the dancers of the Herner Street-Art Kompagnie Pottporus/Renegade, had reconstructed “Ruhr-Ort”.

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