June 2018. It’s unbelievable how fast time was flying during my first year after the studies. Now it’s time to round up this period with my last blog for the ArtEZ Huisbloggers. In the following, I tried to illustrate some of the important moments and experiences I’ve made. I hope it helps to give you a small insight in my processes and adventures 🙂
This photo is almost exactly one year ago: June 2017, by Albert Bokslag. It was a Saturday, the last day of the final performances at the DD-Event in theatre 3 of ArtEZ. For me this space is a theatre with lots of personal memories, like the ones a few months before when I was presenting my final research Phenomena of touch there. What exciting, emotional and powerful thoughts when I think back to that time.
The picture shows our „goodbye- moment“ from Arnhem. As Johanna Knefelkamp and me decided to take the step and leave Arnhem, to go with our fresh- founded contweedancecollective to Barcelona, we wanted to take a moment and gather those people who inspired us, worked with us and shared parts of our pathways during the years in the Netherlands. Gathering them and performing with them our creation Begegnugen, dancing a goodbye to Arnhem and also take it as a gesture of saying THANKS to all the people who supported me and us during all the years.
After the summer we arrived to the beautiful Barcelona, the capital of Catalunya. It was a time with lots of movement on the streets, people demonstrating, protesting and trying to let the government hear their voices. Definitely a valuable experience to be living in the middle of this ongoing conflict between Spanish and Catalan ambitions, feeling the vibes on the streets in real life, not only via the news on television. This was completely new to me. And in a way, we did the same thing. We arrived to the city, checked out many many different places and started to let people ‚hear our voice‘, our ideas and our plans.
As we all know, every start takes effort, at least most of the times. It doesn’t matter what I want to start with: If it’s a new language I want to learn, a new movement technique, a new creation, a new class I have to prepare or that I have to sit down to write this blog. Same counts to start in a new city, it takes much effort and especially so so so soooo much patience. I found this poem a few days ago and it reminded me a lot of this period of the year:
I remember Johanna and me sitting in front of the computer for weeks- writing emails, puzzling with ideas, working on concepts, finishing our website or filling in hundreds of application forms until the middle of the night. So exhausting, really, and I almost went crazy because I needed to MOVE! At least we were with the two of us, to remind ourselves to take a deep breath and keep on going, because we knew that SOMETHING will appear at a certain moment. I was confronted with this challenge in the beginning, which was about having lots of patience and a certain amount of trust in what I do, until the moment when things started rolling.
Even if all beginning is hard, I am happy to have made the decision for Barcelona, filled with adventures on one hand, but also full of doubts on the other hand. I can only recommend to do this step and leave the comfort zone in order to make new experiences and face a different environment.
One of the biggest projects and also challenges of this year was Barcelona meet & study- 5 days of international exchange between students from ArtEZ, Bachelor Docent Dans, with students and artists from Barcelona. The photo above was taken during the LAB with the local students from the Institut del Teatre, the one right underneath was taken during the last workshop of the week, a reflection through movement and a moment to share the different experiences and expectations.
I raised this project together with my partner Johanna within only 4 months, as a pilot.
…It was a challenge to have so much responsibility.
…It was a challenge to activate our network and find appropriate partners, artists and institutions.
…At one point it was even a challenge to accept that we have prepared everything as good as we could. There was nothing more to do, how can that be? This was a weird feeling actually. This was one of the moments when I had to face my own perfectionism…I was afraid to have forgotten something. But as we realized during the week itself: We managed stunningly good to organize this big project without any serious complications.
Now, I look back to an extremely intense period, I can still feel the excitement of planning and scheduling and puzzling on the program. I enjoyed this responsibility am quite proud actually 🙂 The good news is: Next year, Barcelona meet & study will go in its second edition!!! Yeah! And I am really looking forward to make this project grow even more.
The second big project was the new creation Puntos Juntos. This picture was taken during the premiere of the piece in April. I enjoyed it a lot to finally perform in front of the target group, our young audience (4+), with all their pure and honest reactions. I am content, but as it is always with premieres: Many new questions and ideas came up and we felt that we want to invest more time to work on certain scenes during the coming year. So that’s another project which started this year and will continue during the next season.
Many seeds were planted the last months and I am relieved that all the hard work was payed back with the residencies and projects we got this year. But of course with this it’s not done. Being a freelance artist means „never stop looking for more possibilities“. I found myself regularly back to these never ending computer sessions, looking for more options and applying for festivals, workshops, open calls or whatever crossed my screen. I realized that the choice I’ve made, not having a steady job at one place but working project-based, means that this will fill a big part of my time, also in the future.
Another unexpected project was the invitation of ArtEZ to work as artistic coach for the 3rd years’ „danseducatieve producties“. And faster than I could realize, I found myself back in Arnhem quite regularly to provide workshops and coaching sessions for the students with my collective (—> see photo above, final rehearsal with vreemde vrienden). What a great surprise and acknowledgment of our work. So actually our good-bye-dance one year ago was not really necessary, as I was at ArtEZ almost every 1,5 months 😀
In general, I want to say something about this years’ traveling: In the vision of the collective for the future plans, we write about the desire to be working in the three countries Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. Unexpectedly, it was already happening this year. Twice, we had the chance to show and share our work in Bamberg/ GER, lately at Kontakt-Das Kulturfestival in May with a workshop and the performance of Begegnungen (—> see photo above and below, by Guido Apel).
We were completely impressed about the good organization and standards at this festival…maybe that came from the fact that we were already used to the spanish- way. In 3 words: chaotic, do-ityourself, last-minute 😉
Talking about the ‚spanish-way’: Barcelona is a great city for me as an artist. It inspires me every day:
…when I am on my way to rehearsal and cross the amazing Gaudi architectures
…when I get surprised of the street-art corners going by bike to the next meeting
…when I have my snack in the park listening to guitar sounds before I go to teach
…when I have my coffee after rehearsal sitting on a square full of people while the kids embrace
the street-lights and it reminds me of a contact-improv exercise. It’s a gift to have the opportunity to be here, even if I must say that during the time here I also got annoyed by all the traffic, noise and the crowdedness in the center (secretly I started to miss the calmness of Arnhem). Besides that, I have to acknowledge that it is harder than I wished if I look at the financial aspect here in Spain. This is something which makes me worry and doubt a lot about next year. In how far will I be able to have a more or less steady income!?
But culturally, the city is so rich and divers. I like the fact, that life takes place on the streets. People are outside, people share, they are passionate, there is so much movement in the city and it’s a continuous coming and going.
This is also great in the sense that there is a flush of workshops, performances, training or jams to develop and improve within my dance practice. Something unbelievable happened to me: I had some clue-moments during this year when I finally understood things, which I never arrived to understand during my studies…like for example when teachers say „push the floor“ or „feel the opposition“. I guess everyone who dances knows these expressions. I always thought I understood what it is about, but I actually just started to find the right keys to open these wonderful doors…
This photo was taken during a one-week intensive to investigate for a new creation with my dear friend, college and teacher Nadine Gerspacher, who supported me and our work with contwee this year a lot. And actually she was the one who helped me to understand the concept of „pushing“ 🙂
This picture reminds me of another workshop I did- with a duo called Humandhood. Their approach to movement and the connection with imagination became definitely an inspiration source for me. On the picture, I imagine myself as a miniature figure in the middle of this flow. The circulation means taking energy from the ground and giving it back to the space- the act of giving and receiving, breathing in and breathing out, gathering and sending and trying to connect my body with my mind in the end. And myself just as one mini-part of the whole system. That’s also how I feel as a young artist…trying to find my place in this big space. Participating in workshops offered another interesting aspect: The fact that I had the chance to observe different duo’s and how they work in the studio made me reflect a lot about my role and us as contweedancecollective.
Our collaboration was really intense during the whole year, sometimes a bit too much of everything. The line between working partners and friendship got very blurry and it took a while until we knew what was the best way to deal with that. I learned to give each other space and also to decide that we can allow ourselves to have a free day: Working 24/7 is easier to do as I would have expected. The good thing about all that: I have the feeling that we were growing a lot as a duo by experiencing this whole period together, stimulating and activating one another again and again. This proved also, that I see not only a college in Johanna, but also a partner, a friend, a big inspiration and a person I can fully trust /photo above, by Theresa Friedrich.
This picture, also by Theresa Friedrich, was taken at the Castell de Montjuïc. It’s a former prison during the Franco-period, around 1938. This area is one of the places I like to walk around, to gasp fresh air, enjoy the view and to free my thoughts. It’s an interesting paradox if I think of the history of this place- the feeling of freedom vs. the control, the fight and the struggle it carries with.
Being finished with the studies offered a lot of freedom. The freedom to fill the days with other things than going to school and fulfill the tasks. But it also confronted me with the need to do that wisely, and only choose what I think helps me or my collective to develop more…which also means learning to say no. And this keeps on being hard for me. Furthermore, having all this time, but not having a full-time-employment, means to deal with the factor of instability and uncertainty. Especially the stages of transition are full of doubts and question-marks, like these weeks for example. But for now I decided to come back to Barcelona after the summer. Hopefully, to harvest some of the seeds we planted this year. For next year things will change: The collective will be spread between Germany (Johanna) and Spain (me). It’s going to be a longdistance-relationship 😉 I know that we are flexible enough to manage this new form of collaborating and that it will also open new possibilities. But nevertheless, it’s going to be challenging.
I started this with a photo of June 2017. Now it’s one year later. One year after I graduated. How do I feel, what do I think and what do I expect? What changed from last year to this year? In a way I feel a little gap coming up…maybe the gap I didn’t feel last year because I had a clear vision and decision about my next step. Now my plans are a bit blurry, also because my work seems to be spread between the 3 countries. There is not anymore this big goal to go to Barcelona and start up there. I AM here now. The challenge is to keep on going. One thing I know for sure: Barcelona is a city of transition for me. Due to many different reasons I know, that it will not be a place to stay forever.
I guess, the next step will be to decide which will be the following destination, a master, another city, a steady job? -I don’t know yet. It’s kind of scary and I have a lot of respect…but I feel that my red backpack filled itself with new information, inspiration, skills & plans . And little by little, really slowly, it’s filled also with more clarity and trust for the next steps and decisions.