As every year, we cordially invite everybody to OLD BREWERY NEW DANCE AT MALTA FESTIVAL! – a dance fiesta which traditionally closes the yearly cycle of work at Old Brewery's dance studio and since its creation has been fueled by the idea of propagating the art of dance in Poland.
The core of the program is built around performances of renowned international choreographers, centering on a different underlying theme each year. Individual shows interact with one another, pointing to the permanent presence of reflection and auto-reflection in the state-of-the-art choreography, exposing how the artists connect to their own traditions, and revealing an apparent need to create and discuss “the theory” of the art of dance.
This year's edition (22nd-27th June 2009) chooses to focus on one of the most important genres from the perspective of 20 centuries of dance history – the “dance theater” (Tanztheater), which originated in West Germany in the 70s and since that time has enjoyed extreme popularity in Poland, to the point of being mistakenly used as an umbrella term for all kinds of dance phenomena. The festival will be an occasion to revise – and perhaps “redefine” – the dance theater concept. We plan to present the work of those artists who during their careers at some point had contact with Tanztheater or, as some of them, were active as co-founders and co-creators the current in the 70s and 80s, then choosing either to build their work upon the classical paradigms or personally define their own original artistic paths. We'd like to raise some questions about the present-day status of dance theater among all the other kinds of dance phenomena and trace back the 20 year evolution of the genre, hoping to find some new explanations for its incredible success on international scenes. An integral aim of the project is to build up in the Polish audience a level of theoretical knowledge about Tanztheater (its history, the reasons behind its phenomenal popularity), enabling them to critically view their national dance scene, participate fully (be it as viewers or dancers) in the festival events, and generally become better oriented in the world of contemporary dance. Accordingly, in the festival program there is room for not only stage shows but also a separate cycle of film screenings and lectures by Anna Królica (Jagiellonian University, nowytaniec.pl), devoted to dance theater's history and present perspectives (dance.doc).
The biggest event of the festival, bringing us to the end of this year's dance season is the long awaited visit of one of the major European dance creators Raimund Hogh (for the first time in Poland) – writer, dance and art theorist, in the 80s dramaturg for Pina Bausch, author of a number of books on Tanztheater and since early 90s an exciting director/choreographer, whose poetic spectacles combine all the best achievements of the legendary Pina Bausch Tanztheater (including the reoccurring motifs of alienation, exclusion, (lack of) love, loneliness) with the minimal aesthetics characteristic of the latest trends in contemporary choreography. Out of a mixture of grand tradition with original artistic vision and remarkable musical sensitivity, Raimund Hoghe creates unique works full of artistry and unconventional aesthetic appeal, placing him in the forefront of the 19th-20th-century European choreography. His life story (disabled since childhood, doubly excluded from society by virtue of his homosexuality in the 70s and 80s) and the shape of his artistic path constitute a perfect starting point for the analysis of the dance theater phenomenon – a vantage point from which we can clearly see how the artists of this genre work on the “matter” of their own experiences and sensitivity.
Next to Raimund Hoghe's performances we are going to present works of other European artists working in dance theater techniques. A particularly important one will be “Happy”, a spectacle choreographed by Nigel Charnock – the co-founder of the DV8 Physical Theatre, which originated between 80s and 90s as a British response to the German Tanztheater. The spectacle, to which Charnock invited 9 Polish dancers had its premiere in Old Brewery in March this year and was successfully received in London, where it was presented as part of the POLSKA! YEAR 2009 (IV 2008). The MALTA Festival opens with the newest spectacle of Simone Aughterlony (Switzerland) – former Meg Stuart's dancer (the artist who together with Belgian choreographer Alain Platel created Les Ballet C. de la B., starting a new line of dance theater’s development in the 90s). The festival audience will also have a chance to see Hooman Sharifi, for the first time appearing in a long choreography on the Polish stage. The Iranian-born, Norway-based choreographer, is one of the few dance artist to openly address socio-political problems on stage. His motto “art=politics” reaches deep to the roots of the genre and the seminal work of two Germans, Laban and Joos. Another important guest on the festival is Yasmeen Godder (Tel Aviv). From her native tradition dominated by abstract dance, she has derived a new original form of dance theater, which made her one of the most recognizable Israeli artists in the world.