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Project: Dancing on Common Ground. Labor and Aesthetics in Contemporary European Dance from Center to Periphery and back again.

2019-10-01 – 2022-09-30


Unlike in most Western European countries, contemporary dance communities in the Eastern European periphery generally do not have access to public funding, do not have a high degree of transnational mobility, and do not know a long history embedded in capitalist and neoliberal ideology. Therefore, contemporary dance’s working conditions and aesthetics in Belgrade (Southeastern Europe) and Riga (Northeastern Europe) are hugely understudied and until today remain under-documented. This project aims to provide a status quo in these locales by conducting a quantitative study. Drawing on these results, 12 case study informants are selected for a qualitative study in both cities. Equipped with the innovative interdisciplinary approach, the research aims to provide the first scientific studies of these dance communities, departing from the sociologically informed research questions of how contemporary dance artists work, which tactics they develop to survive in the art world and how the local working modes and conditions affect the artistic output. Following up on this from a dance scholarly perspective, the project explores the aesthetic influences from WestEuropean dance that have penetrated into Europe’s former communist periphery and how they have interwoven with local dance forms. The reversed key question explores what the established European dance capitals can learn from the working practices of the emerging contemporary dance scenes in Eastern Europe.