Texts on Works

Review Title


Kaap: Interview with Marialena Marouda, Artist in Residence

Why the ocean?

I’m drawn to the ocean both personally and professionally. I grew up in Athens, Greece and there the sea is very much part of one’s everyday life and I think also a very relevant part of one’s personality. So the ocean - I feel - is part of who I am as a person. I wanted to see in which way other people felt similar in its proximity. 

Also politically, the ocean is very active in what’s happening around the world at the moment, participating in changes like global warming or the so called “refugee crisis”.  But it is never addressed as the actor that it is. Within the work of the Oceanographies Institute, I ask how it is possible to make the part of the conversation. “Can I start a conversation with another human being, in which somehow the ocean also takes part?” and “How is it possible to hear the ocean’s “voice”?”

So I started having “Ocean Conversations” with people that live in proximity to the ocean or the sea. I ask my interlocutors about their relationship to the ocean throughout their lives, and this often gives them another perspective on why they chose their job, or why they chose to live where they do, for example. It’s often a new experience for them to think of the ocean in this way, as a companion.

How do you start these conversations?

It happens quite intuitively. I started having the conversations with some friends in Brussels during the artistic research programm I was part of (a.pass). Most of these friends were artists. Because I was also interested in including scientists’ experiences of the ocean, I contacted the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) in Ostend. I started conversations with some of the scientists there who were interested in the work and involved them in the project. So my interlocutors are either people I get to know personally, or people I research because of their professional relation to the ocean. As the work evolves, my interlocutors also often connect me to other conversation partners. So the network of the Oceanographies Institute’s participants grows rather organically.  

I came in contact with KAAP after collaborating with the VLIZ:  it was interesting for me to collaborate with an artistic institution in Ostend and to get to know more people in the city. 

You were already at Chambres d’O this year. 

Yes, I’ve been having try-outs throughout the process, and Chambres d’O was a very positive experience. Our host was a former fisherman and enthusiastic seaman with a wonderful boat. The setting was great, our captain was very supportive, and the audience was very open to the work. We had great feedback from them.

This was very encouraging. Last November I opened up the work on the Oceanographies Institute to more collaborators: a dramaturg, a composer and two performers. Before performing in Chambres d’O we all had a three week residency together. So the presentation at Chambres d’O came at a time when the work started to change and evolve.

What’s the plan now?

The premiere is in mid-September, until then I’m planning some presentations, for example during Pint of Science in May in Ostend, in collaboration with the VLIZ. We also have a residency in Q-O2 in Brussels, a space for experimental music and sound art, about which I am very excited. We also work at nadine in Brussels, C-Takt in Neerpelt and in Buda Kunstencentrum in Kotrijk.  And then next year we come back to Ostend for Dansand!

You’re quite international.

Yes, I was born in Greece, but have lived abroad for many years. I’ve studied in New York, Giessen and Brussels. Before I came to Belgium, I lived in Germany for 10 years, before this in the United States for 4 years.

Why Belgium? 

I find the Belgian performance art scene to be one of the most intriguing I’ve encountered. It seems very open to new art forms and art works. I feel that institutions -small and large-  and their coordinators are genuinely interested in what artists do and the formats they develop. Hierarchies are rather flat with also many smaller experimental workspaces being an essential part of the scene, giving it a great diversity. There are all these different people here doing very different kinds of work on a high level. And there’s great solidarity between the artists. That’s very inspiring to see. I really hope it can continue like this also in the future.

We’re happy to have you at KAAP.


Winternights 2019: artistic proposals for vulnerable test audiences

Entirely different kinds of techniques are demonstrated by Marialena Marouda. In a room one floor up, a small audience joins in a circle, where The Oceanographies Institute invites to reflect on the relationship between humans and the ocean. The performance workshop combines the intimacy of an informal conversation with the performance of different actions, in order to evoke memories and address the ocean’s materiality.  

The rereading of notes from previous conversations, with repetition of sentences and frequencies rolling over each other, is reminiscent of the endless accumulation of waves on waves. For example like the sound of the drawing of an eight on its side, the sign for infinity, is a tiny gesture to bring the thoughts of the guests in the room towards the great sea.

Oscillating between concrete questions and self-imposed rituals, Marouda and her co-performer Elpida Orfanidou bring to light a world of embodied knowledge, of memories and customs. Also misunderstandings and problems of translation, the language of communication being the generic English that prevails in the global art world, contribute to a miraculous investigation, in which small bodily gestures, such as taking turns in gently exhaling into a microphone, evoke that very large and old body of the sea. Even though it treasures the most ancient life on earth, the ocean stays an object for most people. A place in which you sometimes paddle your feet or cross at the level of 8000 meters. [...]

Fransien van der Putt

17 december 2019

Translation by Katrien Reist

Link to original text:


Wanderings with Racehorses and Sirens; the young independent scene in Frankfurt asserts itself with the Festival "Implantieren"

"In the sound archive

[...] The choreographer and performer Marialena Marouda installs her "Poetry Exercises: An Archive of (un) familiar things" in the vey place where the history of the city is written: the Institute of City History. The most important documents are stored here in 25 kilometers of shelves. The program of the evening is a complex web of different activities: there are guided tours of in-house archivists and librarians, who introduce the order of things in great detail. There are stations in the house where the artists have arranged existing documents in new ways. And there are performances that try to redefine the idea of ​​archiving. By creating an open-ended archive of sounds, for example, of something so highly fleeting, that it hardly finds its way into in our literacy based cultural history.

Silent reclaiming of space

Visitors can therefore archive sounds themselves by noting their re-production with their own body and recording it on a DAT. The performances of Marialena Marouda, Katja Cheraneva and Malter Scholz take on those notations in their highly precise acoustic depictions. With the help of their bodies in space, they simulate the flight of a pigeon swarm or the hissing of an air conditioner. Different systems of order are playfully confronted with one another, while the question of which elements of a culture are accepted into its memory and which are given over to forgetting arises quite pleasurably. [...]

Esther Boldt

Translation: Marialena Marouda


German Original:

Titel: "Streifzüge mit Pferden und Sirenen; mit dem Festival "Implantieren" behauptet sich die junge freie Szene selbstbewusst in der Stadt Frankfurt"

Im Geräuscharchiv

[...] So richtet sich die Choreographin und Performerin Marialena Marouda mit ihren „Poetry Exercises: An Archive of (un)familiar things“ an jenem Ort ein, an dem stetig an der Geschichte der Stadt geschrieben wird: das Institut für Stadtgeschichte. In 25 Regalkilometern lagern hier die wichtigsten Dokumente. Das Programm des Abends ist ein komplexes Gewebe: Es gibt Führungen von hauseigenen Archivar*innen und Bibliothekar*innen, die mit großer Detailgenauigkeit in die Ordnung der Dinge einführen. Es gibt Stationen im Haus, an denen die Künstler*innen vorhandene Dokumente neu arrangiert haben. Und es gibt Performances, die versuchen, den Gedanken des Archivierens neu zu fassen –beispielsweise, indem sie ein unabgeschlossenes Archiv von Geräuschen eröffnen, von etwas höchst Flüchtigem also, das in unsere schriftbasierte Kulturgeschichte kaum Eingang findet.

Leise Raumaneignung

So können Besucher*innen selbst Geräusche archivieren, indem sie ihre Re-Produktion mit dem eigenen Körper notieren und auf DAT aufnehmen, und die Performances von Marialena Marouda, Katja Cheraneva und Malter Scholz greifen sie in ihren höchst präzisen akustischen Streifzügen auf, in denen sie mithilfe ihrer Körper im Raum das Auffliegen eines Taubenschwarms simulieren oder das Rauschen einer Klimaanlage. Spielerisch werden verschiedene Ordnungssysteme miteinander konfrontiert, und es wird durchaus lustvoll die Frage aufgeworfen, welche Elemente einer Kultur in ihre Erinnerung überführt werden und welche dem Vergessen anheimgeben. [...]"

Esther Boldt

Clouds, Wind and Waves; Marialena Marouda's "Poetry Exercises" in Frankfurt

One advice in advance: you should jump over your own shadow. Even if you are on the verge of fleeing Frankfurt's Carmelite monastery. Even if you feel slightly overwhelmed by the guide booklet, the web of paths and the exhibition, and can hardly decide between all that is proposed, between the guided tours through the city archive and the changing performances in the refectory. After all, the audience has here plenty of time to engage  with Marialena Maroudas "Poetry Exercises". The visitor is free to enter – and exit – the performative installation at any time. Furthermore, once having entered Maroudas "Archive of (un) familiar things", the whole didactic framing might as well become irrelevant.  And then suddenly, lo and behold, everything becomes miraculously poetic and, finally, light as a feather. "Implantieren" is the title of the nomadic festival initiated by Independent Dance, which has been held in various locations in the city of Frankfurt since September. When Marouda now activates the Institute of City History in the Carmelite Monastery with her precise interventions, the artist does not only playfully open up access to the city's memory. If you like, you can also join a staff member of the Institute for a guided tour through the archive, or create your own impression of Frankfurt by means of selected audiovisual material –ranging from sounds of the city’s bells to the speech of Nelly Sachs at the Peace Award Ceremony– in the reading room.

But the heart of this event beats in the refectory where Marouda, Katja Cheraneva and Malte Scholz work on the actual theme of the "Exercises": memory. Of a day in March, for example, by the North Sea, with clouds, wind and weather and huge waves breaking on the beach; of the whipping shots in the rifle club in Niedererlenbach or of a swarm of flying birds somewhere on Friedberger Landstraße. These are everyday, often fleeting and, at most, individually significant experiences, which the performers evoke with nothing but their voices. Rooms, places, situations, like the own garden, a visit to the swimming pool or the Christmas fair, are reconstructed by means of narration and literally take shape.
And it works, as own recollections gradually appear in the audience, such as the surf of the Atlantic on a gloomy day in November, the pigeons on the Piazza San Marco maybe, or all the people, voices and smells of the Christmas market. If you like, you can leave it at that, maybe turn another round through the cloister while listening to your own steps. Or you can make your own impressions part of the memory of the city at one of the workstations: the answers, they say, will be archived.

Christoph Schütte

Translation: Marialena Marouda


German Original:

"Wolken, Wind und Wellen; Marialena Marouda's "Poetry Exercises" in Frankfurt"

„Ein Rat vorab: Man sollte über seinen Schatten springen. Auch wenn man zunächst kurz davor ist, Reißaus zu nehmen im Frankfurter Karmeliterkloster. Fühlt man sich doch angesichts von Spielanleitung, Wegeführung und Ausstellung fast ein wenig überfordert, und mag man sich zwischen all den Angeboten, zwischen Führungen durchs Stadtarchiv und wechselnden Performances im Refektorium erst einmal kaum entscheiden. Doch zum einen hat das Publikum hier reichlich Zeit, sich auf Marialena Maroudas „Poetry Exercises“ einzulassen. Schließlich ist es dem Besucher freigestellt, die performative Installation jederzeit zu betreten und auch wieder zu verlassen. Zum anderen kann einem, kaum eingetreten in Maroudas „Archive of (un)familiar things“, das ganze didaktische Beiwerk im Zweifelsfall auch einfach egal sein. Und siehe da: Alles wird wundersam poetisch und schließlich federleicht. „Implantieren“ ist das nomadische, von Independent Dance initiierte Festival überschrieben, das seit September an verschiedenen Orte im Frankfurter Stadtgebiet veranstaltet wird. Und wenn nun Marouda das Institut für Stadtgeschichte im Karmeliterkloster mit präzisen Interventionen bespielt, dann legt die Künstlerin nicht nur spielerisch Zugänge zum Gedächtnis der Stadt. Wer mag, schließt sich einem Mitarbeiter des Instituts zu einer Führung durchs Archiv an, oder man macht sich im Lesesaal mittels ausgewählter Ton- und Bilddokumente – vom großen Stadtgeläut bis zur Friedenspreisverleihung an Nelly Sachs – selbst ein Bild von Frankfurt.

            Das Herz dieser Veranstaltung schlägt aber im Refektorium, wo Marouda, Katja Cheraneva und Malte Scholz das eigentliche Thema der „Exercises“ präparieren: die Erinnerung. An einen Tag im März etwa an der Nordsee, mit Wolken, Wind und Wetter und gewaltigen, am Strand sich brechenden Wellen; an die peitschenden Schüsse im Schützenverein Niedererlenbach oder einen Schwarm auffliegender Vögel irgendwo an der Friedberger Landstraße. Es sind alltägliche, oft flüchtige und allenfalls individuell bedeutsame Erlebnisse, die die Performer mit nichts als ihren Stimmen heraufbeschwören. Räume, Orte, Situationen der eigene Garten, ein Besuch im Schwimmbad oder auf dem Weihnachtsbasar nehmen, erzählend rekonstruiert, buchstäblich Gestalt an.

            Und es funktioniert, stellen sich im Publikum doch allmählich eigene Erinnerungen ein, etwa an die Brandung des Atlantiks an einem düsterem Tag im November, die Tauben auf dem Markusplatz vielleicht oder all die Menschen, Stimmen und Gerüche auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt. Wer mag, kann es dabei belassen, vielleicht noch eine Runde durch den Kreuzgang drehen und dabei den eigenen Schritten lauschen. Oder aber seine Eindrücke gleich vor Ort an einer der Workstations mit dem Gedächtnis der Stadt kurzschließen: die Antworten, heißt es, würden selbstverständlich archiviert.“

Christoph Schütte

Exercising oneself in inappropriate language. Poetry Exercises by Marialena Marouda

One enters the space, one takes a cushion, one places it on the floor freely and sits on it. After a short introduction, one watches two people sitting on cushions. The shared space turns into a space of listening.

One of them describes a space, the other describes it differently. We are told nothing that we can take stock of. As information, the spaces are irrelevant. Access to them is being held open, nothing more. Every sentence is repeated by the second performer, in difference: we are giving in to the different tone, the different point of view, the different impression. Emotionally neutral and subjective at the same time. Instead of communicating a dry perception, every word acquires the weight of a drop of water. Experience appears in the open interval between the different accents of seeing. The impressions communicated are not laying claim to experience; the difference between seeing and narrating is living, is experience.

The journey of listening continues. The constellation of listeners changes. We regroup around three standing performers and microphones. Just the term “Birds” is introduced. And the fluttering of wings emerges from their mouths. The rustling of the wings is intoxicating, it appears out of nowhere. It is as if our sense of hearing has materialized and has, in passing, transformed into birds. Or into sirens. Or into speeding cars.

Third stage. Questions are posed: childish questions about the being of oceans, jackhammers or shelters. An answer does not come immediately. After a moment of thinking – during which the ocean has briefly unfolded before us and the floor of the hut has been swept away – come first assertions that don’t have anything to assert. We think along, in the space between question and answer. We don’t think along by trying to catch our thinking up with what was presented – something that Gertrude Stein found so irritating about theater. We think and listen together, each person for themself. It is a language that allows a being in companionship, a being-different in shared listening. Marialena’s plea is not that we simply listen to the questions. Once we accept the modesty of the exercise and its absence of finality, her plea itself becomes superfluous, since the movement of saying-thinking is carried by the resonance of our saying-thinking.

The exercises cannot be executed without our activity. It does not take long until our listening is displaced. In this sense Marialena has accomplished even more than she thought: a nonfunctional language is not only possible; we experience it as a collective-individual experiential possibility in a relational subjectivity. Maybe this is what poetic thinking is. It is certainly the space in which the fragility of thinking can be received as a shared gift. Can.


Eliane Beaufils
Maître de conférences
Etudes théâtrales
Université Paris 8

Translation into English: Marialena Marouda
Proofreading and editing: William Wheeler

Life is here, all alone at night in the centre of the city

One of those wonderful things born incessantly in this city, something we don’t always take notice of, was a stimulating [Athens] Biennale with well-known and lesser-known artists.

I was lucky enough to participate in a very special event that not only required the participation of the public, but also, unexpectedly, affected the core of our being. A young Athenian, Marialena Marouda, who works in the fields of theater and dance in Germany, invited us to something unusual and, to some, even disturbing: she asked us to walk alone, in silence, without cell phones or music, for 45 minutes in the area around Kotzia Square, when it was already dark.

Prior to the walk, she proposed some instructions: to take our time, to follow our desire and, most importantly, to focus on being aware. Being aware of our body (balance, weight, speed) but also of all our sensations, of how our shoes touch the ground, of what we hear around us, of what we see and think, of the feelings that can emerge, such as pleasure, fear, hurriedness, alienation, happiness or curiosity. Being aware of the living organisms that we would meet in our passing, of people, animals and plants. We were asked to be aware of the temperature, the light, the pollution, the streets, the cars, the buildings, the garbage and so on. In a word, Marialena Marouda set the guidelines for what she calls the map of walking poetics, since, on top of all this, she asked us to take notes on yellow post-its, which she handed out, and which we later would stick to a whole wall of the old stock exchange building… In short, we were given a highly complex task.

And so I went out, somewhat blasé, since it happens that I often traverse these areas. Only to realize that in fact I seldom saw and experienced as intensely as I did now. The lit Acropolis against a deep blue (almost black) sky; the book fair on Kotzia Square, which I crossed passionately and vigorously while listening to the sound of the soles of my feet on the ground; the friend I met outside Campo and whom I invited enthusiastically to join me; the smells of olive oil, sausages and cheeses on an ever lively Athinas Str.; the harmless, raving mad Pakistani firing sexual insults all day long; the lit Acropolis now against a black backdrop; yellow, white, light blue and orange lights; the humidity; a bouquet of Greek flags for sale on the sidewalk; the evening briskness caressing my face; pollution not at all disturbing; the eagerness to comprehend all that I see and hear, to share, to pass on that awareness, which distances me from all my worries and becomes an almost inexplicable flood of joy. How to describe such concentrated happiness arising from a common stroll? I felt like a child listening intently, free from thoughts about what was or will be, free from fear or criticism.

Afterwards we returned to our base, from now on the temple of art and poetry, and stuck our notes onto the self-made map, continuing to play, drawing lines with colored pencils, crossing our thoughts, affects and desires.

Carving them on an Athens now transformed, which is here, at once extremely familiar and alienating, constantly seductive and fascinating.

Eva Karaitidi
Director of the Publishing House “Hestia Publishers and Booksellers

Englisch translation by Marialena Marouda
Proofreading by William Wheeler

Walking as Choreography

Choreography has a very strong sociopolitical implication for Marialena Marouda, because it deals with the distribution of bodies in (public) space. Choreography therefore articulates power relations, which undermine and potentially change the individual’s strive for movement. This archetypal relationship between body, space and movement was the basis of her MA Thesis-Project “Walking Exercises” in the Summer of 2011. Therein Mrs. Marouda investigated fundamental bodily practices in space (walking, orientating, remembering) in three scenes. Through setting specific tasks, which the audience can follow, she managed to mentally engage the public in the Performance. This brought about the creation of a collective space, shared by actors and spectators alike.

Prof. Dr. Gerald Siegmund
MA “Choreography and Performance”
Institute of Applied Theater Studies

Only as to see you walk; “Walking Exercises” by Marialena Marouda

What Malte Scholz is thinking -  while he draws circles on the rehearsal stage of the Mousoturm Theater in Frankfurt, his feet sinking in chalk -  nobody knows. It probably requires great concentration to follow the beat of the metronome, while simultaneously changing walking postures around each turn. The viewer witnesses a kind of evolution: from crawling to running, from a crooked, ape-like walk to a childish zig-zag walk and back again. Scholz shows the rhythmical variety of walking, Caroline Creutzburg the playful search for orientation with bound eyes, while Enad Marouf, the third in the gang, illustrates that it is indeed possible, to think and memorize while walking, with the help of the old children’s game: “I pack my bag and I take with me…” [...]. The piece has clever wit and makes an hour’s worth of very amusing performance.

Own Texts

Essay Title


Gibanica 2015: A Joint Critical Diary

Gibanica 2015: A Joint Critical Diary

by Heike Bröckerhoff and Marialena Marouda

This is what we proposed to Mojca Zupančič, producer of the seventh edition of Gibanica (MOVING CAKE) – Biennial of Slovenian Contemporary Dance Art when we invited ourselves to the festival as critics:

We would like to accompany the festival by writing a festival diary including

- mainly impressions from as many performances as possible, using different formats such as simple solo evaluations, dialogues/discussions, opposing two different statements, writing a text together, etc. This can vary and will be influenced by what the performances themselves suggest. (Texts will neither be neutral observations nor journalists’ critique style.)

- (critical) reflections on the Slovenian contemporary dance scene, or what will be presented as the Slovenian contemporary dance scene in the framework of Gibanica.

- notes on encounters we have during the festival and/or interviews that we conduct.

- (critical) reflection on our own position as “critics” coming from elsewhere and unfamiliar with the scene.


With this diary we want to practice a rather fast, continuous, subjective, and also less elaborated, a weak writing. It is written from the position of a stranger to the context, or as we are called here: international guests. Both of us are based in Germany and engaged in performance making, dramaturgy, and theoretical writing on the performing arts.

The idea to attend Gibanica came from our participation in the program Critical Practice (Made in Yugoslavia). Our group is composed of young authors who are engaged in and write about the performing arts. Our focus is on the scenes of the Post-Yugoslav space, i.e., the Balkans. Critical Practice has so far been an opportunity for us to get to know the scenes of Serbia and Macedonia. Our colleague Jasmina Založnik from Slovenia suggested that we come to Gibanica to get a sense of the Slovene scene as well.

With her help we composed a long list of people to meet, places to go and things to see...

So here we go.

We should probably first clarify our role in the frame of the festival. How would you describe it?

We give discursive support, we spread the word about these performances.

Spread the word to whom?

The international scene?

In what way do you think that we have access to it? We are mainly publishing the texts on our blog: criticalpractice-madeinyu.info.

Well, we’re making our own international circle. Within Critical Practice, no? We could also spread the word to our local scenes . . .?

Yes. But I would say that mainly we want to be engaged in the festival by means of writing about it. Our writing-thinking during the festival is what makes us present and supportive, I think.

This would mean that we want to engage in the Slovenian scene . . .?

. . .

Let’s move on.

I agree.

How do we write about performances?

I would like the writing to be a description of how I encountered the different works. I want to write about how the pieces moved me, in a way, as precisely as possible.

I think our brief impressions/reviews should add something to each performance and not reduce them to a single interpretation. To recall Jeroen Peeters, “An artwork cannot be translated into words without excess,” and append to it: “An artwork cannot be translated into words without excess [or misunderstanding].”


Wednesday, February 18

We arrived today. Marialena came from Frankfurt. Me, I came from Hamburg. It’s Gibanica’s seventh edition and our first time in Ljubljana. We know nothing about the scene. Except a few insights from Jasmina. She is supposed to be here, Milka Ivanovska from Skopje as well. But they somehow didn’t manage: Jasmina recently moved to Aberdeen for her PhD and a trip from there would be too expensive. Milka started working in an NGO on the development of civil society in Skopje, and her time outside the office is very limited.

Marialena and myself, happy Western-based workers, got support from the Goethe Institute and Hamburg’s Ministry of Culture. Thanks.

Just realizing that our program will be dense. We have tickets for everything. To get an overview of a selection of twelve works from a total of forty-eight applications. It’s supposed to be those which “respect the classic exchange between the stage and audience; a decision informed by the limited time frame of the festival itself and our main intention of promoting Slovenian art within an international context. As a result, the most radical formats were unfortunately left out.” (Selector’s rationale). Would like to know more, what these “radical formats” were. It’s a platform, this work should sell, no? Maybe the radical formats are less sellable? But anyhow, what are radical positions in contemporary dance in Ljubljana in the year 2015?

What are the struggles and problems in the scene? What is the position and relevance of the festival within the Slovenian contemporary dance scene? What is the curatorial position of Gibanica? How does this mirror the criteria for the selection of pieces? How was the selection procedure structured and organized?


Today the festival was opened with a panel on Ksenija Hribar, choreographer, dancer, teacher, and dance activist who influenced the Slovenian contemporary dance scene significantly from the 1970s on. We only went to the evening event in the Slovenian Cinematheque to see the two short films Slovo by Karpo Godina and Xenia on Tour by Filip Robar Dorin and a screening of Hribar’s performance Sentimental Reminiscences from 1998. At the entrance of the cinematheque, we meet Ksenija’s cousin: Angelika Hribar who speaks German fluently and immediately takes pleasure in telling us family stories.

From the introductions, I only retained a couple of words, among them “D’un espace autre,” a text by Foucault on his concept of heterotopia. It’s a pity that all the panels on her are in Slovenian. They keep it a local thing.


The atmosphere is warm. From the few and brief talks we have with two actors from the scene, I hear a bit of skepticism towards the independent scene and its potential or condition at the moment. What exactly does “independent scene” mean in Ljubljana? And where does this skepticism come from? Is it resignation after long fights over cultural politics in the city? Modesty? Or simply realist evaluation?


I have the “good” map. It’s the map we were given by the lady at the information counter of the airport, but on it we marked the hotel, all the venues of Gibanica as well as Jasmina’s restaurant, café, and bar recommendations. I carry it around with me always, and from the frequent use it has already worn out after the first day.

We are amazed by how beautiful the city is and find our way through the streets easily.


Thursday, February 19

10 am

In the morning we go for a coffee in Le petit cafe, in parallel, working on a text on the German contemporary dance and performance scene. The sun and the atmosphere of the place is wonderful, this city seems quite friendly.


12 pm Meeting with Nina Meško, Rok Vevar, and Andreja Kopač

Café at Nebotičnik

At noon we meet Rok Vevar, critic and moderator of the panel on Ksenija Hribar, who currently builds up and runs The Slovenian Temporary Dance Archive; Nina Meško, one of the Gibanica jury members and a former dancer; and Andreja Kopač, dramaturge and writer of the program texts for this year’s edition. 

Rok suggests to go to the Nebotičnik, the highest skyscraper in the centre (aka Ljubljana’s Empire State Building).

On our way there, Rok talks about how in the 1980s and 1990s all the most relevant dance and choreography works of central and western Europe were presented in Ljubljana, mostly at the Cankarjev dom. He now feels that there is a greater introversion in the Slovene scene and that rarely any foreign work is shown anymore.

“What is the history of Gibanica?”, we ask our hosts. Gibanica adopts the format of a Dance Platform. There is a question whether this format is still relevant today, Rok points out. However, its political function is what is most interesting for him, that is, to show to the politicians that the scene exists and that it is working – a lot.

Gibanica has a dual function:

A) To present “the best” Slovene works of the previous two years to an audience of international curators. However, this is not so much the case, there are not so many foreign guests. The scene is much more isolated than it used to be and than it would like to be, Rok remarks.

 B) To help the Slovene scene become more aware of itself and of its history. The documentation of the works that are produced in Slovenia as well as a greater systematization in the archiving of these works are extremely important for the scene’s self-understanding and self-awareness, Rok argues. It’s not only about producing your own work but also about the awareness of being part of something bigger, a history.

This is also the function of the program framing the festival, the presentation of the works of Ksenija Hribar, and the workshop on choreographic practices with Bojana Kunst and Paola Caspão; in other words, to create a bigger awareness of the beginnings of contemporary dance in Slovenia. “Is this a need to invent a history in order to make sense of the present?” I silently ask myself.

Jasmina would say: I’m not sure if this is an invention. It’s “real” . . . without a reference and context, how can you position yourself . . .?

Yes, but when does the need for historicization arise? And why? Is it a political urge? And can works be instrumentalized in order to fit into a certain history?

These are questions that might be much more urgent for our contexts, no? Because in Germany there is much funding offered for archiving, historical research, etc., as you can see with Tanzfonds Erbe and other programs. So here I would rather ask: What does it mean for a scene to have no idea of any kind of history at all?

I think, and here I would agree with Rok, that the independent scene in Germany also hardly has an idea of itself as a historical phenomenon. I think it is really important to be able to work with the awareness that you are not on your own, but actually part of a larger framework.

But these possibilities for grants, let’s say, motivate or allure people to deal with dance history.

If there is no institution taking care of historicizing dance, as seems to be the case for Slovenia, it depends very much on initiatives by actors from the field. And – in Roks words – historical research, archiving, and sharing these documents, as for instance the panels on Hribar do, can help build the scene from the inside.


Nina speaks to us about the selection process of Gibanica and its complexities:

The goal was to pick the “strongest works,” but also to present a wide variety of aesthetic propositions. So, there is no theme framing the festival. There was consciously not one aesthetic or methodological position favored over others.

She speaks about the time pressure under which the selection process took place, which made heated discussions and arguing in favor or against certain works almost impossible. She would have wished for more time to exchange views among the jury members.


The difficulty that the different actors have solidarizing with each other makes the fragmentation of the scene hard to overcome, Nina and Andrea argue. State employees responsible for the independent performing arts are hardly speaking the same language with the actors of the scene, making it impossible to push for necessary and long overdue political decisions.

The question of the platform format comes back. Rok talks about how in the 1990s performance makers from Slovenia were given money to travel and present their work abroad. Even though the political situation had already changed, it sold well, as a “war product.” What if money would again be spent in that way today? Well, they say, nowadays no one is interested in contemporary dance from Slovenia anymore. It’s neither “exotic” nor “contemporary” enough.


3 pm Today is Tomorrow’s Yesterday by Bara Kolenc, Teja Reba, and Loup Abramovici

Elektro Ljubljana

The first performance of the festival is a duet starting with two performers (Teja Reba and Loup Abramovici) entering the stage from two sides half naked and stimulated by a mating call. They encounter each other, come together in a light and tender atmosphere and... disappear again. Then they come back, this time dressed – the expulsion from Paradise. “This is the beginning of the original performance, but then my mother died,” she announces. He continues…

Together they move from intimate anecdotes to a list of “what is happening elsewhere at this moment” – which can be both horror scenarios and banalities – to “what would ideally be there” (in the performance and in the world).

“Silence is horrible,” she states. This must be the reason why the performance is full of sound, sometimes concrete materials such as bird calls or waves, sometimes more atmospheric and undefinable noise. That’s what is needed to fill the void. With a white rope and marine style, they construct metaphors and small scenes on what can be read as phases of their relationship: tug wars on distance and proximity, playing-drunk-at-home, vessel in storm, literally exchanging liquids, and half-violent, half-sensual mating rituals, a variété show. Shifting from human to animal behavior. In the end she dies, or is killed. The performers change from inside/private moments to communicative moments with the audience. With only a few props and precise modifications of the setting, the performers do not simply perform strongly, but construct the “scenes” of their relationships. Still, the work mostly remains on the level of the private. I would need more abstraction instead of representation-explanation in order to read the “night of the crisis” as a global one – as was promised in the program text. (Of course you should not pit a performance against its description.) As an audience member I am hardly affected by that crisis, it passes almost too lightly.


There is a welcome reception for the international guests in Hotel Park. We take a group picture, I wonder what we represent.


5.30 pm Time Body Trio by Andreja Rauch Podrzavnik

Elektro Ljubljana

Time Body Trio is a colorful open format, an installation with dance, lights, piano, photo exhibition, workshop with kids, and guided tour for students.

Reality continuously invades this performance project.

“Tonight this space is a dressing room . . . .” Are they making images or sculptures? I feel it’s undecided.


The piece starts – and ends – with a monologue by the performer Katja Legin. She hands out a paper to the audience with the English translation of what she is about to say (in Slovenian).

The (written) monologue works quite well in and of itself, I think, something like a list of clichés about the space of the theater: “I do believe that this situation can also be magical. Because, it’s true, when you are on stage, you can expand and grow wings. Here, I’m capable of things that I otherwise might not be.”

The matter-of-fact, disinterested way this monologue is carried out is what is interesting about it, and makes it appear as nothing special. When afterwards it turns out that it had indeed given away the structure of the whole piece, it appears somewhat a betrayal, this introduction.


7.15 pm This is not a Hit by Matej Kejžar (dance) with Marjan Stanić (drums)

Dance Theatre Ljubljana

The first part is a throwing of arms, hips, and legs . . . jumpy, wavy and in the dark, more and more light invades the space.

The second part is a course of rhythmic gymnastics that the sweating body moves through.

The third part is two proposals for change: the musician beats the living daylights out of his drum set and misuses one of the parts as a flute. Later he changes place, sits and contemplates. The dancer combines more and more movements from the first and the second part to end up in a slower rhythm, calming down, moved by his sweat.

This is not about virtuosity in the classical sense but about stamina. Failing balance. It’s a strong work with clear components and movement/sound material. What is striking is that a duet of drums and dance fortunately doesn’t become a topic (which would distract from the physicality), and it’s exactly this physical struggle to which both are exposed that keeps them together.


A friendship between a drummer and a dancer.


The lights go out, the dancer falls backwards, and the drummer begins to play. Deafening at first, leaving no opportunity for breathing or even for distinguishing rhythms. The room is lit by a single spot at first, on the right corner behind the audience. It is lighting not the performers, but a narrow line on the the floor, just in front of the audience, slowly rising. It seems as if the space is slowly flooding: the light is so slight, it appears like water. A frenetic dancing in the background “accompanies” the instrument in a sort of superficial but pleasurable way, like gogo dancers accompany the music in clubs.


After about half an hour of this, the atmosphere changes. The side lights go on and a much more intense and intimate relationship starts between the two performers, communicating with each other through their respective two instruments/machines, one through the drums and the other through the choreographed body.

I say machine(s) because the intimacy that is inscribed in the structure of the performance lives from a machinic repetition of movements and rhythms/sounds, which are now – in juxtaposition with the darkness of before – attuned to one another, but which are nonetheless repeating in themselves, shifting in their mutual repetitions.

The principle of friendship for me falls apart (or does it?) towards the end of the piece, when the drums start disintegrating completely while the body still continues dancing, continuing despite the sweat and the exhaustion. Too figurative?


9 pm The Hunting Season by Milan Tomášik

Cankarjev dom, Linhart Hall

This performance is based on precisely performed dance technique, tempo, and humoristic scenes. Most of the virtuosic dance scenes performed by Jan Rozman, Alessandro Sollima, Tina Valentan, Špela Vodeb, and Aja Zupanec are commented in small, playful, mocking, foregrounded or backgrounded moments. It never becomes ironic, though. It becomes theatrical. All is performed with a serious and strong attitude in this paced accumulation of movements, images, soli, and unisono. They fight with each other and kid around. Hunting is a subtle motive that from time to time pops up in the movement material. I rarely see work that has no questions for me but simply invites me to “enjoy”!



Regarding the first day of the festival and this first encounter with the scene in Slovenia, I am surprised at the multiplicity of aesthetic positions that were presented. Even though all the pieces are stage pieces with a (more or less) frontal orientation regarding the audience, they were very different in how they functioned as choreographies. I feel most "at home" with Matej Kejžar’s piece; I am somehow relieved to see it in this context.

What is also clear to me by now is that most works will be solos or duets, unlike the rather large company pieces mostly invited to the German Tanzplattform. I am relieved about this as well.

Solo and duets mean that there is not much money.



Friday, February 20

There is something strange about voting after the show. I haven’t realized yet, but Marialena just pointed to that: audience members get a paper in order to give points to the performance. “After you have seen the performance, vote for the performance with grades from 1 to 5 (5 is best). Tear the number you think the performance deserves and put it to the basket at the exit.” There are no discussions or aftertalks, no “evaluations” of this kind – only numbers. Is there a prize given by the audience? What is the purpose of this inadequate way of evaluating a work of art? We’re neither in school, nor in a talent show. Maybe I shouldn’t be so strict with that.


1 pm

At this very moment, there is a performance going on elsewhere. It’s called Pre-Première and is the annual production of the Secondary Preschool Education & Gimnazija Ljubljana, a contemporary dance program. This year’s performance deals with the desire to dance. Unfortunately we’re missing it, we are writing and editing.

Working on the beautiful, sunny terrace of SEM (Slovene Ethnographic Museum) while drinking our coffee.


4 pm For Juliano Mer-Khamis by Jurij Konjar

Center kulture Španski borci

The performance starts with Jurij Konjar dancing (improvising?) to jazz music. The stage is empty but for a small table on the left front corner, with vegetables, two water boilers, a small electric cooker, and a pot. Konjar’s nonchalant dancing, the jazz, and the cooking utensils create quite a “cozy” atmosphere: one senses that Konjar feels at home in his dancing body and that the rest of the space (including the audience) is an extension of his homeyness.

This fact, in and of itself, was a point of annoyance for me: I do not wish to be part of anybody else’s self-assertion.

Then Konjar starts to narrate. From this point on, the piece becomes the parallel narration of three stories:

- Konjar’s recollection of his travel experiences as an artist-activist and nomad. He particularly focuses on one recent traveling experience as a member of the Bread and Puppet Theater in Athens and outlines the project that they realized there. At the end of this narration he mentions the work and death of artist Juliano Mer-Khamis as a source of inspiration.

- Konjar’s preparation of a soup, including a detailed listing of all ingredients and how to put them together (reminiscent of a cooking video). The soup is ready by the end of the performance, of course, and is served to the audience. It has sausage in it and is therefore, unfortunately, inaccessible to both Heike and myself. We’re vegetarians.

- Konjar’s verbalization of his dance and the decisions that he takes during his improvisation. He remembers having arrived at certain parts of the stage before, and decides to now take a different route, for example. This narration is a thinking-dancing out loud.


I understand this simultaneity of narratives as an attempt to bring together a dancer’s (nomadic) routine, political ideology, and bodily practice. However, this is done quite superficially and inconsistently so that even though the soup keeps cooking, those three elements don’t really come together conceptually. Rather, they all seem to exist as a self-assertion of Konjar’s artistic practice, each merely pointing to his artistic comfort zone, thus turning the performance into a selfish and almost arrogant gesture.


6 pm The Taste of Silence Always Resonates by Irena Tomažin

Cankarjev dom, Dvorana Duše Počkaj

In (very) stark contrast to the previous work, this piece is masterful in relating bodily movement to speech creation.

The piece is structured in “chapters” or songs, with the title of each chapter/song appearing each time projected on the back wall of the black box. Each chapter/song marks a specific handling of language and of voice, almost a particular exercise of improvisation on a specific word, phrase, or theme. Being unable to understand the words, since I don’t speak Slovene, only having a photocopy of the translation, I feel I cannot fully grasp the complex coupling of intensity of meaning and formal investigation of the vocal apparatus.

The piece opens and closes with the masterful singing of Slovene folk songs. In between comes exhaustive experimentation with the voice as apparatus and as affect Tomažin manages to break down speech for the audience, and by extension, song in its elementary particles:

- breath

- sonorous body

- virtuosity

- specificity of sounds, characteristic of a particular language (necessary for communication) – this element is inaccessible to me.

- sensuality

- . . .


Tomažin is pulling (her) voice out of the void in one of the fragments; in another she is making her breath reflect the walls of the black box space. In their totality the different fragments produce a complex matrix of meaning, revealing the space of the black box, which we are all sharing as a room of intimacy and intensity, a room full of body and sound, a room of voice (reflections).

  I find that the recurring theme of folk song, however, gives the piece a rather melancholic, "old fashioned" turn in comparison to the contemporary quality of the vocal experimentation that takes place in between, which I perceive as song as well. The beauty of “tradition” and the values it is associated with is always something that intrigues me and that I distrust simultaneously.



7.30 pm Searchings Untitled by Barbara Kanc

City Museum of Ljubljana, atrium

It’s crowded in the museum. The audience is sitting on two sides of the “stage” (rows meet in a right angle) . . .

A “bear” in costume enters the space, switches on a TV & DVD player so we can watch a video together . . .

Music starts, coming from somewhere, an Indian instrument, a sitar maybe . . .

There are objects: a red Swiss ball, an orange jerry can, a chair, an axe, a cord, a gas lamp, . . . a young woman wearing a grey pullover, legs naked, enters from the back in slow motion, or as a moving still, and tries the impossible: to pick up and carry all the objects . . .

There is an electric fan gently moving a paper lantern . . .

The bear comes back with a snack, draws a line with black and yellow caution tape, lies down and watches her . . .

There is the noise of objects falling down the stairs. The collection of objects on stage collapses with a short delay . . .

She picks up the can and it looks as if she were pouring gas over the objects and burning them all . . .

Music becomes noise . . .


And everything that is happening in between . . .

Searchings Untitled is a sensitive and thoughtfully composed work. The three performers, April Veselko, Barbara Kanc, and Samo Kutin, are moving and acting in their own temporalities; they co-inhabit. It might be a child’s game, a dream, an adventure – in any case, the work opens itself up for different associations, images, and a strong and very specific attention among the audience.


I somehow end up sitting on top of the whole thing, watching from the first floor of the atrium. There, I discover the musician sitting with his sitar (is it a sitar?), smiling gently, waiting for the performance to start. I feel very comfortable with the whole situation, not like an audience member but like a visitor, being allowed to discover and notice things in my own time. My attention is intensified, yet it is not guided from one event to the other, it can wander at will. This is quite a unique experience; I can’t remember having it before in the framework of a performance.


The extremely slow and precise movement of Barbara Kanc somehow creates a deceleration of the process of reception, thus allowing for a greater intensity of perception. I do not interpret in whole sentences, but in words, sounds, and colors. I think: TAKING - TIME - NECESSARY - . . .

I notice and really appreciate the care and attention with which everything has been created, selected and placed in the space. A handmade paper lamp, a handmade bear’s costume, the dancer’s costume, the musician’s instruments – there is hardly an element that seems accidental or conventional . . .


In this sense, the choice of space for the performance is really intriguing: we are not in a room, but in a hallway, a large open corridor, an in-between space. This gives the piece a very relevant and intelligently humorous sense of "in passing."



9 pm The Second Freedom by Leja Jurišić and Teja Reba

Elektro Ljubljana

We’re in the cathedral of freedom, and be aware that you will not feel prepared for what comes next . . . The Second Freedom stages emancipatory acts, passes through a selection of women’s roles – from the most outdated ones to the more recent, but we might not have overcome some of them – and puts them into movement. Informed by his writings, the women try to seduce Mladen Dolar, here revered as the father of Slovenian philosophy . . . in a flattering style. The work is full of ideas on (sexual, or female) emancipation, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. With the help of dance, theatrical situations, body art, as well as a smart and extravagant stage design (by Petra Veber) Jurisic and Reba push the limits. It gets obscene, bloody, awkwardly playful, messy, and morbid. Piss off! Pump it up! The sharp and harsh commentaries hit the excessive amount of constraints with which we buy what we put down as our freedom. You can only relax when images of tropical islands are projected onto the stage, and the two performers are dancing in bikinis to some pleasing melody. But then you might realize that this is just another moment in which joy and disgust can be disturbingly and excessively close.




I am wondering about the presence of text in the pieces. All the dancers here are speaking. Not that I don’t want them to. I am just surprised, as in Germany it seems to me that dancers have turned their backs on words again and moved elsewhere, to objects and choreography. Is this a question of paradigm?

I would not agree, I think, about the lack of speech in “German contemporary dance”. Maybe because most of the artists I admire are speaking quite a lot (Antonia Baehr, Martin Nachbar, Deufert und Plischke, among others). I find in the case of the pieces we have seen so far, that speech works best when it has a—

—raison d’être?

Yes, which comes from within the piece itself and is not a mere addressing of the audience or an explanation of what’s happening at the moment. The speaking in Second Freedom works really well in this sense, I think. It is a game with words and meanings..

Many texts are lists. Or is it only in the work of Teja Reba? Does Forced Entertainment have a strong influence here?

Do you mean that the text has a repetitive aspect to it? I would perceive this more as a game structure between the two performers than as a list. Like the funny game of addressing Mladen, supposedly sitting in the audience:

- Hey Mladen, do you . . .

- Ok Mladen, have you ever . . .

- Listen Mladen, what about . . .

Or what do you mean by list?

Look how you scripted the Mladen game. It’s a list.




When did we start taking cabs all the time between the performances?

Foreign guests, jury members, and some others are now invited to take the cab that is waiting in front of the theater to bring you to the next venue . . . . Hurry up!

Oh my, such a stressful thing, I love walking between the venues as an excuse to see some more of Ljubljana. I only squeeze into the cabs reluctantly.  

I understand. But cabs are also great.

. . . when provided by the festival. (Thanks.)



Saturday, January 21


11 am Choreography Practices, Discussion with Bojana Kunst and Paula Caspão

Cankarjev dom, Lili Novy Club

This discussion is supposed to be about the notation of choreographic practices. Kunst and Caspão therefore propose a game, but it will take us (the audience in Lili Novy Club) some time to learn the rules. Here is a summary: There are twenty-eight quotes from different sources, but mostly from contemporary philosophy. You start with a quote chosen by chance, you read it. (You try to speak about it.) Another participant reads out another quote and tries to relate it to yours or to what you’ve just said. It’s about producing relations that haven’t existed before, making you think differently, entering unknown terrain, a collective thinking process. You engage with references in order to dismiss them and move elsewhere. That’s at least how I understand it. Inspired by the discussion, we will make a list of statements and questions for you. In order not to break with your flow of thought(s), we’ve omitted any mention of the quotes’ authors. Enjoy playing!


1. How to think of the archive not in an architectural way?


2. The body is not a box, it is always situated. There is always a collaboration.


3. Technique is not something objective; it is based on ideology.


4. The archive loves singularity (of the author). A work that is a multiplicity from the beginning is not easily staying.


5. How can we think of performance outside the realm of visibility?


6. We have arrived in the situation in which we do not know – at least not yet – how to move politically.


7. How can things circulate if not by means of becoming visible?


8. When we think about performance documentation, we think about capturing something that is lost. How can we think about performance as something that stays instead? How can we document something as a future, as something that comes...? How can you bring the memory of it into the future?


9. Practice is never connected to one voice. The body archive is very multimediated.


10. How to make things become “public” in different ways? How to make something public for longer?


11. We’re in a paradoxical situation of missing documentation and at the same time constantly producing documentation at a great velocity.


12. Take place and disappear immediately!


13. How to challenge history-making in the sense of producing evidence?


14. The amount of evidences that would be needed to collect in order to function as a proof is, by definition, indefinite.


15. It’s not that the past should not touch us, but we should also be able to touch the past.


16. A question should be asked about the relation between power and documentation.


17. An archive that consists of bones and flesh – hard and soft material.


19. How do I affirm not only through references that are already there?


20. Create your own dérives!


21. Society is more about process than achievement.


22. For whom do we document?


23. There has to be a dialogue with institutions.


24. We need different ways of sharing.


25. What is the sense to take part in the EU dance scene in the same way as Germany, Belgium, etc., do?


26. Sometimes we need some evidence. And queer evidences also means to appropriate.


27. To know what something is not, is not the same as to know what something is.


28. Choreographic Practice is already a translation.



4 pm Betwixt by Maja Kalafatić and Maria de Dueñas López

Cankarjev dom, Duša Počkaj Hall

This duet, with music by Ivan Mijačevic, is an exercise in bodily relationality. Unlike contact improvisation (the details of which I must confess I had to look up), which is movement exploration springing from a (single) point of bodily contact between two dancers and which has to be constantly maintained (gradually shifting, for example, from foot/hand to knee/elbow), in Betwixt, the contact is presented as a pause in movement and the movement’s final end. In this sense, every position of contact presents a still pose including two bodies. The piece is a constant negotiation between movement (alone) and stillness (together).

In terms of movement material, what is explored is a certain geometry of the body and the architecture of this geometry. Contact occurs at the point of intersection between positive and negative body/space.

As much as I appreciated what I found a subtle, formal investigation of (female) tenderness, I think that the exercise somehow remained on the level of movement research without really managing to address or include the audience in the process.

The music, recordings of what I assumed were occasional dialogues during the rehearsals or subtle piano-playing fragments, both sounding as if from far away, was a little too mystical for helping to bridge the gap between the audience and the performers.


5.30 pm What if by Maja Delak

Elektro Ljubljana

On a black stage with white parallel lines on the floor, reminiscent of the lanes of a running track in a stadium, Maja Delak is lingering. In a pose difficult to keep for long, like a swimmer just before jumping into a swimming pool (knees bent, hands stretched out and up) she tells us how happy she is to be able to perform for us tonight, since performing makes her life more intense and more meaningful. Then her body starts to shiver, her muscles slowly betraying her. Microphones are scattered in this space and Delak speaks through them to the audience and to herself. She makes the situation of the dance performance oscillate between that of a formal interview setting with herself in the position of both interviewer and interviewee (“What are your three biggest dilemmas?”), a dialogue/monologue between herself and her body, and a “direct” addressing of the audience.

What if is a reflection on capitalist modes of production from the point of view of an aging dancer. The body is therefore – literally as well as figuratively, in dancing as well as in contemplation – the main focus of the piece. Delak addresses her body in a series of dualisms: (my) fertile/infertile body, productive/unproductive body, new/old body, young body, demanding body, stiff/flexible body, professional body. In this way, she manages to present the body as the site of conflict between two different times: the time of living and the time of producing. The body is not fetishized, however; rather it becomes somewhat awkward. Dance, when it appears in the solo, is usually presented with a certain irony, its function unsafe and uncertain, almost comical.


In Delak’s strong proposition, what I missed was some subtlety and an economy of means in terms of how the piece was constructed dramaturgically as well as aesthetically. Dramaturgically, the intention was stated over and over, creating redundancy rather than complexity. Aesthetically, I found elements like the many microphones, or the huge subtitles in English during the performance, somewhat too dominant for the actual use that was made of them. Since there was not much else in terms of stage design, this created the effect of the performance somehow lacking care (subtlety needs time), which I thought actually went against the piece’s intended proposition.


What if is a statement that says what it wants to say very directly and without room for (mis)interpretation.



7.30pm Still by Jurij Konjar

Elektro Ljubljana

This dance piece by Jurij Konjar is situated within the larger frame of a two-year research in Modul Dance Network with different collaborators: Franck Beaubois, Catherine Jauniaux, Jaka Šimenc, and Martin Kilvady, who is performing with Konjar tonight. Based on a practice of improvisation, they dance for a certain time, then speak about that dancing for a certain time, dance again, and in the end are asked questions by the audience. Improvisation creates skillful and trained movement phrases that end up in stills. But this I only realize now when thinking about the title. They are constantly in movement, so the stills almost vanish. They have no life of their own, are just a hold before the next phrase, in-between; it’s too easy to overlook them. The score for the improvisation-composition allows its performers to keep their own styles: opaque or transparent. No need for having a common language when you listen to each other. Something like that.

Still, I have the feeling that it’s all about them, their relationship, and how they perform it to the audience. But in a way, the audience sitting on three sides on the stage are only their mirrors.

The piece leaves only little space for reflection (e.g., on the still), as it is already full (of movement). Rather, it asks more for admiration. Contemporary dance becoming 3-D ballet.



9.15 pm After this, therefore because of this by Sebastijan Geč, Milan Loviška, and Otto Krause

Cankarjev dom, Club CD

Kill the Fairy! We’re in the fairy’s world and fairy wants to play a game. In a way, she’s holding an audition: whoever is out is in (her court and may sit a bit elevated.) The performance is based on the game musical chairs. But there is a bit more. The beginning is quite promising: fairy makes some people laugh, manages all technical problems on fairy’s own. Together with the audience-motivators-dancers, they create a few suggestive moments using also lights, fog, and participatory items for the audience: glitter and pocket flashlights. Two performers are giving their best and try as hard as they can to get the audience off their chairs. This is an offense! Now the audience will play against them. Defend their position in theater – on their chairs. The game transforms into a sit-in. And, interestingly enough, becomes a situation. Who is going to change sides . . .? Different strategies are applied to kick out the audience-motivators themselves, to speed up the procedure (there are approximately seventy people in the audience and the fairy suggests recruiting all of them). In the end, it gets messy. Then: face in the cake. Game Over!


Kill the Fairy indeed. I was surprised at how easily a “participatory” performance can turn into oppressive audience-coercion. An intended “wonderland” into a political hell. When people started shouting “Dance so that we can get out of here!” I quickly escaped toward the exit, scared.


Before the ceremony: a buffet. Here it’s almost more ceremonial. We finally taste the Gibanica cake.


10.30 pm Official Prize Ceremony

Cankarjev dom, Club CD

Award Ceremony for many things: the audience and the jury prize for the best piece at Gibanica as well as the Ksenija Hribar Awards for Lifetime Achievement, Choreography, Performance, Pedagogy, Dramaturgy/Theory/Criticism, Light Design, Sound Design, and Production:


By the way . . . guess who got the award for best Critic/Theorist/Dramaturge in the field of contemporary dance? Exactly, Jasmina Založnik. Congrats!

. . . I can’t help thinking that these award ceremonies have something old-fashioned, or melancholic about them, but I can’t really explain why. Maybe because they admit the competitiveness inherent in the performing arts, while nowadays festivals are supposed to be enabling discourse instead.

I quite agree with this demand for the discursive (when it is sincere) and missed it during Gibanica. I was therefore not willing to participate in the audience voting process for the best performance, as I found having to give scores from 1 to 5 to each performance quite an arbitrary way of evaluating the works. Also, since the goal of the selectors was to show a wide range of propositions, aesthetically as well as methodologically, within the contemporary dance scene in Slovenia, I am wondering how this goes together with choosing one "very best" piece? Still, I was very happy with the jury’s (and the audience’s) decision and found the ceremony to be quite a joyous and positive event. It was actually a celebration of the fact that good work is being made in Slovenia, in many different areas. So in this sense, I totally go along with it.


In the end: Dancing.



I forgot something.

This was also in our first mail to Mojca:

“The festival diary is inspired by what Ana Vujanović did for Gibanica ten years ago.”


We took it as a starting point for our joint festival documentation, doubling the gesture and the voices. We wanted to keep the spontaneity of the diary format while also attempting to fragment the single standpoint of the documentalist. We wrote a diary in complicity, sometimes agreeing, sometimes repeating, sometimes repeating; sometimes talking past, simultaneous to, or after each other. We hope you enjoyed reading it.


We want to thank the Goethe Institute of Ljubljana for making our presence at Gibanica possible. Also funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.





Short Biographies (also in two colors):


Marialena Marouda is working as a performance artist and researcher. She is currently writing her PhD Thesis on “Performance and Friendship in the Age of Precarity”  at the Institute for Applied Theater Studies in Giessen.

Heike Bröckerhoff is working as a dramaturge in the field of choreography and performance. She is member of the performance collective Stomach Company from Nantes, France and co-initiator of –PLATEAU - a discursive platform for the performing arts scene in Hamburg.



Gibanica 2015: A Joint Critical Diary is an experimental and subjective documentation of the Slovenian dance platform written in co-authorship. We describe and informally analyze the performances that were presented at the festival but also other experiences and encounters. The diary collects thoughts, conversations, (mild) disagreements, coffee breaks, and walks around Ljubljana.

Keywords: GIBANICA, joint critical diary, review, festival, documentation, contemporary dance

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