Letter by Kasia Wolinska

Dear All, first of all I would like to express my appreciation to this initiative and the whole work that has been put into creation of this platform. I’m happy to be joining, even if only in this, written form. I will quickly write few words to situate myself within Berlin dance scene. I’m a Polish choreographer and dancer, 2015 graduate of BA Program of HZT Berlin. This year I received Einstiegsfoerderung, and my scholarhip is dedicated to writing about history of dance, dance politics and ideology. In an email invitation that I received from Diego, he wrote that this (round table) will hopefully define the future of dance in Berlin. Therefore I see this process and this moment as a huge opportunity to bring to the table a discussion of the direction of the development and the very vision of the future of the scene. I do also mean the political def I would like to consider what constitutes the infrastructure of dance. Besides only the flow of financial capital, it also consists of intellectual capital, the migration and employment history of people involved in the scene, prevailing theoretical discourses and the aesthetic tropes and ‘politics of dance’ – by which I mean the policies that shape dance making and how the dance field exists in the realm of politics . I bring all this in, as I would like to address some notions and orientations that I find in a way problematic – such as “emerging choreographer”. This concept is very present in structuring of fundings, framing of dance presentations and the self-identification of the artists. It represent, though, to me, a certain idea of achievement that is funded on the notion that “career” can be described as a linear process that eventually arrives at the point of establishment and sustainability. It is however, in my opinion, a notion that doesn’t describe the reality and it I would dare to say, ignores the precarity of work and the complexity of conditions that make some emerge with time and make some forever emerging until perhaps they find another proffession, unless they haven’t already done it before. It may be irrelevant for some of you to hear but there is plenty of dancers, choreographers, dance teachers ( many of them educated in Germany) that do not ever arrive at the minimum income level though they work in dance for years, or they cannot find employment in dance at all, and are doing sex work, work in gastronomy or service sector to be able to produce dance after work. There is plenty of dancers that struggle to afford health insurance and the KSK beaureaucracy and policies are impenetrable for them. I would raise the question of the dancers status as workers and the lack of social security that seem to be the price to pay if one want to enagege with a cultural production. I believe that the question of production of dance must be considered today from the perspective of class, precarity of work and the complexity of discrimination that overshadows dancing. Creation of dance happens today on multiple levels of engagement into production of capital. The competitiveness of the production system and the paradigms of success and visibility, and of constant production of the new could be challenged by bringing more attention to the commons within the field, we could raise the question on the role of education and spreading of knowledge and its accesibility outside of the academic sphere. How dance as field educates itself and generates the platforms for education? How do we produce the theories and practices that matter also on the social and political plane. How do we as predominantly ‘Western’ citizens,propose the working ethics and structures that emerge from the consciouss reflection of our ideological past and our political present. Art making cannot be seperated from the world that is now functioning mostly as the field of exploitation of the workers and bodies in general by the owners of the capital ( by which i mean also all positions of power in the cultural production – theatre directors, curators, politicians, etc). We cannot talk about progressive art politics if we do not address the very system of production that is modelled along the neo-liberal capitalist structures of precarity that hit the hardest those at the very bottom of the productions hierarchies. Controversy around Volksbuhne seem to be toned down, yet we must ask ourselves what kind of director decided to call the police to end the non-violent occupation of the public ( yet perhaps not public at all) space organized by the local artistic community. We must realize that the resistance and political claims coming from the art field, and dance field especially, are at the moment difficult to formulate and sustain. And we must acknowledge in what kind of language does the art world establishment talking to us an propose a change of discourse if we want the very values driving the system to change. The compettion fueled by the scarcity of “opportunities” and resources together with the demand to produce ( to exist as an artists at all) creates the field in which the discussion on “refusal to work”, solidarity or politics of friendship remain mostly futile in the confrontation with the mainstream production oriented field. We have the growing field of educated artists that know their transgressive an progressive vocabulary but the discourses they employ in their application functions as slogans and empty promises of radicality that can be fulfilled only with the financial support of a few institutions that dictate the ethical and aesthetic tropes. All this is meant to emphasize that perhaps that there is no “we” in my opinion, and we must reflect how to constitute that “we” that would be politically relevant, and do not function as a merly rhetoric articulation of an imagined community. My proposal would be to facilitate such discussions or to open a discussion on the futurism of dance in the aspects that i mentioned above. Furthermore my proposal would be to consider what sort of educational platform could we initiate that will be radically inclusive and would happen outside of the academic sphere. Can we have a public, free insitute for dance and politics that through the series of symposiums and workshops will offer a wide range of civil and artistic education and become a platform for discussing amongs peers that do not otherwise have opportunity to meet or study together? Can we think about the future of dance as a future that drifts away from capitalist regimes of production while engaging in the dissemination of ideas, values and practices that contribute to positive social change? Can we think of the dance community as one that doesn’t mainly identify through dance schools and venues, but rather through a community that is radically changing the very notion of productivity and production? Or that sets examples for other places, instead of competing with them, or exchanging workers-dancers before having a discussion on those workers’ futures and the security of their work? We must however also pay attention to who has voice in those discussions and from where do solutions come? I believe we can have that discussion that will happen at the intersections of dance community and governmental bodies that will result in voicing the needs of those working communities and address problems that in current global economics demand collective and political solutions rather than individual interventions. I would be happy to discuss all of this further if there would be interest from your side. Thank you for your time, Kasia Wolinska


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