Dancing on the Edge Festival will bring performances by and in collaboration with artists from the Middle East and North Africa to The Netherlands once more in November 2019.
The wind whistles: Not another festival, not another ‘big’ budget, no flying artists in, flying artists out, no audience tally. Not if the cultural and socio-political systems and their power structures remain unchanged. Not unless DOTE publicly examines its practice within the frames of (post-)colonial practices. Not whilst the distance between here and there, between ‘the other’ and ‘I’ keeps growing.
DOTE is listening. It feels the urgency, longs for change, and takes the responsibility to reflect on its own position within these dynamics. DOTE wants to imagine and realize a shift.
The Table Talks series is one of the spaces in which to do this. Through these encounters, we hope to sense and imagine together: what are the urgencies that guide our practices, which structural changes do we desire and, what are we doing to achieve them? The starting point for each Table Talks is formulated out of what emerges as urgent in the preceding edition, formulated by the group that is present. There will be a Table Talks XL during the festival in November 2019, and the series will conclude with a final edition at the end of the year.
Blog Table Talks #1: To Be Bodies, Somebodies
“I am forced to forget how often I have left my body in order to be part of this society:
to be a body that is welcome. I have utterly failed to give words to the memories of
these moments and to the feelings of leaving my body and myself behind. I find no
possibility to share them. I need to share them in a safe place to be able to move
on. To heal, to be myself.”
We took this quote, which emerged out of a conversation, as a starting point for the
first Table Talks and for the series as a whole. A quote that resonates with many
themes we care about, that links to how we want to open up as a festival. To make
space to share and talk about what moves us as people and artists. How can we re-
own and re-narrate our stories in a way that they are reflective of their complexity?
I Saw… different bodies, friendly bodies, searching bodies. A need to relate to our
bodies, to be bodies, to be somebodies. We cannot be no-bodies. The body, central
to our practice, but somehow often seeming quite absent. Even when we deal with
the body (in the performing arts). I found it special to talk about and with our bodies in
a space that felt safe and true, that is not a friend’s living room, but not a formal place
for our public personas either. Even though this event was staged, and we all always
‘perform’; it asks can we blur boundaries to express multiplicity? How can we bring
more intimacy in our work or artistic conversations?
The gesture of eating an orange with some salt and the smell of oregano as a first
layer, that helped me to breath. We all had proposed a flavour or a ‘taste’ that ‘brings
us back in our bodies’. Maureen transformed them in invitations of food. ‘Can we
have more time?’
I Was Touched… by how we all struggle with our layered identities. How we position
our individual body to the bigger body that we are part of: the social body, the political
body, the institutional body. This evening we shared moments, in which we left our
bodies. The moment when you realize that your body is an empty shell, with a frozen
smile that has no connection to how you feel inside. A body that freezes or
accelerates out of former or present conditions, whether it is war, trauma or not being
‘part of the norm’. Bodies in survival mode with no space to breathe or choose.
Moments when you are not in sync; when you do not fit in the mal of the bigger body.
‘How sometimes my body is a truthteller’.
Labneh with zaater, roasted hazelnuts, olive oil, and bread spread out over the table.
‘Tastes’ and feels like home, to eat with my hands.
I Witnessed… a need to share and to embrace fluidity. It is such a deep human
desire: to be seen. To be seen beyond a single body, image or representation. The
realisation that when you tell your story to another person, it is out of your hands. It is
in the world, beyond your control. And relating this to the responsibility of the
receiver, the listener: to take care of that story. Hence, the responsibilities of festivals
or platforms to take care of the stories they ‘present’, as well as of the spectators,
Apple with lemon and oats to share between two of us. How to be alone in a group?
When is it safe enough, to go inside your body?
I Heard… the word ‘comrades’. To be personal as the personal is political. To be
together like this is political. To be a collective. A space to ‘stay with trouble’, to
rehearse, to practice blurring boundaries. That it is about the process itself. We do
not have a strict agenda with these Table Talks, which is against the demand of ‘self-
optimalization’ in our societies, the strong production mode. The commodity of time,
our most ‘precious asset’ these days.
We Agreed… that we want to stay with ‘the body’ for the next Table Talks. The
following questions came up: when do ‘we’ embody strength and power? Not being
‘seen only’ as a victimized body. When are you powerful? ‘On stage I feel power, as
an audience member, I feel often a certain shyness’.
Mousse enriched with flavours like cardamom and coffee on our hands to lick, before
leaving, bringing us back (again). For me it is the taste, not of home, but of longing.
Thanks to all the generous people, who were present, and shared their stories,
reflections, questions, and above all, time.
5th June 2019 – Dancing on the Edge offices
Natasja van ‘t Westende
intervention by Maureen De Jong / ‘t Kleinkookbedrijf
documented by Kyra Sacks & Machteld Aardse / De Beeldvormers
Look at the gallery of drawings made of this evening here.