A mediated encounter with Cape Town dance scene

The encounter was conceived and designed to open new forms of dialogue with artists, organisations and dance professionals based in the African continent, investigating new forms of relationship and collaboration based on ethical values, respect and sustainability.

Facilitator of the Encounter: Nora Chipaumire | Choreographer | Zimbabwe/New York

Host of the Encounter: Institute of Creative Arts, University of Cape Town, ICA Director Professor Jay Pather

A enriching encounter nourishing EDN members

In a packed program of meetings, visits to cultural and exhibition centres, dialogues with artists and scholars, lectures, presentations of programs and projects that develop the culture of dance and support the growth of artists we were able to perceive the vastness of the cultural capital that was proposed, and the lack of information and knowledge which, from a European perspective, needs nourishment and accompaniment.

The city of Cape Town has potential and offers a rich context for in-depth conversations around the urgent matters of Decolonization, the topics of DECOLONIZING, the relationships between Modernity and Contemporaneity, Aesthetics and Power.

In Cape Town there is a clear divide within the African creative community between the old and ne:

  • The old is defined as those academically trained dancers - dance makers who refer in their creative approaches and practices to ballet, modern dance, post modern and release techniques, and other euro-derived or western forms of dance.
  • The new embraces a growing number of artists whose work is informed by animist practices which engender urgent ways of considering modernity and contemporaneity.

Across Europe we have experiences and ability to work with the first group, we are under - informed about the second group where artists are largely black Africans.

The immediate question that arose was how could an exchange for this second group of artists, with the European Dancehouse network, be articulated and look like.

Facilitating the encounter - soft but firm landing in Cape Town's context

Nora’s role was to provoke questions when artists seemed reluctant and when EDN members seemed hesitant. She gave precious insights when requested or when necessary, guiding us into a space which would provide a soft but firm landing in Africa. Cape Town is a place where much of Africa ’s conundrums are part of the daily life:  extreme inequality, race differences, economic differences, as well as the historic problem of European colonization.

We collected some of the relevant topics from conversations with Jay Pather, Nora Chipaumire and the inspiring persons met:

  • The process of encounter requires actions of information sharing, to better understand each other and to be aligned about the artistic practices, cultural approaches and working conditions.
  • Ethics! We would like to pay attention to the ideology - power imbalance of relations, and how they condition research, conversations and exchanges, when approaching dialogues and collaborations.
  • Africa is relevant to Europe and the topics of decolonizing and decoloniality need to bring together different voices and  perspectives, especially from Africa.
  • There is a need to develop new forms of sustainability. The “one-off residencies “ format is less and less desirable and suitable when engaging artists who bring to Europe new  and unknown approaches, references and practices. To build relations and audiences requires different lengths of time spent in each visit for presentations or residencies.

We need also to think of new ways to better support works built at “ home “ and brought only as performance or into a production residency ending in a performance in Europe.

We need to consider ways in which the European host could start addressing the practises and processes of the artist within its community BEFORE the artist arrival, and in what ways could the community continue to dialogue with that artists’ work AFTER the artists leave.

Finally, we should consider together what materials and thinkers are provided for research residencies that support the artists working outside of the norm. The growing need to address modernity and contemporarneity amongst those artist who are black african through the use of animist religious knowledge.

Meeting the local audiences

EDN Public events

The Encounter featured two stimulating public events on the evenings of Tuesday 10 March, and Friday 13 March.

EDN and the ICA invited the public and particularly dancers, choreographers, artists and academics interested in dance to attend the following a presentation of EDN and its activities. Additionally, the events included a presentation led by Jay Pather focusing on the curation of performances from the African continent and the experiences of black artists with Nora Chipaumire sharing a reflection on economies of imaginations – an invitation to think with others on how we can grow creative surplus.

Participants & hosts

EDN representatives participating in the encounter:

  • Àngels Margarit | Director – Mercat de les Flors, Barcelona Spain
  • Bettina Masuch | General Director – Tanzhaus NRW, Düsseldorf Germany
  • Bush Hartshorn | Head of Catalyst – Dance Base | National Centre for Dance, Edinburgh UK
  • Elisabetta Bisaro | Head of international development | La Briqueterie, Centre de Développement Chorégraphique National du Val-de-Marne, Vitry-sur-Seine France
  • Roberto Casarotto | Head of Dance Programme | Centro per la Scena Contemporanea and Operaestate Festival, Bassano del Grappa Italy

Facilitator of the Encounter: Nora Chipaumire | Choreographer | Zimbabwe/New York

Host of the Encounter: Institute of Creative Arts, University of Cape Town, ICA Director Professor Jay Pather

EDN wishes to thank Nora Chipaumire, Jay Pather and the team of ICA for the execution of this Encounter.

Picture: site visits at the Stellenbosch Triennale. Walkabout and talk by Khanyisile Mbongwa - copyright EDN

La Briqueterie

CDCN | Centre de Développement Chorégraphique National du Val-de-Marne

Vitry-sur-Seine I France

Dance Base

National Centre for Dance

Edinburgh I United Kingdom
Düsseldorf I Germany

Mercat de les Flors

Casa de la Dansa

Barcelona I Spain

Centro per la Scena Contemporanea

CSC Bassano del Grappa

Bassano del Grappa I Italy