Tiger's Leap: A Method of Reloading History of Local Scenes (1)Autor: Vujanović - , Ana
This text was translated into Spanish and included in the book HACER HISTORIA (Isabel de Naverán Ed.), on the collection CdL: Cuerpo de Letra, published by Mercat de les Flors, Institut del Teatre and Centro Coreográfico Galego, 2010.
Texto escrito en el marco del proyecto Autonomía y Complejidad. Metodologías para la investigación en danza contemporánea: Brasil, Eslovenia, España, Turquía. HAR2008-06014-C02-01/ARTE financiado por el Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación del Gobierno de España.
A Happy Consensual Tribe
Many experts agree that contemporary dance emerged in Western societies (Europe and the USA) during the second half of the 20th century; reflecting this fact, many agree, that contemporary dance is conditioned by a democratic society. On the other hand, it is commonly accepted that Eastern societies (communist/socialist) overslept the second half of the 20th century behind the Iron curtain that divided democratic (capitalist) West and totalitarian (communist) East. So it only stands to reason that there was no contemporary dance in the East. Following this teleological view of history as progress, contemporary dance "expectedly" appeared in Eastern societies alongside their transition to democracy-capitalism in the 90s and 2000s. There is a prevailing consent not only that contemporary dance appears organically in the new social conditions, but that it is proof of the very democracy of the ex-Eastern societies. Naturally this "late awaking" of the East results in its always-being-late in its actual attempts to keep step with the contemporary dance scene of the West (2).
A lot of experts are in accordance with many things. And when majority agrees on many “facts” the river of history may flow smoothly, from its spring to its delta, the future clearly caused by the past… And here we are, in the present where on the international dance scene, one can see contemporary dance from both the ex-East and the ex-West (although the proportion is still not equal) that now belongs to the borderless (although not quite "history-less") global society…
Good morning, Mr. Columbus
My colleague, performer and cultural worker Saša Asentić, and I have spent a lot of time discussing the (hi)story above. At one point, a question flashed up to us: “Isn’t it quite similar to Columbus’ 'discovery' of America – a land that had existed for centuries under another (its own) name?” With this “Good morning, Mr. Columbus”, we started the research work A Tiger’s Leap into the Past (evacuated genealogy). The work is a part of Saša Asentić’s larger artistic-research project Indigo Dance, started in 2006, which apart from A Tiger’s Leap consists of the installation/impossible project proposal BalCan-Can Sussie Dance, and the performance-lecture My Private Bio-politics.
Each segment of the project deals with a specific aspect of the structure of the local dance scene and its position in the international "danceworld". A Tiger’s Leap, in particular, deals with the history of contemporary dance in Serbia, and here I will only focus on it with regard to its methodology rather than its content (3).
Our Own Tiger’s Leap
A Tiger’s Leap Into the Past is aimed at articulating the past of the contemporary local dance in historical terms. Its point of departure is the following set of questions: Why don’t we have a local history of contemporary dance (Why was it never written?) How do we use the notion “contemporary dance”? Should we operate with the notion as universal umbrella term for all artistic and cultural practices of bodily movement, that have certain currency? Are there other names in the local past that signify the same or similar practices? That is, is there a history of contemporary dance in Serbia at all? What can we identify as local dance history? What did we have in place of the contemporary dance in the past? Why wasn’t it called contemporary dance at the time? Can we call it contemporary dance now? Does it have the right to claim contemporaneity? Is it about the state of affairs or about the right to contemporaneity?
1. The text already had several versions, starting from a short statement in the A Tiger’s Leap leaflet in 2007. It was presented as a lecture at the Maska seminar of contemporary performing arts in Ljubljana in 2008. The first published version appeared in Maska, vol. XXIII, no. 117–118, 2008. In 2009 it was presented within the broadened frame of My Private Bio-politics performance in DTW New York, Tsekh Moscow, Theaterhaus Hildesheim, and Societaetstheater Dresden. In 2010 it is reworked again and will appear in EDA lexicon of poetic terms “Parallel Slalom”.
2. Cf. Bojana Kunst, “Performing the Other Body”, in: Bal canis, vol. 2, no. 4 (2002), pp. 75–76.
3. I used this research work for several theorizations of the local contemporary dance scene and its past, wherein the content given through the work was fully employed. Cf. Ana Vujanović, “Not Quite Not Right Eastern Western Dance: On The Contemporary Dance Scene In Serbia”, http://www.tkh-generator.net/en/projekti/raster-2008-%E2%80%93-yearbook-independent-performing-arts-scene-serbia (20. 12. 2009)
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