Missing in Action
A Grips Theater for Contemporary Dance
Livia Patrizi, dancer, choreographer and founder of the project TanzZeit – Zeit für Tanz in Schulen (Dance Time – Time for Dance in Schools), has a dream. She would like to set up something like a Grips Theatre for contemporary dance in Podewil.
One thing is clear: Berlin is lacking just this sort of opportunity for young people. This is quite unlike the situation in the theater, where there is a wide range of diverse performances on offer for children and adolescents. For instance, there is the Grips Theater and the Theater an der Parkaue, which are dedicated to children and youth performances, plus there are a number of independent theaters as well, such as Theater Strahl or the Helmi puppet theatre. And of course we have the big city theatre venues which created respective programs aiming directly to children and adolescents. This particular area has grown rapidly over the past decade. There is the Deutsches Theater, for example, which has established a separate venue (Junges DT), the Schaubühne and the Maxim Gorki Theater.
By contrast, when it comes to contemporary dance in Berlin, however, things are not that way at all. Such a thing is not possible here, because there is no contemporary dance company within any of the national theaters. The only exception, although technically not associated with contemporary dance, is the Berliner Staatsballett. Within classical ballet, there are of course plenty of pieces specifically suitable for children, starting with the "Nutcracker”. And the Staatsballett is doing excellent work by introducing children and young people to practical experiences, and in recent years has been awarded a number of prizes for their efforts.
Over the last decade or so, mediation efforts have been underway in the realm of contemporary dance in Berlin as well. In this time, the TanzZeit program has played a significant role in more than 700 schools throughout the city and has reached more than the 16,000 students. In the interim, Sasha Waltz’s dance company, the Hebbel am Ufer’s Houseclub, which includes both performance and work directly with choreographers, has offered new opportunities for youth as well.
But along with this increasing work with children and young people, one thing is becoming quite clear: There are hardly any pieces at all to watch with them. In reality, they actually only have each other’s projects to watch – definitely another important reason to get excited about the first TanzSpielZeit (DancePlayTime) kicking off in April in Podewil. In total, ten productions (in 5 blocks) will be staged and the series will run until January 2017. Sometimes when the stone gets rolling, many more things are often set in motion as well.
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