Reflections on a future TanzArchiv Berlin as part of the MA Dance Studies program

Cooperation with the Free University of Berlin

With the MA dance studies seminar Reflections on a future TanzArchiv Berlin (SE 17572, winter semester 2021/22, FU Berlin) under the direction of Junior Professor Kirsten Maar at the Free University Berlin, a first cooperation with a Berlin educational institution of dance was tested.

The 17 students of the seminar were not only given an insight into the conceptualization of the TanzArchiv Berlin, they were also invited to participate in the symposium Sensing the archive/s – Sketching the archive/s with their own artistic interventions.

The seminar reflected on how dance history is created and what escapes the processes of archiving. It explored the missing moments of a dance history that is always incomplete and asked how phenomena that have so far tended to be on the margins of dance history can find their way into the canon. Which inclusions and exclusions remain in the unconscious and why? How can practices in their constant change be captured beyond established works? How can we conceive of inclusive archiving processes that take various abilities into account? How can the idea of the archive and its practices be decolonized? What role can dance studies play in this process? In this research, the focus defined by the steering committee of the TanzArchiv Berlin was on how artists can work in and with the archive beyond collecting and preserving, how mediation practices can work from a transformative approach and how a living archive can emerge as a place of exchange that questions common narratives.

The following projects were developed as part of the seminar and presented at the symposium:

  • Sketching DIS-DANCE SOLO by Jenny Mahla, Jil Neumann and Lisa Sziedat
  • VR-ErlebnisTanzRaum by Isabell Arnke, Tina Rabus and Sara Schwartz
  • Ortensterben by Gabriele Kroos and Jakob Urbano
  • Extended Archives by Markus Braun and Mathilda Berndt
  • DEAR ENCOUNTER ’22. Archiv als Dokumentations-und Emotionsort by Mara Louise Atkins and Christine Schramm
  • Die Überflüssigkeit des nichtdigitalen Archivs by Greta Baumann
  • Der dokumentarische Körper by Sara Breugelmans
  • Filigran by Razan Naser Eddin
  • Das Archiv oder die Hydra by Annekatrin Kiesel
  • A Forgotten Body in a Dance Archive by Mohammad Al Halabi, Marc Lozano Tixier and Sara Schwartz

The participants of the seminar developed new approaches to dance knowledge and dance memory, which allowed for a further change of perspective. The different approaches, which were often presented in groups, sometimes in solo works, were diverse and ranged from being scientific-reflective to artistic-performative to practical-digital. The integration of the archive project into academic and educational contexts also offered the steering committee the opportunity to discuss the theoretical approaches of TanzArchiv Berlin with the students.