Research in Europe

Kath writes on a professional development tour to Europe and the UK in May-June 2013.

I was fortunate to receive support to travel to Europe and the UK for three weeks in May-June 2013 to undertake a professional development tour as an IETM-Australia Council Collaboration Project. The overarching purpose of the trip was groundwork for entry into European markets over the next 2-3 years, including building market knowledge and enhancing my ability to articulate KPP’s portfolio of diverse works in a European context.

My itinerary included Brussels, the Netherlands, London, Paris and Dusseldorf, and meetings with 20+ festival directors, producers and presenters, seeing loads of work at Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), SPRING (Utrecht), Tong Tong Festival (Den Haag), Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis (Paris) and as much as she could see in between, and attending Tanzkongress (Dusseldorf), one of Europe’s largest dance gatherings.

The tour was conceived in collaboration with IETM-Australia Council Project Director, Sophie Travers, and Sophie gave me extensive assistance with contacts and brokered key meetings.

I have returned with a much more detailed and nuanced understanding of the Belgian, Dutch, French and UK dance landscapes. I have identified many key festivals and venues that may be a fit for KPP’s portfolio, and have begun relationships with some key programmers and producers.

Meetings, seeing work and attending Tanzkongress have given me stronger understanding of the current state of contemporary dance and intercultural practice in the countries I visited. This allows me to articulate and position our artists’ works in a more sophisticated and effective manner, and also understand what kinds of language and tools we may need to develop for European markets. It struck me how important it is in Europe to have a clear political and cultural stance on one’s work. I was also struck by how prominent the legacy of colonialism is in artistic discourse, particularly in France, Belgium and Germany.

Over the course of my many meetings, I enjoyed testing different ways of talking about the works, variously amplifying form, content, practice and cultural elements, to see how people responded. Overall, I found a great openness and curiosity. Presenters were interested in how the work makes meaning, and in the ‘handwriting’ of a particular artist/company; this seemed much more important to most than where the work comes from geographically.

I have gained some insights into the context for choreographic investigation that pushes form, and for intercultural work, which is not uncommon, though intercultural work involving Asia was not something I saw in this brief visit.

So where to from here? I now have a basis of relationships in Europe that we will continue to build strategically as we gradually cultivate European connections… watch this space!

Massive thanks to the Australia Council for the Arts, and especially IETM-Australia Council Project Director Sophie Travers, for their support.