news from talin ...

I checked the blog and it looks quite good. The books you suggested are also worth reading deffinetly. I was in İrland performing and now bussy with the new piece I'm choreographing. Which actulally is coming out of our conflict with Masu. The movement that I wanted to try! I'm happy that it's finding it's place and maybe we can work on it in our next meeting in Girona or maybe not.

The piece is going well. It is about the body used in a different position. How to move and continue life in this possition? What would the relations be? How would they change? I starded to work on this piece starting from the idea of being a minority but then the body took over and it became something different which was great because now I can work with the body which is strongly there and with the concept that I first started with as well.

I wrote this thinking that it suits the idea of body and it is quiet different with the video in our blog. It seems like dance is going that way but this way as well.

There will be a dance festival in İstanbul during the DBM Meeting and before which starts on the 30'th of May till 10'th of April. We'll perform this piece on the 31'st of May.

Another news: Daniel Lepkoff just gave a workshop in Cati and told that he felt at home.
Transit- İstanbul 2007 will be happening in İstanbul in 25'th of June till 8'th of July. With some of you who would like to come we can meet in İstanbul before. I can host two people at my place.

I'm very excited for our next meetig. Since than we would be talking on many issues and feeding our brains I guess.

keep in touch and hoping to keep to feed our blog

Ciao from İstanbul



about the social body

Thank you Andrea for your input. I really think we should solve this lack of communication we're having since our last meeting on February. I think we all decided to participate in this project, to get to know better the "others". So we, should keep on working on it.
Very nice the video of the "evolution of dance", i'm also questioning what could be the version of evolution of dance in the mediterranean.... right now, i'm also thinking if we can speak about a Mediterranean dance... probably this could be something we can try to start a debate in this blog ?? It's only a suggestion...
Concerning the nice link of Adrien Sina's... there are two books about "The Social Body" that i would like to recommend to all of you :the first is a nice book from Nick Crossley "The Social Body (Habit, Identity and Desire)", and the other is an essay by Sue Scott, "Body Matters: Essays on the Sociology of the Body". Click on the titles if you want to take a first look on these two books.


an immediate reaction from andrea (bozic)

Dear all,

Here an immediate reaction from my side to get this blog going... as I think it could become a great place to fill in the lack of communication since february.

This is an interesting link by an artist/writer Adrien Sina. He wrote a sort of a history of the presentation of the body in western art.
Go to this link and click on 'performance history' top left.

And here a video on the evolution of dance ;-). I tried to imagine what a similar evolution of Mediterranian dance would look like:

Hope everyone is doing well and happy! I just came back from Frankfurt where we performed in 30 degrees... is Mediterranian weather spreading to the north?


DBM Mediterranean Dance Map

Dear all,
In response to a long felt need, the DBM - Mediterranean Dance Network is developing a project, with the support of the European Cultural Foundation, to map all (contemporary) dance related organisations, personalities and events of the Mediterranean region.
We aim to create a complete survey on dance schools/dance departments, choreographers, companies, venues, festivals/events, workspaces/residency centres, funding bodies and associations/networks for contemporary dance. All information will be freely available on the new DBM site (under construction), which we aim to turn into a flexible instrument, open to comments, adjustments and updates. This Mediterranean Dance Map should allow artists, programmers of venues/festivals, critics, scholars and students to have access to updated information on contemporary dance from a region where information is usually scarce.

If you would like to subscribe to this database click here.



Dance of Differences

Text by Andre Lepecki


Dance has been an art form to which a partial utopian hope has always always been attached, the hope of a trans-cultural, trans-ethnic, trans-religious communication brought by the body's presence and mobility. A strong discourse still portrays dance as a "universal" art form, through which we can all express and share our common experiences. According to such discourse, the guarantors to this trans-cultural sharing are the body, considered as the degree zero of culture, and the body's movements, considered the degree zero of communication.

On the contrary, anthropology and cultural theory have been instrumental throughout this century in demonstrating that the body and its gestures are not so evident. In his classical essay "Techniques Of The Body," first published in 1934, Marcel Mauss showed how different cultures perform different body techniques, how different cultures imply different corporealities. The legacy of Mauss is the insight that the body being the first and most important site of cultural production and intervention emerge as diverse as any language.

Another important contribution for critique of the body as degree zero of trans-cultural communication is that of Michel Foucault, whose body of work is a refined argument on how the body gets to be historically inscribed into disciplinary regimes and on how historical process transforms the body into a site not of recognition but of mis-recognition and misunderstanding. "Nothing in man," he wrote, "not even his body - is sufficiently stable to serve as the basis for self-recognition or for understanding other men."

It is then within this tension between a certain utopianism and a certain pessimism regarding the body as a site of human understanding, of human communication that the project of multi-cultural critique has a contribution to give to the question of dancing in another culture• The project of multi-culturalism is to take into consideration the complexity of historical and cultural processes as forms of incorporation, of disciplining bodies in contemporaneity. Its second task is to reflect upon the ethical consequences and the political impact brought by the co-presence into a same socio-geographic space of convergence of discrepant bodily and historical experiences.

Given these premises, the problem we must face while addressing the politics of presenting other(ed) bodies on European stages is that the simple fact of inviting "others" to dance on Europe's stages is considered satisfactory by producers. This satisfaction is a very disturbing state of affairs, given the history of multi-cultural performance in Europe and its colonialist roots, with the display of the foreigner as freak, as curiosity, or as exotic.

However, we can also not forget that perhaps never as now have we lived in a time when, on the stages of the industrialised west, we can see so much dance, music and performance from "the rest of the world." The western audience is constantly engaged in viewing foreign bodies as spectacle. On the other hand, the predicament of the contemporary performer is to be a globetrotter, and to inhabit other people's "familiar:" their country, city, local theatre. The irony of what otherwise might be seen as the quintessential wonder of our post-modern condition that, historically, it is precisely as spectacular commodity that the racial, ethnic, religious "other" has achieved some sort of visibility and acceptance in the west. Through the reification of the "fact" of their difference, their pure presence in the "familiar" was marked as being in itself spectacular, and nothing but spectacular, a sort of scandal of the body was thus promoted, emphasised, choreographed, masked. And masked into Otherness. Which ready leads us to a statement - that "Otherness" is not an ontological status but performative, an accusation, - and to a question: what might that Otherness be like, today? An Other.

Anthropologist Richard G. Fox summarised contemporaneity by saying that ours is a time when often "the alien inhabits the familiar." Fox's phrasing of the situation is interesting and deserves some careful examination. The opposition "alien/familiar" regarding the inhabitation of a "home" suggests that the intrusion of the "familiar" by foreign bodies implies much more than a simple co-presence of diverse bodies in the same room - whether the "room" is a metaphor for the nation-state for a household, or for the local theatre

Under sensorial scrutiny, the displaced body of the foreigner becomes much more than a body from elsewhere: enduring amplification, distortion, fragmentation, fetishisation; it becomes a body marked as irrevocably different. To complexify matters more: in perverse dialectic mimesis, often the survival of the contemporary performer demands not only his or her trans-national circulation, but - and here lies the perverse effect of this circulation, of this wild economy - it quite often demands that the other performs: Otherness. In a dialectical dynamic described by Michael Taussig as "colonial mirror" the foreigner becomes a mirror image of what we expect the Other to be. In this dynamic, the alien's unfamiliar, uncanny, gestures can be safely included in the Iogic of the exotic, and thus commodified, fetishised, tamed and revered. The Other's gestures, mannerisms, costumes, postures, glances become trade marks, signs of recognition, and are further imposed on the performer as the expected bodily signature of its alterity. This is the process of exoticisation of the foreigner into Other. Sometimes the only way out from the marginal position.

Contemporary discourses on inter-culturalism, multi-culturalism, cultural identity and the politics of cultural encounter, from the far left to the far right, have confined these bodies marked as different in a sort of repetitive loop, from which the only variation seems to be the political "charge" attached to the term "difference" and the ontological status this term implies. (For right- wing extremists "difference" = "abjection;" to left-wingers "difference" = "sublime").What invariably remains to be questioned is the fact of difference itself.

Let us consider an example of how cultural difference, culture as difference, becomes a gridlock when ethnography addresses the problem of translating dance from other cultures. Sally Ann Ness's recent essay "Observing The Evidence Fail" (1996) is an attempt to critique the concept of cultural translation by the means of dance ethnography. Ness shows how the ever increasing sophistication in ethnographic analysis of dances, leads nevertheless to an ultimate failure in comprehending and culturally translating the dance-object. This failure, according to Ness, is nothing more than the manifestation of what she identifies as being the "brute fact of difference." The factuality and the brutality of difference that Ness identifies would limit, for this ethnographer, the possibility for cross- cultural translation of dances and thus foreclose any hope regarding cross-cultural understanding. This violent differentiation, Ness's radical perception of the dancing Other as always irretrievable, as always mysterious, leads her to conclude that in any cross-cultural situation, all we can hope for is to accept the other's radical difference as such and, when we see this other dancing try to enact "new forms of tolerance" and of "cross-cultural respect." Ness sees only one way out of the gridlock of radical difference - she proposes an observational model where the researcher "includes no object or territory marked as culturally mysterious or unfamiliar." In other words, one must be a "cultural insider" if we are to understand and feel dances.

It is only here - with Ness's inclusion of feeling (of the other) in her model for bypassing radical alterity - that we find the ideological crux of the matter: her marking of cultural difference by the failure of translating the dance derives from optical distancing. The Other is the object of the ethnographer's gaze; the ethnographer is not the Other, therefore its gaze fails to understand the Other's dance. In this failure all that is left to the ethnographer is to try to respect that distanced other. If there is, however, to be feeling, empathy, total translatability, then the ethnographer must participate of the same ontology of the observed subject. In other words: what Ness is theorising is that one can only feel one's conatives, one's own cultural clones. Her epistemology of "cultural difference" necessitates that the Other is forever outside the grasp of empathic emotion. One can only empathise, or supplement the gaze with feeling when one is of the same culture. Alterity is an optical spectacle for our distant respectful stance as observers whose mimetic powers have been repressed by an ideology of "respect."

What kind of hygiene of the gaze lies in this respectful distancing? For Ness, once we face the "brutal fact of difference" all we can do is acknowledge the failure of any project of translation (because we are outsiders) and try to "respect" the other and the other's "dance-object." Cultural difference as brutal fact becomes a gridlock: it is so powerful as to be inescapable. One can never reach the body marked as Other; even less understand it.

What Ness does not take into account is that the concept of cultural difference is complicated by the fact that the concept of culture itself was created in order to invent difference. Which means that by simply using the term culture, we are already invoking the ghost of differentiation. This epistemic loop creates a crisis within anthropological and ethnographic theories, precisely those disciplines that are most invested in creating a theory of translation and of difference.

Given this dire predicament of never being able to overcome the "fact of difference," the question that one must put forth regarding a cross-cultural analysis of dances being performed in/for different cultures is whether what Ness calls the "brutal fact of difference" is less a fact than an epistemic gridlock, in itself embedded in a cultural bias and a dubious ethics that operates through the desire of discontinuity and distancing, that insists of collapsing alterity with a radical, ungraspable Otherness. And if one must be careful with the dangers of universalistic discourses that erase any sort of cultural identity in the name of a dubious progressive ideology of sameness (for this "sameness" is basically the imposition of a western cultural model) one must also be careful with that render the other to a radical mysteriousness, reminiscent of what Edward Said called "orientalism." Beyond ethnography the task of the audience Ness's essay adresses the problem of seeing dance cross-culturally for researchers and ethnographers. The question now is: what can one do as uninformed, non-expert spectators of dances from cultures "marked as different?" Is it enough for this audience to acknowledge the "fact of difference," sit back and "respect" the show? What ethics is implied in this "respect" and the acceptance of a radicalised otherness, in the reification of brutal difference, that results in nothing but a failure to moreover a failure to translate dancing bodies? And if there is failure in the translation, is this failure derived from the "essence" of the object being translated, or from the mode by which translation is being performed? Finally, is there a way to see dances from other cultures without falling into what I have named the gridlock of difference? What is left for us audiences of displaced performances? - certainly much more than to "understand" the difference and thrive in its radicalness. What is left for us performers and dancers in cultures that are not our own? - certainly much more than to meekly accept that no matter what we do we are to be forever mis-understood, forever relegated to a radical alterity. There certainly must be more for us all to do, for us all to dance, for us all to perceive, and for us all to feel while encountering the other body dancing in the same toom we're in. An example from a Southern Elsewhere.

Picture an international dance festival on the fringes of Europe, packed with producers from Northern and Central industrialised Europe as well as from the United States. Picture one of the most important choreographers of that Elsewhere country presenting his latest creation, an extraordinary piece of dance-theatre. The country's name is unimportant here, as it is the name of the choreographer: it is enough to know that the country is decentred, surely underdeveloped, perhaps even exotic to some of the producers from the Industrial Centres. I want to emphasise my choice in keeping both country and choreographer anonymous: they are everywhere.

So, about a year ago I was in this European Elsewhere, attending the Festival packed with producers. At the end of the performance of the choreographer from the European elsewhere I went backstage to compliment him for his amazing work. As we were congratulating him among a crowd of natives of this European Elsewhere, an American presenter approached us. She was really excited with the choreographer's work, she said, she thought it was a wonderful piece, very well done. Her enthusiasm was physically visible; it was clear from her intonation, her smile, her body posture that she had profoundly felt the piece despite all the cultural differences, despite the language barrier. Despite alterity, there had been translation. But then ... then the "brutal fact" of difference crept in by the means of economic and of translating her experience into her job: "But ... how am I going to present it? It is so ... so ... elsewherish!"

Hers is an incredible remark, but whose I hear over and over and over again throughout backdoors of dance festivals... So Greek, or so Spanish, or so Portuguese ... of so something that is not quite right. I confess I thought about feathers at the moment. I felt like suggesting to the choreographer: dress the dancers in feathers, paint their bodies, lock the dancers in a cage, make them sing folksy songs and drink wine, perform whatever expectations you want them to perform, become a monster, change your body, betray your language, go "savage" and "southerner" for the sake of cultural translation, for the sake of making sure your difference is well marked as factual, as real difference, and a difference we can all see and feel happy by that seeing and by not needing to do much more than to respect it at a safe critical and politically correct distance. Maybe then your work will gain some "cross-cultural respect," as the last specimen of a lost species is revered and petted and gazed safely at a distance in a local zoo. I thought about this spiral of continuous differentiation that generates nothing but an increased indifference and horror to the slightest mark of cultural discrepancy: are we all destined to either become clones of the same model, for the sake of "understanding?" Julia Kristeva made precisely this point: that one of the most worrisome pathologies of today's society is its lack of knowledge of how to be (behaviorally, ontologically) before the other. This lack of knowing how to be before the other is but another symptom of the spreading of the repression of the mimetic capacity, propelling discourses on radical cultural difference and incomprehension. The pathology of the European dance viewer today derives from the laziness in his or her seeing that such mimetic repression enforces. The fundamental fact that any performance exists in the present implies that it is in that ritual contemporaneity that performance finds its ontotogy and its ethical promise, its strength, in this co-presencing, there will always lie the potential for confrontation, for misunderstanding, for hate between those who perform and those who are watching. However, there will always lie too the potential for encountering, at least with our own self. Thus, the question is no longer who are those bodies on stage that confront me with their presence but: how can my body partner those bodies dancing for me. How can I transform that moment of co-habitation that the room of the theatre provokes into a moment of familiarity and of gift? This quest is what gives the stage all its purpose. And what gives living all its dance.

Contextual Note:
First published in: Ballet-Tanz , July 1998, pp. 38-41


Next steps...upcoming dates

Dear all,
Upcoming dates for our next encounters:

1 - II - From 10th to 16th December 2007, in Celrà (Girona) at L'Animal a L'Esquena (www.lanimal.org)
2 - III - From January 26 to February 3rd 2008 in Barcelona (place to be confirmed).

Our third encounter in January-February 2008 will be held on the framework of a DBM (Danse Bassin Mediterranée Network) General Assembly in Barcelona, that La Mekanica is co-organizing together with the DBM office in Lisbon, with the collaboration of Çati (Istambul) and Maqamat (Beirut). The program in Barcelona will include:

- Conference “Dance and the body in the Mediterranean Region” – 3 days
- DBM - Danse Bassin Méditerranée Network General Assembly
- Contemporary dance workshops )– 1 week
- III International Encounter of Choreographers from the Mediterranean – 1 week
- International Dance Platform of contemporary dance from the Mediterranean – 4 days

As soon as posible i will post here more informations about these two next encounters ( working groups, schedule, activities but please check your agendaas and confirm to us if you're available on these dates.

looking forward hearing from you soon


Performing the Other / Eastern Body

Dear friends,
I post here one text from Bojana Kunst taken from her website (http://www.kunstbody.org) that i strongly recommend you to read. It's from a Bojana Kunst's lecture on the framework of the International Conference of The Bulgarian Theatre Association: Cultural Bridges - The Theatre in Conflicting Regions / Situations, 4 - 5. June, Varna, Bolgaria, and Lecture at the Festival Tanztendenzen, June 12 2002, Greifswald, Germany.

Once more i send you a big kiss and hug to all of you...

text by Bojana Kunst

In my presentation I will try to disclose some problems concerning the dancing body. Especially I would like to focused on the problem how the body of other - in this case body of the east is performed. First I would like to make a short theoretical introduction and latter connect it with the concrete problem from the contemporary dance and to the evening tonight.

There are basically two ways on which we are speaking today about the body, which I think both should be challenged and stressed to really reach the problems deeply inherent in the contemporary presentation of the body. Therefore I would like to stress on one side the concept of the universality of the body, which is still very popular when we are talking about dance. It is present by example in the believing in dance as a 'universal art form, trough which we could all as humans communicate and share our common experiences'. According to such notions the main guarantee of such transcultural sharing is the body - which is also the main common denominator of believing (in some theories) in dance as a universal globalisation force.

On the another side I would also like to stress another position on the body which is very significant for contemporary popularized multicultural and etnographic approaches. This is the conviction that there is always an unbridgeable difference concerning the way different bodies may be understood - cultural difference is so powerful as to be inescapable. When confronted with the other body we are somehow never being able to escape this difference, what is finally left for us is always recognition of a distance and a constant effort to respect the difference. This position was strongly criticized by a famous postcolonial critic Edward Said, when he in his well-known book Orientalism, showed the link between essencialisation and reification of difference and colonasing west establishing its identity exactly with creating the fact of difference. So when we are speaking about the inescepability of difference we should firstly ask ourselves how such difference is produced at the first place - how those cultural notions of 'blackness, easterness, orientalism etc.' are created and whose identity is really invested in this creation of such borders and concepts. The creation of difference has therefore its history and could be find in the very concept of modernity, in the very concept of 'colonising and advanced west'. Even more we could say that the concepts of universality and difference are somehow both manifestations of the same history of 'western humanism' and could be find especially in utopian hegemonistic humanistic notion of sameness and today's 'globalistic' and 'liberal' notions of otherness (or its multicultural version of respecting the otherness).

What is particularly interesting for us here is by my opinion to disclose how both the concepts of universality / sameness and difference / otherness had the same roots. These roots could be successfully disclosed if we are observing what is the place of the body in this concepts. For us it is especially interesting that in both approaches (in the universalistic as in differentiating approach) the body is similarly understood and represented: the body here is understood as self-evident and self-sufficient, as a given fact. What does this mean exactly? We could help ourselves at this point with the words of Andre Lepecki (former dramaturg of Vera Mantero and dance theoretician), who in the context of the depicted approaches describes the body as the zero degree of culture and zero degree of communication. What is interesting is that in this bodily zero degree universality and difference are both implemented, fused even. The so called 'nature' of the body as the zero degree of culture is the source for implementing cultural universality on one side (we are all sharing the same nature) and cultural difference on the other (the differences between bodies are unbridgeable and should be respected). The so called 'movement' of the body as the zero degree of communication is the main source of sharing the sameness (possibility of understanding) as recognizing the urgent distance of otherness (recognition of misunderstanding). The body is we could say at the same time source of universality and difference. How is this possible?

This fusion of the basic concepts of perceiving the body is disclosing to us that universality and difference are nothing more than concepts, that they are ideological, historical and philosophical constructions, which are coming from the complex history of creating the western identity, its relationship to its own hegemony and to the perceiving of the identity of the other. What I think is especially important here is that we recognize the need for the essencialization and reification of those concepts. This essencialization would not be possible if the body would not (in the western history) be understood as given, empty, disclosed, self-evident. The body is through the western history perceived mainly as the 'zero degree' fact, with its nature always on the other side of culture. But exactly this production of the body as the zero degree is the main source of its universalising and differentiation with the help of the various medical, philosophical, scientific, ethnic, political regulations through which West is establishing its own identity and relationship to the other. The zero degree of the body is a construction par excellence and it is always an excellent source and inspiration for various ideological, political even rasistic interventions.

That's why different understanding and thinking on the body became so important in the twentieth century, by example with the philosophy of Foucault, Deleuze and poststructuralist approaches. Especially important here are by my opinion feminist philosophies and postcolonial studies which deeply stressed the nature / culture division which through the history guided the western concepts of universality and difference. So French philosopher Jean Luc Nancy said that there is no such thing as the body, Elizabeth Grozs speaks about the body as volatile, as a weak potentiality, which is always produced and present through the complex process of embodiments, performative practices and translations. The body is somehow we could say always performed, or as H. T. Lehmann said once: "The body is thus already both stage and scenery, is it in itself theatre." It is performed as a universality or as difference. What is important here is to see how this performance is constructed, where is the stage and where is the spectator, who build the scenery and who is here an authoritarian director. In this 'theatre' the body from the other culture (from elswhere) is becoming the body of Other: it is equipped with the meaning, fetishized, staged, distorted, performed. If we would be careful and look at the body as the theatre, than maybe we could step out from this gridlocks of zero degree and open up the body in-between with all its different possibilities: volatile, impossible, energetic, translatable, vague, uncomprehesible, attractive, magnetic, inappropriate, alluring, disgusting, crazy, etc. This possibilites are exactly possibilites researched in the body of contemporary dance and it is no coincidence that the development of contemporary dance goes along with different concepts and understanding the body.


So now comes the right time that after this short introduction I present to you a concrete problem where we could observe how those theoretical notions could be implemented. This is also my connection with the evening tonight. I would not present the performances which you'll see tonight, this could be a little bit pretentious of me to act as a pretext and building the context to presented artistic projects. What I would like to do is rather to open up some questions and disperse the context of the performances presented here, maybe just to open up the possibility to see in-between, but of course to reach this field in-between each of us has to have its own way. (That's also one of the basic characteristics when we are talking about in-between: the particularity of approaches is far away of perceiving the difference which has always something to do with totality).

The example of contemporary dance from the east, or if we are more precise, dancing body from the east is of particular interest here. We namely don't need to go very far away to observe how the body of the other is performed and represented and what are the paradoxes and problems in observing the difference on one side or claiming for the universality on the other. After the political changes in the beginning of the ninethies there was suddenly in the middle of Europe a huge area to discover, with (at the first sight) blurred and unrecognizable history of contemporary art at general, where contemporary dance, too was left with no recognisable history of professionalism. As we all know - mostly in all communist states - contemporary dance was expelled into the territory of amateurism, with no continuity in the development, limited to the various individual attemps. We could say that the authonomous body of the contemporary dance was somehow always perceived as the basic threat to the one and only disciplined and regulated body of the communism. And because of this continuios bodily threat (authonomy, liberation, freedom of representational models etc.) was dancing body on the east really expelled to the pure zero degree: with all its 'amateur nature' not at all recognizable as culture. The multiple potentiality of the body, the ways of representing the body in-between (volatile, impossible, energetic, translatable, vague, uncomprehensible, attractive, magnetic, inappropriate, allurig, disgusting) were not the legitimate representational modes on the east. We could say: if you dance, you will not be part of our revolution – the revolution, of course, that only admits one, collective body. Where the original democratic impulse has been silenced at its very beginning, where there was no possibility to discover another, hidden history, where every body was subjected to carrying the weight of the official history, contemporary dance could not develop, or – as in some isolated cases – it looks as it remained within the history by the necessity of survival. Similarly, it was not possible or allowed to introduce articulations other than those established or prescribed for decades; any different history, any attempt of autonomy, any different manner of representation were made marginal and excluded.

But how was this difference really articulated on the begining of the ninethies? To describe the situation on the begining of the ninethies, we could say that the difference between different manners of the articulations of an autonomous body was seen primarily in the institutional status contemporary dance has in the West and in the East. On one hand, it has been acknowledged by institutions and history for quite a few decades, thus developing its own institutional, pedagogical and production network; it is becoming a part of urban life, it develops parallely to the rest of contemporary art, its theory and critique. On the other hand, it has been marginal for decades, condemned to non-existence or fighting for survival, without a basic structure that would assure its development, outside the dialogue with institutions, critique, trying only in the last decade more or less with the rise and fighting for basic infrastructure. I would say that these institutional differences are also the source of the very important ideological backgrounds which are disclosing to us different possibilites to understand the complexity of the situation of east / west reunion. Just at the first sight the situation of eastern / western dancing body meeting seams clear and simple: on one side developed and institutionalised artistic field of western contemporary dance with a developed educational, proffesional and institutional network, on the another side vast area of amaterism, with no institutional recognition, mosty expelled to the field of invisibility, with a dispersed history of isolated and individual attempts. Just on the first sight the opening of the east to west and vice versa could be understood as the somehow natural need for proffesionalization and institutionalisation, the exchange of models and knowledge, the urgent need of overcrosing the difference. What is interesting here is to observe how this institutional difference disclose the privilege of the western contemporary dance. The contemporary dance in its institutionalised forms somehow paradoxically become the token of conteporariness, urbanity, modernity, freedom, democracy, globalisation etc. By means of pedagogical and other more or less developed infrastructural production networks, the Western body is trained and exploited to the maximum, with a number of techniques at its disposal. What is even more significant for this western institutionalisation of contemporary dance is an almost representative and exclusive relation to the present. Therefore there is no coincidence that contemporary dance in the 60thies and 70thies, as wrote Norma Prevost in her excellent book, became important ideological export of the western 'free' culture. This could especially be observed in the American cultural export in the 60thies and 70thies, careffully planed by NEA and american goverment, especially with American export of action painting and contemporary dance in Russia. Here contemporary dance was presented as the democratic, liberating and cultural body of other, a symbol of democracy, developed western culture and contemporariness.

But could we really describe this est / west relationship like this? Was this difference really difference between the western dancing body completely equipped for the present on one side, and on the another eastern unarticulated body with the dark, closed and uncomprehensible attraction to the past, which whenever articulated cannot communicate with the western gaze without having a strong political meaning?

We could say that the development of the Western contemporary dance has turned the potentiality and autonomy of the body, this discovering of the body in-between into a specific and exclusive privilege. The problem is that due to the ruthless dictation from the present, the position of which is almost monumental in contemporary dance, we feel uncomfortable whenever we are faced with something different, with the so called past, and we are incapable of finding a language to describe that which is different. Western gaze is therefore still hesitant when it comes to attributing autonomy and potentiality of the body to the Eastern practices, and it rather perceived it not just as simply different or close, but as un-articulated, 'still not there', confused, somehow clumsy, too bodily, to romantic, narative, not really present, a try etc., always reduced to a special context (political, traditional, etnical) etc. Western contemporary dance somehow institutionalised the exclusive right on the contemporariness, urbanity, democratic authonomy, and what is even more important the right for universality. Contemporary dance from the east was not recognised as the same legitimate and original searching for the modes in-between, for the potentiality and presence of the body, with its own relationship to the contemporariness and universality. It was instead perceived differently as a fact and therefore reduced in this difference into the past, other, otherness. In the middle of western world suddenly there existed something which was 'not being of the moment', which was somehow 'doubtly late', culturally, technologically, aesthetically etc. The west was behaving as Lepecki said, as the sinchronicity is here the exclusive matter of western dramaturgy and cronology matter of geography. The west somehow perversely observed in the east its own begginings and articulations; it was reducing the other into its own begginings. But let's ask ourselves - who has the privilege to be present? We have to forced ourselves to think outside this models and try to understood the different models of contemporareness, that's really an important task.

We could see in this example how the difference could be institutionalised and turned into the question of the privilege. This institutionalisation of difference has also another important cause, which I will mention only briefly here. It is namely very important that we are not speaking about this meeting and reunion without the considerning the important general cultural context which is defining today the representation of other bodies. We all know that as never as now we have been lived in a time, when, on the stages of the industrialised west we can see so much dance, thteatre and music from the 'rest of the world'. Andre Lepecki said that the western audience is constanty engaged in viewing these bodies as spectacle. We all know also that the predicament of the contemporary performer is to be a globetrotter too. So Lepecki said, that the biggest irony of today is that the radical, ethnic, religous or other in general, is entering the western stage exactly as a spectacular commoditiy. Beside this, exactly as a spectacular commoditiy it is achieving some sort of visibility and acceptance. It is quite normal that in this logic of spectacular commoditiy there are demands that the other performs othernness, and that the other is also representing itself as the other, selling the context we could say. The contemporary dance from the east entered the western production market as a spectacular commoditiy, it was expected somehow to produced othernes: it has to stay somehow exotic and different, with no right to the universality and exclusivity of contemporariness. The dance from the east was of course playing its game back - i know quite a few expamples of the slovenian gorups who were using and very succesfully selling the Balcan context, even if at home they were coming complitely from different backgrounds.


So at the end, let's ask ourselves how can we as a public - because tonight we are the public and we are with great pleasure expecting some very nice events after this tiresome speaking - build a relationship to a difference? How can we observe the body which is performing for us, how can we enter in this so called bodily theatre? Is it enough to seat down and respect the difference? Is it enough to seat down and establish with relief that there is much more universality as we expected? What if this game of difference and universality is a game of laziness, a game of our incapability to be shocked, enthusiastic, thrilled, disgust, against or for, a game of our own fear to be opened, hurt, happy. The ethics of respect is a very tricky one, and it is basicaly reductionist ethics, respect yes - but leave my territory untouched. So what is so fascinating to be a spectator even today in this complex word of spectacular commodities is exactly this possibility to maybe open up our own territory; but not for experience of difference, but for experience of our own connection. This experience is not an experience of a privilege but a strong will to jump into the field of in-between, to left ourselves be touched with the weak potentiality of the body: with its energy, allure, disgust, magnetism, words, eyes, vagueness, inappropriatenes, isolation, abstraction, meat. We could be lost, or find, it doesn't matter as long as we are prepared to be a part of the demanding but also a very joyful process of translation.


Some photos

Dear all,
Here we post some photos from our first meeting on February 2007 in Barcelona. We're still waiting for the photos from Jordi (our friend/photographer that was taking photos in the studio, i don't know if you remember him...) as soon we have them we will post them here.
If you have more photos and would like to post them in our blog, please send by e-mail to our blog e-mail adress: mediencounter@gmail.com.
Big kiss from Barcelona and hope to meet you all very soon
miss u