Dance Encounters 2011 / Cyfarfyddiadau Dawns 2011

2011 Report

Please find below a summary of the Dance Encounters 2011 Conference in Galeri, Caernarfon:


Marc Rees (R.I.P.E)

Interdisciplinary artist and curator, Marc Rees’ presentation focused on the recent location specific works ‘En Residencia’ and ‘For Mountain, Sand & Sea’. Both featured an array of artists responding to archive, artefacts and architecture of two hugely different sites, a former orphanage in Gijon, Northern Spain and the entire seaside town of Barmouth, North Wales.

He also disclosed the development of his Cultural Olympiad commission ‘Adain Avion’ where a DC9 aeroplane fuselage will become a mobile art space, social sculpture and travelling time capsule.

Q&A Key Points:

• Risk taking varies – differing points of view taken as an artist, curator or programmer.
• Artists depend on support and collaboration from key partners to enable risks taking.
• Artists can be important in emboldening venues to take risks, push boundaries and be ambitious.
• Collaboration is fundamental for successful risk taking.
• It’s risky working outside your comfort zone, but its also exciting and addictive.
• Risk taking includes engaging and empowering communities to fulfil the artistic vision.
• Partners need to believe in your ideas – show them the journey you’re taking to take to achieve the outcomes.

John McGrath (National Theatre Wales)

John McGrath outlined the range of participatory approaches that have been key to the success of National Theatre Wales in its launch year. The company has placed participation at the heart of its activities from day one. John reflected on the discoveries of the year and discussed ways forward for participatory arts work.

Q&A Key Points:

• Experiment and continue with what works.
• Ask people what excites them and what ideas they have.
• Participation is a core value.
• Always gather feedback.
• Engage with young people.
• Risk taking is also about resources and communicating ideas.

Eva Martinez (Southbank Centre)

Eva examined Risk taking in programming and linking various aspects in dance through her work at Dance4, Nott’dance Festival and Southbank Centre.

Eva asked why we should take risk in our current economic climate. She examined what risk was and why we might want artists and curators to take it, arguing that calculated risks in both programming and its contexts are necessary to present great work. As a consequence, programmers needed to embrace both the positive and negative consequences of these curatorial choices. For Eva, programmers needed to make their programming representative of the current contemporary art landscape and contribute to both the development of the artform and audiences engagement with dance and performance work.

Q&A Key Points:

• Risk taking in programming needn’t be at the expense of safer works.
• Involving communities in the programming of risky works is a successful strategy.
• Its important to knowing when to take risks and when not to.
• Your starting point and background defines what your idea of risk is.
• There’s no fixed, universal risk scale – it all depends on who’s in the discussion at the time.
• Risks taking should be a reasoned process, with a structure and definite outcomes – don’t take risks just for the the sake of it.
• Communication with the public is important.
• Don’t take risks blindly – make them informed risks.

Karine Décorne (Migrations)

Karine introduced the Migrations project, outlining the context in which it was set up. She then give an overview their response to that context, and discussed the various ongoing challenges Migrations has faced and the strategies used to overcome them.
Karine presented concrete examples of Migrations performances and how partnerships increased benefits and impact, in particular exploring Migrations’ partnership with Dawns i Bawb and the strong mutual benefits of this collaboration.

Q&A Key Questions:

1 / What are the links between international programming and community practice and how this has developed accessibility to the art form?

• impact on hierarchy of aspects of provision: more linear and how they can interact and give ability to explore new ways of engaging with participants and new audiences and therefore take more risk in programming as well as in the type of activities delivered within the community and educational environment.

2 / In helping develop that cross over, was it significant that the same person led both Migrations and Dawns i Bawb?

• Not really. The key is always to be thinking ‘wider’, constantly conceiving collaborations and understanding the mutual benefits. The same kind of connections are made with Galeri, for example, and many other partners.

3 / What impact do international partners have on Migrations?

• Migrations has an inherent international presence; all the invited artists invited become ambassadors. This is part of the strategic plan. Migrations is a distinctive experience owing to its geographical context. What has been perceived as an obstacle, the rural setting, has become its distinctive aspect, from international artists’ point of view, and an advantage.

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