In February 2019, more than 20 disabled dance practitioners from across Europe took part in Dance, Politics, Disability and the Body, the first of five artistic exchange laboratories of Europe Beyond Access. The laboratory was hosted at Kampnagel in Hamburg, Germany’s largest production centre for performing arts and facilitated by Serbia’s Per.Art, who invited three learning-disabled artists to lead the series of workshops: Julia Häusermann (Theater HORA), Natalija Vladisavljić (Per.Art) and Dennis Seidel (Meine Damen und Herren). It was programmed as part of Kampnagel’s annual dance festival, Fokus Tanz which featured work by renowned international dance artists, including disabled choreographer Michael Turinsky.
Enhanced transcript for Dance, Disability, Politics & the body
The film opens with a shot of Hamburg, large buildings overlooking a river. It then cuts to Kampnagel, a large arts venue in a former warehouse building. The opening titles read Dance, Politics, Disability and the Body.
Next, we hear an interview with learning-disabled artist, Natilija Vladisavljević. She is one of the workshop leaders of the Europe Beyond Access artistic laboratory hosted at Kampnagel. She is white, wears glasses and black t-shirt. Her interview is interspersed with her performing her piece Hexentanz in which she dances expressively in a black-box theatre space. She says:
Well, I chose Hexentanz, “The Witch Dance”, because it was important for me to work in this contemporary dance, like Mary Wigman. And I chose that one because Mary Wigman and I have the same facial expression. Yes, I wrote a libretto, and I wrote it down as I imagined it, I imagined how this would look. So, I start imagining, imagining, imagining…And I wrote that story.
The film switches to an interview with Saša Asentić, Artistic Director of Per.Art, Serbia, who coordinated the laboratory. He is a slim white man with glasses. His interview is intercut with footage of participants at the laboratory interacting, dancing together, workshopping ideas with the three learning-disabled workshop leaders running proceedings. Saša says:
Most of the participants also, for the first time, have the opportunity to take part in a workshop that is led by artists with learning disabilities. These artists are not yet invited to teach. Because it’s also part of the prejudice that artists or people with learning disabilities can not teach or find a way and have their own methodology.
Next, the film moves to the second laboratory workshop leader, Dennis Seidler. He is a learning-disabled man who is dressed in a blonde pigtail wig and a pink dress. His interview is interspersed with footage of him delivering a workshop to the laboratory participants and singing whilst playing a keyboard. Dennis says:
It is important that people show their projects to each other. And disabled people should lead more workshops. Because I think disabled people’s work is often neglected. I have the feeling that these people are excluded from society and that they can’t show their work. So, I believe it is important to have these workshops in which many people gather to present their work. Disabled and non-disabled.
The film then moves on to the final workshop leader, Julia Häusermann, a white learning-disabled woman with strawberry blonde hair. She is dancing energetically whilst other laboratory participants mimic her movements. Julia says:
When I dance, I feel free. I can do anything. I can show what I can do and what I can’t do. And what I did before and what I’m doing now. Music is a great part of me. When I don’t have music around, I can’t be myself.
Amelie Deuflhard, Artistic Director of Kampnagel is shown on screen. She is white woman with short brown hair wearing a black blazer. Throughout the interview, the film cuts back and forth between Amelie and the laboratory participants dancing energetically. Amelie says:
What happens very often in theatre and dance, that people who are not excluded reflect on the exclusion of others, for me it’s one possibility but it’s not enough. For the Europe Beyond Access project, this was coming at a very good time. It’s very important for the artists to be in venues, not in excluded venues, but in a venue where you have artists from all fields and countries. And, at the same time, for me it’s also very important for the audience to meet people and artists that usually they would never meet. And for us this is always part of the main programme. It’s not something aside or a small project we do on inclusion. It’s always part of our main programmes.
Finally, the film moves to Austrian choreographer, Michael Turinsky whose work was programmed as part of Kampnagel’s Fokus Tanz dance festival, which the laboratory was included within. Michael is a white wheelchair user with a shaved head. His interview is interspersed with more footage of the laboratory participants dancing and also of Michael meeting them and presenting to them. Michael says:
It’s always super important for us, artists, to share our experiences, to share our practices, and it’s especially important that we, disabled artists, do this and not just…And not just share between us our experience. It’s super important enriching and also affirming a lot.
The film ends with all of the laboratory participants holding flowers and waving to the camera after having completed a public sharing.
The credits read:
Directed/edited by Joana Ferreira
Camera Joana Ferriera, Joa Veloso
Interview Joe Turnbull
Canal180 Production Eva Magro, Luis Fernandes
Translations Frosina Dimovska, Diogo Nogueira
Subtitles Eva Magro
Motion Design Mario Meira
Footage courtesy of Natilija Vladisavljević (Per.Art)
Music Dumbo Gets Mad Loosing It, Birocratic night chatter, Bill Frisell Egg Radio, Robert Gaden mit seinem Orchester Fruhling und Sonnenschein
The final card shows the logos of project partners British Council, Skanes Dansteater, Oriente Occidente, Per.Art, Holland Dance Festival, Kampnagel, Onassis Stegi and the Europe Beyond Access project logo plus co-funders, the European Commission’s logo.