Erasmus Mundus Master Course in Urban Studies
4Cities – Cohort 8 – 2015-2017
Kill me, my future
Conflicting temporalities of contemporary dancers in Brussels
Submitted: November 1, 2017
Supervisor: Bas van Heur
Second Reader: Margarita Barañano
“And yet, if one takes the time to think about it, all the secrecy of a life gathers itself in this metaphor of closed eyes, all our power is in what we can follow, in what we can attain with eyes closed. And you, have you already closed your eyes on your own image, behaved blindly, lost your way blindly, loved blindly, and sensed in the darkness the tactile detour of the streets, the tactile detour of ideas?”
Please follow me. Jean Baudrillard (1988: 86).
Thanks to Jonas, Inga, Laura and Moritz – this is for all of you too.
In three of the four cities I lived in during this two-year Master program in Urban Studies, I felt lucky to have found an apartment in a central but ethnically diverse and culturally vibrant neighborhood. For example at the beginning of the program in Brussels, where I got an affordable room close to the Parvis de St. Gilles, in a neighborhood I had favoured since the first days spent strolling around there; witness to the still diverse range in small-scale markets, the family-owned stores, and the over-crowded old brasseries, where some middle-aged but mainly young people like myself would sit and drink their beer. In one of those brasseries I also first talked to my friend Isa whom I had just met an hour before, while visiting the same apartment for rent. Isa is a contemporary dancer, and was happy like myself about the flat, which we spontaneously decided to rent together.
Living with my friend and other dancers engaged in the contemporary dance scene of Brussels, I was impressed not only by the intensity and beauty of their work but also how multi-layered and periodical it was. Because the dancers often worked on many overlapping projects, their work seemed much more fragmented than my own. Rehearsals in Brussels would alternate with administrational work at home or periods abroad. Freelancing, like Isa does, implies to have work promising a maximum of freedom and self-fulfillment, while simultaneously being quite a challenge to manage. Often left to oneself when to do what, the blurring of the boundaries between work and leisure is very present, and work did frequently ‘spill‘ into our home. Emblematic for this, is what we all do once in a while: for example, eating and checking our mails at the same time.
However, for me it was interesting to see how it was foremost time – not money or resources – which the dancers I talked to expressed to be lacking. Interesting, because it reminded me of myself, but also of so many others. It echoed an indisposition I felt looking around at my fellow students, and some of my family members or friends, an indisposition connected to how we work and live, having the impression of something existential missing, something that would pull and drag us through life, making us breathless. Just to stand bewildered once in a while, as there is little we can think of that we miss. With “us”, I mean people working and living in highly privileged, maybe competitive, but somehow self-chosen fields in urban centers in the western sphere of this planet. With “us”, I equally mean often hyper-mobile and rather well educated young professionals with enough economic or – at least – social capital.
The feeling of battling time, of never having enough time, as well as strategies to save or most effectively use and manage time, fills not only academic journals but also guidebooks as well as common newspapers or magazines 1 . Burnouts and sick-leaves connected to stress are increasing. While industries promising a moment ‘off’, advertising oases of calmness, or techniques aiming to enhance one’s mindfulness or yoga skills, are booming. 2
Image of the article *Die Achtsamkeitswolke *(Source: see Footnote 2).
This is why this thesis aims for a deeper understanding of perceptions, rationalities and aspirations in connection to time and place, focusing on contemporary dancers in Brussels. Starting with the assumption that the project-based, competitive as well as collaborative way my respondents are working is paradigmatic for trying to understand broader transformations in how work is managed in the post-Fordist economy, I ask how these working practices influence our perception of place and time.
This leads me to the following research question: What are the consequences of competitive labour practices on the individual perception of time and place of dancers engaged in the contemporary dance industry in Brussels?
Therefore, I first ask about specificities and core practices when working in dance. Additionally, and because laboring in a field where the dancer’s success seems not only dependent on collaborative but often underpaid or unpaid labour, I am curious about people’s own definition of ‘non-work’ and what strategies they use to take a break. In relation, I ask what importance as well as purpose they give to the integration of moments associated with regeneration, free time or recreation, be it voluntarily or non-voluntarily. Concerning place, I observe how work in dance is negotiated and reflects on the sense of community and place of the dancers in Brussels. In order to discuss the assumed role of the so-called creative class, which some authors see as the salvation of urban economic development, I will take a closer look at the way my respondents perceive and use urban spaces in their highly transnational field.
I will start with highlighting literature which describes work in dance as highly challenging or precarious. However, in an industry such as dance, in which work counts as self-chosen and the boundaries of what is work and what not are so blurred, we sometimes lose track of what makes such work exploitative, or contrary, why people still hope to remain in a field described as challenging. Observations that deal with questions of how we perceive, interpret, evaluate, and situate ourselves in time, I argue, are fruitful when looking at the practices and rationales of my respondents as well as other individuals having the privilege to work in a field they articulate to have chosen out of interest or even passion. Focussing on time helps me to move beyond the dichotomy of work and leisure either as self-exploitative or self-fulfilling. Opening up a difference by contrasting a temporality allowing the dancer to come to a certain ‘ease’ with what makes people anxious, I try to understand what the individual hopes to find inside work, illuminating another driving motivation exceeding the simple wish for economic security. With this, I hope to add to discussions centering not mainly on the injustice which the global city produces for the people who are excluded, but would like to critically take a look at what those produce who are certainly privileged in many ways. With this, I aim to broaden my understanding of what we urge to flee with running faster and faster.
These questions are embedded in a theoretical framework, developed in the following chapter of this thesis, locating precarious and self-exploitative working practices in the wider development of the post-Fordist and knowledge-based economy as well as the discourse on “Creative Cities”. I will also point to a few of the many strands of academic research dealing with how changes in the management of work influence our perception of time and place. In the third chapter I discuss the methodology used for this thesis. For the empirical research, I focused on semi-structured in-depth interviews with dancers in Brussels. The chapter will also shortly discuss my sample. In Chapter 4 I present the working practices of my dancers, highlighting some of the conflicts arising from the management of different tasks, especially when freelancing. Chapter 5 analyzes closer how work in dance is negotiated transnationally, opening up different and spatially disconnected levels on which a dancer has to be present in order to secure his or her position in the network of dance. This also can lead to temporal conflicts, which is why, in Chapter 6, I theorize two conflicting temporalities crucial in and for the work in dance. I end with summarizing my findings in a concluding chapter.
In this chapter I would like to introduce my analysis by discussing some of the theoretical frameworks forming the basis of this thesis. Situated in the wider academic debate on modern labour regimes, this thesis tries to add to the discussion of global changes in the regimes of work under the dominance of communication and service industries. This is why I firstly introduce some particularities of what has been theorized as the New Economy (cf. Jessop 2003). Considering research linking economic with spatial transformation, I underline the importance of social practices and their historical specificity as crucial entry point when trying to understand the emergence of new and divergent spatial forms (cf. Castells 2010: 441, Harvey 1989a: 204).
Having this in mind, I introduce my field of investigation in the second part of this chapter. Situating the project-based, collaborative and flexible labour practices of dancers as exemplary for new forms of labour within the rise of the knowledge-based economy (cf. Kunst 2015; Van Assche 2016b), I briefly explain some basic particularities of what has been theorized as the cultural industries (cf. Jarvis & Pratt 2006; Pratt 2004). I then trace the discussion established in the aftermath of Florida (2002) writing on the role of the creative class in urban development. Following Annelies Van Assche’s (2016a; 2016b; also: Bauer 2007; Njaradi 2014; Laermans 2015) insights on the many-sided facets of work in dance, I summarize why the author sees the profession to be often highly precarious.
In a third part of this chapter, I introduce research dealing with competition as one crucial mode of interaction in our modern meritocracies (cf. Rosa 2013), while highlighting with Boltanski & Chiapello (2003) that constant activity has become crucial for economic actors engaged in project-based work. This can be related to Bröckling’s (2007) entrepreneurial self, while I argue that the formation of self-disciplinary forces through modern labour regimes are crucial, when focusing on rationalities the subject might be confronted with.
I draw on literature analyzing the economic restructuring which started with the crisis of accumulation in the 1970s labeled as shift from Fordism to post-Fordism (cf. Jessop 1993) or as the transformation from the second to the third spirit of capitalism (Boltanski &Chiapello 2003). In the Fordist model, as Jessop (1993) argues, economic growth in our western economies was mainly based on scale economies: mass production as well as mass consumption. With the saturation of those markets in the 1970s, this inflexible mode of accumulation fell into crisis. In response, the economy gradually shifted to a new, post-Fordist mode of accumulation, based on more flexible and globally negotiated forms of production, innovation and rents. According to Castells (2010), the reduction of production costs (mainly labour costs), an increased productivity, and accelerated capital turnover are the new main strategies to secure economic growth. Without a prior expansion of demand, an increase in productivity contains a risk for any investor. Profitability, enhanced by maximizing competitiveness and opening up new markets able to absorb the growing productive capacity of goods and services, becomes a crucial factor in order to prevail in the New Economy. In his analysis on the “Schumpeterian Workfare State“, Jessop (1993: 7) sees the innovation-driven structural competitiveness as a core element for the successful performance of contemporary economic actors. Contrary to the Fordist model, the capitalist state is seen as one of many actors, equally driven by the logic of competitiveness, subordinating social policy to the demands of labour market flexibility (ibid.: 18). Additionally, new, more powerful and more flexible information technologies have become motive as well as carrier of the economic expansion (ibid: 12). Technology has become the major factor enhancing productivity, while the management of technology is no more important than the technology of management (ibid.: 79, cf. Bell 1976). The new information technologies enable endless connections between different elements or actors, acting upon all domains of human activity (Jessop 1993: 78).
According to Harvey (1989a), flexible accumulation in post-Fordism implies a reorganization of time and space in order to facilitate the reproduction of labour-power, to enhance production, and to maximize profit. Harvey as well as other authors such as Urry (1995: 22) see the reorganization of time-space as a crucial factor for capitalism to overcome its periods of crisis. For Harvey, space is *compressed *due to the enhanced production in a specific period of time, the shortened lifespan of products, the proliferation of information and communication technologies transcending space at lightning speed, as well as due to the changes in how relationships or contracts are negotiated (Harvey 1989a; cf. Lash & Urry 1994).
“Space appears to shrink to a ‘global village’ of telecommunications and a ‘spaceship earth’ of economic and ecological interdependencies […] and as time horizons shorten to the point where the present is all there is […] we have to learn how to cope with an overwhelming sense of *compression *of our spatial and temporal worlds.” (Harvey 1989a: 240)
Most importantly, time becomes a source of value (ibid.: 284f). Lash and Urry (1994: 229) characterize modernity as dominated by clock time, in which not only work but “the mastery of nature, as all sorts of phenomena, practices and places become subjected to the disembodying, centralizing and universalizing march of time”. However, as geographers focusing on time have pointed out, the disorientation and fragmentation generated by this compression of time and space does not result in a decrease of the significance of space. On one side, places are differentiated in order to become attractive to capital (Harvey 1989a), on the other side, since time is always specific to a certain context, new ways of production create new spatial formations (cf. Thrift 1990; Lash & Urry 1994; Castells 2010).
When Castells (2010: 440) argues that “space is the expression of society”, he does not intend to simply underline the importance of the relationship between society and space. Space, in his understanding, does not only de-picture or reflect social practices but is society. Space is society’s actual expression, “the material support of time-sharing practices” (ibid.: 441). Important is an understanding of the relativity of space and time. Leibniz (1646-1716) states that: “Time is the order of succession of ‘things’, so that without ‘things’ there would be no time.” (cit. after ibid.: 494). Space, on the other hand, is an order of coexistences, of things that exist at the same time. Space is how time becomes, how time “crystallizes” (ibid.: 441) into a material product standing in relationship to other material and physical products, such as people. Practices that are simultaneous in time, are brought together in/by space. Hence, those social practices form space, give it a function as well as meaning.
Therefore, the changes in the perception of time go together with a change in the perception of place and community. As Nick & Massey (1995: 54) argue, the post-Fordist flexibility of working ‘whenever’ often entails also a flexibility of working ‘wherever’. This implies a flexibility of space and vice versa: the flexibility of space further creates a flexibility of time. The pressure on the level of time therefore also has a strong impact on how people situate themselves and feel in a place, and on the very individual perception of space. Thus the growing flexibility may be connected to a loss of a “sense of place” (Massey 2004). Also for Augé (2006), the appearance of “non-places” is characterized by a sense of transience, impermanence and even solitude.
Focusing on changes in the perception of time and space, the transformations in production processes are one possible entry point for analysis. Needless to say, other social as well as political factors can have a crucial impact nonetheless.
When analyzing the influence of heavily individualized economic activities in the space around us, urban space in particular cannot be thought of in isolation from the economic structuring of human experience (Lefebvre 1991). On the other hand, many accounts of dense urban life were written in terms of overload, speed up and the bombardment of increasingly isolated individuals by signs and information (Simmel 1903; Rosa 2016). The awareness of even smaller fractions of time is stated to change our modern perception of time (Zerubavel 1981), while the growing flow of information makes it possible for an individual to be in more than just one place at the same time (Crang 2012). However, the urban can not be understood as a “singular abstract temporality”, but as a site where multiple temporalities collide (Crang 2001: 189).
Rather than viewing the city as a unitary phenomenon, I would like to look specifically on the perceptions of space and time of dancers engaged in the field of performance arts in Brussels. In turn, this can help to understand the effects of an accelerated labour regime on the reconfiguration of urban space.
Contemporary dancers have been named paradigmatic examples for post-Fordist workers, because of their engagement in flexible, collaborative, transnational and project-based labour practices (Van Assche 2015; Njaradi 2014; Kunst 2015). In her study on working conditions in Brussels’ dance industry, Van Assche (2016b: 1) goes as far as to name dance artists the “ideal guinea pigs for the new work regime” (cf. Kunst 2015; Ritsema 2015). Following Ritsema and Van Assche, I argue that studying how contemporary dance artists are working is fruitful for understanding transformations occurring under an economy highly dependent on knowledge, collaboration, information and services.
The dominance of communication and service industries has produced changes in the regime of work. In the creation of value, the role of knowledge, information, affect, and communication has become central (Hardt & Negri 2000; Virno 2003). Fundamental human abilities such as thought, language, self- reflection and the capacity for learning are at the core of such “affective” labour (Virno 2003: 40, Njaradi 2014). The product or commodity may become less visible, but the continuous, creative and innovative labor as actual basis for market value grows more crucial (Terranova 2000: 40).
With the emergence of the knowledge-based economy, the role of the so-called cultural and creative economy (CC-Economy) 3 has equally increased, foremost in the economic policies of cities.
Illustration 1: Concentric Circles model of the CC economy after Throsby
Source: Mauri and colleagues (2017: 2).
Hesmondhalgh & Pratt (2005) use a pragmatic understanding of the CC-Economy as those economic sectors in which symbolic and aesthetic attributes are at the core of value creation. Here, I will follow the recently published study of Mauri and colleagues (2017) on the CC-Economy in Brussels. 4 As considerable authors before them, they use the concentric circles model inspired by Throsby (2008) to define the CC-Economy, aiming at dividing its content into four ‘circles’ (see Illustration 1): The central circle, referred to as “artistic core”, involves sectors such as artistic creation, theater and performance, sound recording and editing. It represents the sectors having the highest creative and cultural output, e.g. symbols and meaning lay at the heart of such production. When moving to the outer circles, the creative content decreases, while art support and creative support represent more peripherally creative activities such as pre-press and pre-media services, or even wholesale or shoe-manufacturing (Mauri et al. 2017: 2, 42; cf. for similar approaches: Van Heur 2008; Hirsch 2000). However, as Mauri and colleagues (2017) point out, the definition of the CC-Economy varies depending which literature is taken into account. Therefore, Hesmondhalgh & Pratt (2005) frame the boundaries between symbolically less loaded production and sectors of cultural and aesthetic production as porous *and *provisional.
These new industries, relying heavily on information and communication technologies, are often (re)produced by networks clustering in cities (Castells 2010; Florida 2002; Pratt 2008). Moreover, the creative industries have been conceptualized as key factors for economic development. At the latest since the publication of Richard Florida’s book The Rise of The Creative Class (2002), the attraction and retaining of what Peck (2005: 740) calls “a mobile and finicky class of ‘creatives’” counts as indispensable ingredient in the production and promotion of urbanity. Florida sees in the attraction of these ‘creatives’ a main challenge for any urban policy. In that sense, the city is not only an aim of specific policies but at the same time place of production itself: The atmosphere of the gay- and/or family-friendly neighborhood or the lively art scene – that often has some ties to alternative or subcultural networks – becomes an important asset of the city’s economic prosperity (cf. Peck 2005).
Various aspects of Florida’s approach have been criticized, most prominently by critical geographers such as Jamie Peck (2005) in his article Struggling with the creative class. For Peck, the imperative of being creative is a demanding one: According to Florida (2003: 27), the fate of Detroit is waiting for all those urban regions which do not manage to develop the “open, diverse, dynamic and cool” climate valued by creatives. However, Peck points towards the fact that Florida’s argument of cultural innovation and conspicuous consumption as ‘talent magnets’ must not necessarily go one way only: Rather than being the cause, it may easily be the consequence of economic growth. He criticizes further that Florida’s presentation of the attraction of creatives as a main solution turns a blind eye to the costs: For example the facts that the solution is carried out on the backs of the people serving the Yauco Selecto coffee. Or at the price of permanent self-activation and a 24/7 engagement of the people having to maintain their avant-garde status as ‘creatives’. Hence, responding to the de-industrialization of cities in the 1980s, creativity strategies are not an alternative, but a “low-cost”, “feel-good” (Peck 2005: 264), or “entrepreneurial” (Harvey 1989b) continuation of urban development strategies supposed to complement consumption- and property-led initiatives.
However, while Florida promotes the insertion of creative industries into urban economic development and the imperative of creativity as ultimate economic resource for urban development, I would like to take a closer look on how creative work is lived within the urban lifeworlds of so-called creative workers. My aim is to critically observe the consequences of such work not only for the city in question or for the ‘excluded’ of these urban policies, but for the ‘creative’ individuals themselves. Therefore, I will first discuss new research on the precarious labour conditions prevailing in the creative industry and especially in dance.
Contemporary dance is a sector characterized by the need of high skills, requiring an intense education for many years. Dance being very place-bound and produced in close physical interactions, there is a specific need for venues, studios and infrastructure. As a result, contemporary dance not only demands spacious possibilities to rehearse as well as a variety of different technological assets, but also is a very time intense sector. All in all, production usually comes at a high cost (Van Assche 2016b; cf. Jarvis & Pratt 2006; Laermans 2015). Zooming in on Brussels, Janssens (2007: 28-74) detects not only an expansion of the sector between 1993 and 2007, but points additionally to an individualization in the production of performance art, e.g. in increase of freelancers and individual artists. Relating that to the insights of the study by Mauri and colleagues (Mauri et al. 2017, cf. Van Assche 2016a: 412; own interviews), short term collaborations and project-oriented work formats seem to have increased, substituting the formation of new dance ensembles employing long-term. Due to those particularities, some of the smaller productions might be under financial pressure. This is one reason why Van Assche (2016a) argues in her study on working practices of contemporary dancers in Brussels that the profession has to be understood as one of the most precarious in the field. 5
“Due to the particularity of the contemporary dance profession, it is becoming more and more challenging for dance and performance artists to survive as professionals and find a healthy balance between work and life. Because of its hybrid, project-oriented, and hyper mobile character, contemporary dance may very well be one of the most precarious forms among the performing arts.” (Van Assche 2016a: 408)
When translating the word “precario” (lit. “in temporary use”), following the dutch dictionary De Grote Van Dale, Van Assche underlines that precarity means a state marked by uncertainty, in which the right to dwell in a certain place can be taken away from someone at any given moment. She further underlines that precarity means a lack of power, determined through a higher authority. Secondly, the dictionary defines a situation as “precarious” when someone or something is in a fragile or unstable state (Van Assche 2016b: 2). Apart from the particularities of the profession I outlined before, the author connects the difficult working practices to the dependence of the sector on government resources, on the one hand, and to the fact that such labour is often performed under temporary contracts, on the other. Dance production depends on funding that is distributed in very time intensive competitions, while dancers often invest many hours of underpaid or unpaid work. Additionally: To be individually financed by the government and/or be rewarded the “artist status” remains difficult, especially, but not only for younger dancers starting their career. This is why many artists have additional jobs to secure their income, often as teachers of dance, yoga or pilates, but also as bar tenders. Since dancers are switching constantly between jobs, Van Assche (2016b: 1) calls them “job hoppers”.
Especially interesting is the connection the author makes to Guy Standing at the end of her article. Standing (2014: 22f) argues that the modern precariat is characterized by a lack of control over time. I hope that a closer analysis of time and space in this context can illuminate some of the consequences of these changes in the regime of work, broadening our idea of what the respondents hope to flee from – or hope to find, when laboring in the field of dance. To do so, the next paragraphs will shortly discuss some theoretical approaches on the dimension of subjectivation in relation to new forms of labour.
Since the analysis of Marx (1818-1883), working time stands at the heart of how value is extracted from human activity. The equivalent of the worker’s labour force, which he or she sells on the market in order to produce, is measured in time (Marx 1989: 465-580). Since working time has become an important production factor, saving time has equally become a direct medium to lower production costs as well as to gain competitive advantage. The work done in a specific period of time counts as productivity, while a benefit is gained when we use less time for the same achievement, hence, when we increase productivity. However, Marx’ analysis is based on the industrial production process of standardized products. If, however, the outcome of labour is not a standardized industrial product, but a cultural product depending highly on the individual input of the labour force, competitive advantage can be gained by the investment of additional working time.
As others before him, Hartmut Rosa (2013: 37, also: 43) argues that recognition in our western meritocracies of today is frequently distributed through a day-to-day competition. Wealth, security and related privileges increasingly depend on the subject’s individual performance. In this new logic of competition, as Rosa (ibid.: 95f) calls it, success is not dependent on the fulfillment of a prior defined goal, e.g. the aim is not a better performance in fulfilling a specific task, but plainly to perform better than the other actors involved. Competition as unquestioned criteria for distribution holds the danger of individualizing social actors in their struggle for resources, work and recognition.
“To enjoy a more extended break means to be old-fashioned, no longer up-to-date, anachronistic, with regard to one’s own experience and knowledge, equipment as well as clothing, in one’s own orientation and even in language.” (Rosa 2013: 43) 6
Because competition normalizes the market logic in everyday interactions, Rosa (2013, 2016) locates in the struggle for competitive advantages one of the fundamental drivers for what he calls social acceleration.
I would like to relate to what I said in the beginning of this chapter, connecting it to what Rosa (2013: 26) sees as the third 7 and most exigent form of acceleration: the social acceleration of the pace of life. Being pressed in time and perceiving time as a rare resource which is expensive to waste, is especially present and constitutive for subjects of the western world (ibid.: 26). Rosa defines acceleration in very basic terms as the enhancement of the number of episodes of actions and/or experiences per time-period.
“Social acceleration can be defined as the increase in the decay rate of the reliability of experiences and expectations, and thus the shortening of the periods to be determined as present.” (ibid.: 23) 8
However, the sensed subjective desire to do more in less time does not necessarily correspond with an increase of the actual and objective measurable actions an individual effectively performs (ibid.: 27). Social acceleration is closely connected to the subjective perception of what the present contains. It is thus linked to how we experience time, to what degree we articulate the desire to diminish breaks or idle time between activities, how we operate simultaneously on a variety of tasks (cf. Benthaus-Apel 1995). Additionally, the slow-down of time is theorized by Rosa (2013: 49) as a dis-functional or pathological side-effect of social acceleration and not necessarily its negation: He or she who is not able to keep up with the flexibility and the tempo asked by the labour market becomes ‘de-accelerated’ and excluded from the job market. Depression, burnout or laziness become individual exit scenarios (cf. Cvetkovich 2012; Bröckling 2007). 9
The problem of the constraints imposed by these time regimes is that especially in segments were individual contacts, knowledge or affection are crucial for production, getting faster or being able to reach out to more possible collaborators is not necessarily seen as inflicted on us through an outer set of rules or a boss, but remains individual choice.
“Ultimately, we are always guilty at the end of the day because we have not fulfilled the (social) expectations. We simply are not able to complete our to-do lists successfully; quite the opposite: the distance to the ground seems to be increasing with every day.” (Rosa 2013: 110) 10
As a freelancer, the fact that I schedule my time myself is simultaneously my source of freedom but also reason for (self-)blame. If my time management does not pay off, there is no one I can count responsible for it but myself.
Dance is a field that cannot be understood by classical working hours, but the outcome of the ‘product’ is highly dependent on the individual’s scheduling and organization of time. Economic or social risks and one’s own success are further described to be heavily individualized and depending on the constant input of knowledge and permanent networking (Castells 2010; Jeffcutt & Pratt 2002). This is why Bojana Kunst (2015) in her book Artist at Work equally asks if dancers do not indeed represent the ideal type of the contemporary worker in post-Fordist society (Kunst 2015: 10): A worker always available and ready for unspoiled performance (ibid.: 80).
As Lorey (2006) argues, in our post-Fordist economies precarization can no longer be understood as a deviance from the former standard employment relationship (and therefore contradictory to liberal governmentality). To the contrary, Lorey argues that precarization nowadays functions as a substantial hegemonic element of neoliberal governmentality. She puts emphasis on the structural and transformative continuities of a subjectivization that is hegemonic, normalizing and possibly blocking ‘counter-behavior’ (cf. Foucault 2004a: 29). Lorey (2006: 187) argues, that the belief that one can freely and also quite autonomously choose his or her living and working conditions is „constitutively connected with hegemonic modes of subjectivity in western, capitalist societies“. The conviction that we choose ‘freely’ contributes to producing the conditions for being an active part of neoliberal and economic relation (ibid.: 188).
In their book The new spirit of capitalism *Ève Chiapello and Luc Boltanski (2003) argue along similar lines.* The authors pursue the thesis that capitalism has in all its historical occurrences relied on particular sets of values (different forms of “polis”) to legitimize its existence and neutralize possible criticism of the injustices it produces. However, the collocations of such legitimizations are drawn from resources which capitalism itself is not able to produce. In Boltanski and Chiapello’s analysis of the shift from the second to the third spirit of capitalism occurring after the critics of the ‘68-movements, they detect the rise of a new set of values which they call the project-based polis. The authors argue that within this polis the status of a subject is dependent on his or her involvement in a project. In contrast to other polis-forms defined by family, religion, citizenship, market or industry, the measurement crucial to rationalizing the position of the different actors in the project-based polis is “activity”. The main concern is to constantly start an own project or to join existing ones:
“It is crucial to never and at no point hesitate in taking on a new ideas and projects, and continuously making plans for doing additional ones.” (Boltanski & Chiapello 2003: 156) 11
Hence, constant activity is not a deviance, but has become one of the guiding values of the third spirit of capitalism.
Drawing on studies in other fields of the creative industries, McRobbie (2002: 521) conceptualizes artistic identities as governed by the values of entrepreneurialism and individualization, marking a „break with past anti-commercial notions of being creative“. Focusing especially on the young workforce, McRobbie observes new identities, where self-employment and informal work are the norm, and multi-skilling, competition, networking and the promotion of the self have become guiding principles.
This analysis corresponds with what Ulrich Bröckling (2007) calls the “entrepreneurial self”. In his book *Das unternehmerische Selbst *Bröckling outlines what he calls a sociology of a particular form of subjectivation. His aim is to analyze how the entrepreneurial postulate is operating, thus what kind of effect it has on the formation of subjectivity. The fear of never doing enough or not the right thing as well as the unmistakable feeling of dissatisfaction with what one has got done today are part of the self-entrepreneur as much as the ability to sell oneself or the readiness to take risks. Without constant activity, the entrepreneurial self loses ground, which is why a certain rigidity and severity towards oneself in one’s own interest (ibid.: 74). Strategy, determination and a bit of the genius of an artist are attributes an entrepreneur is in need of, when acquiring her or his field of action.
Bröckling describes a tendency that he argues to be crucial when aiming to understand how subjectivities in today’s world are constructed. However, this does not imply if or to what degree people are in reality subject to this “current“, cf. in what sense they comply with this tendency, or how much they are able to circumvent it:
“Examined is the current, which pulls people in a direction, and not how far they are carried by it, how they are using it to advance faster, or how they try to evade or swim against this same current.” (Bröckling 2007: 11) 12
This approach is therefore skeptical vis-a-vis generalizing terms like post-modernity or reflexive modernity which try to put the present under one dominant heading. Like other studies of governmentality, Bröckling does not examine the society or the subject per se but carves out certain rationales and technologies which constitute the frames in which we think of entities like ‘society’ or individual subjects in the first place. The outline of a current form of subjectivation cannot be traced back to one organizing center or a dominant ideology. Much more, it is an effect of dominant and various technologies and ways of thinking, which do, however, intensify and consolidate.
The constitution of what subjects understand as possibility, what tendencies mobilize, hinder or frame their actions is crucial for such a genealogy of subjectivation accentuated by f.e. Bröckling (2007: 27). However, like Foucault, Bröckling sees the danger that the reproduction of such programs is perceived as inevitable when focusing on these rationalities. This is why we have to emphasize the gap between the demands lying at the core of the discourse of the entrepreneurial self and the actual answer of the individual: The efforts of the subject do never comply, the individual cannot completely fulfill the program ever, and/or is always simultaneously driven by other, different or even contrary norms or rationales then the current Bröckling carves out. The gap between its claim and its actual fulfillment is pointing to conflicts, which are visible in the micro-structures of everyday life. Hence, in order to understand how the discourse on the entrepreneurial self, the project based polis or precarity as neoliberal hegemony can be conflictual, can be contested or transformed, this thesis will look at the everyday strategies of dancers to cope with the demanding elements of their labour practices.
With the focus on conflicts on the level of time, I hope to illuminate at least one essential factor when asking what exactly it is, that makes work in dance precarious or (self-)exploitative. A clarification I argue to be important, especially when looking at industries such as dance, in which the blurriness between work and leisure is so crucially present. Focusing on a particular temporality playing a key role in the anxiety people feel and therefore being crucial to the understanding of what people articulate as burdening, helps me to understand what people hope to flee when laboring in dance. This may illuminate the question why many of my respondents still endure and foster their working practices, often pictured as being extremely challenging and not promising economic stability (Van Assche 2016a; Kunst 2015; Bauer 2007).
I approached these questions by looking at strategies of dancers to take time ’off’, aiming firstly at the actual ’practices’ referred to when talking about regeneration. Through that, I gained a first understanding of how the respondents actually perceive free-time and what importance as well as purpose they give to the integration of such time in their daily lives. I asked, to what extent they emphasize the endeavor to balance out their fragmented working practices and how they try to defend moments associated with regeneration, free time or recreation.
In relation, I tried to broaden my idea about the specificities of working practices in dance: What are different core practices and skills, especially in order to be freelancing? Regarding time, I was curious in what sense highly transnational, project-based, flexible and collaborative working practices are negotiated, managed and reflected upon. Concerning place, I was curious how the way labour is distributed in dance reflects on the sense of community and place of my respondents living in Brussels – a city often described as a creative cluster of the dance community. This led me to my main research question:
What are the consequences of competitive labour practices on the individual perception of time and place of dancers engaged in the contemporary dance industry in Brussels?
I start with the assumption that what Bröckling theorized as the entrepreneurial self is important to explain part of the dancers’ actions. No doubt, McRobbie’s outline of the new, multi-skilled and super networked identities, where self-employment and informal work are the norm, is at least partly retraceable in some of the literature on performance artists.
However, as the economy depends on flexibility and is organized around short run times, I argue that contemporary labour in dance also has to cope with plural and divergent temporalities. In order to be a dancer, one has to not only master many different skills but also to be extremely flexible in organizing all those tasks. These different or even contradictory temporalities are hard to manage. However, the analysis of the conflicts arising through the confrontation with various temporalities can not only clarify what makes people anxious, but additionally illuminate what desire stands behind the respondents’ practices.
This qualitative research focusing on the individual perceptions and rationales of dancers in Brussels mainly consists out of nine semi-structured in-depth face-to-face interviews. I complemented the sample with one interview with an academic expert working on the dance industry in Brussels, and two senior experts teaching at the higher school of contemporary dance and performance in Zurich. Equally, the research included participant observation.
The respondents were chosen with snowball sampling and over an open platform on Facebook. Criteria to be chosen for an interview was being a professional dancer, which implied on the one hand, that the dancer refers to him or herself as a professional. On the other hand, it was important to me that the respondents hold a degree from a higher school of dance such as P.A.R.T.S. or comparable. Second criteria was that people would at least partly refer to Brussels as their base, having been staying or currently living in the capital of Belgium.
Most of my thesis is based on the interviews I did with the nine dancers in Brussels, the first obtained in early January 2017 and the last in July 2017. The respondents were between 20 and 38 years old at the time, all except one refer to Brussels as their place of residence. Six of the artists are female, only three male. Three are single, four in a committed relationship, and one just got married. One respondent lives with her partner and has two children.
The working conditions were quite different for the respondents. Eight of the nine refer to themselves as freelancers. The other respondent dances for a company under a long term contract. All of the eight freelancers work on their own creations while simultaneously dancing for choreographers. Three of them have currently found funding for their own and future projects, while being in the process of working at this point of time mainly on their own creation. The other five interviewees are only partly funded or were not funded at the time of the interview, generating their income through dancing or additional jobs.
The comparative element of my thesis is thus rooted in the different, highly flexible and transnational labour practices of the dancers. It is based on the different premises people are facing due to the way they earn their money, 13 while I emphasize how this effects the management and perception of time as well as place. In relation, I would like to point out that labour is negotiated through a network of places and people, not through one place. Needless to say, this also has an effect on how place is rationalized.
The interviews were conducted in a close and honest collaboration with the respondents. More than half of the interviews lasted longer than two hours. My active involvement in the conversation did not only animate the respondent’s own narrative but equally supported one of the core convictions for this research: The first step towards a re-politicization of post-Fordist labour conditions is to clarify what makes people anxious and breathless, or what we miss and long for – although we are economically stable and working in a field we somehow always wanted to work in. This is nourished by the belief that the problems dancers face can be related to other subjects in post-Fordist labour regimes, whereof academia is one other example. 14
I complemented the interviews by asking some of the respondents to draw a mental map of Brussels, the city they live in. Others I asked to depict their transnational mobility during a certain period of time by listing all the names of the places they stayed.
All the interviews with dancers in Brussels were conducted in locations close to where the respondents live, mainly in the neighborhood of St. Gilles. Simultaneously, I visited and observed places in Brussels that dancers refer to as being places everybody would hang out, such as the cafe OR in the city center or two bars around the Kaai Theater. In addition, I saw many performances/interventions/public talks in Brussels, Gent as well as one intervention of a respondent performing in Basel. Three of those with a clear focus on precariousness in dance themselves, I saw while speaking at a conference titled Working On Dance, organized by the University of Gent, KU Leuven, the VUB and other institutions.
After the transcription, the interviews were analyzed with open coding (Strauss & Corbin 1990) to create a first overview of recurring perceptions, problems and strategies. In the analysis of the quality and structure of our modern lives, Rosa (2013) argues for a sociology that puts its attention on how different time regimes are regulating our modern societies. According to the author, the analysis of such time regimes is important to grasp the circumstances in which human needs are formed, negotiated and reproduced. Turning towards the question of investigating individual rationales, we might begin by the management and objective enhancement of social practices, or start with the individual perception of time and explanatory models behind how time is approached or scheduled. Methodologically, and as experience informs practices and vice versa, the juxtaposition of actual practices, perceptions and rationales seems fruitful. 15 The analysis of such time regimes is interesting, since ethnic rules or religiously motivated sanctions are not the primary or at least not a direct source of restriction to modern subjects anymore. 16 More importantly and as I said before, I think the focus on time regimes is especially seminal for a critical approach on practices and rationales of individuals articulating to work in a field chosen out of interest or even passion. While observations that deal with the questions of how we interpret and evaluate ourselves in time may allow, and here I agree with Rosa, a critical analysis of subjects conceptualized as ‘free’ (Rosa 2013: 8).
Hence, my frame of analysis focuses on how time is negotiated throughout the day, the nature of places where people are or have to be present, what this means for switching between tasks or places, and what kind of different rhythms that implies. Although starting with working as well as leisure practices, I did not primarily try to get an idea of objectively measurable time episodes and how they might be compressed. Emphasizing conflicts, I detected where the subject has difficulties to manage what he or she hoped to do for the day, hence, where time was perceived simply as not enough or rare, but also where it was enjoyed. Focal points were discrepancies between what one wishes, aspires or loves to do, and everyday practices, in other words: the lines between satisfaction and dis-satisfaction. Core interest of this approach was to analyze what desires or hopes would fuel the respondents’ actions, what aspirations and norms stand behind the dancers’ practices and thoughts.
When looking at my interviewees, it becomes evident that I have found a variety of different people when it comes to age, working practices or nationalities. This can be seen as a strength, but, due to the limited amount of interviews, it can be seen as a deficit too. A bigger and more diverse sample would have been of advantage, but I had to adapt to the limited time frame and resources available to write this thesis. I describe the specificities of what production and promotional work implies in a field like dance, but the comparison between the different degrees of institutionalization of the dancer remains weak. My sampling should also not be seen as representative of the dance scene in Brussels. Although I had different contacts of entry, due to the snowball technique I may have targeted respondents who share similar backgrounds, such as having been students in P.A.R.T.S., albeit from different cohorts. Such a background implies, although not necessarily, a different and often easier position to freelance in the field of dance.
My thesis relies, but will not directly add to the interesting academic work done on the structural organization of the creative networks dancers are relying on in Brussels. I therefore do not directly contribute to shedding light on the flow of people, capital or social contacts between actors or entrepreneurial bodies engaged in dance in Brussels. Nor will I focus on the spatial variations of financial dependencies in these networks, due to differences in welfare regimes, state subsidies systems and labour conditions (see general: Van Heur 2008; Scott 2000; specifically for contemporary dance in Brussels: Van Assche 2016a, 2016b; Njaradi 2014; Hesters 2006).
However, especially the most recent research by Van Assche was a support in understanding the specificities of work in dance. Together with the wealth of insight unfolding from the information my respondents shared with me, I try to differentiate in the following chapter between my respondents working conditions. The spatial as well as temporal conflicts arising help me to theorize two conflicting temporalities both crucial for the work in dance.
In this chapter I introduce the role of the performing arts sector for Brussels capital region and its spatial distribution. Then, I discuss the labour conditions of my respondents, giving an overview of the many steps in the production of a dance piece. Further, I highlight the additional production work when one is completely freelancing as crucial when differentiating in between my dancers working practices. Taking a closer look at what such work implies, I focus on the balancing-out between the different tasks accumulating as causing conflicts: In order for dancers to create dance productions at all, the time spent on the necessary promoting and producing of their work in the competitive field of dance is extensive.
Brussels is not only the headquarters of the European Union but, according to Van Assche (2016a), also an example of Florida’s “Creative City”, especially when focusing on the sector of “performing arts” and contemporary dance (ibid: 2). 17 However, in general, the overall economic importance – when expressed in economic turnover – of the CC-Economy and the performing arts sector in Brussels capital region is quite small: In total, the turnover of the CC-Economy amounts to 3.8% of the total turnover and 4.3% of the value added to the Brussels capital region in the year 2014 (Mauri et al. 2017: viii). Equally in 2014, the creative industries employed around 32’000 workers, which is 4.7% of the region’s total employment (ibid.). Of the CC employees, 12% work in the performing arts sector (hence, around 3800 employees).
Additionally, since 2005 the shares of the CC sector of the overall economy in Brussels’ capital region have been decreasing. However, Mauri and colleagues (ibid.: ix) note that “there exists a large number of workers performing CC activities outside the CC sector and their numbers are likely to have grown.”
Nonetheless, the CC industry and especially the performing arts sector has an impact on the policies and city discourses as well as on the spatial restructuring of Brussels. Moreover, the study of Mauri and colleagues shows that there can be found a clear spatial distribution of the economic actors engaged in the performing arts industry in the city (see Illustration 2).
Illustration 2: Concentration of the performing arts in Brussels
Source: Mauri et al. 2017: 7.
The map shows that performing arts companies are concentrated mainly in St. Gilles and surrounding areas, partially overlapping with the “croissant pauvre”, the canal area. Especially in the neighborhood of St. Gillles, which is slowly being gentrified, the performing arts activities have a strong influence on the change of the city’s atmosphere and public. 18
Today, the capital of Belgium is known to be a turning point for international agents working in performing arts and is often referred to as the “Mecca” of contemporary dance in Europe (Van Assche 2016b: 2; Hesters 2006: 4; Janssens 2007: 9). The city hosts some of the most avant-garde dance academies such as P.A.R.T.S. Further, Brussels is host to several well-known and established dance companies like Rosas, Damaged Goods, or Ultima Vez (Njaradi 2014; Van Assche 2016b).
There are multiple historical, economic, political and even geographical reasons Brussels can be named an important hub for contemporary dance. A crucial one is surely the cultural investment on the national as well as the regional level. Belgium provides a quite satisfactory infrastructure for freelance artists and dancers, while the Flemish government offers grants and subsidies not only to Flemish but also to non-Flemish artists based in Brussels.
Contemporary dancers can additionally benefit from what Van Assche (2016a) refers to as a “flexicurity” system: This is a social security system especially designed for people working in the arts and not employed under a long-term contract. Through the maintenance of an employee status (the “artist status”), this security aims at guaranteeing project-based working artists to have an income through unemployment allowances when off-project. Additionally, there is an endeavor on the national as well as on the regional level to provide research-based workspaces for dance artists. These venues are highly subsidized in order to provide infrastructure, to facilitate collaboration, as well as helping freelance dancers with the production and the distribution of their own work.
Although there is governmental investment in resources and there exists a network of venues and workspaces throughout the city, Brussels is no exception in the European-wide trend of cutting cultural budgets. This trend is especially noticed by cultural workers such as dancers. 19 So subsidy systems still facilitate long-term contracts for dancers in companies, but according to Van Assche (2016a: 2), the assigning of such contracts has become increasingly rare, even in Brussels. Additionally, it is not an easy task to acquire the artist status: To acquire the status, a dancer has to prove that he or she has worked a specific number of days in a given time. Especially young dancers have difficulties to make their invested hours of work accountable, since much of the work done outside of Belgium can not be recognized either (ibid.).
Hence, aside from the funding system, Eleanor Bauer (2007) derives Brussels’ attraction to the contemporary dance world from a vibrant artistic, educational and social climate. She states that it is the “immaterial currency“ and the interesting climate arising from the vast presence and activities of so many performers and artists which function as a magnet to other dancers around the world.
„The cases of those moving to Brussels for a job with a dance company are much rarer now, while the cases coming without a plan and living on a prayer has increased exponentially. Perhaps there is something of a do-it-yourself energy and mind-frame of possibility that lingers in the smoggy Brussels air after the self-made success of the older, more known companies of Rosas and Ultima Vez.“ (Bauer 2007: 3)
With its extensive and ongoing activity concerning dance, the continuous creation of possibilities to see, learn or produce dance, Brussels has become a node in the international dance world and a base for a changing network of individual contemporary dance artists, constituting what Van Assche calls a “mobile community of potential colleagues” (Van Assche 2016b: 3, cf. Bauer 2007).
Four out of nine of the respondents from my sample came to Brussels while still in the formation to be a dancer, for the auditioning at P.A.R.T.S. After finishing the four-year training at the school, they stayed in the city. Another four came to Brussels for a specific project they were engaged in, already working as freelance dancers or performers, and decided to stay afterwards. The remaining dancer, Selene, came without a concrete project. Knowing some fellow performers, Selene was invited to an off-space, whose energy drew her in. She ended up running the place for nearly five years, while living in the same house with her partner and her two children.
Seven of the nine dancers I interviewed, referred to Brussels as their current place of residence. All of them pay rent in Brussels, although, and because of their high mobility, often for an empty apartment. Out of the two remaining, one was currently living on a sofa of a friend in Brussels. Having grown up close to Leuven, he referred to Brussels as a place he keeps on coming back to. The other dancer I met in Brussels just a few hours after he spontaneously decided to move to Madrid.
Out of my sample, no one is originally from Brussels itself and only one dancer is Belgian. The rest originally come from other countries, having passports from the US, France, Mexico, Iceland, Venezuela, Israel, Canada and Germany. Having grown up in different places around the world, many of the respondents kept at least some relations to back home. Reflecting on their migration, four respondents said that it has, at one point in their lives, been challenging to have left home. In these cases, home remains a possibility to go back to if things do not work out in Brussels (cf. Hesters 2006: 14). Often, those ties stay important also for work-related reasons. People mention connections to the artistic and/or performance art field in the city they come from. In some cases, people apply for subsidies not only in Brussels, Flanders or Belgium but also in their respective country of origin, e.g. Iceland, France or Germany.
However, the dancers I interviewed were living mostly off subsidies (negotiated through venues, companies or directly through having an “artist status”) from the Belgian state, the Flanders region or the Brussels Capital Region. One was about to lose her artist status in France, another relies on the social security of her Norwegian partner for additional income.
I classify my respondents in three groups, depending on how they are earning their money. This will allow me to differentiate the working conditions people are dealing with. Needless to say, work and income in dance are negotiated and generated in various and changing formations.
Regarding my respondents, I classify a) one interviewee dancing for a company, with a long-term contract as employed. b) Three of my respondents are at least partly supported by an institution such as Pianofabrik. I call them supported freelancers. Houses like Pianofabrik, funded by the government, are institutions supporting the artist in their production and promotional work. Additionally, one respondent has the privilege to be able to pay a professional producer to do that work. c) The remaining four have no additional help, they are earning their money as freelancers, doing all the production and promotional work by themselves.
However, what all dancers working as freelancers or supported freelancers have in common is that they often dance for well-known choreographers as well as work on projects they have initiated and are producing themselves. Income is generated from being hired and from being paid for taking part in a piece, and/or from a successful application for an own project in the making. Obtaining the “artist status” also provides income, on which only one of my respondents can rely.
Although working under very different circumstances, the mobility of all the people I talked to is extraordinary. They travel to see their family back home, to celebrate the birthday of their partner’s niece in his or her country of origin, or to go on vacation — but mainly, they travel for work: touring, going to residencies around Europe, seeing a piece in Paris, or presenting one’s own work to a venue in Geneva. Asked to write down the places one had visited in the last six months, the respondents noted down between 12 and 32 different places. Lin for example, I met in Basel, Switzerland, coming from Lausanne. She noted down 28 different places for the last 6 moths, 7 different ones just in the last month (see Appendix). This does not equal all the single travels done, however: Using Brussels as ‘base’ or going repeatedly to Antwerpen or Geneva to residencies, Lin was herself surprised, when she was finished going through her agenda, counting 48 trips back and forth during the last half a year. Dividing that through the number of days, this means on average 3,7 days are spent in one location.
Facebook post of Sigal, August 10, 2017.
In February 2017, Lin traveled from Brussels to Copenhagen, to Geneva and then back to Copenhagen. From there to Besançon, back to Brussels, Charleroi, Brussels, Rouen, Brussels, Mulhouse, Pau, Brussels, Leuven, St. Brieve and Dublin. If there is work, it leads people to all kinds of places outside, but mainly inside of the EU. In general, visits to locations inside Belgium or the North of France are more frequent.
I use Lin as an example, not an exception. However, the mobility of the dancers depends strongly on the amount of work they have and can thus vary a lot. Lin is quite a well-known artist. When I met her, she told me about three projects she was engaged in at this point in time: With one project she was currently touring, another one she was producing herself, and the third one she did in collaboration with a company starting the week after the interview.
Another example is Kelly, who in the last 30 days, counted a total of three nights of being ’home’ in her apartment in Brussels. She states:
“I pretty much live out of a suitcase. That like.. I have to… So; I just came back, yesterday, of being in Antwerpen for a month, I have this one week, and then I go to the states for two weeks. And I was unpacking my things and I was like: ‘I could just leave my suitcase open’”
– Kelly, Interview 2017.
The sensation Kelly articulates in this quote is one of many that I collected during my interviews, pointing to a special relation people have to Brussels as their place of residence. I will come back to this point later in the thesis.
Philosopher and performance art theorist Bojana Kunst (2015) underlines how the production of a dance piece can be theorized as a project. What is apparent about the concept of the project, is its temporal dimension. Projects have a beginning and an end. What is defined by the entity of a project in dance, is thus much less a specific outcome than a given time horizon. For Bröckling (2007: 17), project-based work is the cutting of work into sequences, into actions that are limited in time. A maximum amount of flexibility, a specific mode of cooperation and an equally high amount of self-organization is made possible as well as demanded.
The graph below gives a general overview of the different episodes and tasks cumulating when creating a dance piece when completely freelancing. This is an overview and does not claim to include all possible challenges. With the episodes, I tried to give an idea of what tasks are prevailing in a certain sequence. I grouped the variety of different must-do’s and summarized them in four main tasks (creation, production, related and unrelated side tasks, physical training). The purpose is to show that tasks labeled e.g. as ‘creation’ or ‘production’ come up in different stadiums of the process, but, depending on the stadium, contain varying tasks.
Illustration 3: Different tasks of a dance project
Source: own representation, derived from interviews
Under creational work I grouped episodes marked by the development of the first idea, including research, as well as the time in residencies, which is normally when the different dancers collaborating come together to create the actual piece. Production work is foremost applying for subsidies, writing applications to get money for developing an idea, doing research, and/or going to residencies. Project-related side tasks are, for example, to take care of sound, light and costumes. Finally, I also count physical training – from stretching, maintaining physical abilities, yoga or other recreational practices – as work necessary, in order to do a piece of art in performance arts.
Firstly, the graph shows the plain multiplicity of tasks and skills the respondents listed when talking about their work. This goes from artistic creation to promotional and administrational work (cf. Van Assche 2016a; Njaradi 2014). The vast variety of tasks and skills one has to master, was an upcoming theme during the interviews. When talking about themselves, people referred to themselves as being a ‘maker’, an artist, as well as a producer. Kelly’s statement is emblematic for this identification:
“So I told Brian that I want that my resume is just: Hobby dancer, studio choreographer and like; a warrior of this field (laughs). Like a tag-line, you know. But I really feel that. I really feel that way: I most of the time feel like a hobby dancer. Most of the time like a studio choreographer that is just trying to do the things, and then: Warrior, because I am mainly trying to be in this field.”
– Kelly, Interview 2017.
In the following, I go a little bit more into detail on two of the prevailing tasks when doing a project in dance: the artistic creation and the production of a piece. Analyzing my data, it became apparent that balancing out those two tasks is challenging, especially for people not having any help with production work.
Contemporary dance depends on very place-bound and physical collaboration and bodily training. Such work relies on the energy liberated when a group of dancers work closely together. It is exactly the immediate exchange of ideas during residencies and rehearsals the project promises to gather. Hence, more than in other artistic professions or even in classical dance, contemporary dance tends to focus on immediate creation. The intensity of the encounters is crucial for the outcome of the product. Therefore, Kunst (2015: 77) talks about an excess of collaboration in professions such as dance, which she traces back to the fact that we become “most visible when collaborating”:
“[…]; it is only through collaboration, on the constantly changing map of places, that people can actually become visible in the present, where they constantly add to the contemporary flow of money, capital and signs.” (Kunst 2015: 78).
When in residencies and in the phase of creation, a dance piece acquires form, function and meaning. Additionally, dancing is more than anything a sector highly characterized by skills. The rupture of classical and very uniform movements like in ballet are key for contemporary dance, which does not mean that the physical requirements aren’t just as high: In order to make it in the field, a contemporary dancer must not only master all the classical turns, leaps and spins with perfection, but must additionally be able to transform, extend and fracture them into something new. Contemporary dance gets its life from the re-interpretation and new articulation of movements and from often unconventional and innovative working practices.
Lin with colleague rehearsing, August 2017. Own picture.
How demanding those practical as well as social skills are and the importance they have in the profession of dance is a recurring theme in my interviews. To be a contemporary dancer means not only to move together, but also to stretch and start the morning with your follow peers. The physical proximity can be extreme. Dance equally means to be in each other’s hair, between one’s elbows, and in each other’s minds. This is why residencies are articulated to be intense, but lie at the core of production in dance. Hence, the residency can be understood as the stadium where creation prevails over production tasks (see chapter 4.2.4 on production).
Talking about their work, my respondents frequently differentiate the intensity of their work depending on the current state of the process in the production of a piece. One could argue that the closer to the actual show, the ‘hotter’ it gets and the more stress levels rise. Respondents articulate how in final rehearsal periods, the intensity of work is intruding all aspects of life, such as eating or sleeping habits. Respondents then feel to have very little space for input not directly related to the piece. As all the energy is used for the project, little exists outside, while activities to regenerate are described as “turning off the brain”. However, although those phases are said to be challenging, they are also seen, in their intensity, as highly interesting, transformative and meaningful.
While usually, respondents try to maintain the rising energy level during the process by eating well and making sure of a healthy sleep, they also describe how this can easily change with the completion of a project:
“So with the company, we just worked everyday from the morning till the evening and it was just so stressful, so immediately after the premiere, I had another premiere a week later, and then I also drunk a lot and then I just crashed. A whole Sunday. And then I watch just shit, and I eat just shit, Netflix shit, just lay on the sofa. That is how I regenerate.”
– Aurelie, Interview 2017.
One respondent compares the process of finishing a piece to childbirth: Just after, you feel tremendously exhausted, swearing to never do it again – and a little while later, you start over again.
Apart from creation, it is especially production work that is crucial to making a piece in dance. The time given for creation depends on the funding. Important here is to point to the differences in what people get paid for. Especially when completely freelancing, it is the production work which is extensive. To be freelancing implies a lot of unpaid or underpaid creational and production work beforehand – e.g. preparing an idea or a piece until it has a chance to get funded. What is paid, is rarely more than the residency itself, and in those cases, the work to promote the piece during and after the time dedicated to creation is additional (unpaid) work. Part of the production tasks are thus trying to sell the finished piece on social media, like Facebook, websites or Instagram, but also by approaching bookers directly via mail or presenting parts of the piece to possible hosts. Adding to that is all the administrative work like budgeting, but also scheduling and organizing one’s or the group’s mobility.
In general, respondents replied that 40 to 80 percent of their working time was spent on organizing their extensive transnational mobility, writing applications for either subsidies or residencies, answering work-related e-mails and advertising as well as networking on Facebook.
„Also, now for this practice & performance thing, we are trying to promote it on Facebook and Instagram, which I never really have done before, so… I am actually also learning how to ‘marketing’ things on social media. (…) This is also such a funny thing in our field, where you just get like experts in all this little, weird skills. I mean, you are doing everything.”
– Kelly, Interview 2017.
Additionally, subsidies in order to develop your own work are distributed through a hard competition, and the time used for writing applications is described to be a lot. Dancers completely in charge of their own production articulated repeatedly to have the feeling of not doing anything else.
As said before, many of the interviewees are not only trying to promote their own work, but their income is also dependent on salaries earned by dancing for other choreographers. Dancing for other choreographers implies a relatively stable income, but possibly interferes with a project of one’s own. Equally, half of the dancers I interviewed have to earn money with additional jobs such as teaching. On the other hand, if one applies for subsidies with a project, this in turn means that with its completion one is out of work again. This is why many respondents said that they are currently applying for or engaged in not only one, but at least two, sometimes three different projects. The graph below shows, schematically, how many tasks and must do’s can therefore accumulate in a single day.
Illustration 4: Accumulation of tasks in one day, when freelancing
Source: Own representation, derived from interviews.
The necessity of working on different and overlapping projects simultaneously to secure income or to be able to maintain the artistic status leaves some of my respondents ‘switching’ and negotiating constantly between different projects. Kunst (2015) notes that the parallelism of different projects happening at the same time can also be seen in other professions of the creative industry. Creative workers are characterized to be constantly engaged in projects, often several at once, while moving between the implementation of one project and the completion of another (Kunst 2015: 153-167). This corresponds to what Njaradi argues, saying that dancers are only in the last instance dancers, priorities seem to lie elsewhere: In being managers, administrators or even technicians (Njaradi 2014: 253).
This becomes equally apparent in the discontent articulated in not having enough time to develop one’s own work or not to be able to focus completely on creation:
“Yes, like writing a concept, doing the budget.. And also now we are also presenting, so touring with THE VALLEY for example and I have to continuously emailing people for (…) and the picture and the budget and the tap-writer and all of this. This is also work. So its before and after and during the piece — there is just so much work around that you have to do.”
– Aurelie, Interview 2017.
Not only the selling of one’s piece, but also all the additional paper work and organizational tasks, like trying to synchronize the different schedules of the people involved, seems, in those cases, disproportional to the time spent on creation (see Illustration).
Illustration 5: Productional work spills into time for creation
Source: Own representation, derived from interviews.
However, as the next quote shows, the fulfilling of these different tasks becomes an imperative, especially for freelancers: Because the visibility of an art piece is negotiated in a competitive field, you firstly have to get people’s attention in order to sell your art.
“Yes, I think actually would say 80 % of my work is this. And they do not teach you that in school. They show you how to dance and I would like to be in the studio but to be able to be in the studio, you need to do all the other work. So that people see you. That people see your face and make the link to the names… so they will open the email. Because otherwise they will not even open the email. They get a million mails a day and when they don’t know you they will not even read it. So this is really… – takes long time.”
– Aurelie., Interview 2017.
Finding the recognition one hoped for is described as stressful. This is not only reflected by what respondents articulate to be anxious about, but also in how grateful and relieved people are who seem to have ‘made it’ (cf. Van Assche 2016b: 3). Here the feeling of being simply lucky and privileged prevails:
“Because I think this kind of competition it happens in freelancing and so… In between people that don’t appreciate each other — or don’t have the luxury to appreciate each other’s work. Are not relaxed enough in their daily life that they can step out of the fact that they need something. And to take in what is happening and enjoy fact. But when you are in a situation where you are not as rushed and you can make mistakes and you are a good group, you can see more the strength of the people and not what you don’t like. But I am aware of the fact that there is this big, big competition. You feel it. You realize it also… like; its inevitable.”
– Rafael, Interview 2017.
Dance is an ephemeral industry, and all of my respondents were very conscious about that. This was mainly articulated by being preoccupied with losing one’s potential and creativity through an unhealthy relation to what one originally loved doing. This is why I quote Rafael here again, as he is working for a well-known company but still feels that things cannot continue for him like they did so far:
“It’s strange, to be a half year out of school and already feel that everything that you prepared for is… in ways, it is impossible to continue… and it would somehow be a really nice life… but it cannot be in the way that I am doing it now. That is why; this thing of sustainability. The way I am with my dancing now, it will not last for long… before I get tired of it, or before I cannot keep it up.”
– Rafael, Interview 2017.
Age or having children are equally emerging themes, and my respondents know that these occurrences will change their lives. A complete re-orientation in the case of having a family is a theme that reappears, especially when talking to my female interviewees:
„I mean part of this field is, kind of always be available. You know. And then… I mean when we do have a child.. So here is this thing of… this constant availability and being so flexible… I mean that will change. And that will probably change our careers. Because who knows if you get as [ many] jobs if [you have a child]. Which maybe is another reason why I feel strongly for this Practice and Performance thing, because I am in control of – that is something that will not go away. […]
This is an interesting thing for me: How can we transfer in that moment of… other than collapse – but changing it into something else…? […] Yeah, I just think: I want to persist, you know. I want to believe that there is another.. step, after this, like; burnout life-style. […] So I am already now trying to figure out what could be a way.“
– Kelly, Interview 2017.
The above said can be connected to what Ibert & Schmidt (2014) underline, writing on adaption and adaptability in volatile labour markets. According to them, the main challenge in the beginning of a career is to adapt to market requirements. However, when people grow older, it does not only become increasingly important to widen the spectrum of what one could do but moreover, to think about exit scenarios.
This is interesting, as the last quote stands figuratively for one of the main strategies in dealing with a field as competitive as dance: The fierce promotion of one’s own name and brand through additional work. Trying to progress one’s personal brand is hoped to lower the dependency on being employed by other people.
The scope of tasks one is involved in, the high mobility as well as how much of these different must-do’s can come together imply a maximum of skills, capabilities, flexibility, organization and self-discipline. In that sense, the dancer can be related to Bröckling’s (2007) “virtuoso of flexibility”, who is truly an artist by being able to hold all these different tasks in balance. I would like to emphasize what Chia (1995: 158) calls a “polyvalent” ability; an ability of committing with all the energy, attention and passion, but being able to direct that in any given moment towards a new object, or into a new project and place.
On the other side, I have mentioned Van Assche (2016a: 1), who argues to understand labour conditions in contemporary dance as being increasingly precarious. She connects the notion of precarity in dance to a lot of people working under temporary, project-bound contracts, thus, having to rely on an unsteady income. My data surely confirms that trend, while I would like to differentiate between my respondents’ working conditions: Especially when freelancing, the additional time and energy spent on managing as well as producing, thus, making your art visible in a competitive field full of artists wanting the same, is one crucial factor causing conflicts on the level of time. In relation to that, Van Assche’s connection to Guy Standing is especially interesting. Standing (2014: 22f) underlines a lack of control over time as characteristic for a new form of precarity. According to him, this part of the precariat suffers from a feeling of being overwhelmed by too many tasks a day. Feelings of never having enough time to do what one would like to do prevail, and that allowing oneself a “time-out” would mean lagging behind all the others.
I would like to explore what Standing calls precarious, to clarify what makes people anxious or restless by analyzing their perceptions and practices regarding place and time. With this, I hope to illuminate what remains a question in Van Assche’s contribution on work in dance, which is why artists endure working and living conditions often described as being challenging or precarious. Regarding my data and some of my cases, it seems difficult to talk about exploitation thriving in work in dance generally. I would therefore differentiate a particular temporal state laying at the core of a desire or a compensation that my respondents hope to find* inside* of their working practices – this might help to illuminate why some actors are ready to work even harder in such a competitive field like contemporary dance. In the following chapter, I will thus try to understand what causes conflicts related to my respondents’ mobility as well as communication patterns on the level of place.
Any piece of art depends on its recognition negotiated through a wider network of connected individuals and institutions. In this chapter I therefore would like to ask, how this networked form of sociality influences the perceptions of spaces or of the city of Brussels, respectively. Clarifying firstly what is meant by a network according to Castells (2010), I later relate this concept to dance; outlining how the positioning of an artist in the network of dance demands performance on multiple levels, both online as well as through real encounters. This I argue, however, may create conflicts concerning how to manage such presence, because contemporary dance remains a field in which intense, physical and direct collaboration remains an indispensable asset for production.
How valuable a piece of art or performance is, depends on how creative, innovative or meaningful it is. The evaluation of what counts as valuable, however, depends on the field where the piece is going to be visible, its recognition is negotiated through the network of people engaged in the industry of dance. One may thus be able to be creative individually, but what counts as creative is negotiated on another scale. Which creation is going to be successful, is foremost decided on the market (Bröckling 2007: 169, cf. Sternberg & Todd 1991).
Writing on performance arts, Learmans (2015; cf. Hesters 2006) states that recognition is the symbolic capital of the arts, the currency that creates motivation. Recognition in the field of contemporary dance usually thrives from institutionalized venues, experts and journalists evaluating cultural artifacts, as well as governmental bodies such as the Flemish Department of Culture, Youth and Media deciding on subsidies. However, in the dance industry like the one in Brussels, where many artists do not only perform for established choreographers but often produce their own work, recognition and hence, work opportunities thrive not only from institutionalized houses but from smaller and ever changing economic actors, such as the dancers themselves. The number of dancers coming to Brussels “living on a prayer”, driven by a mere hope nourished by the “do-it-yourself” atmosphere in the capital, as Bauer (2007) calls it, seems to have increased. 20
As Rafael observes, this seems to have changed compared to former years:
“I also find it so interesting times. In the arts field. Before you had so clear rules: You got commissioned, then you get work and then it gets seen and then you get a name and then it circulates […] Or you don’t get it and you teach and […] Little by little, you might get recognition. But now… […] when you want to claim something with what you do… Although you don’t get jobs or subsidies or.. you still have possibilities to reach out to people. […] and get feedback. It’s an interesting time.”
– Rafael, Interview 2017.
In Brussels, recognition as well as work seem to be distributed through a wider as well as more horizontal network. Here, Castell’s notion of the network can help to understand how recognition as social capital is negotiated in dance.
In his book on the network society, Manuel Castells (2010) argues that our common experience is increasingly organized through a new spatial organization which is not directly relying on physically connected places only. Castells underlines the domination of this “new” spatial form shaping the network society, in which time-sharing social practices work through flows. Flows are purposeful, repetitive, and programmable sequences of exchange and interaction. What constitutes such networks, are an array of interconnected nodes. A node, however, can be anything that intersects or assembles, depending on the concrete network we are talking about. He states:
“Presence or absence in the network and the dynamics of each network vis-a-vis others are critical sources of domination and change in our society: a society that, therefore, we may properly call the network society, characterized by the pre-eminence of social morphology over social action.” (Castells 2010: 500)
However, the engaged social actors are not necessarily physically sharing a position, the majority of such interactions is enabled by technological devices. By light-speed-operating information technologies, inclusion, exclusion and the formation of relationships between actors of the same network are transmitted, configuring dominant processes and functions (ibid.: 501). As it is, the exchange of flows defining the positions in the network, the intensity and frequency of communication becomes fundamental. When two social positions become nodes in a network, their distance or frequency of interaction gets shorter, e.g. more intense. Therefore, no position exists by itself or independently of its connection to all the others.
This can be translated to the freelance world of dance: Recognition is not only or mainly produced through the power of one’s artistic work but through the degree the dancer is connected to others of the field. I argue that the position of the subject and thus his or her connections to the network of dance is negotiated through performance or presence on three levels: In the dance scene of Brussels, transnationally, as well as on the internet. In the next sections I therefore ask, how people manage their presence in those multiple and spatially often disconnected places.
Because the visibility of a piece in dance is essential for its survival, all work that is not acknowledged by at least parts of the network will silently disappear. For dancers in Brussels, it is essential to see each other’s performances, to spread the news or to attend workshops of fellow choreographers. As I mentioned before, the gravity of Brussels’ dance scene in the transnational network of dance depends on a strong mutual observation and acknowledgement for each other’s work. During my interviews, respondents mention multiple times how important it is to be present in Brussels, to take part in the production done in the city or to see each other after work. One example is the quote by Josephine, describing how absence can mean losing the connection to what is happening inside the artistic scene of the Belgian capital, since the network itself seems to have little memory:
“I see now that I am not really part of this network that self-sustains… that sustains itself here. And hm, yeah, I don’t know. And at the same time, I always also have this thing that I feel that I maybe did not really try (laughs). You know, it’s always this thing. So maybe I give myself a year more. Because after P.A.R.T.S. I did not want to dance anymore. So I disappeared and then I had some workshops but then I left Brussels. And now I am here and I feel like… Oh, no. I feel that I am not really connected to what happened. So it’s just maybe something that you have to nourish.”
– Josephine, Interview 2017.
Interestingly, Josephine uses the word ‘nourish’, describing a feeling of having to constantly upgrade and care for the established connections, while a year-long break left her with the sensation of having lost track of what is going on.
Even though it is of great importance to see and acknowledge each other’s work, it would be misleading to suppose that contacts are maintained and taken care of for solely professional or – for that matter – for one prevailing reason only. On the contrary, being gone for work so much, my respondents hope to see their friends when back in Brussels. However, even if much of the activity is of social nature, the boundary between networking and simply meeting friends is blurred.
“I was in the train from Antwerpen back to Brussels, after this crazily intense period, no? And what did I do: I messaged like 4-5 different people… and was like: ‘Hey, I am in Brussels this week. Wanna meet for a coffee?’, ‘What do you do?’, and: ’Back in Brussels, on my way!’ […] I think this is also something, I think this field is so social. Inherently social. You are very intensely working with people. And you are constantly going to see shows. Half work, half obligation to the field, half because it is our interest and our love. But it’s a very social thing. And then you go to a bar afterwards… Yeah, there are very few times where I feel that I am really alone. And a friend was like: ‘Oh, this people that are hiding in their apartments, watching Netflix…’ And I was like: ‘Really?! I really need that, people need that!’ This space from one another, to *not *be social. But this is it, when you finally have some free time, you wanna be social, you wanna see friends. It’s very hard to find down time. Just really for yourself.”
– Kelly, Interview 2017.
People based in Brussels state to know everybody involved in dance personally, or through one other person. Apart from referring to places around venues or studios, the neighborhood of Marolles, the Center and especially St. Gilles are places people refer to when asked where they hang out, meet friends or work. Seven out of nine respondents lived in one of these three neighborhoods, five in the heart of St. Gilles, maximum ten minutes walk from each other.
However, due to the high mobility, the feeling of having a kind of ‘narrow’ or ‘nuclear’ sense of Brussels prevails, even when living there already for some time. Kelly, having lived in Brussels for over eight years, for example states:
“I mean my whole idea of the city of Brussels is basically that: St. Gilles and the center. I am rarely… I mean maybe sometimes South or in Flagey, but… My sense of this city is very small. Probably also because I don’t have so much time to really be inside this city.”
– Kelly, Interview 2017.
This corresponds to what Josephine is saying, when she reflects on how the period she had little or no work as dancer changed her perception of the city. She states that she feels to only have started engaging with the city (outside of dance) when she decided to come back to Brussels after a one-year break from performing. Coming back with difficulties to re-integrate into the network of dance and living with people outside the field, she says, gave her time to ‘float’ around the city: This period made her experience Brussels differently, opening up multiple spaces she had had no connection to before. Only later I realized that this exact transformation of her perception of Brussels was also depicted in the six mental maps she drew for me. While between 2013-2016 her mental map is dominated by going to school and to work, the image of the city becomes much wider in the last year, when she was out of work:
Mental Map of Brussels from Josephine, Interview 2017.
Knowing everybody involved in dance, Brussels was often described as a ‘bubble’. However, the borders of the bubble of dance in Brussels are permeable and crossed constantly, since it is part of a greater bubble of dance spanning Europe and the world. Just coming from Stockholm, Rafael describes it as follows:
„But now; I come back to a bubble of dance. So now I go to a very small bubble of dance and then come back into a bit bigger bubble of dance.“
– Rafael, Interview 2017.
Rafael’s perception points at a further space where work in dance is negotiated: transnationally, in residencies and by touring. Because I have already discussed the transnational mobility of the dancers in Chapter 4.2.3, my focus will henceforth lie on the effect that this extraordinary mobility has on the perception of Brussels. In general, one can say: the more one is gone, the more he or she has found work. Brussels is then a place where people are when ‘off’ project.
The presence in the transnational field therefore implies that the dancers are very rarely in Brussels. Respondents choosing to stay in Brussels remain to pay rent for an apartment they are rarely at. To get the rent in, some people try to rent the flat on Airbnb, others give it away to fellow peers around Europe in similar positions. Hester (2006) critically examines, how the transnational connections of the dance scenes are transposing information and support. These connections are equally important when it comes to accommodation.
Because their mobility is so extensive, dancers hope to meet people when finally back in Brussels; however, it is challenging to synchronize the different schedules. This results in the dancers saying that they often feel that there is never really anyone around, which makes it difficult to meet their peers:
„So what were we doing: Netflix! On Saturday night, we watched Netflix! So I go for drinks, go out. But then I was so long not in Brussels. I ask myself: Do we have friends here? Because everyone is always gone.“
– Aurelie, Interview 2017.
This might be a reason, why it is not easy for the dancers to create consistency: Brussels is often referred to as a “passing-through place”. Although often feeling more like home to the dancers than any other location, the city stays a place where they come and, when work calls them off, leave again. Hester (2006) therefore argues that in the dance scene of Brussels, the fact that everyone feels like a foreigner in turn creates a feeling of belonging.** T**hat is at least partly true for my respondents too; for example, for Rafael who told me that although living in Brussels already for quite a while, he only considered the city his home when confronted with an accident of a friend:
“So when accidents and random things happen and you feel connected to it, than I really felt like: ‘Shit, I really live here!’ Because then we were the ones going with him to the hospital and so on… But until then, I was pretty sure that I was just a tourist here. And that it would not make a difference if I was here or not… for the place, I mean.”
– Rafael, Interview 2017.
Important for this thesis is how the problem of missing consistency can be connected to work: There is a strong wish to collaborate with fellow peers and to take part in the reproduction of the artistic scene in Brussels. However, even with work, it is hard to get a hold on people:
“People are already using the same people, people are in each other’s work. But I think in the last years, it has become more individualistic, but I hope my generation, I hope we can again be more in each others work, we are trying. This one does things with this one and this one with this one, doing pieces together. So that everyone can do their own work, but also support each others work. So share, and be in this community together. But the reality of this is, that in order to make a piece, you need to travel so much for residencies. So people are often away.”
– Aurelie, Interview 2017.
To collaborate on a more consistent and regular basis is a desire that comes up in nearly all the interviews I conducted. However, since decision-making becomes more time intense with an increased number of collaborators, the collective production of a piece is often dismissed. 21 Hence, conflicts arise from the economic necessity to collaborate while simultaneously trying to promote one’s particular work. **The following quote illustrates that conflict exactly: Aurelie talks about the differences in the way people work together in a place like Siros, a Greek island were people are hired to dance for one choreographer, and the Danish city Aarhus, where more dancers seem to freelance and thus have to stress their particularity in comparison to their fellow peers much more.
“I would like to try to stay working with the same people. To have some sense of community. This is what I learned in August, when I was doing things in Aarhus, for the research projects that I am doing. In Siros they had such a great community, but there were also so many dancers that would not take the responsibility of being choreographers, more acting like dancers. But in Aarhus you had more individual artists, and because they were so individual, they tried to be as different from each other than possible. So then everyone does so different things, that they don’t even relate to each other anymore. So they hardly go to see each other’s shows anymore.”
– Aurelie, Interview 2017.
Kunst (2015: 80) therefore talks about “neo-collective” or “post-collective” models of collaboration. She points to a conflict that artists face in which they, on the one hand, must maintain a highly individual-orientated strength and productivity, while on the other hand, stay connected to the world and to each other.
Regarding my data, I start with the somehow banal observation that extensive mobility and absence in one place comes with an extensive reliance on technological devices, in order to maintain connections in different parts of the world. The extreme mobility also implies a strong presence virtually, as the desire is large to maintain one’s connections – be they of social nature or for work or both. Not only social contacts, but also work is to a high degree negotiated transnationally.
Facebook post of Sigal, June 6, 2017.
The formation of one’s community is reflected in the discussions I had about the word ‘home’: Respondents state to have their best friends in very different parts of the world – spatial proximity and social intimacy do not necessarily have to fall together anymore. Hence, while physical contact is replaced by texting or calling via electronic devices, it becomes substantial for personal relations how much two or more people are willing to share. As contacts are not place-bound and dependent on individual communication, the place through which these contacts are negotiated is not solely a cafe or a public square. Again, the subject is a node where those connections are gathered, and thus solely responsible to manage those contacts. In a similar way Dario explains to me, how home is created for him:
“And meanwhile I’m at that point, where I do not even reference to a place anymore – to something local, to something material, something solid, something which is just… touchable… but more to; People, and above all, to myself. To that, which you always carry with you. And that you do not have to look for always, and what you have to find here or there, but something which is… something *I *bring along. Anywhere. And my home, I am myself!”
– Dario, Interview 2017 22
Concerning work, physical presence is equally replaced by a virtual presence (cf. Bauer 2007). Facebook and other platforms have become indispensable tools in the promotion of one’s work. Regarding my data, it is interesting to see, to what degree people are concerned with the image they produce of themselves through such media. The decision to answer a mail, for example, is mentioned to be much more “a reflex” (Eliot, Interview 2017). The dancers share information on one’s own or fellow peers’ productions, workshops or social happenings via social media. One respondent referred to Facebook as a world of “virtual hysteria”: A world that is “virtual but then, really real” (Sigal, Interview 2017). Although these connections are not necessarily product of time-sharing practices and certainly not place-bound but virtual, they still produce meaning. This virtual reality is real in the sense that it produces value and a culture. However, meaning is pieced together from a huge array of cultural expressions available. Through the vast simultaneity, the produced meaning can change rapidly. The feeling to depend on the image created through these media equally intensifies the need for immediacy.
Of interest is, that my data does not confirm that people often abroad and rarely in Brussels necessarily feel disconnected to the community based in the city. To the contrary, those people often gone for work and well connected to the network of dance – often those with the most nuclear sense of the city – feel to have found a place they call their home. They have an urge to come back and enjoy the places they know. In contrast, Josephine, who does know Brussels outside of dance, is one of the respondents articulating strongest to be considering to leave the city. But she is not the only one of my interviewees stating to not really feel that she belongs to the network of dance.
This illuminates that the feeling of belonging to a city like Brussels is not necessarily bound to knowing its spatial surroundings. This is not to say that physical presence is not an important factor in creating a connection to a place. In the cases of my interviewees, their connection to places can be called nuclear, because people have only little idea of what connects the spaces they mostly visit in a physical way, and their surroundings remain unexplored. 23 Whereas ideas of places are often bound to were people have been hanging out or went to school, the nuclear sense of place might be intensified by the time-intense working practices and the high mobility of my respondents. Working and preparing project after project, dancers keep up a presence in the network of dance, while being “sophistically isolated” from the everyday communal practices in the city (Kunst 2015**: 171, cf. Hesters 2006).** Only when Josephine was out of work, she found the time to flaneur around in the city, to stroll, explore and find things surprising her about places she did neither know nor expect to discover.
Hence, the connection to a place, the question to what degree people feel able to make a living and have a future in the city is strongly dependent on the connection to the network. People and places change their meaning because of things that are negotiated in completely other spaces than the city itself. In that sense, physical places such as Brussels don’t vanish, they stay important hubs of communication, coordination and collaboration. In Castell’s words, Brussels functions as a node, gathering strategically important infrastructure and activities around contemporary dance. But as the city itself remains only one possible stage to negotiate the necessary connections, the meanings the city has for the subject are linked up by the network itself:
“Not that people, locales, or activities disappear. But their structural meaning does, subsumed in the unseen logic of the meta-networks is where value is produced, cultural codes are created, and power is decided.” (Castells 2010: 508)
To conclude what these last paragraphs show, is that belonging to the network of dance based in Brussels is not only dependent on one’s physical presence in Brussels, but moreover, is dependent on the subject’s position and connectivity to the network of dance, a position which is equally negotiated through transnational and virtual presence of the individual. Subjects thus have to perform in all of those spatially often disconnected places in order to secure their own position.
One of the main problems for labour in the network society Castells (2010: 506f) fears, is that the dominant horizon of the networked space of flows is increasingly creating meaning and influencing physical places where people actually live, whereas capital is not depending on specific place-bound labour anymore. However, this is not entirely true, 24 and especially not true for a field such as dance. On one side, I hope to have shown that the connectivity to others in the network is crucial in the production of value. I argued that value and meaning are created through networked flows that are not place-bound but work e.g. over electronic devices. However, on the other side, dance remains a very place-bound practice. The value it creates, can only with difficulties be separated from the body performing.
The wish to establish one’s own name is especially present in my data, a sample consisting of (with one exception) dancers already out of school for some years. In the hard competition for subsidies and funding, an artist remains selected for one’s difference compared to the others in the field. In a field relying on subsidies from governmental bodies such as dance, a project that is not done yet, is evaluated in terms of how much (and how much more) creative potential it possesses, e.g. what subjects it activates to share and intertwine their potential. The professional experience of the performing artist is crucial, the number of contacts, knowledge and his or her history of prior engagements and references is the human capital he or she holds.
“There is also this story. So my brother, […] he also works in an environment that is like… really capitalistic. Because you have to always be with your company and so on. So he was saying: ‘You know, I start my enterprise. And I know, I have to like work for three years for nothing. Like crazy. And then maybe later, I have this thing where I get money back.’ And I was like: ‘This is horrible! You are going to work for free for three or so years.’ And then, I like (laughs) — I mean, it’s exactly the same thing than I do. Except that the company is just myself. The enterprise is just me. That is even worse.”
– Josephine, Interview 2017.
Since all the projects in dance will come to an end, the subject itself is the resource remaining, a node inside of the network of dance where the invested capital, e.g. the knowledge and contacts, accumulates. Especially when freelancing, the management of that capital is completely up to oneself.
What I would like to highlight here, can be connected to what Boltanski & Chiapello (2006) emphasize when talking about creative and project-based labour: in these industries, social and informational capital can characteristically not be separated (cf. Bröckling 2007: 265). My respondents came to Brussels because of dance, and most of the people they know, they know from dance. The social aspect becomes crucial in the distribution of work itself. The quality of the interactions is important, which is why genuine cooperation and vital competition must not necessarily exclude each other. Therefore, Boltanski and Chiapello (2006: 265) insist on the relation between cooperation and competition in the project-based polis to be both complementary and contrary. For a successful project worker, it is all about finding the right mixture of both. Hence, to have more contacts, to see and meet more people may be a decisive factor to prevail in the hard competition for funding, residencies and recognition. With connections, however, I do not only mean Facebook contacts. Since dance is very much about creating together, about being in each other’s face and hair or about sharing one blanket at night somewhere in a crappy Airbnb-flat in Paris, the nature of those connections is equally important. In order to make it as a freelancer in dance, the amplitude as well as the profundity of one’s connection to other nodes, cf. actors busy in the network seems crucial. This importance becomes especially apparent in the articulation of a lack of consistency, e.g. the difficulty but also the desire to work together in a more regular and continuous way.
“J: Yeah, I mean sharing time and practices together, I think a lot of people want to do that. But then, they don’t really have the time to do that. It is true: When you post it, there are many people interested, but then only five come because the others don’t find time. And I think what is really missing is… consistency.
J: (Laughs) Yeah. I mean, maybe this is what is missing in all my life, but ehm, I think the practices is maybe the only places where I have consistency. So in dance and things I am developing. And… How to do that with people in a consistent way? And I would like to find places that… like residencies, where we just come like four times a year. With the same group. And we would share what we do and talk about things. So having this almost self-organized group. Not only a place of education but also a place of developing and researching. And to meet with people. This is the wish I have.”
– Josephine, Interview 2017.
However, since one’s own position is as much dependent on the connections maintained or produced by all the others who are part of the network, recognition is simultaneously negotiated on all of the three levels I outlined before. As the individual can only be present on one level at a time, this might enhance the challenge to manage one’s presence, drawing people to switch their focal point between those spaces. This can enhance a conflict on the level of time.
The perception of time depends very much on the individual experience. We all know periods in our lives where time seems to fleet away from us, while in other moments, the passing of an hour can feel to bear much more than 60 minutes. Theory dealing with time consider the duration of an occurrence as fleeting and depending on the subject’s perception. However, as the experience of time is so fundamental to human perception and so closely linked to how we spend our lives, how we work, what technology we use, or how we move through space, I think it’s fair to claim that with the transformation of society, the peoples’ perception of time changes as fundamentally.
To be a freelance dancer with no additional help with production implies hard and often harder work than your fellow peers, in order to get the attention needed to prevail in the field. Regarding my data, there is huge struggle to meet all the must-do’s of the day connected to production (“I chop up my day”: Aurelie, Interview 2017). To manage everything, some respondents use tools, like Apps. When freelancing completely, those tasks are not ascribed to a certain time or place. They are often done “when they come” (Dario, Interview 2017). This can take place everywhere in the city, during moments in transit, at home or in a cafe. Especially without additional help, such work is extensive and ‘spills’ into multiple facets of my respondents lives. This I relate to Jarvis & Pratt (2006) describing the project-based enterprise as being ‘bulimic’; due to the limited time such projects last and due to their overlapping nature. The authors argue, that this does not only imply a spatial ‘overflow’ of work, but also changes what is perceived as work itself. Therefore, I would like to illuminate what exactly causes stress and is challenging, evaluating my dancers’ answers related to questions I asked about the management and purpose of free time.
When asked about the importance of including leisure-time in their daily schedule, the answers of the dancers were ambiguous. Their motivation to find leisure-time was foremost to balance-out the dancing, as to not get tired of something they actually love to do.
However, many respondents articulated that they could reconnect nearly everything done during the day to dancing. Especially all physical activity is “reabsorbed” (Rafael & Dario, Interviews 2017), because strengthening the body or stretching are rationalized as something that is part of the bodywork necessary to be a dancer. The same absorption happens with activities like listening to music or actual holidays: Respondents would, for example, start to integrate the music they listen to into a new idea for a piece. Additionally, they might end up performing during their travel to New York, originally planned as a holiday. This openness to integrate multiple aspects of life into a creational process is mostly considered as something important and positive for work and for life.
Not one single respondent I interviewed answered to follow a leisure activity on a regular basis that is somehow ‘fixed’ to a certain time and/or place. Some articulated the wish to be able to do so, but their high mobility and irregular working hours made that impossible. Most of the activities seen as counterbalancing the dancing were therefore done individually and on flexible times of the day. The most prominent activity mentioned was yoga, which many would try to include in a morning ritual at home. Running was also brought up repeatedly, chosen because it could be done flexibly and independently of joining a class. The decision when to involve in these activities is dependent on the stage of a project one currently finds him- or herself in. Especially when being in Brussels and not in residencies or touring, the decision when to do what is adapted to the must-do’s of the day, while being taken day-by-day. This implies a frequent reorganization.
In connection to this, I would like to add my observations on rationales concerning being sick or having an accident. The responses of all my interviewees were similar when talking about such involuntary breaks: People are rarely sick, try to prevent it as carefully as possible, or would only get sick after a piece has been shown or when being on holidays – because, as Aurelie (Interview 2017) mentions, surely there is no such thing as a paid sick-leave in freelance dance.
However, in retrospect, sickness but also accidents are rationalized as something necessary and emergent: A sign “that would pull me back”, “a good thing that takes me out”, as something that supports a “distance and balance” or is “useful to re-focus” (in order: Sigal, Aurelie, Dario, Rafael, Interviews 2017). Taking a break is articulated as something triggered by a breakdown e.g. an incident that the dancer neither planned nor decided by him- or herself. A break as an effect of a reaction, and not an active decision. Therefore, I argue that such moments create a certain ‘ease’, but an ease that depends on incidents *imposed *on the dancers.
This is of interest because it relates to what Rosa (2016) argues, when talking about the relationship of post-modern subjects to their own body, saying that it is often only an uncontrollable incident like an accident which marks the moment where such a subjectivity stops in order to take a break in its constant crusade for the “enhancement of one’s own performance” (Rosa 2016: 160):
“Late modern subjects tend to exploit their physical resources, which can be explained by the fact that they only let themselves be stopped by their bodies: Only the flu or a leg fracture, the disc herniation or the dizziness, but sometimes also myocardial infarction or cancer, lead to the (short-term or sustained) breakthrough of a mode of relation to the world, which is trapped in the spiral of boundless enhancement and acceleration.” (ibid.: 160) 25
Regarding involuntary breaks, I would like to add a conversation I had with Lin on her dance piece VOLCANO. The piece departs from the momentum when air traffic was stopped by the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland in 2010, in order to reflect on the hyper-mobility in and beyond the artist’s own field. The piece itself is one of the more prominent and rare examples of a show directly reflecting on working and living conditions in dance itself 26 . Lin had the impression that, in that moment, time seemed not simply interrupted but “suspended”. Time was “halted” for more than her fellow peers, for a much bigger, undefinable mass of people trying to fly over northern Europe that night (Lin, Interview 2017). She describes being in Oslo at that moment, and how she had to take a ferry to Kiel in order to be in Brussels on time, to perform at the Kaai Theater.
“Yeah, I mean, everyone was kind of in the same ’boat’ – not literally, but … (laughs) And that is the thing about weather. Actually. And that is also the thing that is fascinating to me here. About what is going on these days. These sort of ‘catastrophes’, you know. That it goes beyond.. I don’t know, I think there is a guilt-thing in this. Normally we should manage to take the time for ourselves, but in that situation it was a ‘given‘. You know. Which then is like… It should not only be then, you know.”
– Lin, Interview 2017.
Especially my data on time which is still ‘free’ and rationals behind involuntary breaks illuminate **that, what **could be called a temporal **‘burdened’ state is more likely, when it is up to the dancer to manage his or her own activity **by him- or herself: The subject is increasingly drawn to fill time that is not designated to a certain activity with additional promotional work.**
Bröckling (2007: 263) as well as Kunst (2015) point to the fact that a project is a strong and energy-consuming commitment, but at the same time it’s complementation always implies that one will be out of work. While, as Van Assche has pointed out already, it is often only additional, not paid or underpaid work that holds the promise of an advantage when freelancing in the competitive field of dance. 27 In Chapter 4 I emphasize on that trend, highlighting the fiercer promotion of one’s own name as one of the main strategies when dealing with such a field. Indispensable part of the negotiation of work is a strong collaboration and reliance on fellow peers, as I showed in Chapter 5.
However, the management of those connections is very time intense, and conflicts arise between the economic necessity to collaborate and the promotion of one’s own name. **For it is one’s particularity, additional work, one’s uniqueness in comparison to others, which might mark the essential difference important in the distribution of subsidies one gets instead of another dancer. For Bröckling (2007: 174), this is one of the main reasons for what he calls a ‘burden’, pressuring collective bodies as well as individuals to extensively enhance their competitive ability, in a constant strive to accumulate further resources important to prevail in the field; like contacts, information, or knowledge (idib.: 89). **
At the heart of these debates lies the formation of a subject that is not only what it is, but far more what it makes of itself (cf. **Giddens 1991: 75). Self-identity as a project of self-management, a representation of the human subject as capable of always becoming more than she or he is. **Costea and colleagues ** (2012: 26) suggest that the ultimate “tragedy of employability” is the psychological condition of what they call an “endless potentiality”; a social actor never quite satisfied, never quite confident that he or she has done enough. There exists a constant ‘tension‘ between one’s own ideal of self-realization and one’s permanent insufficiency (ibid.). **
Regarding my data, especially when freelancing production **work never seems quite done, so time in which one is still able to choose what to do becomes ‘burdened’, as the example of Aurelie trying to do yoga shows:
“And I always try to turn my phone off for yoga. Because it bothers me a lot because when I forget to turn it off, I hear the emails coming in, and I always check my phone — but I cannot check my phone when I am doing yoga! And I do only like forty minutes to an hour maybe. But like today; I got like seven emails during a 25 minutes yoga class and I was just checking and stopping and checking it. Because there are so many things I had to answer […]”
– Aurelie, Interview 2017.
On the other side, and while leisure-time seems something rather difficult to handle, my data indicates that the time spent in residencies is often perceived as especially ‘free’. Therefore, the title-quote of Rafael – “Performing is free time” – can figure as emblematic. Hence, we observe a complete detachment from the classical dichotomy of self-fulfilling leisure and exploitative work practices. My data shows to what high degree the dancers appreciate it, when the decision of what to do (next) is taken from them, depending on other entities such as work-related schedules.
J: “Hm yeah, I told you, work is holidays for me (laughs). When I work, I mean, I have a contract and it’s with a company. I mean, it’s not always easier there, as for me the most difficult thing is that it’s always different, with every choreographer, there is something about this… human aspect of it, it’s very important; having to deal with people and their way of creating. Like, what they expect from you and all of this can be very intense, but – I think besides that, it’s very easy. Somehow.”
Me: “Because you have to… why would you say it’s free time?”
J: “Because there is already this frame. And this is very resting. And then, inside… of course, you are doing your job, but this is great actually. I mean, I would not say it’s free time either, but it’s for sure another type of temporality, for sure. And you don’t have the stress of what is going to happen next. You are busy with this thing and.. I guess what is difficult for me right now is asking myself what is coming next.”
– Josephine., Interview 2017.
Especially what are considered the most typical labour practices in dance, such as actual performing or dance rehearsals, are described as untroubled, or even regenerative.
The importance of time and spaces especially designated to create in the development of a dance piece, such as residencies, becomes essentially apparent in the intensity with which my respondents try to defend these times and places from being diluted by everyday organizational tasks:
“And as I freelance, people don’t know, so they should not expect that I am going to answer. Because when I am in the studio, I wanna be present there. And not… I noticed, when I read an Email, it can totally be so distracting. And then it is not fair to the time that should have been devoted to creation or the time in the studio. Or performance. So I try to limit those times. I don’t want to be distracted.”
– Lin, Interview 2017.
Hence, the gratitude to have such creational time comes often with the wish to create such ‘oases’, where artistic work becomes possible. Described as a place or a time deserving a certain protection from the outside world, one respondent said that such work only becomes possible outside the city:
“And in the end, the moments were I went out of Brussels were the moments were I could focus on writing and really do big steps in my own work. It was when I was not in that city. This is also why I am wondering if… because it offers so much things to do, and I am easily… I am curious about a lot of things and easily… I drift a lot.”
– Josephine, Interview 2017.
I argue that because moments of creation depend on immanent collaboration and close exchange with others, they contain a form of ’fixity’: the practices anticipated in that certain time and place are clearly designated. This creates a shielded space, where there is no time to add anything more. Everything else that must be done, the need to re-organize, the habit to check Facebook, or the pressuring exigency to give the body its deserved pause, is suspended. The activity of dancing remains in a sense ‘unchallenged’. This allows moments of complete presence, where all the senses are able to come into play:
“What I enjoy most is… despite the fact that there is a lot of preparation and work… That is when I am doing what I am doing, it’s stimulating all of me, my thought and my body and all of me. […] Besides of that is that I know, that with the people that I work with, and also the ones that see the work… For them some of the things I do, it is what takes them out… you know. And also when I am doing it, then I am not in many places. I am really at that place. And it’s ‘centering’ me somehow.”
– Rafael, Interview 2017.
When in rehearsals or performing, Rafael describes a presence and a dialog or play with what is around him in that moment. That does not only center him: in its intensity, it also takes others “out”. Likewise to what I wrote about collaboration being an essential part of work in dance, Kunst (2015: 87) states:
“If collaboration represents common work, the decisive factor will be the quality of the meeting that enables the common work – the quality of time.” (Kunst 2015: 87)
Being all about experimenting and experiencing what the moment holds when moving together, time in connection to collaboration in dance holds the possibility to locate people in the present (ibid.: 80). Recalling my data on rationales behind free time and accidents, I argue further that such a temporality gets increasingly difficult to be produced outside of creation. Hence, an important promise work in dance holds is, that it is able to facilitate places where a space is opened up, in which, as Rafael says, one is “not in many places”; it promotes moments where any other temporal constraints dissolve. 28
Heinrich Popitz (1997) outlines the process of creation in three moments, arranging them into episodes. However, like every model, this description does surely not capture the complexity of the highly individualistic and variable experience when being creative. But as model, it helps grasp some fundamental mindsets I would like to connect to the afore said. According to Popitz, the first episode is marked by the search for inspiration, something that stimulates us, that motivates associations. The second step is characterized by playing around with what we have gathered, we arrange and rearrange it playfully, we produce artifacts by accident, to re- approach them later on again. The third moment is the one that gives meaning, interprets what it is that appeared, gives it a frame and with that a reason, a justification (Popitz 1997, 80-132).
A creative act is an act where new, re-composed, or re-valued associations are made to an extent that something appears, that has not existed (quite) like that before. However extraordinary the capacity of the human mind, we push and extend the given frame by imagining, but what is created can necessarily only originate out of how we interpret our surroundings, the way we interact, what we see, smell, hear and experience. This is why a cultural artifact can point to what is still to come, but simultaneously remains connected to its own time. It can point to what* is *absent, creating a positivity out of what is not, a positivity of what is missing. This is what Bröckling means, when he describes the dialectic of creation:
“The negation of the given is always a certain negation; without a world experience, there are no imagined counter-worlds.” (Bröckling 2007: 156) 29
Hence, I want to highlight two things when talking about creation: Firstly, its fleeting and never quite projectable character. Creation lives from letting things go, without knowing if we will ever find them again, it demands a moment of destruction as much as chance.
“Art is not useful and purposeful. It can result from a total coincident or failure.” (Kunst 2015:192)
And secondly: Any inspiration demands, in **first instance, a devotion to the *other, *in dance more than anything; to the other dancer. A drowning in what is not you, a libidinous invocation, as Kunst (2015: 190) calls it. What we come up with, is made out of what we think is reality, while our reality – what moves and makes us – is what we involve ourselves in. Such an involvement however, and this is very simple, needs time. A specific being in time **I argue, **where I stay and engage, wherever I am. **
Moments in creation, moments of an interplay between stimulus and association, remain an important part in the production in/of dance and other creative professions. It is a state in which the subject remains to a certain degree ‘open’, a tapping exploration towards the unknown, a step ‘outside’, in the sense that the expectation to **find something able to challenge and push back at me, remains. That there remains an outside of us, an entity able to move us, or, how Rosa (2016) puts it, something or someone not completely stripped of an own ‘voice’, is crucial for such a state of mind. This I would like to relate to the key concept the same author introduces in his newest book, titled Resonanz. Soziologie einer Weltbeziehung. 30 * *According to Rosa, resonance is a particularly strong mode of relation a subject has to the world, **a connection which is specific in the way it is, but, as a modus of connection, can oscillate between the subject and any object or through any activity. People can resonate when working, in contact with a piece of wood, or when swimming in the ocean. Resonance is not an emotional state: **It is **a mode of taking reference, remaining open to any emotional content (ibid. 279). The sociologist argues further that a characteristic in the formation of modern subjectivity nowadays is not the liberation from the idea that the world is an unchangeable given – hence, the idea that we ourselves can actively modify and change it – but that the subject unlearns to sense what is around him or her, remaining closed to what it is not.
The things that have meaning to us are assembled in what we are today, depending on how we experience, but also how we recall and valorize them. There are many accounts dealing with the question of how happenings, activities or things become valuable and meaningful ** **(cf. **Benjamin 1974; Han 2009)**, or even sacred ( cf. **Scruton 2009) to us, however, the way we experience them, how we play and are played by them, remains crucial throughout. Apart from the intensity of the **stimulation and **experience, an additional factor is how we **manage to memorize those happenings. The meaning of things often increases with the time that we are involved. If we manage to connect happenings to what we already hold, we are able to appropriate them, to make them part of ourselves, our own . 31 **
On the contrary however, and when time for such involvement is not given, authors such as Benjamin as well as Han point towards a tendency in which the appropriation of the time ** **spent** becomes difficult: Time remains strange to us. This is exactly when our experience becomes indifferent and exchangeable.**
I argue, that creation in dance demands and thus enhances the possibility for the subject to **be stimulated, to **sink in to what it is surrounded by, to be played by it; facilitating an open, tactile state of mind. This state of mind is essential in the appropriation of happenings, in order to **make them meaningful to us.
Although dance is all about experiencing **and **experimenting with the present, Kunst (2015: 164) argues that a project remains “entailing a promise to the future”, and with this: “expels any present-oriented form of work”. The projection into the future, into what is still missing, also means that I am not quite there yet, and I can’t rest in now.
“In this way, the future is radically closed in its endless possibilities, and the possibility of experimenting with the **present is disabled.” (Kunst 2015: 168)**
Dance necessarily depends on close collaboration, it depends on experiencing and playing with the present, being content where we are at, opening up the possibility for encounters. To really dance means to have senses left for what is here, not to jump over it. This demands sensing where I am, hence, a feeling of complying, in order to sink in. A feeling of having arrived, and of staying. It demands a decision to resign, to let the rest be. However, such a state of mind is hindered when the present becomes what it is not. Confl icting, because when what is missing becomes the ultimate horizon of experience, I am never here yet. And in that moment, the present is emptied of what it may have had ready for us. While trying to **fill what is so radically empty with more jumps and switches, I now de finitely kill the present.**
It is dancing that the dancer loves to do, and could not be able to live without, as many of my **interviewees articulated (own data; Van Assche 2016a 32 ). The difficult working and living conditions in dance which the respondents take on in order to dance, point to the importance of specifying **what is aspired in return for such a high cost. Of course, there are multiple **reasons why dancers live and work under precarious conditions. 33 ** Further, what is meant by the act of dancing, what is accounted as part of it and how many different pleasures can be drawn from it, varies surely as much as the individual experience. However, focusing on time and the perception of time in this thesis, I would like to underline that it is especially in the confrontation and close collaboration with others, in which people describe to come to ease.
When focusing on different temporalities, I theorize two conflicting ways to feel in time. The first way of perceiving time is dominated by a pressured and burdened mind-set, constantly projecting into what is to come, or: with what is left to be done. I contrasted such a feeling by a presence not burdened by temporal constraints, in which the subject remains ‘open’ to what happens around it, and the individual is able to exceed it’s own mind. This allows an intensified experience where all the senses come into play. What I want to underline is to what extent both, the constant search for future projects as well as the vital presence in the actual moments of creation and collaboration, are equally present when observing my respondents’ working practices focusing on the perception of time. Moreover, both seem crucially necessary to be a contemporary dancer. The making of a dance piece demands a strong focus, while at the same time, people feel burdened to maintain a high activity outside the project itself. A discrepancy which is conflicting. This is especially present for people exposed to the hard competition in the field.
“So to be able to apply for the dossier here, I need to have at least three performances already set. So it’s already decided on a piece that I have not even started making. […] So I cannot really start planning many different projects, as you really have to focus.”
– Aurelie, Interview 2017.
This I would like to relate back to what I outlined in the last chapter: The labour practices considered most typical in dance, such as actual performing or dance rehearsals, are described as untroubled, or even regenerative. People find the collaboration in residencies socially challenging, but equally fulfilling. Throughout all my interviews, it is clear that what the dancers aspire, is time for creation – sometimes even for the price of economic stability.
“I really love to dance. And I really love to create. It’s really connected to the way I see life. So I do it anyway, actually, no matter if I am visible or not.”
– Sigal, Interview 2017.
Interesting is that one characteristic of modernity, according to Rosa, is that the disappointed promise and lack of what he names *Resonanz *becomes itself a crucial driver for acceleration. The lack of *Resonanz *is hoped to be compensated with an even more restless gathering of possibilities, of things one might still be able to do or be later in life. Time runs out, runs ahead of us, as we try to compensate an “absence of being”, as Han calls it (2009: 24). Hence, the lack of – and thus longing for – such a temporal state can be seen as both an effect as well as a cause of an amplified competition, enhancing a dynamic that deceives us from what we hoped to sustain in the first place: Drawn by an accelerated collective *Zugzwang *and the promise that oneself is the safest to bet on to prevail in doing what one loves to do, the subject might answer by an even faster maximizing of his or her own potentiality. The desire to comply becomes an increasingly thriving motivation in order to dance, a motivation that is reinforced when people know what they are missing. While the possibility to create such spaces one hopes to flee to is diminishing – becoming so rare and for such a few –, we are left behind in the struggle to get there, filled with our plans and our hopes, but stripped of our capability to remain and have sense of what surrounds us.
This thesis took a closer look at working and leisure practices of dancers, aiming to gain a deeper understanding of what makes work in dance exploitative. Studying the dancers’ transnational, project-based and flexible working practices, I observed the consequences of an enhanced competition and its influence on the perception of place as well as time. To do that, I firstly differentiated between my respondents’ working conditions, emphasizing that the extensive production work necessary when one is freelancing without additional help as crucial when looking at those consequences. In those cases, such work is disproportional to the time spent in creation, whereas it is often only the fiercer promotion of one’s own name people rely on when hoping to prevail in the competitive field of dance.
In the following, I took a closer look on how the necessity to secure one’s position in the network of dance implies presence in multiple, spatially often disconnected places. Because work is negotiated through physical encounters in the city of Brussels and transnationally but also virtually, the management of one’s presence in those spatially disconnected places can be challenging. In a field such as dance, relying so much on collaboration, not only the amplitude, thus the number of connections to other actors inside the network is crucial, but also the profundity of those connections. However, since dance remains a very place-bound profession, the problem of having little possibilities to work with people on a more regular and consistent basis arises as a major problem. Here again, conflicts between the economic necessity to collaborate while simultaneously hoping to promote one’s particularity are enhanced.
However, since one’s own position is as much dependent on the connections maintained or produced by all the others who are part of the network, recognition is simultaneously negotiated on all of the three levels I outlined before. As the individual can only be present on one level at a time, this can draw people to switch their focal point between those spaces, increasing conflicts on the level of time.
This is interesting when related to my data on the perception and management of leisure activities, free time and involuntary breaks. The dancers are drawn to do additional promotion work in time-slots which are not yet ‘fixed’, hence; designated to a specific activity and dependent on another individual or a group. This is why time in residencies or when performing produce moments which people articulate as giving them a certain ‘ease’. I argue that it is in spaces such as residencies where a temporality capable to locate the dancer in the present is more likely to be produced, allowing the subject an ‘unchallenged’ and thus intensified sensing of what he or she is surrounded by. This is when people are liberated of a ‘burdened’ temporal state. Allowing and demanding a feeling as well as an appropriation of what the present **has **ready for us **I frame **further **as essential in the creation of happenings **that are **meaningful to us. I touch on three possible **entry points how to frame analytically what I observe when studying my empirical data **on time **perception in dance: **the German saying Muße haben; as well as through pointing to the recently reintroduced discussion around the term Resonanz by Rosa; and Han’s excursus on what he calls Tiefenspannung. A more in-depth discussion and clearer definition on the nature of such a temporality including added philosophical contributions on the topic exceeds the possibilities of this thesis, but would be interesting at that point of research.
Considering my data, and returning back to the importance given to creation and the additional work it implies in order to have such time and space in the freelance world of dance, I underline the value of an analysis of what temporality such spaces are able to defend. The increasing lack and thus longing for such an unburdened temporality still crucially necessary for and present in creation, might illuminate part of the question what people hope to find when laboring in dance, often enduring working practices described as precarious. The longing for a such an unburdened temporal state might thus be framed both as an effect of, but also as causing an enhanced competition. This appears to be crucial to gaining a deeper understanding of motivations driving people to advocate a certain self-exploitation, exceeding – and sometimes even contradicting – the hope for economic stability.
With this said, my intention was not to simply address the subject – here, the dancer – to activate another rationale individually. The belief in self-empowering concepts obscures how the entrepreneurial credo remains a political project. Not a political project which has a center of power, but whose dominance is rooted in what exceeds the subject and can thus not be challenged by individuals alone. I hope to have shown that it is the things we can’t do by ourselves, which we have to fight for together. Moreover, I think it is misleading to believe that the struggle to get to the top is less exhausting, less filled with work we never wanted to do, less lonesome. It seems therefore insufficient, as Bauer (2007) suggests, to improve and share our resources and our knowledge inside of our own field, since this will only make us faster and better in comparison to an increasing number of others. When the struggle for power turns from a fight over something to the struggle for enhanced power to do something, so Bröckling (2007: 191-195, 257) states, this may easily reverse into a fight for an accumulation of personal possibilities – and does thus not directly confront the regime that reinforces power.
Work of art by collective Riot of the Privileged, seen in Basel 2017.
In Florida’s plea for the nourishment of creativity, there is no room left for thoughts on how to compensate the “creative have-nots” and thus, how to challenge the existing market-oriented flexibility (Peck 2005: 762). In the struggle for the function and meaning of our urban centers, and hence, who is able to live in them, Mayer (2013) argues that the demands of the excluded must be connected with the demands of the disappointed. According to Tsianos & Papadopoulo 2006 the “embodied experience of precarity” is the only basis through which individualized labor relations could lead to a political subjectivity able to challenge post- Fordist labor regimes. Therefore I would like to defend the importance of a critical understanding of what late capitalism can’t do for us, or; what exactly aggravates the difficulty to appreciate what lies before us in such plentitude. With us, I mean our own, often privileged but nonetheless highly competitive and individualizing ways of working and living. Only a collectivity able to uncover the driving forces diminishing our possibilities to ever arrive where we hope to arrive, will be a collectivity capable to articulate and thus, challenge all that does not work in and beyond one’s own work. The knowledge of what is at stake; that we can forget or unlearn to have sense of – to recognize the place we hoped to get to so urgently, is what lays at the heart of a collective imaginary strong enough to give voice to what we all thought we had to deal with alone.
Dario* Transcript, Interview from 27. January 2017, duration: 37:44 min
D. (m, 29, Austria), Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, since 2016 in Brüssel, now in Madrid.
L: Also, vielleicht so grundsätzlich: Wie du nach Brussel gekommen bist. Und was du als letztes so.. deine Karriere, was du für eine Schule du gemacht hast.
D: Okay. Also ich bin letztes Jahr (2016), anfangs Januar bin ich hier her gezogen (nach Brüssel). Und erst dachte ich nur für ein Project von zwei Monaten. Wir haben eine Künstlerresidenz bekommen. Und das war mit einer Freundin aus Mexiko, die ich aus Holland kenne, die hat da auch die Ausbildung gemacht. Und ich war in Amsterdam, sie war In Aheim (…). Und wir wollten einfach mal was zusammen machen. Und dann haben wir das gefunden. Und das war basierend auf ihren Projekten davor und die Thematik war (…)
Naja, das war das Projekt, warum ich hierher gezogen bin. Und dann hat es mir hier einfach vom ersten Tag an super gut gefallen, weshalb ich eigentlich ziemlich bald wusste: “Wow, ich möchte hier bleiben. Und zwar für länger.” Und dann habe ich halt die Wohnung und bin halt hier geblieben — aber dann doch nicht so lang, wegen halt anderer Arbeit. Also nur ein halbes Jahr — aber na gut, ich komme jetzt immer wieder hierher zurück. Und studiert habe ich wie gesagt in Amsterdam, and der AHK, das ist die Hochschule für Kunst, und da gibt es halt verschiedene Tanzdepartments. Und ich war am zeitgenössischen Tanzdepartment. Und das kennt niemand, aus welchem Grund auch immer; denn die Absolventen sind richtig geil, das Curriculum ist der Hammer — ist einer der besten Schulen die es gibt, überhaupt — aber ja, die Schule die jeder kennt ist die andere (…) Und ja, da habe ich vor zwei Jahren abgeschlossen.
L: Okay, schnell ne Zwischenfrage bevor ich es vergesse: Warum genau bist du dann jetzt weiter?
D. Wo weiter?
L: Von hier weg nach Madrid. Ich meine, wir hatten es vorher schon mal darüber aber vielleicht kannst du…
D: Jaja. Es war eigentlich gar nicht geplant, denn ich wollte wieder hier her zurück ziehen. War auch — hatte schon ne geile Wohnung, alles. Und dann bin ich im April, 2016, für eine Audition hier für Anton Haski, (…) und da habe ich einen Tänzer/Choreographen kennen gelernt. Naja, auf jeden Fall haben wir da nur Kontaktdaten ausgetauscht und nicht mehr. Und dann im November hat er sich gemeldet für ein Projekt. Also Arbeit, erst mal, und das war halt in Madrid. Und dann haben zuerst mal wegen Arbeit geschrieben, hin und her, und dann war aber ziemlich schnell klar das es gar nicht um die Arbeit geht sondern mehr um unsere Connection, die halt schon mega klar war bei der Audition schon, aber wir haben halt nicht gross geredet weil die Zeit einfach bei uns beiden.. nicht Zeit für irgendwie mehr. Auf jeden Fall dann, haben wir uns richtig gut kennen gelernt und dann an einem Abend mal gesagt; “He, lass uns doch mal skypen. Und halt einfach privat so.” Und dann halt von 10 Uhr Abend bis 7 Uhr morgens eifach so.. Wir konnten nicht mehr aufhören. Und am nächsten Tag habe ich dann halt so gesagt: “Ich weiss ja nicht was du suchst, aber ich suche eigentlich nicht so ‘fun’, oder irgendwas, ich seh da Potenzial für was Ernstes und Gutes.” Und dan habe ich gesagt: “Gut, wenn du willst, dann fliege ich morgen nach Madrid. Und dann bleibe ich ne Woche und dann schauen wir, was… was das ist.” Und so ist das dann gekommen.
L: Hehe. Also zuerst für Arbeit und dann aber eigentlich doch nicht..?
L: Ist auch schön.
D: Ja, und dann war ich jetzt halt da für die Woche und dann dachte ich so: “Wow.”, denn ich hab das überhaupt nicht erwartet irgendwie. Denn ich kenne Barcelona, ich kenne Valencia, ich kenne ein paar spanische Städte — und finde ich schon geil — aber ich dachte nie so; “Ja, so da muss ich jetzt (intention) hin.” Und Madrid hat mich so geflashed — und er hat auch schon gemeint, dass ich Madrid lieben werde — und ich dachte, nee, Madrid; hat ja irgendwie nix. Und dann komme ich da an, und ich war einfach nur: “Wow, wow, wow!”… Und dann dachte ich so: Ich ziehe nicht wegen der Arbeit hin, ich zieh nicht wegen ihm hin, ich zieh wegen der Stadt hin! Wegen allem, irgendwie, verstehst du…
L: Jaja, und hier in Brüssel, hattest du.. zum Beispiel Valerie hat auch immer wieder gesagt es sei schwierig hier in.. in einen Kern zu kommen..? Für Leute, die zum Beispiel von PARTS abgeschlossen haben, da ist es irgendwie schon mehr institutionalisiert… Für andere, das ist es etwas schwieriger da rein zu kommen?
D: Hm, ja also ich würde sagen, da gibt es… Ja, also es ist definitiv nicht einfach. Aber ich würde nicht sagen, dass es damit zusammen hängt ob man jetzt PARTS gemacht hat oder nicht. Sondern.. Ich meine klar gibt’s ein paar Pluspunkte, dass da wo du.. oder in der Stadt wo du studierst, baust du auch deine Connections auf.. aber ich würde nicht sagen, dass da voll der Fokus ist auf diese PARTS-Leute, und dass da nix anderes gesehen wird, nee! Es braucht einfach nur Zeit. Meiner Meinung nach ist es einfach nur über — over-populated with artists and dancers. Es ist einfach nur heftig was hier alles abgeht. Und wegen dem ganzen Funding, weil das einfach weniger wurde.. und hin und her. Und weil es halt so ein Passing-Through-Place ist halt, irgendwo. Und darum braucht es einfach auch seine Zeit, und man muss halt einfach schauen, wo kann man andocken. Und ja.. es gibt hier definitiv gute Möglichkeiten um eigene Arbeit zu machen, und mit Leute in Kontakt zu kommen, gerade auch für Collaboration and freelance-projects. Also, ich finde es ist gar nicht sooo closed we alle sagen.. Es bracht einfach nur seine Zeit.
L: Und wenn du so viel unterwegs bist und so ne Mobilität hast, was.. hast du irgendein Bezug zum Wort ‘Heimat’.. oder eher nicht?
D: Doch, ich würde sagen Heimat ist schon.. Ich meine, obwohl das jeder anders versteht, das ist ein Konzept. Das ist ein Wort und je nach dem wo du herkommst, hat das ganz ne andre ’connotation’, aber für mich persönlich hat es sich natürlich krass verändert in den letzten 5-8 Jahren; Durch Ausbildung, durch Beruf, durch Menschen die man kennen lernt, durch Verbindungen, Länder die man kennen lernt, Städte. Und jetzt bin ich an dem Punkt wo ich sage: Ich habe mich noch nie verbunden gefühlt zu meiner ‘Heimat’, in diesem engen Sinne, also Vor-Adelberg und Österreich — gar nicht, ähm… Und dann bin ich nach Amsterdam gekommen und habe mich richtig zuhause gefühlt. Und dann ist natürlich die Frage, ist zuhause auch Heimat? Gut, kann man drüber streiten. Aber ich fühle mich da viel mehr daheim, viel mehr Heimatgefühl da, als zuhause in Österreich. Und mittlerweile bin ich an dem Punkt, wo ich es nicht mal mehr unbedingt auf einen Ort bezieh — auf was örtliches, auf was materielles, auf was festes, was einfach fest.. angreifbar ist.. sondern mehr auf; Menschen, und vor allem aber auch auf mich selber. So das, was man immer mit sich trägt. Und das man gar nicht immer etwas suchen muss und das da und hier findet, sondern das ist etwas.. was ich (intention) mitbringe. Irgendwo.. Und meine Heimat, die bin ich selber. Und… und natürlich auch mit den Menschen, die kreieren das. Also, das ist was viel komplexeres.. nicht komplizierter, aber…
L: Ja, cool… Aber hast du denn manchmal das Bedürfnis, dir so einen Ort.. so eine Heimat zu schaffen?
D: Ja, das ist witzig, weil ich — nach Amsterdam, da war ich einfach mal richtig happy, einfach überall (intention) zu sein, und nirgendwo. Und am Anfang war das richtig geil. Und dann irgendwann kam dan dieses krasse Gefühl von; oh, ich muss irgendwo.. ich brauch einfach irgendwo wieder meine vier Wände. Es muss nur irgend eine kleine Wohnung sein, die irgendwas.. Und dann habe ich so krampfhaft danach gesucht. Habe aber nicht wirklich das Gefühl gehabt; “Doch, ja, that’s it. Gut.”. Und dan habe ich gewusst: So Dominik, dass musst du jetzt einfach wieder loslassen. Weil alles im Leben funktioniert halt mal so: Es kommt, wenn die Zeit dafür ist. Und nicht wenn du denkst; So jetzt ist es soweit. Und dann kam es plötzlich unerwartet mit Brüssel, dass ich dachte: Ja gut, und ich lasse mich hier jetzt wirklich nieder. Für Jahre, dachte ich so, für immer. Und dann kam Madrid, und dann dachte ich so: Ja, Brüssel ist es immer noch, meine Heimat, oder ein Ort, wo ich mich richtig Zuhause fühl, aber jetzt ist einfach was Neues, was mich noch mehr reizt und ich noch mehr Potenzial sehe. Im Sinne von: Das Leben da ist einfach einfacher, glücklicher. Und das macht das Wetter, das machen die Menschen, das macht einfach.. das Klima und die Kultur. Und da fühle ich mich einfach Zuhause, ich mein, ich bin immer so wie ich bin, aber da kann ich einfach noch mehr.. mit Gleichgesinnten, weil ich einfach so offen, so ehrlich, so herzlich bin — aber, von the first moment on und nix (intention) braucht Zeit! Es ist einfach so klar. Und das fängt vom Sexuellen an wie, so richtig anderen, tiefer gehenden, spirituellen Sachen — alles einfach.
L: Cool…cool. Und das heisst du könntest dir auch vorstellen, jetzt in Madrid zu bleiben?
D: Das ist jetzt eigentlich so der Plan. Momentan, aber, das Ding mit Plänen ist; die können sich halt ändern. Kann sein, morgen wach ich auf und geh halt irgendwo anders hin. I don’t know. (Pause) Aber der Plan ist mir da ne Wohnung zu kaufen und da wirklich zu bleiben. Und alles so ein bisschen mehr nach Süden zu verlagern. Ja, und das kommt halt auch mit dem Alter; So der Wunsch nach etwas mehr Kontinuität, oder Stabilität. Im Sinne von was Örtlichem, was Konkretem, und Materiellem. Und das war bei mir immer schon besonders ausgeprägt, weil ich so ein Beziehungs- und Familienmensch bin. Oder einfach, ich sag mal Beziehungsmensch, mit Freunden, oder in Beziehungen, der Liebe. Und ja, dann kommt dazu dass ich so um die 30 rum bin, da möchte ich dann mal Kinder, oder zumindest ein Kind schon mal haben.. Und ja, das bindet dich dann schon auch ein Bisschen.. and längerfristigere Aufenthalte, und so: “Ich bin jetzt hier für länger.” (…)
L: Okay, dann einfach noch etwas zur Arbeit.. (..) Könntest du den ungefähr in Prozent sagen, wie viel von deiner Arbeit Tanz ist, also eigentliche Produktion, und wie viel Netzwerken, Emails beantworten, Funding beantragen..?
D: Jajaja, ich würde sagen; Nicht mal die Hälfte ist das im Studio. Das, wo du wirklich körperlich und geistig in diesem kreativen Prozess steckst. Ich würde sagen, das sind nicht mal 40%, wenn überhaupt. Für mich, ich sehe das als Ganzes an. Ich differenzier da auch nicht mehr gross. Denn ich hab da genauso viel Freude, eine ganz andre Freude einfach beim Netzwerken, beim — das ganze Zeug organisieren, Funding.. in Kontakt mit Festivals, Kuratoren — ich finde das alles so geil und so spannend, weil ich da auch einfach ne Affinität dafür habe, selber. So Kulturmanagement mässig. Weil ich es einfach auch geil finde, Sache zu vernetzten und Leute — also nicht ’education’ for the people — aber doch; denen was zeigen, was teilen. Und dafür ist das einfach enorm wichtig. Und jetzt kommt auch langsame der Aspekt vom Workshops geben, und wenn ich eingeladen werde irgendwo ein Stück zu zeigen, dann noch grad eine Masterclass dranhängen. Also, diese Vorarbeit dafür und Weiterbildung im Sinne von lesen — Artikel — oder Performances schauen, oder hin und her, oder mit Leuten sich austauschen, oder reisen, oder nur — einfach irgendwas! Ich meine, dieses Aufsaugen von Infos, das ist auch Arbeit. Und das alles zusammen, das macht dann halt auch diesen Beruf aus. Es ist jetzt nicht so, dass ich da 24/7 im Tanzstudio sein möchte und Körperlich und mental da arbeiten möchte — nee, what the fuck! Ich möchte.. ne, gar nicht. Nein, es ist die Kombi, das macht diesen Beruf als Freischaffender Künstler/Tänzer/Maker halt einfach aus. Und das ist ’room’ for everything: Du kannst dich ausbreiten, du saugst auf, du wächst — es ist einfach genau das!
L: Ja.. gut. Vorher habe ich dich noch etwas vergessen zu fragen; Findest du es gibt in Brüssel so was wie ne ’Dance community’?
D: Ja. Aber es hat definitiv.. wie überall, in Städten, in Ländern. Es gibt so diese Gruppierungen von Menschen die sich irgendwie verstehen und die ähnliche Visionen haben. Und das gibt es hier natürlich ganz extrem. Einfach durch die krasse Produktion von Tänzern und ähnlichen mind-sets, von PARTS und dann diese company, La Ultima Vez — was das für Tänzer und Performer anzieht. Und dann diese ganze abgefuckte art scene wie in Berlin.. Es gibt einfach diese Gruppierungen… Und das gibts es hier natürlich sehr ausgeprägt, auf sehr kleinem Raum. Ich finde, in Ländern wie Belgien oder Holland sieht man das immer heftigst gut und geil, weil alles auf einem Fleck ist. Aber das macht’s auch so interessant, weil es stimuliert sich — oder, es könnte sich gegenseitig noch so viel mehr stimulieren als in einem Land wo es noch viel mehr ausgebreitet ist.. Und das finde ich hier.. das ist halt auch das Potenzial was es ausmacht, mit unter. Ich meine, das ist längst nicht ausgeschöpft. Ich finde, es ist sehr… es ist lange nicht annähernd so gut vernetzt wie es sein könnte, oder sein sollte, oder wünschenswert wäre.. Aber da ist sicher sau viel Potenzial — alleine schon von der Struktur, wie hier alles aufgebaut ist. Also, A) alleine vom Funding her, vom Government, wie das hier geregelt ist, aber auch von der Region her, es ist einfach eine gute Location, ja.
L: Und fühlst du dich Zugehörig..? Oder hast du dich Zugehörig gefühlt, zu dieser Dance Community? D: Das Ding mit diem Zugehörig-Sein… Ich fühle mich einfach überall wo ich bin immer sehr… aufgenommen. Einfach weil ich ein sehr sozialer Mensch bin und einfach sehr viele Facetten habe… Und, was ich schon vorher gesagt habe, dieses Aufsaugen und lernen, das spielt halt auch mit ne Rolle — darum fühle ich mich schon zugehörig, aber nie so, dass ich denk: “Das, genau das! Nur das!” Und das haben halt viele Menschen, diese Bubble-thinking: “So, this, this is the one and only. Und da möchte ich jetzt mal für die nächsten 10 Jahre arbeiten und sein..” Ne, was es für mich ausmacht ist: Variation, Kombination.. mit anderen Art-genre, oder mal mit dem — das macht es halt aus. Und darum finde ich Brüssel halt auch geil. Weil das gibt es halt auch viel, und darum fühle ich mich auch überall — bis zu einem gewissen Grad und zum Teil — zugehörig.
L: Vielleicht.. was ich für dich Freizeit? Und gibt es dass überhaupt?
D: Für mich ist diese Differenzierung zwischen Arbeit und Freizeit irgendwie gar nicht mehr wichtig. Irgendwo macht man es dann aber doch. Also, wenn ich jetzt konkret sagen würde, ich habe hier ein Projekt von nem Monat oder ein paar Wochen, dann gehe ich nachher immer für 1-2 oder 3 Wochen reisen oder Freunde besuchen. Aber das Ding ist; Jetzt gehe ich für drei Wochen nach NY Freude besuchen, und nach Chicago. Und das war Freizeit, das heisst, ich wurde von einem Fotographen eingeladen, der da seine Kunst von Berlin irgendwie dahin transportieren muss, und es ist nicht.. und er kann nicht alles selbst transportieren, und darum zahlt er alles und ich komm einfach mit.. Und jetzt habe ich aber halt auch gecheckt, ah, da sind voll viele Leute die ich kenn, und jetzt habe ich da ein theater gebucht, zeige mein Solo — ich werde sicher auch ein paar Work-meetings haben mit ihm, weil ein paar Leute kennt, die halt Künstler finanziell unterstützen, oder als Kuratoren fungieren.. Und so vermischt es sich halt einfach auch immer wieder. Das Ding ist halt.. der Ursprungsgedanke ist sicher schon; Arbeit so und so viel und dann mindestens genauso viel ‘Freizeit’ — was dann aber auch wieder Arbeit wird. Aber für mich ist halt auch immer das Ding; für mich ist Arbeit halt auch Freizeit. Das ist ja auch das was ich machen möchte. Ich habe kein bock zuhause rum zu sitzen und Däumchen zu drehen. Wenn ich ein Theater gehe ist das genau so Freizeit wie Arbeit. Wenn ich in einen Film gehe, wenn ich ein Buch lese, wenn ich dich treffe — es ist alles einfach beides.
L: Und hast du gewisse Strategien wo du sagst; So, das war jetzt ne anstrengende Zeit, jetzt.. Du hast es vorher schon angetönt, du gehst weg, du reist.. einfach auch zum den ’mood’ wechseln?
D: Ja, definitiv. Ich finde, da muss man einfach auf seinen Körper und seinen Geist auch hören und dan dementsprechend agieren. Und dann das auch so ausführen. Ich hatte zum Beispiel eine krass intensive Zeit hier in Brüssel, die 5 Monate die ich hier war, und im Mai habe ich einfach so gemerkt: “Hey, Scheisse, ich bin irgendwie völlig over-loaded mit Infos, und hin und her, und mich hat es so richtig zusammen gehauen. Und ich habe so gemerkt; Ich habe grad null bock auf gar nichts: Keinen Menschen, kein Tanz, keine Kunst, auch die meisten Freunde.. Ich hatte auch null Bock in Kontakt zu sein. Ich wollte für mich sein.. und einfach mal verstehen: Was ist hier passiert. Und mir ging’s echt.. in dem Moment dachte ich, mir ging’s voll dreckig. Und dann danach, als die Phase dann vorbei war, ich wieder darüber ’reflected’.. äh, nachgedacht habe, da habe ich dann gecheckt: Hey, das war so gut und auch so geil wichtig, weil die Zeit war (intention) nicht schrecklich, sie war einfach nur so anders. Und so was in der.. mit so ner krassen Diskrepanz, das gibt es normalerweise nicht bei mir, aber da war es echt so: Von Hype, Hype, Hype, machen, machen, machen zu — nix. Klar, ich hatte noch ein paar Projekte und hin und her, aber die Zeit die ich konnte, da war ich einfach nur Zuhause, in meinem Zimmer, alleine, in der Natur, einfach irgendwie so. Aber normalerweise, also jetzt bin ich an dem Punkt wo ich denk, ich verstehe.. Diesen Mechanismus, das ich merke: Okay, dies Kombination von; ich möchte immer richtig viel machen und ja, uh!, es inspiriert einfach nur, und dann, ja.. Die Kombi von dem, mit der Zeit für sich selber nehmen. Ich hab dan vielleicht ein paar geile Tage oder ein paar geile Wochen, und dann merke ich — egal ob das jetzt nur ne Stunde ist oder ne Woche oder ein Tag; Wow, ich brauch mal wieder Zeit nur für mich — gar nix machen. Gar nix machen! Und dann kann das so sein, dass ich zuhause auf der Couch lieg und mir einen Tag Serien reinziehe. Oder ich sage, jetzt gehe ich in die Berge, oder plan irgendeine ’Meditation-Week’…
L: Gehst du oft in die Berge?
D: Nee, also… Das letzte Mal war vielleicht vor 1,5 Jahren… Weil, ja, weil ich.. also meistens, es tuen sich dann trotzdem eher so kleiner Städte auf, die auch Natur bieten. Weil ich irgendwie.. Ja, weil irgendwie so ganz weg vom Schuss, das ist für mich nur ab und an gut. Und dann nur in kleiner Dosis, oder halt wenn man es kombiniert — also ich bin halt so der Fan von kombinieren, kombinieren. Und darum bin ich dann eher so, wenn ich dann mal Zeit habe für Natur und hin und her, dann bin ich eher so am Meer oder nem See oder irgendwie..
L: Und wenn du sagst; kleinere Städte. Warum kleinere Städte?
D: Also Amsterdam oder so.. Das ist für mich keine Grossstadt, das ist ein Dörfchen oder so.
L: Aber was ist es denn so, in einer kleinen Stadt, das dir hilft vielleicht etwas kürzer zu treten?
D: Das ist einfach je nach Stadt — und das hängt nicht mal mit der Grösse zusammen. Es ist mehr noch die Energie und was so in der Luft hängt — und das Tempo. Also wenn ich jetzt so einen konkreten Vergleich mache: London; voll das krasse Arbeitstempo. Bum bum bum! Everybody is working 24/7. Und dann komme ich nach — egal ob es jetzt Madrid ist oder Amsterdam, da ist einfach so.. ja, die Menschen, die arbeiten eigentlich fast gar nicht, die leben einfach, und die geniessen (intention). Und dann komme ich nach Paris, und vielleicht auch Brüssel, aber etwas weniger, und da ist so ne interessante Mischung für mich: Denn es hat einen ziemlich ‘high speed’ für Vieles, aber nicht so ‚laid-back‘… Also nicht so wie London. Und dann gibt es Städte wie Berlin, die dich richtig so rein ziehen können, in den Sumpf. Was geil sein kann, aber die meisten Menschen die landen da in dem Sumpf und kommen halt nicht mehr raus. Das ist halt so diese Ding, und das hat nicht nur mit der grösse einer Stadt zu tun, sondern mit vielem, wie immer. Und je nach dem was man halt grad mehr braucht, dann zieht dich halt das oder das mehr an — und dann kannst du dir das oder das irgendwie einfacher (intention) rausholen… Absorbieren, oder irgendwie rausfiltern.
L: Und hast du riegndwelche Rituale, die du sagst, das mache ich regelmässig.. das ist mir wichtig? Für viele Leute ist das verbunden mit dem Essen oder…
D: Ich habe lange nach so einer Regelmässigkeit wie du gerade angesprochen hast gesucht, weil ich dachte, das brauche ich. Weil ich das von vielen Menschen kenne, die haben das.. So ne Mediation, die sie täglich machen, oder so was.. Und ich habe das so ein paar Sachen ausprobiert und es war für mich war das immer: Arbeit, und mühsam.. Und irgendwann dachte ich; “Also Dominik, irgendwie kann es das nicht sein. Gut, lass mal. Lass mal schauen, was da kommt.” Und jetzt (intention) bin ich an dem Punkt, an dem ich sage, dass das, was diese Regelmässigkeit für mich bietet ist; das alles spontan ist, im Moment, nach dem Gefühl. Und ich höre so gut auf meinen Körper und auf mein Gefühl, auf was ich brauche und auf was ich nicht brauche — was ich möchte, was mir gut tut — das ich dann einfach dem entsprechen versuch, mich dann einfach so rein zu geben, wie es halt passt. Und dann gibt es so ein paar Mechanismen oder Regelmässigkeiten die mir helfen, Sachen zu verarbeiten.. oder Sachen zu leben — ohne dass es zu viel oder zu wenig ist. Und da.. da bin ich erst vor ein paar Monaten drauf gekommen, das war vorher so voll unterbewusst… dass wenn es bei mir richtig abgeht, ich richtig viel Infos rein krieg, ich richtig viel erlebe, dann.. habe ich diesen Mechanismus, dass ich das ganz vielen Menschen, die mir nahe stehen, dass immer erzählen muss. Es ist wie so, dass es raus muss aus dem System. Und beim raus gehen verändert es sich ja dann auch noch ein mal, wird wieder verarbeitet, bei erzählen..irgendwas. Und das ist so wichtig, egal ob es jetzt was Schönes ist oder was nicht-so-schönes — in dem Moment — dieses teilen, denn so wird es verarbeitet und so geht es raus aus dem System. Das ist eine Regelmässigkeit die mir aufgefallen ist.. Und weiter, momentan, seit ein paar Monaten oder 1-2 Jahren.. auch einfach dieses Geniessen; von so, ich geh jetzt einfach mal essen, irgendwie schön.. Und das mache ich momentan einfach jeden Tag. Ich gehe einfach gern gut essen. Und ab und an koche ich auch gerne mal für mich selber. Und ja, das ist einfach das beste: “Oh, jetzt brauche ich mal wieder eine Massage.” Oder: “Oh, jetzt brauch ich mal wieder ne Woche Sonne.” Oder: “Oh, ich muss jetzt mal diesen Menschen wiedersehen, dass man da mal wieder connected.” Oder einfach gemütlich, an einem Abend ein Buch lesen.. Einfach diese Sachen, von: Geniessen, was du gerade brauchst. Und es kann auch diese high-tempo-Sache sein, dass ich ein Meeting nach dem nächsten plane, für Wochen (intention) durch. Und ich treffe Leute, und ich sehe Performances, und ich lese Bücher und ich geh ins Kino und ich arbeite und ich schreib Mails und ich.. Ja — mach, mach, mach! Und das ist einfach je nach… Phase. Je nach dem was der Geist und der Körper danach schreit — und das ist für mich das, worauf es drauf an kommt. Und ob ich dann.. Wie gut ich lerne, auf mich (intention) selbst zu hören.. Alles, was mich ausmacht. Ob mann das trennt in Geist, Körper, Selle — it does not matter. Einfach dieses ‚listening’! Machen wie es passt. Und sich da auch kein Blatt vor den Mund nehmen. Wenn ich da ein Treffen ausgemacht habe, egal ob ich dem Mensch davor kenne oder nicht, und ich merke nach ein paar Minuten oder ner Stunde, ich habe kein Bock mehr… dann sage ich: Ahm, sorry, ich möchte jetzt nicht mehr.. oder ich muss jetzt gehen…” Man kann es ja auch anders verpacken. Einfach das machen was für einem grad passt. Und schon die Umwelt oder das Gegenüber gut.. also schon das alles mit Respekt und Toleranz und mit Feingefühl zu behandeln — aber the first (intention) priority — ich gebe mir allererste Priorität, einfach dass du selber das bist. Denn wenn es dir selber gut geht, dann kannst du das auch weiter geben, wenn nicht, dann gibst du das weiter.
L: Zwei Fragen: Wenn du sagst, es kommt sehr drauf an, wie du dich fühlst.. dann sind das ja auch immer sehr momentane Entscheidungen. Ist das auch manchmal anstrengend? (…) Weil manchmal ist es einfach auch anstrengend, sich immer wieder so zu spüren. Und dann hätte ich es manchmal gern, wenn einfach irgendwer die Entscheidung für mich trifft.
D: Ja, ich kann das nachvollziehen. Aber eigentlich ist es bei mir schon seit längerem dieses ‚constant listening’, also nicht unbedingt dies ‚hedonistische‘..aber einfach dieses: “I come first.” Und mir geht es dann gut dabei. Und dann ist das halt so ne geile Konstante. Weil es fühlt sich nicht so an, dass ich da wieder so ‚raus snap’, sondern einfach immer genau so mach, wie es passt. Und da gibt es gar keine Gedankenprozess mehr — schon, ab und an wieder — aber oft ist es so intuitive, aus dem Moment raus, und da ist es überhaupt nicht so, dass ich da drüber nachdenken könnte: “Kann das nun jemand für mich entscheiden..”, es gibt gar keine Entscheidung zu fällen, es ist einfach klar, was grad Sache ist. Es ist einfach nur: Alles was ist, ist, und alles was nicht ist, ist nicht. Irgendwo.. Klar, das geht nicht immer, wie du sagst, aber wenn ich jetzt hier hock, in diesem Gespräch, und mir passt etwas nicht, oder dir, dass ich dann einfach ehrlich mit mir selber und der Situation umgehe und dann natürlich eine Entscheidung aktiv treffe.. Aber die kommt auch mehr einfach aus mir raus, dass ist jetzt nicht so, dass das vom Kopf her kommt, ich mir überlege; das ist jetzt so und so… Ja.
L: Zweite Frage: Party. (…) Also ich kenn das auch von mir, mir mal die Lampe zu füllen..
D: Ja, das kenn ich gut (lacht). Das gehört dazu.. zu diesem Zuhören, auf was man selber gerade Lust hat. Und ich habe erst seit kurzen, vielleicht seit einem Jahr, ja seit Brüssel eigentlich, habe ich so das verlangen nach.. viel Ausgehen, viel Party einfach auch.. Nicht viel, nicht jedes Wochenende, aber oft.. Ja mittlerweile schon eigentlich jedes Wochenende.. Also nicht dass ich mich dann immer zu sauf oder mich mit Drogen zu dröhn, aber schon ab und an schön betrunken oder irgend eine neue Droge aus-check — denn ich bin einfach interessiert, um die Wahrnehmung.. und einfach Neues zu erleben. Einfach, das Spektrum auszudehnen. Klar, ich würde nix nehmen wo ich denke: He, da könnte ich richtig abhängig werden davon.. Oder das tut richtig schlecht..so Heroin oder so was..” Aber so MHD, Kokain, Ecstasy, LSD — also alle diese Sachen: Klar, das ist einfach geil! Und dann einfach Party machen und tanzen, Menschen kennen lernen oder auch nicht, einfach alles raus, alles raus und geniessen. Ja, unbedingt! Das ist ein klar wichtiges Ventil. Und ein krass wichtiges Portal auch irgendwo.. Um alles irgendwo rein und raus zu lassen. Das ist alles halt… das ist genau so wichtig wie.. Arbeit, wie ein kreativer Prozess für mich.
End of interview. Off-Record später am Abend:
Zudem über seine habits die Mails zu checken: Mails macht er, wenn er gerade Lust hat, am Messenger ist er ‚pausenlos’. Das beobachte ich auch, während dem Gespräch mit mir ist er immer wieder gleichzeitig am Nachrichten checken.
Oftmals lebt er bei Freunden/Bekannten, wenn er unterwegs ist. Ab und an nimmt er sich auch gern mal ein Airbnb, um etwas ‚für sich zu sein’.
Ich frage D noch nach seiner Einstellung zu Phasen von Krankheit: Er sagt, dass seien Momente, die ihm meistens helfen würden, sich wieder etwas zu ‚sammeln’, er nachher ‚fokussierter’ sei. Krankheit sei etwas, was es brauchte, um nachher wieder starten zu können. Regeneration.
Josephine* Transcript: Interview 23. January, duration: 86:11 min.
Background: Special High School diploma in France, one year in a dance school in Rotterdam, then P.A.R.T.S, graduated 3 years ago, since 7-8 years based in Brussels.
In the beginning we talk about a cafe she likes, which is St.Gilles of course, then we talk about my master and gentrification, and how we both play our parts in those processes too, etc.
02:15-03:40 Rents & Airbnb
- L is talking about Airbnb and that is a difficult matter, especially when you are somehow conscious of the gentrification processes in the city, especially here were we also met, in Marolles, but also in St.Gilles, where we both live.
J: We do it sometimes (Airbnb), but it does not really work with us anyway. Because we have to like organize ourselves and we are very bad in this. Last time we had like Airbnb-people, they had to be outside wandering the city because nobody was around to give them the keys. But its crazy how it works, actually, because you don’t have the possibility to say yes or no… However, this is not so particular anyways..
L: No, no say..
J: You un-lock like certain days, and then suddenly you unlock a week - because you are aways for a week - and then someone books tow days in the middle of the week and you can not say can no. And then you have this people in the middle of the week that you can’t meet, because you are away before and after, and then we are stuck like that. And then we looked all the days for 6 months and we still had people booking before and after this 6 months and we are like: “What do we do in 2018?!”.. because we have people Airbnbing.
- I talk about a friend dancer with an apartment just at the Parvis, and that she is renting it out to, as she is away so much and can’t pay the rent by herself, and how crazy organization that implies and so on.
05:40-06:23 Brussels/Home - We talk about the background of J and how long she is already living in Bxl, then I ask her:
L: So would you say that Brussels is your home? Or.. where is your home?
J: It’s so funny that we have this talk now. Because since I came back from holidays, I really have doubts about Brussels. And its the first time. But yes, now, I would say its like my ‘base’. But I would not say, it’s my home.
L: Aha, and why not..? Like, where.. do you have a home?
J: Hm, no, I don’t think that I have like a a place where is really ‘home’. I don’t have that feeling, when I come back here, that I am really like resting.. that it is like a solid ground. Maybe I did when I was in school, ahm.. then the base was more ‘solid’, but after school, it became more like..
L: Does that also have to do with.. like your working on projects and.. and you know, you always have to figure out what is next?
L: That you don’t have, like the school, like an institution, where you know that you doing this now for 4 years. But with this project-based thing you always.. you never quite sure where it takes you..?
J: I spend like a year were I did not have a flat at all. Were I was like; “Okay, let’s see..”. Because I was working mostly in Switzerland and France.. and I was like: „Okay, I leave my flats and maybe.. I come back to Brussels after. And this was actually last year. And after a year, I finished this contracts, and then I was like: „Okay, where do I land..?“. And I came back here, also because I had my boyfriend here. So this was really part of why I would still come back. And yes.. now also, we are not together anymore, which is why I am like: „So what is it.. What can like..hold me here…?”
J: Yes, in fact, this is also.. You leave for many jobs and tatata… it’s… so for me it’s not so important right now to be ‘based’ somewhere. It was fine not to have a flat..
L: And where would you live? Like with friends..?
L: I would do that too. But now with this masters, it sometimes gets too much. We would ‘hop’ so much, that sometimes I think..: Where are the people that I consider my family.. somehow..
J: Yeah, it has that after a while, but… So when I arrived in my flat, it took me a few months to realize that is was not one of this places where I would just pass by. And yeah, that is cool: I have two flat mates and it’s like a family..
L: And did you put stuff.. Like; making it your home? - I talk about living out of a suitcase..
J: No, I had like a.. hm, more quite moment with work.. or so. So I started to take classes here and I started to meet friends more, like on a daily basis, which I was not doing before. And so, I also took space in my place… But now again: I see that I am taking out stuff, I bought a new suitcase.. and I am having a hard time to stay here more than a week. So, I think it’s really.. I am about to go, somewhere else. (laughs) I think its hard for me to stay somewhere. Even in Brussels. I think I moved every year.
L: And what would make you stay? Would you even like to stay?
J: Maybe not.. But I wish that there is a moment where I feel like ‘grounded’ in a place, and I want to stay, and I want to.. engaged in what happens here also. I felt that in Brussels also a few times, like a.. I wish I would have more like ‘engagement’ to.. the city. I guess, when once I am working more with a network connected to a city, then.. Maybe I feel like staying longer. But somehow, right now I am not working much in Brussels, and so.. its not..
L: And when you say ‘network’..do you have — so when you work here, do you have people you keep on working with, that come back to you.. do you feel that there is like this ‘dance community‘?
J: Yes, there is like this dance community here. But it’s very like.. ‘passing’. And there is one, that is maybe like.. that I am not so much in touch with..but they are like giving workshops, taking workshops..but not here.. But it’s moving so quickly, there is.. When I go to this places, there are always different people. But I think this is specific to Brussels as well. People come here because they are attracted to.. to the number of things that happen.. And then its hard to really find like a.. place.
L: So really like a community..
J: Yeah, and to be part of the people who get (intention) funded, who get job’s, so this people who have found things and places and stuff. So there is like a community that works here, and then there are a lot (intention) of people around it, that are trying for a while.. and then.. they do things on the side, and then they go away..
L: And is it also.. do you feel the competition in that? Because the funding gets cut.. more and more.. and sure, people invite each other, help each other.. but still, I mean there are limited resources and.. do you feel that there is a fight over that or.. also solidarity..?
J: I would not say that there is a ‘fight’ in between individuals, but there is something, that when I hang out with dancers.. that is like obsessed about what the other ones are doing, and this is why I choose to be with people who are not (intention) dancers. And what is nice for me is to hang out with people that are not my colleagues, because I quickly felt that I.. although I can really connect with them about certain things.. like to dance, and art, and things - and that is great - there is still something; that it is difficult to go over the fact that you are in the same situation.. of, of need. That you need the same resources and.. sometimes it is a bit like… heavy… Sometimes I meet people form last..I did not see for a while, and the first question is: “With whom do you work?!” and I understand these curiosity, but at the same time it’s like.. you always identify with your visibility and.. your.. success.
L: So you said that you also hang out with not-dancers… But you have some people that you would say, yes, this are the people that.. that you meet more frequently, are friends..so you have that in Brussels? Or in other cities as well? Like this people really know me…
J: Yeah, I have it mostly in Brussels. I have a few people that I meet each time when I go to Paris, or each time when I go back to my city.. but it’s here where I have the most connections..
L: And right now, what you’re working on?
J: Ahm, right now I am.. so actually I would like to give more workshops. And to be like in this trans-motion thing. So I am contacting places to.. yeah, to teach. And I am writing a.. I am researching for a next…
L: And what workshops are you giving?
J: I give three types of workshops; one is more based on composition.. and its more for students, not so much professionals.. so I give this workshops more like.. actually I would like to teach this workshops in France, where I find this education system for dancers sometimes a bit.. back. So this one, and then I gave one based on improvisation tools, so more physical.. and then one, where I teach different disciplines and practices linked to each other; like drawing, and talking and writing and dancing.
L: Wow, I would like to take such a workshops.
J: (Laughts) Yes, but actually I have also decided to sell it to places in Brussels.
L: And where do you get your money from?
J: Right now I am receiving money from France. Because I have my status.
L: Is it also like the ‘artist status’.. like here?
J: Yeah.. but in France its not like here. Here once you have it you have it for…ever. But there, you have to apply every year and ehm.. so I think I will loose it like in coming spring or something like that..
L: Why? Could you not re-apply?
J: You can, but you have to do like certain hours in order.. and i don’t think I have it… so..
L: ..so, its a stress..
J: .. it’s s stress.
L: .. and when you are doing this research, do you feel that you are already thinking of the next project.. so what would you like to do in the future? Or what is maybe also… what would be your wish.. like what to do.. in the upcoming year?
J: Hm, I wish that the projects where I am now like writing and organizing get’s funding and a premiere.. Funding, because for me that would be a good start. And maybe also to keep working with a choreographer .. and also to keep on giving workshops. I like to think that I can combine those three.. aspects of what I practice.
L: And who do you get to this choreographers..? Through people that you know or..
J: I auditioned last time that I got the contract. And that’s it.
L: And when you say that you may like to lave Brussels..maybe try another city.. are you somehow fed up of how it’s done here..? With the community and so on… I mean, it’s a tough community, a though place somehow.. still, I think.
J: Yes, I mean, it’s a bit like that. I see now that I am not really.. like part of this network that is.. that self-sustains.. that sustains itself here. And hm, yeah.. I don’t know… And at the same time, I always also have this thing that I feel that I maybe did not really try (laughs).. You know, it’s always this thing. So maybe I give myself maybe a year more. Because after PARTS I did not want to dance anymore. So I disappeared and the I had some workshops but then I left Brussels. And now I am here and I feel like.. oh, no, I feel that I am not really connected to what happend. So it’s just maybe something that you have to nourish.. But at the same time, there is stuff, and there is a luck factor.
L: And you you think.. I mean, you said that you did not try. But you tried, no? I mean, you tried as you wanted to.. do you think, that maybe, you don’t want and or is it.. you know that you just feel that it’s to much of a work and I just don’t want to..
J: .. haha, I ask myself this a lot.. I think I am less scared also of that than I was before. It was not that I did not want but I felt like I was not really ready to.. to dive into this.. competitions. And now, I think my ideas of what I want to do become more clear also, so I am less scared of just contacting people. This is also why now, I will see how it goes. I have more trust.. to..hm.. I don’t know.. (laughts)
L: I mean, don’t know what I am going either. I am also not very good in convincing people what I..
J: .. yes but I think you have to first convince yourself..
L: ..of course
J: And I think, for a while I did not really know what I wanted..
L: Of course, but I think it’s still hard to convince yourself when you don’t have like; people to support you.. so there is something in being convinced of the things that you do that is of course also depending on.. on what kind of infrastructure you can…
J: ..relay on. Of course.
23:20-24:45 free time
L: So, what is free time for you?
J: It’s a funny word for me… to start with. I feel that I am buying my time. And that the time that I have for myself, so when I can decide what to do with my time, which we could call free time, is.. is when I have money for that. because it happened 3 times already that I had to work in a bar or coffee place. And there, it becomes very difficult for me to.. to work on my projects, or my practice, because.. I have no energy. And so, so I am really happy when I have really free time, so when I don’t have to worry about money. So this, I like it a lot (laughts). And there I feel I can do so many things, and also have the space. So I practice dance and improvisation. And I take drawing classes, I practice drawing and dancing. I also did it before, when I found as studio. I found that too here in Brussels, were they would give me the studio for free. It exists (laughts)..
(…) So there are more and more of this indicatives, where people are sharing what they are doing… (…) So I am doing that. And also stuff with my roommates, which is more like evenings, going to exhibitions, performances, I go to Paris for performances and to take a workshop.. and now I go to Lyon for that too…
L: So this is funny, as you would say that is free time…
L: So what is work?
J: (Laughs) Hm yeah, I told you, work is holidays for me. (laughs) When I work, I mean, I have a contract and it’s with a company… I mean, it’s not always easier there, as for me the most difficult thing is that is always different, with every choreographer, there is something about this.. human aspect of it, it’s very important; having to deal with people and their way of creating.. like, what they expect from you and.. all of this can be very intense, but - I think besides that, its very easy. Somehow..
L: Because you have to.. why would you say it’s free time?
J: Because there is already this frame. And this is very resting. And then, inside.. of course, you are doing your job, but this is great actually. I mean, I would not say it’s free time either, but its for sure another type of temporality, for sure. And you don’t have the stress of what is going to happen next. You are busy with this thing and.. I guess what is difficult for me right now is.. asking myself what is coming next.
28:45-29:40 meeting/ friends
J: I think what is really not work for me, this meeting friends thing. There is were I really.. also because they are not dancers. Sometimes also with my family.. This is what really disconnects me complete to what I do. I think it’s maybe the only moment where I feel.. And sometimes it’s stresses me as well, as I can be very caught by the.. by meeting them every day.. and then I feel like, okay, I need to focus again. I need to retreat. And in the end, the moments were I went out of Brussels were the moments were I could focus on writing.. and really do be steps in my own work. It was when I was not in that city. This is also why I am wondering if.. because it offers so much things to do, and I am easily.. I am curious about a lot of things and easily.. I drift a lot.
- I talk about going away from the city, J talk about how drifting around is also nice, how she is going to Paris, that she was thinking of staying there (but she is not sure), going back to the family, meeting friends from around Belgium and going somewhere together.
J: For me, it really depends where I am in my life. For me, I also had some personal issues.. or like events.. and where I also wanted to let it all go. And its recently, that I feel that I also have to focus on what I wanted to do.. that I don’t forget my focus. And also, I had a friend, that was living in Lyon and now moved to Brussels. And talking to him, it also made me realize, how everyone is always so busy here. It’s like: you must (intention) be busy… But at the same time, no one is actually doing anything. So in talking with him, I also.. “Yeah, yeah, it’s great to be here, but what is actually happening..?“ So this is also why I was happy to meet you, actually, because I am at a point where I think of leaving.. also questioning myself a lot.
L: And when you think about leaving the city.. what do you feel would open that up for you…or would you like to stay..?
J: I think.. I stayed more time here because I had less job opportunities, this year. Sometimes I think t’s too much. But then often I think, when I would go away more often to work, so to have this stability… in what I do, then I would actually really (intention) enjoy to come back here, maybe. This is what I was thinking.
- Here I ask her the most boring questions.. I ask her about how she is enjoying herself, how she is relaxing, about rituals.. eating comes up, home cooking mostly enjoyed, eating out when she does not have time (38:15)..
She talk about walking, as something she likes to do, I ask her where she goes and how often. (39:50) She says she is drifting. Not really to enhance inspiration (rational) (40:55). - 41:50-42:40 She talks about transit-times, moment where she is alone. (44:45) She talks about Yoga, she does that at home, 2-3 times a week. When it fits, no fixed time (45:30). - We talk about weekends, she says that she went out. That she went to Wils to see an expedition… we talk about the Wils.
- 48:10-49:00 weekends to shape/ body, reading. And going to see performances.
53:50-54:45 Performances/ Networking
L: And going to this performances, is it working.. so you go to network or..?
J: No, I think for me it’s more to stay interested in what I do. And there are some performances that are very important.. because it confirms me in what I do. And that this is what I want to do. I really want to stay in touch… Its important that I see work that is still touching me. And also, yeah, to see people I could work with, but not… so both. But not really, that this is the place where I see people and…
L: Where do you work?
J: Mostly in cafes, as I have a hard time to concentrate in my place.
- We are talking about Dillens, a cafe/bar in St.Gilles. Sometimes she goes home to the family to disconnect and write.
57:25-57:40: Cafes, but also on the way, everywhere.
J: It became a habit to always check. Before I did not have a smart phone. But since I have it — it changed a lot. The frequency of communication I have with people changed.
L: And does it also bother you sometimes.. or not really?
J: Not really cause I got used to it, but then… there are a lot of people who tell me that I am not a lot.. and this annoys me, (laughs) as I am a lot on my phone. They are like, we called and you did not reply and.. this is a bit crazy, as I am a lot on my phone but still.
59:40-59:58 not planned/ sickness
L: And what about things that you can not plan, like sickness..
J: I don’t get sick. I did not get sick for two years now…
L: Everybody tells me this..
J: Yeah, really, I just try to not get sick, I just try to eat healthy and stuff, try to circumvent it.
- I ask her about other not plan-able stuff like accidents or when people can’t sleep and therefore, cant work… J is talking about a period, during a breakup, where she did not sleep for 5 days, she says, but at the same time has to perform:
J: It was just like this moment, actually, where I just was doing the least.. like the minimum, like just the essential.
L: And how did that make you feel? I mean, in the moment, you where stressed about it?
J: I was to tiered to be stressed about it. This was the nice thing about it, actually. It created a state where you don’t really care about anything anymore.. and you just go through the day. And yea…
L: So was that something like: “I am okay, I mean this what is possible.. and I am still living, I am still working…”
J: Yeah, hm, yes, also all the stress related to work and that specific creation — it was just put in perspective. Because the choreographer was really stressed, and I know before it would have really touched me.. but in that moment.. it’s was just not my main focus. And this helped me understand that sometimes it’s good to.. every creation is involving some kind of stress, so it’s just good to have this distance sometimes.
L: And what helps you with this distance?
J: Caring about something else. Like my love life, at that moment. I did not care so much anymore, that she (the choreographer) was not satisfied, or that she would be stressed, or be frustrated with her work.. and actually, it worked much better with her. It worked much better doing this thing, because she saw.. I would not try to fix something.. (..) Its just about what the focus of your stress was before. And now: You are just stressing somewhere else. So actually, you overcome a certain fear at that point.
1:04:45-1:06:55 Satisfaction/ Stresses most
L: So, what are the things that you like about what you do? And maybe also, what is it, that stresses you the most..?
J: I think what stresses me the most is this competition. You can not ignore it. There are so many people that want to do the same thing then you… wanting to go to the same place. And its, yeah.. you have to sell yourself. You have to convince people. And sometimes you have to playing some strategies..sometimes, I can.. you can not be completely true to the moment.
L: And is this especially strong in a certain place..? …so when you are at..
J: Mm… yeah yea, when I am meeting this… dance community. Yes, there you have to.. I mean they ask you: “How are you?” but.. you always have to.. it’s about something else. Yes, this is stressing me out. And also the stress of not finding my place. Inside of the scene, and… That is a stress.
L: And what is satisfying?
J: The satisfying part..
L: I mean, we can stay with the stress, as it is really interesting for me. And a lot of people are telling me this.. with the community thing.
J: Yeah, for me.. I have really good friends that are dancers, but they are not the ones that are part of this network…. But what is satisfying in general is; I really love to dance (laughts). And I really love to create. It’s really connected to the way I see life. So I do it anyway, actually, no matter if I am visible or not. (Pause) I guess what I would like to have more is, sharing that with other people. Whether in performances or in workshops. As it do it anyway. And for me it is a success when I have a way to share it.
L: And how would you like to share it?
J: Through performances.. and trough platforms of practices. To exchange that… To professionals and amateurs..
- I say that a lot of people mention that towards me and then we talk about collaboration and I also talk about my work..and then, in (1:10:20-1:12:07), J say’s:
J: Yeah, I mean sharing time and practices together, I think a lot of people want to do that. But then, they don’t really have the time to do that, but then it is true: When you post it, there are many people interested, but then only 5 come because the others don’t find time… And I think what is really missing is… consistency.
J: (Laughs) Yeah.. I mean, maybe this is what is missing in all my life, but ehm, I think the practices is maybe the only places where I have consistency. So in dance and things I am developing. And.. How to do that with people in a consistent way. And I would like to find places that.. like residencies.. where we just come like 4 times a year.. with the same group. And we would share what we do and talk about things.. so having this almost self-organized group. Where we.. not only a place of education but also a place of.. developing and researching. And to meet with people. This is the wish I have. And then maybe meet 3-4 times a year and who knows, maybe we do things together or nor, but its just; to have this consistency.
- I talk about the will to collaboration and J is talking about this platform of practice.(1:15:30-1:18:20), and I ask her, what she exactly means by that:
J: When I say platform of practice, it could become something like.. it could become something like a database of practices.. But maybe its also in franch, I would say “plaforme“ as.. an organization.
L: And do you have that somewhere?
J: I did it more like.. in a mutual moment with whoever was available. But no, I would like to have it more as I described before. And there is.. do you know Elenor Bauer, and she has that ‘Nobody’s business’.. its like.. its very nice, but its like: You maybe go one day and then you practice five different things.. so its very, very quick. So it’s a quick encounter. And it’s nice to meet people and see what they do, and what they offer. But I felt like.. okay, this, this and this today, like such a quick way of going through things and.. So I think its a format, but…
L: So this is maybe also to fast..moving? It would maybe be nice to have a longer turn..?
J: Yeah yeah, I just think she has a different focus. I think she is aiming to understanding.. like mapping, almost, practices..of different cities. And I think it is a nice project but in terms of what I need and I would like to see happen, I think more in a long term.. where people also have the time to develop this project. Not only to do it. To let this thing grow, and… I took a workshop last week, with Ann Christ, she is an Austrian dancer and worked a lot with different.. so she said that there were things which had no names. She was doing things that did not have any names, like really; nothing. And she was like: “We really have to respect all of this little things..”.. that are not yet anything. Because you give them the possibility to grow. Because when you relay on the practices that already exist, that already have names… (I make a comment on the name, J continues:) Yeah, it’s just the quickest. I mean, it’s easy to say: “I am doing that.”
- I am talking about academia, and that I feel like there is also a lot of name-giving, production, over-production, J continues (1:20:30-1:21:25):
J: And then you also don’t do it for yourself. Why? Why would you.. And its also this: I see people working on a project. And they maybe work two years, for one project. And then, they have two dates to show it (laughs). Then this can be recycled into others and then then… There is also this story.. so my brother.. I think he also works in a environment that is like.. really capitalistic.. because you have to always be with your company and lalala.. so he was saying: “You know, I start my enterprise. And I know, I have to like work for three years for nothing. Like crazy. And then maybe later, I have this thing where I get money back… And I was like: „This is horrible, you are going to work for free for three or so years..! And then, I like (laughs) — I mean, it’s exactly the same thing than I do. Except that the company is just myself… the enterprise is just me. (Laughs) That is even worse…
End of interview.
Kelly* Transcript, Interview from 20. march 2017, duration: 70:36 min
K. (w, 29, US) based in Brussels since approx. 8 years, school in the US and Brussel.
L: So. This transnational mobility we were talking about (…) Lets take the last month only, where did you go? And how many times were you here in Brussels?
K: I was here in Brussels twice. And the rest I was in Antwerpen. Which is not so far.. (..) We had places to sleep there, and it was just much easier to sleep there. Also, my partner (which is also a dancer) was not in Brussels — so there was not reason for me to come back to Brussels.. Besides maybe, being in my own house, but.. So yeah, I was in Brussels tow nights.
L: In total, for the whole month?
K: Yes.. ah, and this weekend. So maybe, it would be four night… And before.. I think it was less. So the first two weeks in January I was in Stockholm. And the even during the weekends, I was traveling, so I was in Finland and Amsterdam. Then we went to Gasbeck. And the yeah, I guess then we were here in Brussels over the weekend — so maybe four times.
L: Would you be interested to.. I mean, I am thinking of this now, but.. When I send you a map of Europe, to point out where you have been.. Maybe during the last 6 months?
K: Yeah, totally, I mean, that would be interesting for me too, actually. (…) I guess, most of.. So when I am doing my own work, I am mostly in Antwerpen.. Or this place called Gasbeck, it’s like 20 minutes outside of Brussels, in the country side. So it’s like very nice, because it’s very close to Brussels but you feel like, you are very out. (…) So I guess, that is the thing with that field: You are constantly in residencies — and especially residencies where you sleep there — so your home is just always… in this random places. And sometimes there are nice and sometimes there are.. shitty. You know, like: Shitty. And there is also something that we were talking about.. Because we were like: “Why do all the places we go.. kind of smell?” And we were talking with other artists about it and then we were like.. It’s that there is so much calc in the water in Belgium. And the water gets caught up in the pipes, and the people don’t clean the pipes, and then it starts to.. smell, yes. (…) And so it is in all the residencies we have been in the last months… (…) So no one feels responsible for the places and so no one cleans the tubes, of course. (…)
And this is.. I have a story.. also something in our field which I talked about with Rebecca, our other collaborator. She just turned 30 and she is transitioning out of the field to become a psychologist. (..) And she was touring, and they were in Paris. And they.. There slept a lot of people in this Airbnb and she was sleeping in this fold-out couch with one other person, which was a guy, and they had one blanket to share.. And there are sitting there, with one blanket asking: “Is this 30?! Is this what we are doing? We are in Paris, but we are in this shitty Airbnb, sharing one blanket…” (…) This is like, in a nutshell, our field: Being in this shitty places.. but manageable..? Like, if you really step out of it, you are like: “What the fuck!” I mean, I love to be in Gasbeck. But it’s so dirty. And they don’t give you cleaning supplies, so you constantly cleaning with random stuff the dance floor.. So you are like constantly cleaning — (laughs). So you get just used to live in this semi-filth. And I never really though about it, until now, that I am getting a bit older. Because when you out of, like school, or also still in school, you are like: “Wow, this is great! This is what I do!” But then you get older and you are just constantly traveling and — I mean I always know, when I am back from the states.. Because there I guess I am more.. in one place I guess… but here, I pretty much live out of a suitcase. That like.. I have to… So; I just came back, yesterday, of being in Antwerpen for a month, I have this one week, and then I go to the states for two weeks. And I was unpacking my things and I was like: “I could just leave my suitcase open..?” And then I was like: “No, fuck it. I am here for a week! Think about how long this week is going to be!” So, my sense of time gets so… It’s get really absurd how long and how short things can be. And that is also a huge thing too: That so many things can happen in a week. We started saying: “Oh my good, we have so many things to do…” And I was like: “But think about how many hours and minutes we have (laughs). We have so many hours and minutes!“ So your sense of time gets so stretched out… So yes, I was unpacking my suitcase and I was like: “No. I am going to put it away and then when I have to pack again.. I will have that experiences again.“
(…) I mean, I feel pretty lucky. Because I know, a lot of my friends they move to a lot of different apartments in Brussels. But Albert and I have been in this apartment for 5 years. And it does feel very much like home. And it’s small, and it’s like.. probably not big enough to have a family, but we are just going to stay there. Because it feels very good to come back there. And this is also why we really wanted to buy something in the states.. Because Albert has this spring scholar thing, so he has to be there, so many times during the year. So we are really going to split our time in between here and the states. And every time we would go to the states, we would stay at my parents house. And we never really had our own home.. And I think, like, having this two places — in the mist of.. probably — honestly — we will never really be in those two places at all, because we are actually always traveling - it somehow still feels (intention) super stable. I think, I have to find myself always this very stable things.. To not feel so much… all the instability and un-knowns inside of this field. Just finding different things, even when they are very unpractical.. For my own sanity.
L: And what would that be?
K: I think a home, to always go back to. Ah… I think, certain jobs too. Like, re-occurring every year. That really helps. Like, I have been directing this summer program for kids, for dance and theater.. And we have been doing that for 5 years, and that is something that feels very.. concrete. And we know, this is happening every summer. It’s well paid. We are in this place for two weeks. We have like certain friends that come there too. So, that feels very grounding. And we are starting the same thing for artists too. (…) And that is to, about starting this things that ground us in one place. It’s partly… a bit selfish, because it is for our own stability and sanity, but then… Of course it will also help the project.
- K talk about their long-term project, which is called Practice & Performance: So this is like the perfect thing for me - that I can be doing. (…)
L: So when you were saying that you are so little in Brussels; What about the rent?
K: Our rent is very cheap. Its 640. This is not including.. but for two people, its good.
L: And where do you live?
K. In St.Gilles. Which is crazy. Because the prices around there have gone up so much! I really don’t understand why she has not raised the rent… (…) When I first moved there, there was nothing.. Nothing there! And literally, in the last 5 years… Even today, on my street, this new/hip/bio restaurant or grocery store opened up. It is really crazy, it’s so different. (…) But the whole city is transforming so much. (…) I mean my whole idea of the city of Brussels is basically that: St. Gilles and the center. I am rarely… I mean maybe sometimes South or in Flagey, but… My sense of this city is very small. Probably also because I don’t have so much time to really be (intention) inside this city. You know, I go to the places I know, because this is where.. my home is.
L: And back to the rents. Do you sometimes also rent it out?
K: Yeah.. I mean, our landlord does not let us. But sometimes we do. Ahm, so we have been caught.. Like a bunch of times. So literally, the last time, she was like: “When you guys do that again, you can’t be here..” I mean, she is also very sweet, she just does not want people in the house.. Which is going to be kind of difficult for us, especially now that we own this other place. But now that we have the other place, I mean, we are just going to rent it out the whole entire time. We are just going to have roommates in Philly, which is totally cool. (…) So, yes, it’s totally affordable, she has not raised since 5 years. But of course she does not take care of the building at all. (…) It’s a really nice place. I remember walking down the street, before I live there, thinking: “I want to live here.” And then it happened. And it was.. And this is also a very common thing, is that: Dancers used to live there. So it was a dancers-apartment for many years. And I am sure, when we leave, we will give it to other dancers. And that happens all the time. (…)
K: I think there is.. it’s a combination of things: On the one hand feeling very much like neighborhood, and also a big importance, I feel like, everybody is close to a station, to Gare du Midi. Because when you are constantly moving, you wanna live close to a station. (…) This is also a nice thing. When two friends were visiting from NY and we were walking around, from here to the center, we constantly bumped into people. And they were like: “What is going on?!” And I was like: “So A) Brussels is very small, B) my community is also very small and everyone lives in proximity from here.. So you do see the same people all the time. So that feels quite grounding.
L: So.. where would you say is home?
K: Hm… I mean, I have this certain thing, like: “Uhmmm..” when I come back to Brussels, so after traveling to places. I also have that in Philly, where we have the other place. But honestly, and this sounds maybe a bit creasy, but it’s just whenever Albert and I are together. It’s like; We travel so much that as long as we are together.. I mean, have a certain routine together, which can be to have some food, or like watching the same tv shows, or having the same rituals before we are going to sleep, like reading or coloring.. We just somehow transport that to certain places. I mean the traveling is just so insane.. So home feels like my apartment, but I also feel that we are actually never really there, so it’s really when Albert and I are together. This feels very nice. And there are, you know, so few (intention) times when I am with my friends here and we go out and party, and then I am like: “Wow, this is very nice..” But yeah… And it is really crazy how ‘centralized’ in a way everything becomes.. Also on.. This devices. You know, when I feel of home or things that Albert and I do, it’s somehow always in relation to a (intention).. device. Which is transportable, which is with us all the time.. It’s like.. Never that far from an arms reach. …
L: And what is worrying about it? I mean, I see you are making this face..
K: I don’t know. Its just kind of funny when technology becomes a sense of grounding-ness. When it is somehow very distant and superficial.. I feel there is a certain friction there. But as stupid as it is: I can be everywhere and can be close to my friends. Through Facebook and face-timing. And I do actually have this ritual of calling my parents or my best friend from NY, we have Skype dates un Sundays. For the last 5 years.. No, hold on, how long have I lived here..? For the past 7 years! So, it’s almost ever Sunday we have that — and that is extremely grounding. Also with my parents. So there is a sense of connectivity and community through… technology. Which is helpful, but also.. You know, it has also this sense of fals…ality.. Because, you know, it’s not that I am physical with this person. It’s just this little snip of (…) It feels so there, but it’s… (…) So when I see my best friend back, it’s like — she was not far away. But then.. There are maybe also things that she did not bring up during face-timing, and I am like: “Oh my god, that happened!” (…) So I think my close, close community, this are maybe 10 people. And I think, when I would not have that, I would.. wonder off. I think we all, no? Because, it’s just so mobile, all the time.. I guess, it also helps that they are not traveling so much. Because I can like talk to them and know that they are not really so much changing (laughs), that is grounding. (…) I really feel that, when I go back home, like home. That everything is still the same. That is nice to know, you know (laughs).
But here was something else I wanted to say.. Ah, yes. Also, with being in a relation ship with someone of the same field. You know, we constantly (intention) are trying to find different ways of… communicating and being together when not being together. Ahm, and different forms of communicating. Like emailing, or voice-messages, or face-timing, or doing videos to one another. We used to do voice diaries.. So, yeah, that is also something interesting, because I would not do that, obviously. When I would be with my partner all the time (…) Trying to connect with one another.
- I ask K about Facebook, and if she feel that it can also get tiering..being on the networks.
K: Ahm, not on.. like a personal-social level. Because then I just know, there are certain people that I want to meet when I am in town. But I feel like that when it comes to promotion and work. That I feel that like.. constant need of like.. checking in. But not for my own personal.. But for work, yes. Also, now for this practice & performance thing, we are trying to promote it on Facebook and Instagram, which I never really have done before, so.. I am actually also learning how to ‘marketing’ things on social media. (…) This is also such a funny thing in our field, where you just get like experts in all this little, weird skills. I mean, you are doing everything.. (…) So I told Brian that I want that my resinate is just: Hobby dancer, studio choreographer and like a.. warrior of this field (laughs). Like a tag-line, you know. But I really feel that.. I really feel that way: I most of the time feel like a hobby dancer. Most of the time like a studio choreographer that is just trying to do the things, and then: Warrior, because I am just trying (intention) to be in this field. (…) But there is also something exciting about it. I mean, I have not yet got tiered of it, really.
L. So, back to the Facebook thing. You said, that when you are back in Brussels again, you have to somehow use the social medias again, to get back in touch with people…
K: Yeah, it’s a bit strange. I never call people here. Nearly all my communication to people from here is through Facebook messenger. Like, almost everybody. Sometimes, actually, I don’t even have peoples phone numbers. It was strange, like, yesterday.. I was in the train from Antwerpen back to Brussels, after this crazily intense period, no? And what did I do: I messaged like 4-5 different people… and was like: “Hey, I am in Brussels this week. Wanna meet for a coffee?”, “What do you do?”, and: “Back in Brussels, on my way..!“ (…) I think this is also something, I think this field is: So social. Inherently social. You very intensely working with people. And you are constantly going to see shows. Half work, half obligation to the field, half because it is our interest and our love. But it’s a very social thing. And then you go to a bar afterwards.. Yeah, there are very few times where I feel that I am really alone. An a friend was like: “Oh, this people that are hiding in their apartments, watching Netflix…” And I was like: “Really?! I really need that, people need that..” This space from one another, to not (intention) be social. But this is it, when you finally have some free time, you wanna be social, you wanna see friends. It’s very hard to find down time, just really for yourself. (Pause) What Albert and I do.. so we talked about it yesterday, like: “Oh yes, we are going to do that in our free…? Week.. that we have together.” Because this is also something that we do: We look at our schedule for the year to come and if we have like a week, or even a weekend, were we are in the same city, we call it ‘K&A-Dates’, were we like: „We won’t work for this week, or weekend, and dedicate that to do something together.“ Because…. we never (intention) find it throughout the year. And we are literally saying graces. And once, we went to this Spa together, and we be there for like a day. And that is actually one of the few times, when I am in this country, that I can like — that I am relaxing. When I go to the Spa or the Sauna. Yes.
L: (….) Do you have like certain additional practices, I mean you just mentioned it, but others.. Like with partner or so.. Like going away, or do you have certain rituals?
K: Definitely, going to the Spa. We make it a big ritual. We bring books there. And we eat there. And we really take the full day… Yeah, I think that is probably the (intention) most time that I feel.. leisure and regeneration in a way. Ahm, and then…
L: Do you do yoga? Or go swimming?
K: Yeah, but this is more work for me. It’s really to practice… I do yoga and I do — I do it all the time. And yes, I do it for myself, it gives me a sense of kind of goundedness, but its also, to be inside of this field and it’s always also towards this kind of.. Because I always do like physical practice in the morning, whether it is yoga, or I go swimming, or ChiGong.. Its also practice for (intention) my work, practice for my.. body, for my life or whatever. So I don’t really consider that leisure. And sometimes just cooking in my house becomes.. I get so excited when I can cook like a recipe or something. This becomes: “Wow, I am here!”.
K: Yeah, that. It’s like the first thing that I did this morning, since I am here: I cean my house. And.. Albert and I have like a hammock, in our back porch. And just laying there.. is good. (pause) I guess there are like two different ways of taking care of my body: The one is this morning practice, which is more like physical, for like.. just taking care of like stamina, whatever.. And then there is this more; semantic.. Like: Legs against the wall… That feels ver like leisure and relaxation. Because you also need to take a lot of time for that. And turn my mind of. So maybe this more semantic practices, they are more for me. And I started acropunctor this year, and that is very much for me, as its partly therapy. And partly taking care of my body. Then, coloring..! So especially this year it was very hard for me to.. sleep. I feel like, my wheels are just going like crazy, so a friend introduced me to this meditation, and then I go Albert this coloring book, that I am now using all the time (laughs).. So, yeah.
L: The sleeping is also something…
K: Yes, I really have to put the computer away an hour before I go to sleep. Becasue its so.. intertwined with work that I.. I need to give myself like an hour to.. just stay with myself. And when I don’t do that, I am awake… Ahm. Baths! Taking baths is essential, not so much for my body but for me.
L: And what is it, that, that makes you take a bath?
K: Complete exhaustion. Because most of the time I am just: “Okay, I need a shower and the just go to sleep..“. But then there are times where I feel like really stresses, or really tiered.. Or my body is kind of sore.. But mostly, it is when I am like really tiered, when I need time to rest… Wow, now that I am talking about it, it’s like: “Oh my god, our lives! There is this like, chu-chu-chu.“ (Makes a one-after-other-movement) (…) And I wonder how much this is just in our field or not just in society. I mean, I know a bit the states, and of course it’s culturally real like this. I just had this conversation with Rebecca, and we were like, let’s start at 9 and then you have time so work.. So you almost feel, that you get something done in the morning and then you feel good to have lunch. And then she was like: “Oh good, this is such a puritan-religious thing: You have to do good work in order to deserve a good meal.” And it’s that thing; that you feel like, each hour, each day you have to do as much as you can.. Or otherwise you are feel like you are not working. Which is silly, because we are always going towards this.. thing.
L: Yeah, this is why I am interested in time. And how we.. Like, this thing of using our time the best (intention) possible way.. And then you start.. Its getting hard to take time just for you..
K: I mean, Albert had this phase were he would wake up at 5 in the morning. And he would do this huge morning ritual. And there he would like feel, that this is his time. (…) So he would draw, go for a run,.. so do all this things that you feel like you never have time for them. And he was all about this, having this idea. And I think it was somehow something about having a sense of control, too. Because there are only so many things that you can control in this field. (…)
- K is talking about her project Practice & performance, where they had the idea of using during the summer the empty university facilities to do workshops. They fund it merely by themselves right now, which she says is intense. They bring American artist based in Europe back to the states, to begin with, she says:
K: I always had this dream of like.. Bringing artist together and having residencies. So we wanted to bring artists of Europe and the states… There are multiple reasons, first: because there is not enough money. Secondly, the education. I think there are really different approaches.. (..) So there is really no easy access, I think.
(…) But its hard.. (…) I think though, it’s difficult to get people to pay, though. I mean, I myself don’t go to like professional workshops in Brussels. Even though it is this kind a huge cultural thing in the states, so people take classes and invest money in that — which is cool. So, it’s just getting people aware of that. (…) So we wanted to pay the artist that teach like proper wages. Because we were somehow hoping that the participants would help pay for that. But now, it’s maybe just the flights and accommodation. (…) But this, it’s an investment I and Albert are willing to make. Because it’s like this long-term thing. (…)
L: This is a lot investment to.. It’s also quite risky, no?
K: Oh man, it’s super stressful. There was like a week, where I was up until like 3 o’clock, writing down different ideas how to make people come. Because I was so stressed of not having any participant. I mean, that is the most stressful thing, like, getting people to come. Because we bought all the flights, we have the artist, we have accommodation.. It’s now just: Getting people to come! (…)
(…) So I really believe that is just all going to work out. But of course, it is this constant thing… But yes, how do I deal with this? I also just thing, that I have a lot of energy and passion towards this thing. So, I will just try to make it work with in all the possible ways.
L: And how do you ground it a bit?
K: For me its like doing one thing ever day for it. So when I am not working on a project and I have like… down time? If I don’t know if this ever really exists… but when I am not like in a project, whatever.. I have this things that I try.. So I have this five things a day that I try to do.. either writing, or physical practice, or reading about something… especially for Practice & Performance I have this thing: Just do one thing a day.. Posting something on Instagram, sending an email… Just that I feel that I am working towards getting closer to that. And sometimes I work a whole day on it, and that feels very good, and sometimes I don’t really have the mental-space for it.. And then I just do one little thing, like baby-steps. (…) And I have this friend in NY, that is helping us. So we have this chat and there I can vomit my ideas, thronging it at them… Yeah. And somehow, with doing this sorts of things, this feels very grounding inside of this field. Because it’s like: “I have control of how.. how far it goes.” You know. Instead of me being inside of this field and not.. Not sure about getting jobs, and not sure about doing this.. doing that, it’s really helps me. I know I am doing that, in a way. Which feels very different to.. like making my own work, like with Inga or anything. Because we are making our own work, but once we are done - we are so (intention) not in control of people buying it. (…) So it’s not up to me how much I get to tour it..
L: And with this project, you are in a way..
K: Yes, it’s like.. our baby. We see this steps all the way through. And I think this is why I do it, in a way. Its just very grounding.
L: …Wow, Katie, thank you so much.
K: Cool, cool. No, it’s so nice to talk about this stuff. There really all things that I am interested in… This thing with the stability, it is constantly with me, I am constantly thinking.. It’s a thing that I want to talk about. Even in this Practice & Performance thing.. I want to have a discussion about that. Like: “What are ways of having a future in this field? What could be the future of this field? How to make radical shifts to make this a sustainable thing?” In education, different way of seeing dance.. (…)
L: And the family and stuff. How are you able to deal with that..? (…)
K: (…) First, I had this fear, I mean they need things, like diapers.. They cost a lot of money. And first I was like, how are we going to do that, with all that traveling, you being here, I am being here.. And he was like: Yeah, things are going to change. (…) Because one of us will be working and one will watch the kids. So that will be a change, we will not be able to work at the same time. (…) We just go for the ride.. And, I think, what is also kind of comforting, in this fucking field, is that; Nothing is really going to change in between now and five years from now. You know, I probably going to keep on doing what I am doing; I keep on traveling a lot, making the same kind of money.. So there is not much of a difference it doing it now.. Or in 5 years from now. Besides I am going to be older — and it could get harder to get pregnant. So that is why we are like in that place.. You know, let’s just try now, nothing is going to change.. (…) And by brother is like: “You don’t want to, like wait, until you have a bit more money, stability..? And I am like: “But this does not exist in my field. This is never really going to happen. Unless I go into education or get like an institutional job.. But you know, they are just going to be with us all the time… traveling. So I guess this is like the biggest thing. I mean, I am not worried to have kids. But I guess, when they have to go to school.. That, for me, is like the biggest question. (…) That is another time thing.. Because what are we going to do? I mean, they do need to get educated..stay in one place. (…) This thing with having one foot in Brussels and one foot in Philly. Then I feel we have to choose a city. (…) I can’t think to far in the future or else I never have kids (laughs). And I know I really want to, so I have to let go of some things.
L: But this is hard.
K: Yeah, it’s really hard. (…) And another thing is.. I mean part of this field is, kind of always be available. You know. And then.. I mean when we do have a child.. So here is this thing of.. this constant availability and being so flexible.. I mean that will change. And that will probably change our careers. Because why nows if you get as (intention) jobs if.. because of that.. Which is maybe is another reason why I feel strongly for this Practice and Performance thing, because I am in control of — that is something that will not go away. (Pause) It’s a crazy fucking field.
(…) Yeah. But I then also, so Albert and I we always have this thing: „Okay — but what was the best thing!?” And then we just remember that. So he has this video of me, from PARTS, so maybe it’s like in the second years.. And it’s me in the lunchrooms, like: “I love what I do! I love what I do!” And he will play it for me sometimes when I am just like: “Fuck this field.” And then I see it and am like: Okay, I do something that I really love. And I see, it is important. It is amazing. And I have to be my own cheerleader in a way, because when not you get trapped in this… In the craziness of it all. (…)
L: (…) And also, how do you keep yourself in something that does not make you happy… You know, or…
K. … or you feel you are stuck in it, because it’s the only thing you’re be doing. Which is like, an interesting thing for me: How can we transfer in that.. moment of… other than collapse — but changing it into something else, wether it is like thinking of different kind of education, of sprinkling more awareness, like — bring more people, get more people interested in what we do, get more audiences.. so all this things.
L: And this is why you are doing this project..? I wish you all the best with it…
K: Thanx, yeah - I hope so too. Yeah, I just think: I want to persist, you know. I want to believe that there is another.. step, after this, like…: Burnout life-style. That is also not only going into this institutional education, because this is not what I want to do. So I am already now trying to figure out what could be a.. way.
L: What could be a future.
K: Because I am not interested in this institutional education. (..) And I think there are other ways.. that could just help to promote this field. So.. this is what I am trying to think about for… 20 years (laughs). Or.. Who knows how long I can keep up with this life-style…
L. .. but then on the other hand, you have your partner.. (…)
K: Yeah. I really wonder how long I would be able to last in this field without him.. Without that. He is honestly my rock. I think I would have probably moved back to the states.. Or who knows what other path I would have taken..but not be here. He is really my sense of home.(…)
End of interview.
Lin*, Transcript, interview 18.07.17, 15:51: duration: 1:07:26.
00:00-06:00 Basic information in the Beginning:
Originally form Toronto, did P.A.R.T.S 13 years ago, stayed in Brussels after, since 13 years the city is her base. I meet Lin in Basel working for Tino Sehgal, since 5 years (paid for the time touring). Also working on another project, starting an additional new creation (own) work on next Monday, with three other dancers (Premier will be in November).
6:30-25:00 I ask her to list all the destinations she traveled in the last six months, after a while she takes out her phone to be able to remember. I ask her to list also the back-and-worths to Brussels — she states that she tries to „go back home“ when she can. She explains me her mobility, the different reasons (family, work (residencies, creation)). Why last month she stayed longer in Brussels then usually (because she got married), how she had to organize the wedding and just before that, had some „down-time“ where one: „obviously gets sick.“ (24:43)
25:00 on Home: That when she thinks of home, she thinks of Brussels. That she is very happy, to have made that clear decision at once, that she owns her an apartment, that she got the Begium nationality and is somehow even proud to have it, is paying taxes and all. Her wandering around (she lived in Roterdam before, where she had a hard time to really be present, as she also missed Toronto) somehow stoped with going to PARTS. The school opened her world, what contemporary dance could be, she started to have friends, be friends with common peers, starts to celebrate Christmas in Belgium and not go back home to Toronto. That she loves to come back to Brussels, she pumps in into a to of people on the street — or at the airport, „as all are very mobile these days“, she says.
31:00 on communication over the phone: In contact with her partner every day, sometimes via text, sometimes they call.
31:40 on administrative work: She wakes up and first thing, she does all her emails before 9:30 every day. That is a iron rule, she is not checking them later on. She limits it to these morning hours. „I don’t like that people feel that I should be available all the time..“
—> Creation: Shielding, space dedicated to creation:
L: „When I am anyways often in creation. I am not on the computer. So I am in creation in between 9:30 and around 6ish. So I am in creation and not necessarily on the computer, I bee in the studio. And as I freelance, people don’t know, so they should not expect that I am going to answer. Because when I am in the studio, I wanna be present there. And not… I noticed, when I read a email, it can be totally be so distracting. And then it is not fair to the time that should have been devoted to creation or the time in the studio. Or performance. So I try to limit those times as I don’t want to be distracted.“
38:00: No messenger on the phone, which she thinks is unfortunate but also better, probably. No way for communicating for work, email is appropriate:
L: „People should assume that that is not a professional way.. ahm, avenue. Except that.. in different circles, it is, really. So I don’t know. It’s so new.“
40:00 on parallel projects and places
The next project she is working (own work) starting in Monday and premiering in November, with three other dancers. During a period of four months they meet 4 times for the project, during that time they also do other things, working on other projects. They meet for two weeks in Italy, one week in Brussels, in Pianofabrik, three weeks in Stockholm (three weeks) and four weeks in Gent. Starting in the mountains in Italy, to generate the idea. One week in Brussels in Brussels was helpfull, also catching up with the light designer and in Stockholm they had friends and good connaction. And Gent felt substantial, she says. During that period, she also goes to Moskau with another project of Tino (Sehgal), which she has been doing for the last 5 years. And some work in Brussels with a company there, which she is not sure that is a 100% confirmed.
43: 50 talking about why she is interested in this kind of topics, of work and freelancing, talking about the her piece VOLCANO that Annelies also wrote about. She is talking about an exercise they did, while a lot about their „freelance-life-style“ would come up, also „subconsciously”, as she say:
45:38: Liz: „On how we would pull ourselves together.. financially, practically. So all that sort of tings. And this is how VOLCANO became. And its called VOLCANO because it uses this point where Eyjafjallajökul’ s volcano erupted and traffic was stoped. So about the solutions everybody was finding.. Like, I was in Oslo at that time and how to take a ferry to Kiel, Germany, and there - from there we were driven, because we had to perform in Kai. So, you know, just something I feel like most people that would be in the room with us, so in the audience, could also recall that, where they might have been.. also, it is not just us dancer that move around so much, I mean I know we do, but there are so many people just so much more mobile than they would have been in prevues generations. (..) And also: I don’t feel that there are many things in contemporary dance that are about contemporary dancers. (…9 It was not whining sort of situation. It was definitely not that. It was just, just sharing. And reflecting together. Because that was that thing, the moment when people where sort of ’halted’, that.. It was a different kind of interruption for me, personally. It was more a suspension of time, then an interruption. I think we are interrupted all the time. But this, I think, was something else. And somewhere else. You know, I though I fly for a couple of hours, but instead I was over-night on this majestic sea.“
Me: And when you.. yo that difference that you just spend up, how was it different then? Or, what was nice about it?
Liz: „Yeah, I mean, everyone was kind of in the same ’boat’ — not literally, but (laughts) — (..) And that is the thing about weather. Actually. And that is also the thing that is fascinating to me here. About what is going on these days. These sort of ‘catastrophes‘, you know. That it is goes beyond.. I don’t know, I think there is a guilt-thing I this. Normally we should manage to take the time for ourselves, but in that situation it was a ‘given‘. You know. Which then is like: „It should not only be then, you know.“ Like: Check yourself because you reck yourself. And then I know people that are really good at that. Thankfully. And some of them I work with, so that also makes it easier for me. But yeah: to learn from that example. Because I think you can keep puzzling and fitting in like every hour, but.. the benefit of a two-day weekend is already kind of.. yeah, it’s final. I think its fine fine day off in-between things.“
50:00 talks about other projects, how coming close to the premier, how this is a exciting and nerf-breaking moment. Also good to work on different projects, as then you have a possibility to take your head out of it, and that is when new ideas come and so on.
58:00 stating to use less then 50% for administrative and organizational work. But CARAVAN PRODUCTION do her organizational work. They get a % of the funding. In general she tries to live without regrets, she aims to take the time to sign off with something and no matter what it becomes, she goes with it. But in that she is also very privileged. She says that when she has wishes, she does not know that she has. She loves that in dance they deal with each other. To deal with people. And it takes so many skills, and she thinks in collaborating with people, that are things that she could do progress. And she hopes to deal better with stress, as she „get’s so worked up“. But in general I think she is very happy in what she is doing, I thank her multiple for the interview.
End of interview.
Rafael* Transcript: Interview, 23. Januar 2017, duration: 135.48min
In the beginning we talk about R’.s background, then about his current working situation: He is under contract by ROSAS, unlimited, as he says:
R: Is very special. Apparently. I mean, I know it also, I hear it from people.. It’s fun and weird that it is the first thing after school.. to have this ongoing thing, where you don’t really know where you are going. (…) And it’s a great company. Yes. And it’s a lot of work. But it’s defined…
L: And how is it structured.. I mean, during the week?
R: The basic idea is.. from 8.30 to 18:00, Monday to Friday - when we are under.. in rehearsal period. But then, it all varies when we are touring… (…) the hours shift, but basically it should add up to the same hours then when we are in rehearsal, we just get compensated the days we worked more and have some free.
03:45-04:50 Mobility/ Brussels as base
L: And are you way a lot?
R: Yes. At the moment yes. I mean, right now I am here for a week - which is quite a lot in itself. But normally, yes… In February and March, in October… last Moth I was in Brussels for 9 days, in total.
- I say that that is quite crazy and we talk a bit about his apartment in St. Gilles and that everybody lives in the neighborhood. Then, I ask him what they do when they are not here:
L: Are you guys sub-renting then?
R: We want to, somehow. To rent it. But it’s not quite easy with our landlord — something with the insurance. But we rent it out to friends, people that we know, and classmates — We just graduated and there are still a lot of people around, looking for stuff.. But ahm, yeah, it’s also hard to organize, because we are gone a lot (intention) in very short amounts.. So two days gone, two days coming back.. So it’s just very short time and so most of the time we don’t really manage to organize and we just keep it without renting. But yes, we are paying for a flat that we are not using a lot. (…)
L: And Brussels. Is it home for you?
R: Yes, it is home, because.. here is everybody that I am kind of busy with.. except of family and old friends. So it is home. And I feel home, especially in my home, like apartment. It became like a safe space — which I did not really have before. In my student life. But it’s not yes.. I am not ‘fluent’ in Brussels.. I am still a tourist in Brussels.. kind of this.
L: Yeah, it takes a lot time, no?
R: I mean, the apartment is really nice. It’s like an upgrade of what we had before. Before we were sharing a room, in a flat that we shared with a lot of people. (…) That changed and that is good but I also feel that.. there is something with that area here, and also around.. this area.. I feel comfortable here and I start feeling at home.
L: Like St.Gilles?
R: Yes, around here and also by Foret, where I lived before.. I enjoy the center and.. I feel it, like.. But it’s not the same level yet where you were born, but… (..) It’s very much home in terms of what I need.. or what I want… Its also a quite special situation, because my partner (…) It’s home in that sense, I am not far away from.. from people that I can’t talk to and get help from..
- I ask R where he is hanging out and what he sees as his places (10:45-11:15):
R: In the city center too… And from having studied at PARTS.. so the only thing that you do when you study at PARTS is you go and see performances. So you get to know the bars and stuff around the venues. I like to hang out there too. (…)
- After a while we jump to the question of what is free time for R:
R. (…) So it was a lot of computer games and hanging around back at that time. And since then… since I started to do this seriously, it’s partly about making it easier when.. when I am not free. So when I am not dancing. To prepare it and make that easier. My body, exercising. I always have been into exercising, in a way.
L: So you do that in your free time? To be ready..
R. Yeah, to be ready. I mean, not to be ready to.. when someone asks me, then I can do it, but more.. yeah, it’s also a strange relationship to work. It’s strange to think about it as free time. Because also when I am thinking about it now, that I am working with ROSAS, I am working with and for ROSAS, but I am equally working for myself. It’s not something that is necessarily paperwork that I leave there.. It’s that I work on myself.. And when I am outside of it, it’s not that I am preparing for work. It’s that I am preparing myself…
L: So when you say preparing, is this also like networking or (…)
R: Not necessarily. It’s more that I have the sense that the compromise… the contract is like ‚un-determent’, but I know this is not for.. for ever.. or a long time. I have not yet figured out how long I see myself doing that, but it’s not for a very long time, and I just want myself more involved in the question what I do, so not only where I do it. (…) So I am working on my dancing, basically. And its taking parts of the time where I am not at work. So I am taking part of the time and continue working, but for myself. Its also the thing that; Before dance was work, it was something I did in my free-time. And now that it is work, it’s still something I do in my free time. So its not work but it is work… (..) And then I am in a strange phase of looking for other stuff that I could do… I am not very good in making.. drawing the line between.. like: in letting it go, dropping it…
L: And what would you like to do? You know, what do you think would maybe help you to do that, to put the mind in another place..?
R: Hm, it’s a good question. But I don’t know. It’s just hard for me to find something where I don’t ‘read-in’ stuff… Like, I was trying climbing for a while. But then I draw immediately a line.. (..) And then it also becomes work.. so it also becomes dance.
L: And does it bother you that it becomes dance.. Like; that it transforms?
R: It does somehow, yes. Even though it’s not dance… (…) It’s just that I don’t think dance is the only thing that I want to do. Maybe when I was a bit younger, that is what I thought but now I have the feeling I want to do other things.. try other things, have to do other things to become… good at it. And I found it a bit.. almost tiering when I can connect it to dance.
L: When you can’t connect it to dance? Or you can?
R: When I can connect it to dance. Because it is on the same ‘thread’ then the other things that I am doing..
L: And where do you think that comes from, that you want to do other things?
R: I think it comes from the fact that.. I notice myself.. when I am busy with something and I can’t not solve it, its always clear.. when the issue is solving itself.. (…) It’s just the fact that.. to have a break from it.. so you can get some distance.. cause to always be in it, you are not.. I mean, I don’t get necessarily smarter. (..) and it takes energy in a way. Energy that I could use for other stuff. And I am looking for something to.. not necessarily to distract, like thinking of something else.. But doing something else without having this sense of.. going forward…
L: Maybe also something that you can relate to…
R: But I think it becomes difficult. Because when I am involved in it, I can easily relate it to dancing… Doing things that I can only ‘observe’..? I mean, I am into watching movies, also because we are traveling a lot, and I find it nice but its.. like not enough. I want to do something else.. But I am shying aways somehow of things that are physical…
- R is saying that he is looking for something to do, other than dancing, he is saying that (22:20-23:20) he is starting to learn french:
R: It’s something.. much more a process. It’s not something that I can accomplish and then it’s done. - I also say, that is also helping opening up the french speaking community in Bxl, he does not really react on that, he talks about observing him while learning different languages, that there is no pressure in it:
R: There is no pressure to it. And its how you said, its also opening up things. It will do something good. But it does not come out of necessity.
R: I would be very busy and active and lalala.. and then Sunday, I would not do anything, just not care. Kind of, just, ’cloud’ through a day, doing nothing. But I think this comes out of a necessity. Its not that I decide - it’s more of a reaction then a decision…
L: And how is that reaction triggered..?
R: By not taking a break. I mean, like, not managing to step out what I am busy with. Cause I find that, coming into the last year of school, my plan was to not work directly. I felt, also when I was a teenager, I thought always that I would need some time, outside of… doing something. I always though that this would generate something.. not something new, but I would just have my own motivation for it, it would be more balanced, in a way. But then in the end it did not happen and I started working directly. And now, that I am working for a while there, its not longer ‘new’. It’s like the new normal. And now, I actually come back to that, that I try finding a break so I can come back.. not do anything.. like to feel, to try new stuff. And it’s actually nice to travel a lot. There is something nice about that, like being in a hotel room, and you don’t bring anything more than what you need, there. There is not that many option. So you can not get caught up in to many things, its easier to make choices… of what to do. And also, to do nothing — so just watching movies.
- I talk about the decisions and that taking them can be stressful for me, saying then: L: You somehow have to choose, so; “What do I do now?“, and this can get somehow stressful..
R: Yea-a, that you have to… kind of justify the choices that you do, somehow. Like; now I am doing something that is productive.. Something that will help me later, in a way. And I have the feeling, that this kind of motivation is doing something.. Of course when you busy with it, it can be nice and you can get stuff out of it, but at the moment you take the decision, you kind of just ‚postpone’ the decision to enjoyment. Like; Its going to be nice for me later. You kind of prepare for something else. And I think that becomes tiering, this kind of feeling, pushing things forward all the time. And then on the other hand - no, that’s the thing: I think at the moment I don’t really take that decision, to not do anything, it just happens, because I don’t want to do the other options. So I think it would be better to.. before I actually need (intention) to do something not productive, to do something else, so when I come back into the other thing, it’s not.. the choice is not an effort in itself, kind of, it’s just.. a matter of organization. And I think it can be as simple as that; to make it easier for your self to make those decisions.
L: (…) And what would you help you with that.. I mean, taking that decision more actively.. maybe people or..?
R: I mean, yes, I hope this comes with a little bit of time, but you get in touch with people that are not busy with what I am busy with. Because here.. so the whole circle of people that I know and that I am like surrounded by — not like ‘surrounded by’ in a negative sense — that I am like around.. they are all busy with what I am busy with. And in a sense, what we share is what we busy with. And it takes a lot of effort for two people that are busy with the same thing to go out.. It’s not that it takes a lot of effort, but it’s like, way less probably, and also not to sink back into it. So to spend time with people that I don’t work with.. and sometimes we just spend time doing something else, but it’s quite easy, also in that stage where we know each other through what we do.. so our relationship is because we work together.. so it’s easy to glide into that. And it’s not that this is not important, but… (…) But I mean it happens with free time, yes, that I spend time with people..
L: And with dancers,.. or..?
R: Dancers.. yeah, dancers.
L: And also not-dancers..?
R. Hm.. when I am here, not so much.
- R talks about what he likes to do; he enjoys cooking, he does not go out so much, kind mild in that sense, not like other people that he knows. R talks about his (35:25-36:00) relationship with another dancer, special situation: same schedule. (38:00-38:30), he talks about, that he likes cooking, you do and direct output, where he has not many choices, “simplified version of life”.
Then I ask him about his rational behind wanting to take time off:
L: Dropping off, why is it important, why do you do it?
R: I do it because I want to.. I want to continue for a long time, I think. I mean, I want to continue for what I am doing for a long time. And I don’t want to get tiered of it. I want to have the feeling of.. In school, and also in work.. when you have to do what you like to do, you don’t really know anymore if you do it because you like it. Because you have to do it anyways. So even when you like it, you have to do it. And even when you don’t like it, you have to do it. And then you.. I don’t really have a good connection to doing what I like, cause I have to do what I like. And then, in a sense, to take time off, and to do something else, that can be what ever, doing what ever, this will connect me more to the feeling that I know.. that is why I do it. And not that I only have to do it. Cause after a certain time.. I don’t know anymore if I really like it or if I just do it because I have to.. And I expect that from myself. And doing something for a long time.. especially not dancing. I could understand it when I would work in a hospital. And I would have moment where I am like “I don’t like it, but I still do it”. Here I would find it justifiable to still do it, it is useful directly. But in dancing, when I spend a lot of time in it and I don’t like it, this does not make any sense.
- I come back to the rituals, (42:30-43:10), we talk about cleaning, showering, R is coming back to the cooking. Later, he comes to listening to music:
R: Listening to music is something that is for me like really in between… eh, what I do and what I would like to do. Because I think enjoy music for music, like a lot, and also for what I do with it.. the thoughts that provokes in terms of dancing, moving. (..)
- R is talking about playing the piano, which he would like to come back to (44:55-46:05) R says:
R: It (playing the piano) would have connection to dance. It can be used, in so many ways, to connect to dance. But if I go into it.. its not at all the same thing. Hm.. it’s not at all for the same reasons. So I have my eyes on it, although right now I am busy with other stuff…
L: And when you say, not for the same reasons, what would be the.. rational for playing the piano?
R: (..) Like for example the climbing. It’s not the same, but something can directly translate to.. dancing. There is something that is the same. But when I am.. I mean, I could name many things.. but the piano, I think… when I think of the music that I am playing in terms of dancing and how I could use it for, there is a lot to think about, but… if when I don’t take that into account.. and I just play, and I don’t think about it in that way.. its not that closely connected. But the climbing, its closer.. it’s through the body. It’s that in dancing you build up this way of moving and certain patterns. And then when you do other stuff with your body.. (…)
We are having another beer, R starts again (50:35-52:00):
R: You feel it when you are busy with it. When you are in this type of life. You feel, that it can not be like this.. forever. And not even.. you know, like until I am 65, not even forever like that, but.. it’s.. it’s inherent to the life style… Ahm, it’s taking a lot. And it’s the beauty of it and the tough thing about it. And for me, this is how you somehow find out what is not sustainable, in a way. Recently I was thinking about this a lot. Also relating to this traveling that we were talking about.. and being everywhere and not getting into the place where you are. Just being there for this one hour on stage. And this hour is the same hour than in the next place.. and in the next place and in the place. And it’s not sustainable.. When what it is what is nice about it, is bad about it. Like, when you can not separate the negative thing from it self… (…) When you.. what’s.. what is not working about it, is nice about it. When this is a part, why it becomes exciting.. why it triggers you.
-(…) R talks about partying and that this is related: That he could not party as much, because the way he is partying when he does, he would not be able to sustain it, doing it a lot. I say that I am the same and then we talk about parties and then I ask him:
L: So when you say that it is not very sustainable, is there also a fear behind… that this can not go on forever.. so is there a time…
R: Yeah, for sure.. For sure that, that is a part of it. Because a big thing is why I started dancing and I continued dancing is because.. there is something with vanity to it.. It is also something with you, I mean, you are.. to get appreciation for that.. I can not deny that. And of course that also reflects on me, my work being… like the work ‘on me’ in a way. So this is a big part of it..
L: So are you saying that its that that is somehow bothering you..that it is a work ’on you’…?
R: No, not that it is work on me but… it is concerning me that as more as I get into it.. and all this things that I pursue, so when I reach that (intention) point of my dancing, I will get that (intention) thing out of it.. so also the thing with working for a big company.. (…) and I think that part of it, that: “Look at me, look at me!“, it slowly becomes less relevant, and I.. it would not work for me to have the same motivation.. so I have to change the way I look at dancing.(…)
R: Its strange, to be a half year out of school and already feel that everything that you prepared for is.. in ways, it is impossible to continue.. and it would somehow be a really nice life.. but it can not be in the way that I am doing it now. That is why.. this thing of sustainability. The way I am with my dancing now, it will not last for long… before I get tiered of it, or before I can not keep it up…
L: And which fear is bigger, that you can not keep it up, because of the body, because of whatever… Or because you fear, that you will loose interest?
R: I think that is the bigger fear. But I always… when I was younger, what I told people then is that I would stop as soon as I would not like it, that I would just let it go, but now this is also not.. Its not evident anymore either. Because you do it.. And you are doing it for many reasons. It’s not that simple anymore. But.. yeah… But I also see ways of continuing with it and being useful with it, useful then for more than for myself, in a way that is balanced…
L: And what would that be..?
R: I can give a general answer.. Starting getting into dancing.. (…) (01:05:20-01:06:00) R: I mean when it is a hobby class, you teach them dancing because they like it.. and that is the goal of it, and that’s it. But when you are in school of dancing, you teach them to dance so that they get better in what they do.. and then eventually show it. So the ‘showing’ is somehow where it end up in. And for me its becoming more and more interesting in what dance is (..) what it is in itself.
- We talking about planning and organizing (01:09:30-01:09:45), R talks about his girlfriend, which is much better in organizing then he is, he then states:
R: I am the one that likes to make plans, but really just to get it out of my head. Because when.. I keep everything in my head and I never really manage with all of it. (..) I misplace stuff and I (…) (01:10:45-01:11:05): To a certain extent it also helps me to be more in touch with myself. Because I think I could be very diligent and set a plan.. or at least, I think when I would decide to be that person, it would work. But there would just be so many things that I would loos.. like so many things, that would pass me by.. there would be so many things that I would have to ignore. And I am super bad in ignoring things! I can’t ignore stuff, I am bad at it. (….)
R: The people that I am not in direct contact with.. I mean, luckily I have a lot of friends.. who are.. like close friends.. Not only because we work together or went together to the same school, but because we became good friends that also go into work. But the other people who are my friends — it quite a big effort to see each other. Because schedules are quite strange. I mean, the way my schedule is working right now is very hard to.. be bad at organizing and meet up with people. Because I have to somehow know ahead.. and I am bad in this. But this is probably now one of the reasons why I try to get a bit better in that, because its somehow the only reason that I can deal with my free time; in terms of crossing other people. But what feels nice is that I feel.. so when I am home alone, which is strange for me, and I was like, what if something happens? Like; Where do I go? And then I had this feeling, no actually, I could list a lot of people that I could go to. So there is actually this very close geographical connection to.. to people that I feel save.. or connect to, kind of. And talking about it, I mean, its a very specific story, but.. Like there was a day were we had rehearsal during September and then we would soon go touring and (..) we were in the tram on the way home and we saw, on the other side of the street, like something like a big accidents. So there was a lot of blood and, you would see it from fare, and the bike is (…) We were passing, and then my girlfriend was like: “The guy on the ground, he had curly hair, it looked like….this guy that was from our class..” And I was like, no, but a lot of people have curly hair - so still in this state of like, I am not settled here. So there is no chance that this can be this guy. I mean I know maybe 50 people here. It can not be that it can be this guy. (..) But still we walked back and it was really him. And when that happened, so by chance, when chance happens that of such a small percentage.. that it would be someone that I know, because i really don’t know a lot of people here. So when that happened, I felt like, wow, yes I have a connection to that place. So when accidents and random things happen and you feel connected to it, than I really felt like: “Shit, I really live here!” because then we were the once going with him to the hospital and so on.. But until then, I was pretty sure that I was just a tourist here. And that it would not make a difference if I was here or not.. for the place, I mean. And after that, I was like, even if it’s small, there is this significant connection to people and this place that..
(..) It’s also about growing up and getting older, I guess. About responsibility. All of the sudden, you are the closest person.. so it can be transmitted to you, the responsibility. Cause the other places which I called my home I only lived in when I was younger. So there was not that responsibility, attached to it…
L: And would you like to stay in Brussels? Would you like to make it really your home (…)?
R: So when I left Sweden I was sure to come back. And now, I know that this is not going to happen. So I accepted that I am here now. And with that, I also now want to be (..) get into society more here. (…) What I like about Brussels is that there is a strong sense of community, like in the little places, like in the markets and.. People know each other and people have a sense of talking to each other.. and I like it. (…) And I think when this steps that are happening now, with learning the language and getting a bit more part of it, when this is happening, then I really think that this is going to be my home and this is were I want to stay. But there is something sentimental about.. that I wanted to come back to Sweden. (…) My partner is also Swedish (…) So home is Sweden in that sense, so ‘home’.. this is still very close. (…) .. I feel a strong connection to Sweden.. so I haven’t yet said that I am going to stay here, but I also know.. that if this is going on like this, I will not resist it. I will happily go for it, as I enjoy this city. And you know it too, I guess, when you go back to where you are from, you still feel this connection to it, but at the same time, you feel also much more how much you have changed. And it makes it evident, that the image that you have from that place, the community and the people it is not the reality. It’s a image..
L: And when you talk about it, about community and Brussels (…) would you also say that there is also this sense of community inside of the dance scene?
R: There is for sure. Ahm, there is for sure. Because, as I said before; a lot people that I know are connected to a lot of people that I know (laughs). And they.. and we know each other for that reason. For dance, or from dance. So not all of us necessarily through dancing, but.. we shared that one thing. And I think in art scenes in general, there is this tendency — and I don’t know if I like it — almost always seeing us as almost this ‘extinct group’, so like: “Oh, when we don’t.. keep it going, it is going to die out.”, kind of. And I don’t know if I am a big fan of it, but it’s there, and it definitely contributes to this fact of community. And people you know will ask you for favors or share with you information… of possibilities and that stuff. And it’s a community that goes beyond friendship. And in a way it can be related to this kind of community like neighbors, that live in the same place.. but it’s not necessarily.. it’s usually not in a.. political way. To gather together to.. in order to achieve something bigger. I don’t find this being the community so often.. I mean it happens for sure, but it’s mostly.. like trying to be this network for each other, trying to help each other survive. And by that, also helping the ‘dance scene’, in ways.. (…)
R: So for me as a dancer in Brussels, I can get in contact to any other dancer in Brussels through one person, or maybe two. So it’s a very tide community, in a way. Because also there is a big part of freelancing and classes and you have at least of other people..
L: And does it get sometimes tiering… Like, networking, it is a huge part of — especially for people freelancing (..) Do you get tiered of meeting people…?
R: I think it’s not so tiering for me, because I was never.. I mean, I was never doing that actively. It happens automatically. I did not think of it, that.. you know to stay in touch with people.. I never had that interest. It does become tiering when you feel that you don’t know anybody else. Any people outside of.. I mean I do, but not.. explicitly. I mean, it’s not huge.. I think if I knew more people outside of the dance community, it would be easier for me also to get my head out of dance, a bit. (…) But its also nice, to have the same thing.. and at the end it does not always circulate around dance. But I think it would still be good for me to know other people that do other things… Its funny, when we went to have… the first time, to have drinks with our neighbors. I mean, they are completely different people: She works as a lobbyist — which is as far from dance as you can get — and he works as.. for a chocolate company.. And they are a bit older and have a normal life, and there are there everyday, and we were talking to them for like 3 hours and (..) it was nice.. I mean, it takes me back 5-6 years at least, when I still was a lot in contact with friends that were not into dancing.
L: But then this is hard to keep up, with the schedule that you have..?
R: Yeah, that is one of the reasons, why people get tiered of touring. Because when I would be touring from Sweden — lets say from the Sweden I was involved in, because right now I am not so involved in Sweden but — my daily life is with a huge range of different people, and then coming back, this would be, uh, a clear break. And then meeting people that don’t know a single thing about dance.. But now; I come back to a bubble of dance. So now I go to a very small bubble of dance and then come back into a bit bigger bubble of dance. So yeah…
L: .. Okay, because of competition (…) So there is a solidarity, but at the same time there are very little resources..(..) So what do you say about the competition thing (01:37:30-01:40:05)?
R: I think.. from this point of view, I am like: Devil. Because.. not because I am doing bad things. Just because I went from school — and a school that has a big name here in Brussels — and when you are not form that school and you are not from here but you come here for the scene… You feel (intention) how that name PARTS and what it does.. I can for sure be like a wall. And people can’t get through it. So, first of al, I have that. And then through that and through the people (…) I mean I.. there was a open auditions for ROSAS, but they know more about us. Because they have seen us for three years.. And they already have their knowledge about how we work and kind of function and so on.. so there is not a direct link but maybe somehow of an advantage. And also the fact, that we are trained in the similar kind of dance that ROSAS do. (…) And now I have a job that is full time, with nor restriction in time — which is also a luxury in itself. So I think, for me, I am not in that competition. Right now at least. And I know I will be at one point, or like.. And in some ways I am affecting it. So I am not inside it but.. I definitely see how other people deal with it.
- R is talking about the school, that it made them move closer together, as a group = some sense of community already through school:
R: So you know the thing when you have a enemy, that this is making people moving closer together. And we had a lot of problems with the institution as such and we managed to write letters and.. this made us even stronger as a group. (…) So when we left school, we stayed in very good contact and a lot of people stayed here. And even the people that left, they keep reporting about what they are doing and how they are doing. So.. it’s a big struggle. It’s a constant compensation. You have a will what you want to do, and because of the lack of means, you can never get exactly that.. So you are compensating to get something else.. and there is always a competition involved to get it, so you always have to struggle to get it, and then you will not.. so you have to deal with the fact that you never do exactly what you want to do. (…) So, yeah, I think I am in a very different position and I think I know it. I think I know I am.. I know for sure that I don’t have a hard time — right now. And I mean… not as charity, but when people are around and they need a place to stay, we always try to welcome people, be open. We don’t rent it out necessarily, but we let people, our friends and our classmates, stay at our house and they don’t have to pay or anything like that. Because I think both of us have a bit that feeling.. that this survival is.. I am in a better position, not necessarily because I am better.. More because I am better ‘suited’ for for whatever I am doing.. and I feel like I have to give back.. or not give back but share.. in a way… But it happens only with the group of people that appreciate each other. For what they are doing. Because I think this kind of competition it happens in freelancing and so.. In between people that don’t appreciate each other — or don’t have the luxury (intention) to appreciate each others work. Are not relaxed enough in their daily life that they can step out of the fact that they need (intention) something. And to take in what is happening and enjoy fact. But when you are in a situation where you are not as rushed and you can make mistakes and you are a good group, you can see more the strength of the people and not what you don’t like. But I am aware of the fact that there is this big, big competition. You feel it. You realize it also.. like, its inevitable. Like in the audition for ROSAS there were 1400 applying, and then form that, 250 were invited to come, and the from that, then in the end, 10 people were taken. And that is not a lot, and you see, there are not that many jobs. So, yeah. There is a lot of pressure. And I also think.. I mean, luckily enough I am in the position where I don’t have to be in the situation where I have to stress about it, but when I had to, I don’t know if I would find it so.. appealing anymore. Because, as I told you already, I am not far away of considering other things, because.. I enjoy dance, but I enjoy dance for what it does to me. And I can get that form.. other things. I don’t know.. I am wondering how… So the plan I had to not go into work, after school, directly, just.. to hang around and see what I would like to do… (…)
R: (01:46:40-01:47:50) I also find it so interesting times. In the arts field. Before you had so clear rules: You got commissioned, then you get work and then it gets seen and then you get a name and then it circulates (…) Or you don’t get it and you teach and (..) Little by little, you might get recognition. But now… (…) when you want to claim something, with what you do. Although you don’t get jobs or subsidies or.. you still have possibilities to reach out to people. (…) and get feedback. Its interesting time. (…) It’s possible, but you still are going to be at a disadvantage..It’s equally creative to challenge the structure that you in, rather than deal with the content… with what is normally done.
R: No one is forced to dance… Its shit that the market… That the art field is ‘lessened’, but it should not reach a point of pity. I also would not want that someone sees my work out of pity. It should not reach that point. And people shouldn’t be afraid to do other work.. To do regular labour in order to do what they want. (01:50:45)
- I ask R about unexpected things happening in his life and his reaction to it. He answers:
R: Things like that happen, like a fight or so. But very rarely. But when it happens, it is often a good thing. Not that it happens is necessarily a good thing, but.. what is gives is usually good. Because it is also — I mean, when I am myself involved - like… For example, the thing with arguments… this balances the whole routine. But it is always good, because part of why it is happening is because (intention) of this routine… It re-questions it.. and also put’s it in a place… it’s asking for a change… And when not, it’s just a pain in the ass. Other thing, last week I was sick. And I can’t deal with being sick. Like: I can not stay home. So I stayed home for one day, because I did not want to ‘contaminate’ other people, but then I went back — and I don’t do my body a service, I don’t do other people a service. But I can’t stay home. When I am forced to stay home.. So when it happens as a reaction of doing to much, it takes for me the opportunity to do it by myself. Like, to decide it by myself. And when I was sick for 4 days and rested at home, there is nothing stoping me. I am going to go for it, like for two weeks, there is nothing stopping me. There is nothing coming in between… I can not give myself excuses, kind of. It puts the balance off, for me. (…) And there are other worries, like fears… I mean, I am afraid that age is going to catch up with me. I have always been — I always felt older than my age, so it’s not that I feel old, like oh no I am now 23 now… But I am realizing the fear to become older. I just think it’s also this thing that when you are old, you can’t rationalize what old people do. (…) Just fight it, like trying to hold on to it, this is also like this unsustainable thing… By doing that you do more damage then any good. (..) For me those things hold on for some days or weeks, and it’s also affecting my routine. Then I am questioning everything, how I deal with my body, just all… In every single way.. so my priorities in general. But the process in itself is always good.
- I am talking about laking control sometimes, R says:
R: I study where I study, I eat exactly what I want.. Not just the little things. But when I am just totally loosing the fact that… I am not in control of everything, then it hits me mostly. That something happens. And then I just realize: I can’t be in control of everything. And I used to be very reelected that this was difficult for me, but now I try to accept it.. (…)
L: What do you like most about what you are doing? And what is scaring you?
R: What I like most about what I am going? What I enjoy most is.. despite the fact that there is a lot of preparation and work.. That is when I am doing what I am doing, it’s stimulating all of me, my thought and my body and all of me. (…) Besides of that is that I know, that with the people that I work with and also the ones that see the work… For them some of the things I do is what takes them out… you know. And also when I am doing it, then I am not in many places. I am really at that place. And it’s ‘centering’ me somehow. What I don’t like about it.. is the fact that I don’t think it would work when.. it would not go around when everybody in the world would be doing what I am doing. So in a sense, I am doing something that other people couldn’t do - or: Because I am doing it, other people can not do it. So, I am taking people places. And also because of… I know the more I do it.. I kind of keep on ‘indulging’ into myself. It’s somehow also a movement away from people, in the direction away from people. Into myself. and I don’t like that about it.
L: And are there means to not do that?
R: To not move away from others? There are. To share it. But it’s — I mean there are people closer to sharing it with other people… But.. I am not there at the moment…
L: Yes, with the schedule that you have…
R: And it’s not just the time. Like I..maybe it is — I just feel it is not the time yet. I feel I first have to go into it and then maybe able to give something back. It’s hard to do it and at the same time, giving something back. It’s not the time, I feel. (…) It’s somehow related to the thing we talked about.. with the partying: When I would do party… when I would do it often, I could not keep it up long. So when I would try to share with people what I get when I am doing it alone.. It would not be the same. I have to go into it alone. And not loose it, that I want to share. But when I would do the two things, it would not be the same thing. It would be a third thing, but it would not be the same.
End of interview.
Aurelie* Transcript, 17.1.2017, duration: 1:44 min
A. (w, 29, Iceland) came to Brussels in 2010, is a bit more then 6 years in Brussels.
Originally from Reykjavík, freelance dancers and producer, just got engaged to her partner, also working as a freelancer in the cine industry.
First minutes talking about what I want to do. Plus; see main background, general info, and why A. is in Brussels, as well as current working situation and projects:
L: What I am interested in is not so much your work practices. But actually yes — but much more how you are spending your free-time. So if you have certain strategies to take time off but also work-time that is to directly related to actual production or dancing.. So how do you organize that. As you guys have some much to do apart of the actual dancing.. So how much of the organizing time you using and how do you do that. But first, about your.. How did you come to Brussels?
A: I came to auditions for P.A.R.T.S. I applied and came in. 4 years of school. (…)
I am out of school since 2014. While in school as mostly focusing on school, so not so much on career or anything, just on what they had to teach us. (…)
A: So when I came out of school, I was a bit: „Uh!“ I did a piece with Inga already during summer, and another people she still works with. Also with people from Reykjavík.. My sister is a theater director so I did some other stuff with here and people from Iceland… I did the choreography there. This was already the summer of the graduation. (…)
- A. talks bout her interests and how they not only lay on production but also on research and choreography, as well as the social environment where all of this takes place. (…)
A: So then I also applied for Inga and I, the production salary in Iceland. So I spend probably all of September writing the dossier..
L: So this was also connected to some contacts that you had from home?
A: Yes, and I also know Inga from before and were always wanted to do something together. So as soon as we graduated we were like, okay, lets do something… So in September (2014) I spend applying for subsides for THE VALLEY which we then got in January (2015) …. (…) So it really takes a really long time, it takes nearly a year to do a piece.. Yes, as you have to apply and.. So we then premiered in November 2015.
L: And what you doing now?
A: Now I am doing this research projects. Its called SECOND HAND KNOWLEDGE. Together with Alex, the one I worked before with in the other piece.
- A explains the project, the she adds:
A: So its about the periphery of dance.. So Siros, on a greek Island, and Arthus in Dänmark and …(…) L: And how did you find this places?
A: Mostly through people I know..
L: Are you doing this all alone? How do you do that? So you have an idea and then.. (08:22).
A: So I am know a artist at residency in PIANOFABRIK. So the help me to organize this a bit. So I applied here in Belgium and I got the subsidies for this project here.
L: From whom?
A: From the folkish subsidies. So PIANOFABRIK helped me with that. And they help me taking care of the budget. So for THE VALLEY I did the whole production. So I was in charge of the money and batata. And for SECOND HAND KNOWLEDGE PIANOFABRIK does the budget. But I do all the contact with the people. But then when I go to Greece, so we went together with (…) and … together to Iceland and then we discuss it a lot and Alex is also theoretical advisor. So I am not just alone it this.. (…) So I did Impulstanz, this huge dance festival you know it.. So I meet a lot of people there and we talked about this project and then some people were: „You should come to my country, you should come to my country!“ And then I just mailed some people and yes..
- We discuss the money thing again: So the money comes from flemish government, but the PIANOFABRIK is helping A to manage it.
A: So they (the PIANOFABRIK) help me with my artistic trajectory. So whatever I want to do they are somehow supporting me and helping me… (…) I presented it (my idea) on an evening in PIANOFABRIK and there were some people just really interested and they invited me to have a space and accommodation and.. So its also helping me that people know about what I would like to do.. (…) But yes, it is an expensive project. I mean the flights and everything.. Here in Belgium you have residencies that offer accommodation and food and money but there, they don’t have anything so this is why I think it is quite nice that I got the money from Belgium so I can travel there. Because they need people there.
11:29: Mobility/Home/St. Gilles
L: So you have a lot of mobility. But would you consider Brussels your home?
A: Yes. I have my house here and my boyfriend.
L: And you live here, very close (in St. Gilles)?
L: And are you a lot around here, in the neighborhood. I mean the PIANOFABRIK is also right here?
A: Yes, I am mostly here. Especially now that I am working like this. I mean we were in Iceland but now I just open my computer or email…. Now I just handed in a new dossier for Flemish subsidies. Of a project we are paying later this year. And the it is just computer work and then I am just at home. (12:24). So the I am at home, mostly just writing emails. Or I have to plan.
L: So this is interesting. So you have the current project that goes until..
L: …and now you are already applying for the next one.. or one or two..?
- A. is talking about a piece she would like to do in 2018, but is not applying for yet. Right now she is appealing for a group-piece which she would like to do later this year, as choreographer. She says: R: So to be able to apply for the dossier here, I need to have at least three performances already set. So already decided on (approved work) a piece that I have not even started making. (…) So I can not really start planning many different projects, as you really have to focus. It took me a year to get al the participants together and .. I wanted to apply in September but I do not have enough partners so I applied now… (…)
A: You have to somehow get the people and get the attention.
L: And how do you do that?
A: Yeah, exactly, its very hard.
- I talk about the social aspect of the work in dance like the networking… Then A continues:
A: Yes, I think actually would say 80 % of my work is this. And they do not teach you that in school. They show you how to dance and I would like to be in the studio but to be able to be in the studio, you need to do all the other work. So that people see you. That people see your face and make the link to the names.. so they will (emphasized) open the email. Because otherwise they will not even open the email. They get a million mails a day and when they don’t know you they will not even read it. So this is really long — takes long time.
L: So this is actually what I wanted to ask you. So you would say dancing is like 20% — and organizing is the rest?
A: Yes, probably.
L: And you would say, organizing is… like writing the emails and …?
A: Yes, like writing a concept, doing the budget.. And also now we are also presenting, so touring with THE VALLEY for example and I have to continuously (emphasized) emailing people for (…) and the picture and the budget and the tap-writer and all of this. This is also work. So its before and after and during (the piece) — there is just so much work around that you have to do. That I have to do. For THE VALLEY I did everything. And then, yeah. Like all the communication, and the budget, the whole administrational work, and make the contracts with the people we are working with.. But now I have PIANOFABRIK, so its a bit easier. But it still means that I have to.. as they are a big institution. So they don’t work with me everyday. So I just go there sometimes, which means that I still have to take care that this needs to be transferred to this and this needs to be transferred to this and lalalal… It’s still a lot of work.
L: Yes. Ah. What did I want to ask… Ah, yes, how much of this is paid work? When you talk about 80%, is this paid? Or how does that go?
A: (smirk) Not paid. Normally you just get paid the days that you are in residency.
L: Aha. So when you do this.. I mean answering emails is somehow work. So where do you do it? Could you do it there? And would they pay you for that, or..? or you do it in a cefe? Or at home?
A: Yeah, at home or in a cafe. Normally when I am in residency, I don’t want to take time to do the mails and so on because it can take hours (emphasized). You are sending emails and then are just hours gone. But when I am in creation, I just want to work on the piece. So. Until now, it is unpaid work. So what happened with THE VALLEY is that I applied for 5 months and we also decided, Inga and I, that I get a bit more paid because (emphasized) I would do all the administrative stuff. So in a way we got money for research, and taking the time and the studio, but also I got a little bit more money for doing all this. But now with SECOND HAND KNOWLEDGE I am one organizing it, so we decided that I should get a little more paid as I go to all the locations..
L: Yes, you have to organize it..
A: Yes, yes, and that is like most of the work. So, yes, we decided on that. But normally, you don’t get anything paid. This is why some people get like a real producer to take care of that and then you pay them to do all of that.
L: And a lot of people do that? I mean, you have to be able to pay them?
A: There are some, they take % to do this kind of work. Like full production work. Like PIANOFABRIK, they do this production work but they get supported from the government. They don’t take anything. But yes, I don’t know if you know Laura, she has like her own producer, doing all the emailing and stuff and I know that she is taking a big %. Yes, this is also a matter (does the money-sign with the fingers). There is also this CARDAMON PRODUCTIONS, there are people like ELEANOR BAUER, who Inga worked with, I think they are doing things like that too.
L: ..Yes, she also wrote interesting stuff.. About work and so on.
A: (…) Yes, but this work that I am doing, it is normally not validated. I mean, its not valued when you do it yourself. Normally. It’s just validated off you pay someone to do it for you.
L: Yes, and I think there are a lot of people they do it by themselves.
A: Yes, I think so too.
L: I guess that is challenging. I mean, you have to organize, self-organize everything. And when you for example go to the theater to look at someone else’s production, is it also to meet other people? Or how those that go? I mean, as you said, you have to make people opening up your mail, be somehow present in their minds. So would you… Are you going to a lot of other pieces of other people? And why? Because you are interested? Or is it sometimes also: „Oh no, I have to go there again!“ Or is it because you really want to see that piece. I mean, I guess it is both.. but…
A: It depends on the piece (laughs). But I try to see most things. Also I don’t know why I should make that work when we don’t go to see each others work. It’s just very … The dancers that live here see each others work. Its mostly for that. And then I also think its always interesting to see as much as you can see. I mean, I tell that to my students the whole time. Just go and see everything (emphasized). So. Of course when its someone that I like a lot its really great to see. But sometimes I know that I don’t like that persons work but I still (emphasized) go and then I am like huhu - Why am I going?! (…) So I go for that reason. To inspire me. To see what my peers are doing and ’tatütata’, but also here in Belgium, sometimes there are just no people here. Because we all travel so much. Like now: Inga is away, Sandy is away — all my friends are kind of away. They are somewhere in residency in Antwerpen or.. So there are days where me and my partner feel that we are the only (emphasized) people in Belgium. So we also go to see performances to meet the people who are, you know, in the field. To meet the people you know. As, most of the time, you know most of the people.
L: So you also do it out of a social reason. To meet the people you have a connection to? A. Yes, definitely.
L: Okay. Let’s move on to the free time. What is free-time for you? I mean, I know it’s quite a difficult question but..
A: .. no, I actually try to be very strict about it. You know, especially when I am home. When I am in residency, I don’t care about free time. Then I just want to be in (emphasized) residency. And then we do not really have free time. I mean, fee take we eat dinner, we have lunch, but I am there to work and I like to have like two weeks work where I wok intensively. But when I go like to Greece or Cyprus, so places I don’t visit all the time, then of course we like to have days off and go and travel and see stuff — so little bit of holidays also. But when I am at home working, then it is, I think, the most difficult question. Because then you are there and yeah — you get emails the whole day long and ’tatütata’. But I really try to organize my time. So I have been experimenting with different ways of working at home, like: Waking up super early, doing all the administrational work before lunch, then, do Yoga, and the lunch and then do more creative work, like doing research and this kind of work that I am doing in the afternoon. Normally this works best for me. As I feel like I am more able to do the administrational work in the morning, and then I am more able to do creative, like reading or research in the afternoon as well. And then: At five I say: „Now, I am done!“. And then when I get emails I don’t answer them until the morning after. You know. To say; This is office-time and yes. Just to separate the days. Especially when I work at home, I have to give myself this rules. But sometimes (laughs) it get horrible messed-up. Then I wake up and am on the computer in the bath, still doing something and at the same time playing computer games, and not knowing, and then its evening and I am watching a movie and I get a email and I say „I have to answer this now (emphasized)“ — So yes, it depends. Just now that I was doing the dossier, it was always in the evinces that they asked me to do something, can you do this or that, and yes, my boyfriend got really pissed at me because we were watching a movie and I was always — for hours — changing the file. But yes (pause) — normally I say: A 5, 5:30 pm, work is done.
L: And does that work? I mean, you just said it..
A: Yes, I mean, sometimes, when it’s not too stressful. So when there is no deadline or something. Although, I find myself, so i am planing something with Inga and Inga is maybe in residency so she can only answer these emails and ‘tatata’ in the after hours, so in the evenings — so this really changes things…
L: And do you have any strategies. I mean, you say that you try to schedule certain times, that you have times that you use more for organization and then more creative-times, that you use, that help you to find new ideas or whatever. Would you say that you may have rituals. Like in the morning, like eating.. or something that is like connected to consuming something, like listening to music.. so like, strategies, where you say, I am having this time that is like holly, that I am using only or this.
A: Definitely. I have many rituals and I am extremely strict about it. So my rule is: I always try to wake up early. And I do breakfast. And while I do breakfast, I don’t open the emails. I look at the news. I really try to not work. But this is what I try. It often goes like (makes wavy sign). When I wake up and I know I have to answer this email.. but: I try to have this news-time. And then, I normally put on some music, that I know that I like to listen to while I am doing this administrational-work, and then I just try… I always have a to-do list — and I try to get through through as much as I can. And with this to-do list I put all the things that I know I have to do on this to-do list, so this is just to get the things done. So now it was buying plane-tickets, find accommodation, finding people to participate in the workshop, so just a list full of stuff I need to do and I try to get through as much as I can. But — as normally I can never finish it — so then I just quit at 12:30 or something..
L: ..really? you have like an hour where you say: „That’s it?!“
A: Yes, when I am like done with this task or I feel I can not do more now, I quit. And then I do Yoga. And I always try to turn my phone off for yoga. Because it bothers me a lot because when I forget to turn it off, I hear the emails coming in, and I always (emphasized) check my phone — but I can not check my phone when I am do yoga (emphasized). And I do only like 40 min to an hour maybe. But like today; I got like 7 emails during a 25 minuets yoga class and I was just checking and stopping and checking it.. Because there are some many things I had to answer and ’blablabla’.
L: And you where doing that while doing yoga?
L: So sometimes it does not work?
A: No. but I try (laughs).
L: But when does it work? And when does it not work?
A: It works when I turn my phone off.
L: Or when you maybe don’t have so much pressure..?
L: And would you say, it does mostly work? Or more often not really?
A: It works most of the time. Just this last weeks not, I was just super.. A lot (emphasized) of planning. I had to do everything (emphasized), the dossier and the planing of another one in Zagreb, and another project.. So I had to plan all of this. And it was also so much more planing then what I though it would be. And then the performing of THE VALLEY in two locations, etc.. — So, it’s just has been a lot. (…) But last year, I had not so much free-at-home-time since may last year. I just have been in residencies almost the whole time, since then. But I remember last year, I remember having a lot of time at home like this and I remember I was doing research, I was reading many books on the material that I was doing, and documenting down, and thinking of questions and methods, and trying materials out at home like light and stuff… and then I remember also getting this writers-block. Where I was just: Writers-block. And then I started to think of these rituals..I would start to listen to music, while I was working like this. And then, when I am like, then I take time to do the dishes, or I clean a bit, and so on..
L: Yes, chores!
A: Exactly, chores. And thats maybe a half an hour that I take, to maybe clean up the breakfast and then I am always listening to podcasts, so I do that as long as the podcast takes and then: I go back to work. Because then, when it’s like a 10 hour day, at home, until dinner time. So when I don’t separate it like this — the it does like (makes spinning sign with fingers). And then when I had the writers-block, I would always go for a walk. Or last year I started morning-running. So I would go for a run, then there is time for lunch, then, I would take walks in the park.
L: Yes, this is also a question..
A: … yes, when it comes to leisure time: For me it’s also important to know when it is my leisure time and when not, because otherwise, its just one long blur. So I also like to know. So now, I am doing the chores. And now I am not working. No, now I am just doing the chores, and i just listen to this podcast and then I go back to my desk. Just to chop the day up.
L: And the podcast?
A: I just like to listen to them.
L: And then you just listen?
A: No, while I am doing the chores. Or when I go on a walk.
L: Why do you think it is important to have free time?
A: Of course I need to have free time. Because when I don’t separate it… I would not see the difference, I would not enjoy working and I would not enjoy not-working. And when I don’t chop the days up like this, then I feel to be actually less productive, actually. Because I would just do something and then be an hour on Facebook. And then sending an another mail and then being back on Facebook. So I be less productive. So for me it’s more productive to say: Okay, now I do this for 1,5 hour and then I do something else, listening to a podcast, do some chores, do something else. So for an hour I do this, and then I do yoga. So kind of schedule the day, just for myself, so not everything smashes into one blur. (…) But when you are in the studio, it is completely different. Then I normally warm up from 9-10. Of course I chop up by day, but we do improvisation and then writing and then we have a lunch break. So we work on different task and.. and I always work the whole day, until 6, and then I have free time, plan something, watch the video from the day before. So of course it’s the same, but for me it is just so much easier to work when you are in the studio. You know that you just there and you work and you just there. But when you are at home, you have all that Facebook and all this…
L. I think it is really because it is only on you. As, you structure it… (I talk about the decision, and that it is on you, which is hard). What is better for my project, what is better for my work-flow…etc.
A: I agree. But sometimes I get in panic. I don’t know when to do things. Should I write this email already, should I wait. So stupid, how I can get nervous about stupid things like this.
So I have this App, its called WONDERLIST. So normally I have like this week, and then the month. So its like longer time, so I know I have to do this this month, ..Today, this week. And This is from last week — and there are always something still there, this thing, it has been on the to-do-list since December. In this week! So there are things like organizing my computer. So when I have done all the things on the list I know I really have to organize my computer, as my computer is huge mess. But I never do it, so this is never happening.
L: Is there a moment you don’t do anything, so not cleaning or so.. Which is quite active still, but nothing, not everything planned..?
A: The evenings. I try to keep them free. Mostly I end up watching Netflix but I could also go to a show or meet a friend. So I try to not work then, I try to keep them free. And also weekends, I try to keep them free. (strong intention)
L: Does it work?
A: Yeah. Most of the time. Because I don’t like to work on weekends. I hate to work on weekends. And I really think, we should not work on weekends. I really do. No, but when I have residencies. I try to keep them free. I try to do all the stuff on Monday or Tuesday and then by Friday, I am mostly done with the task I gave myself for this week and say: „That’s it.“ And I don’t answer my emails on Saturdays.
L: Do you block them?
A: No. I just don’t look at them. Okay. When there is something important, like last — now, that we handed in the dossier on Sunday, I look. But normally, I try to be done. And when I did the piece with the company, we worked both Saturdays and Sundays. But this was because we had very little time.
L: From 1-10 scale, that you succeed to not work on weekends (1= not succeeding)?
A: But this is also because I started realizing, because when you get out of school, you work anytime and everywhere. I just realized that it is important, just really try to separate. (…) So its funny. My boyfriend is a freelancer also. He is cine-grapher. So when he works, he works 15-20 hours a day. Its crazy, but when they shoot and they are on site — it’s just very difficult work. But then, he doesn’t work for 3 weeks. And then, he wakes up at 11h, ’lalalala’. I am much more routined, he is just like working and then not and then we are in a cafe and suddenly he is like: „Oh! I am going to read this script now.“ And I am like: „No, we are now in a cafe.“ I separate the time. This is not work-hour now. We are in a cafe! And he does not have that, he is not trying to separate it as much as I try. So this is also why I try to wake up un the mornings, to have a morning by myself, then its very quiet…
A: I do Yoga a lot. I also run or go to cafes. But in cafes, I also work a lot. (…) I do the yoga at home. On Youtupe or some website with yoga classes.
L: Do you have a fixed time to do it?
A: So normally I try to do it in the morning. Or after lunch time. At home. Jogging also in the morning or lunch time. But also this yoga and jogging: I mean okay, its a leisure activity, but I would still also consider it working. Because, I am a dancer, and I need to keep by body in shape. So this is also something that I do .. so I think we dancers we have to look at that too as something that we need to do because we are dancers, but also as a part of work.
L: Do you like it? Or you do it for the purpose of staying fit?
A: Both. I could really not, not move. And I really like yoga and running, this is why its like my activity of choice. But I also do it for the profession.
A: Yes, I did a lot of yoga courses. But it’s just so expensive. And also, when you do it somewhere, it also needs more time. You need to get there and come back. So yoga is part of my practice, so I can do it at home.
C: So I often work in cafes. Especially when I work a lot at home. And at home it gets really exhausting at one point. So in the afternoon, I often go to cafes. (…)
L: Is it always planned that you work, or you also ending up working with before thinking of just having a cafe?
A: Quite the opposite I think. I go with the intention of working and then I meet someone I know. Because, I really have to admit. I really like my leisure time a lot, so when I go there, without my computer, with my boyfriend, decided to have free, have a coffee, on a Saturday afternoon, so I will most probably get an email and then maybe look at it but then decide, to answer it later.
L: So this is very consciously..
A: Yeah, I mean, I think I am a bit lazy. So this is probably why I am so strict about it. I just really like my lazy time.
- Out of the city
A: Yes, yeah, a lot. I just went to.. ah. Hm, ja, I just been in Iceland for such a long time. So me and my boyfriend we go sometimes to Paris, or to London, his father lives in London.
L: And then its holiday? Or you take your stuff with?
A: Hm… That deepens, what you consider to be work: For example, I always do Yoga. Really depends what is work. I most of the time read a theoretical book that is somehow related to what I am woking on at the moment, for the research. But is that leisure or is that work? I would say its kind of both… But I always take my phone, for example. And when I get an email, I will probably answer it. And if it is important, I will probably immediately answer it.
- A. talks about going out to nature/ talking about not “going out” to nature, as she considers herself part of it as she grew up in Iceland…
L: And in Brussels?
A: Park foret or just this park around the corner, I run in the park, am going to do activities.
L: Nights? Out?
A: Yeah, I try — when friends are here! I mean, sometimes there is just no one here. I been working till evening this Saturday and then we eat — and then we were like; „What are we doing!?“ So on Saturday we were supposed to meet Sunde (another dancer) and then he was to tiered and then we were like: „We have no other friends!“ So what were we doing: Netflix! On Saturday night, we watched Netflix! … So I go for drinks, go out. But then I was so long not in Brussels. I ask myself: Do we have friends here? Because everyone is always gone.
- I ask A. about creative leisure..
A: It really depends how tiered I am. So I can watch a film with content. It really also depends where I am in a process. When I am in the beginning of a process, I am super inspired. Then I watch films that are inspiring For this projects. Then I want to read books that are inspiring for this project. But then I also see, that when we come towards the end of a project, and the stress is high, and we are working 12-14 hours a day — Then, what I want to watch when I come home is just something where I can completely turn by brain off. So the I just watch friends or something.
Because then I don’t have more space for input. But this really depends on where I am in the process. For example last year, I would say that in the beginning I was 75% ready for input, but towards the end of the year, I was just so exhausted. Then I only watched crap. And I also eat crap then. (…) I just read a article where someone compared it to childbirth. After, you feel like you can never have a baby again, you just feel tiered. And after a while — you do it again.
L: And how do you regenerate then?
A: Sometimes I just need a whole Sunday to do like do nothing (intention). So with the company, we just worked everyday from the morning till the evening an it was just so stressful, so immediately after the premiere, I had another premiere a week later, and then I also drunk a lot and then I just crashed. A whole Sunday. And then I watch just shit, and I eat just shit, Netflix shit, just lay on the sofa. That is how I regenerate. So just after the premier this time, everyone had a break for a week. But I was like teaching and doing this other projects and then the dossier and so on. So I never really had a break. Like, completely… So gradually, gradually it went down, and then came Christmas holidays and then I just did nothing. And that was great. But I think when I would have crashed, like stoped completely, I would have had a much worse crash.
A: I see it with my boyfriend, they work and the work and they eat shitty stuff, and then when he comes home and just does nothing he is bad for like days. But when he comes back and say, okay, I am here, lets go out for a drink, and he — so just more gradually, I just think its healthier, more sustainable. So I learned that really from him. Also with the company. Not completely crash, slow down gradually. I think its bad, when you feel, I really (intention) need to quit. So before Christmas holidays, I felt I really need a break… Because I also nearly did not have any summer holidays. I was like super busy with the project. So I think when you grave for a holidays, you need to slow down.
L: When do you feel, that your really need a break?
A: I mean, when I am in panic. So with the company project, I just was so focused to finish it, I did realize how I felt. And then after, with all the other projects, I just wanted to stop (intention). Like, right now.
L: What do you do in the moment of panic? What helping you to cool down?
A: I told my mom “I can’t do all of this!“, and I did not know where to start anymore. And then she was like: “Just write a list. Just do one thing. Just do one thing. And when that is over, do the next thing“. Then it does not becomes so overwhelming. But also: When you start pitting yourself because you have to much to do. Then you are in bad place and you must just stop pitting yourself. And the just do one thing. And then the other. I just work. In December, I started pitting myself and I was like, oh my god! I have to much to do and I just need holidays, and then my mom was like: Just do one thing. Just do one thing at a time.
- I ask A. about (other) strategies to deal with stress:
A:. What helps is my boyfriend. And my family. And knowing, that when everything fails; this is still pretty good. Its not all or nothing. And I also like to watch documentaries about the galaxy. And then I feel, my god, I am so fucking small, why am I stressing out about this.
L: Its just very hard sometimes still.
A: Yes, it really also just that freelancing-thing. You know with the stop-clock, they just worked until their were done and thats it. And then it is over. But now, people just work in the time they want to and it just takes them however long it takes to do it etc … So how wrong we had it, this freelancing, it’s just… I think we become more alone. Because, at least, when you work with people in the same building, you have a bit more order, you have structure. But today people enter work and they don’t have any leisure time… But I think leisure time is completely (intention) important, because of just this: When everything becomes so difficult in your work, you need to know to have something else. When you don’t have leisure time, you don’t know that you have something else. And that is all. You are putting all your eggs in one basked. And I think it is just very individualistic. And not in a good way.
L: Why alone?
A: I try always to work with people. This is why I try to bring them. Even with the SECONDHAND KNOWLEDGE project, I do all the stuff but still I try to bring people with me. And also when I graduated, I said: “I want to bring people with me.“ And now, this are people form Iceland: So when I get subsidies, I will try to employ people. I like to work with people. But the reality is just, that to be able to do that, there is just so much work to be done. And it needs to be individualistic, because when you are a group of people, it is much harder. To get theaters, to get support, etc. And also: It’s complicated. For example with Inga, it ended, I mean, she was doing another project at the same time and maybe I am also more organized, but it ended thatI took all the application etc on. We were supposed to do it together, but then, she was in NY and did not answer any emails and so I ended up just writing the application. And then slowly — so we decided that I would just do the production-work. But this is the thing, also now with SECONDHAND KNOWLEDGE… So I am doing all this and I am trying to divide work to more people, but because they were not responsible from the beginning, they don’t feel so responsible, they don’t take so much on. So working collectively is not possible completely, one ends up taking all the responsibility. And this is really not the working hours, not the input, but the responsibility I think has the most weight. Is the most stressful. So in collective work, when everyone wants to be completely equal. So that is just not reality, someone takes on most of the responsibility. … So when you are having the responsibility, are organizing the theaters and getting the shows — this is just individual work. Especially as a freelancer. But even when you are a dancer in a company, you are still a freelancer most of the time. There is no work security. (…)
So at least, I mean, what I would like to do, in that individualistic-freelance-world, I would like to try to stay working with the same people. To have some sense of community. This is what I learned in August, when I was doing things in Athus for the research projects that I am doing. In Siros they had such a great community, but there were also so many dancers, that would not take the responsibility of being choreographers, more acting like dancers. But in Athus you had more individual artists, and because they were so individual, they tried to be as different from each other than possible. So then everyone does so different things, that they don’t even relate to each other anymore. So they hardly go to see each others shows anymore. So there is no sense of community at all. And when I wanted to work with them together in a studio, it could not happen, because all of them were so individualistic — … So I think that there should be some kind of mid-way in between this. So in Siros there were a community, but in Athus not. In Siros, they were all following one choreographer. But I think there should be a way in between this: That you can do you independent work and still be able to relate it to the other people. That you don’t have to be doing the opposite to what the next one is doing.
L: How is that in Bxl?
A: I think at least in Bxl there are people working with other choreographers. So its not just; I am a choreographer and I get some dancers.. People are already using the same people, people are in each others work. I think in the last years, it has become more individualistic, but I hope my generation, I hope we can again be more in each others work, we are trying. This one does things with this one and this one with this one, doing pieces together. So that everyone can do their own work, but also support each others work. So share, and be in this community together. But the reality of this is, that in order to make a piece, you need to travel so much for residencies.. so people are often away.
- Here I come with sickness, which is stupid. A. takes it up and says:
A: So I have not been sick since October last year, and this was like 2 or 3 weeks before the premier, so I did not stay home. I just had to, because we had a premier. So I just went to the doctor and he gave me all the medicine that he could, it was virus but he still gave me antibiotics because - just in case. So he just gave me everything he could, because I was like “Uah! I have a premiere in 2 weeks!”. But otherwise, I have not been sick in over a year, so maybe this is also just because it’s not really a possibility. That just the reality of freelancing, no?
L: But when was the last time you stayed home or whatever, for a reason that you could not have planned before. Like sickness, or helping a friend, or something with the family..-?
A: Last time I remember was in school. When my grandma died, she had cancer… Last time I was really sick was in February 2015. I had 40C fever and was not able to move. But luckily, I did not had anything (work to do), so I did not care..I always get sick in the holidays. .. Every freelancer says that, that they get sick in the holidays. As soon as they are on holidays they get sick. Its the same thing then about the ‘crushing’: I knew for example that I would get sick after the company piece, when I would have had quite completely. But because I did that, I could delay my sickness, and then I did another thing — so I did not get sick. But I am also teaching Pilates 2-3 times a week and there I teach a woman at her home. And she was telling me how everybody got sick during her holidays at home, but that she managed to not get sick until the first day of work. And my reaction was “Oh, how awful!“ Because normally, for me, that is awful, but she was: “No, its actually great that I did not spend my holidays sick”. So she of course gets sick days, she gets payed when she is sick and just has a normal job. But we don’t get this! So I was, “you are happy to be sick on your work days?!”. It’s just a luxury that we don’t have. I also think I am just super nervous about that. I am like a virus paranoiac when it comes to the flue. I did not see my niece! It was like 3 weeks before the premier, and it was her birthday. And I did not go to her house — on her birthday — because I did not want to get sick.
L: In general, are you happy with what you do?
A: Yes! Definitely.
L: And what is stressing you most? Burdening?
A: When I feel that I am alone with all the decisions. Sometimes is as simple as this, that I don’t know a dancer and how — Is it like this or like this, what does it say later. So sometimes being alone in all of this is overwhelming. And then we have a project and I am just stressed about it. Being alone with all of this.. responsibility. … And then it is just so an insecure business. In the summer, when I was planning the dossier, and I was seeing all the theaters and I asked them if they would be interesting in supporting this piece that I would like to do next, and there were people supper interested and they planned a presentation day and I went home, super happy, like “Yeah, its working!“, and then: she (the theater person) quits! So sometimes, you have days were everything is just working and then there are days were everything is - like everyone is just saying NO to you. (…) So I got the news that I did not get the subsidies in Iceland, and this is only once a year. So now, I have not got it two years in a row. So, its only once a year! So when you don’t get it, you have to wait a year! So what do they want more: I did a theater piece in Island, I did the company work, so what do you do. When I would not have Belgium, when I would live in Island, my whole year would be ruined. Luckily, I live here. So here are more possibilities.
- I ask A. about time/ time pressure?
A: Depends were I am in the process. The closer it gets to the premier, the less time I think that I have. So often its starts and you do a little bit, you are happy, and then, as closer then it gets, the stressful it gets. But I try to make it differently, to not be complete stressed in the end. But somehow, it always ends like that anyway.
L: Yes, it’s the deadline thing.
A: Yes, you think now I do it differently, now I do my homework everyday. And then: Everything is still a mess. But, yeah, I think its with everyone a bit like this. It does not matter how much you try to organize, towards the end, its..
L: You feel, that you will do this for long? Or would you think, maybe there is a time you want to do something more…calm?
A: I used to think, when I was student, that it was so a cliché when people would say: This is the only thing that in can (intention) do. So like: I really need to do this. I thought its such a cliché. Now: I say this. I just think, that there is anything else that Ia can (intention) do. And this, sometimes this really sucks. And sometimes its great, most of the time… But my boyfriends is telling me, that I actually always say, “Maybe I should be —„ Like, I am always thinking of other professions. To be. Maybe I should be a detective. Maybe I should be a psychologist. But I didn’t realize this. My boyfriend just told me, that I am always thinking of other professions. But I think its just to day dream, but… So maybe I could do a movie later or just write, but always something artistic. Dance is what interests me now. But maybe later I do a masters in visual arts… (…) It’s about not putting all eggs in one baskets, that you think, you can do other things later on. But yeah, it is a unsustainable industry that I am in. I see its going okay for me now (intention). I have some sort of awards for my work and so on. But I see with just a bot older generations, that this is just going to go away. And its hard to remain the status. And its very naive of me, just to say, this is going to be fine for me, its going to go for me… As its just impossible. And people are cutting out so much money for the arts, and its like really an unsustainable business. But somehow I just decided to be naive and believe in it a little bit longer. But of course there is a lot time pressure that I feel. That I think: So how long can I do this for! Will I be able to for always own an apartment. Will I be able to have children ever? Having a sustainable income, so I can provide for another person?
L: And what do you do to take a bit of that fear away?
A: Just not thinking about it. .. (…) So we were thinking for long now, were we actually want to live. So we are together for 10 years now. And we are thinking, how do we want our lives to be. And we cant imagine that (kids) in our live, because we are never both around. And we both are tying a lot, but we cant even have a cat! So what about a child!? So we try to save money always, a bit. So maybe, you know, one day. So we try to have a bit of money on the side, so when neither of us would not manage to get a job, we would at least survive for 3 months. But as both of us never know, as both of us are freelancing, so Hakon did not have a job in a month now, and that often happens, and you never know when the next projects coming up. And have to plan a lot in advance, and I still did not get the subsidies for my things, so I have to search for other. And you never know.
L: Its the same but also not in academia.
A: I ask: Is this then my life?! That I apply for a project every year, that I maybe get or not. .. Its just this uncertainty. That you never know, that you can not really plan a life. That you can not go for the apartment or the child. What about pension? How do I live when I am old!?
L: Yes, this puts a lot of pressure on now. That you just want it to go on..
A: .. but you never know for how long. And I think, its going to be quite frustrating when it comes to pensions and older age. Because what we going to do?
- I am going back to questions how Rosa is structuring her days.
A: .. So know I just write down everything I need to do (in the App). As I know I am not doing everything now. So then I just go: What can I do now, what can I do now. …
- I am talking about transit time, asking stupid closed questions.
A: Yes, I try to sit. And I try to sit only. Do you know XXX (some comedian)? He talk about this constant urge to be on the phone. That we can not be alone (intention) anymore. It’s like an escape. As soon as you feel that you are alone, you look at your phone. (…) I mean, I hate the world ‘mindfullness’, its so trendy now. But I think it is necessary to detach sometimes, from Netflix, and the phone, and the computer. listening to something. …
L: When do you try to do that, do detach..?
A: In Yoga, this is the time. Meditation. And I try to realize when I am being ‚filipy’. Sometimes I am realizing, that me and my boyfriend, we are watching Netflix and at the same time, we are playing on our phones! And then I am wondering: What is wrong with us! Can we not just put away our phones and just (intention) be! Do we always need to be — its so a spread attention. (…) I learned a lot when I stoped smoking. Because I realized, smoking is something that I did when I was feeling uncomfortable, when I started to be frustrated, nervousness, loneliness — you escape it by smoking. And when I quit, I realized, I feel like this, no matter if I smoke or not, so what if I just allow myself to feel like this? So I think all addiction is the same: Its escape … also the phone, its escaping it.
- I am asking A. about nightlife. How this can be escape. Drugs. People that never stop but at the weekends, they go over the top..
A: Escape! But when you would measure your productivity, you know when we think of time as a measurement for your productivity, like you need to work more and more — like in the sense of longer. But I actually really believe, and this is why I believe in the separation working days and leisure, when you really have leisure time, you are (intention) much more productive. So you can separate you brain-space. And when I do this, I am less stressed. And something I just sit somewhere and am stressed about things. And I am not even doing anything! (…) Yes, I know that feeling. But then I try, then I say, okay, I am going to work on my to-do list for 4 hours, and then I quit — although I am not finished for the day. But then I just quite. Because otherwise, I would never quite. Because then I am writing this email and I am taking a long time for it, and then I am on Facebook and at the same time I am trying to read, etc. So I try to say, I am reading for an hour and then I do something else. I try!
L: Do you think a lot of people have difficulties with that?
A:. Yes, this is why like everybody (intention) is talking about this! I also have another App here… Yes, I have Apps for everything. I love Apps. It tells me how much I am on my phone.
L: Really! Because I just wanted to ask you how much you think your on your phone?!
A: It’s called BREAKFREE. This is my weekly. So I am really bad, you see, I am a lot on my phone!
(- Then A. is explaining the App) So sometimes, see! Here I went up to 160 mins a day.
L: When are you checking your phone?
A: Like: All the time. Its really bad. Because I am recently also playing a lot of games while I am waiting for an email to come in. Also now because of this dossier we just sent in. Its becoming a bad habit, really. I am always distracting. Always checking.
L: In an hour, how much? Today?
A: Today, 4 times or something. Depending what I am doing. So now I am transcribing, so I don’t look as much, as I have to be focused. But when I am waiting a lot, then I am using it a lot. But I think I am super addicted to my phone. This is why I got this App, I think I should do something about it.
- I am talking about the fairphone and that it tells you how many minutes passed since the last time you looked at it…
- I am thanking A. for the interview. We are talking about Brussels.
A: Brussels is so funny in that way. Everyone is so individual here. I mean, really. People come by, pass by. So many people just pass by.
- I am talking about what I want to do.. Asking here, were she likes to be. Were is her place/home?
A: I think my apartment. I am really attached to my apartment. I really miss it when I am away. My kitchen table. I like it. And then, when we talk about this city: I told you that I teach pilates. So I go to peoples homes. So I travel a lot. One lives there, another in Molenbeek. And I bike normally. I bike back and forth a lot. So this structures my day a lot, I need to plan a lot.
Also with the cafes: I go a lot to OR, you know that place, its in the center, this expresso bar? There people know me and I meet all the people there. All the dancers go for some reason. Its just funny to see; as this is our industry. Apparently. As everyone is working there. Or going for a cup of coffee, in between. Because they are not in work, so there not working at the moment or going to yoga and have a coffee in between. So this is also about being a freelancer and the city: I meet the people off-project in this places. And when I am not around, I feel, everyone is there. But then I come there and everyone is like: I really did not see you in 5 months!? But I come back and they are there. Or they come back and I am still there. Its nice to have places like this: To meet the regular people. I think this city does not have the characteristics of NY, which is very fast. I think why I like this city because its quite professional, its not like party-party town. You have people that really do their work. But you have a lot of theaters, cafes.. So you meet a lot of people all the time. It has a strange temporality, its not as fast as London, or a big city. But its still quite professional, its not just people hanging out. Its people actually working on their careers. Professionals.
L: I am talking about Brussels cracks. We decide to stop it here.
End of interview.
Eliot* Transcription - Interview, 24.January 2017 - Duration: 52:39
Background E. (m, 22, Belgium/Gent) is currently staying in Brussels to keep on working on a project. He lives at a friend place in Brussels right now. He never went to an ‘official’ dance school, but worked it quite an arrange of projects: He started theater when he was 14 years old, started a semester of philosophy, then kept on being on stage while being continuously asked again and again to participate in following productions, short films, auditions…
He wanted to live in Brussels when he was a teen, but had nothing here to look for. In 2016, he auditioned for a piece and got it, move to the city for some months.
To the question, where home is, he answers that he has two bags — whit nearly all his stuff, he says. Both are currently in Brussels. The rest of his belongings which he does not need urgently are at his mothers place, in Gent.
L: And what do you think about the word ‘home’? You have that? Where is it?
E: I think this is the reason why I like to not have a house. I like to travel.. I don’t need a space for myself (…) of course I have to sleep, but… So when I have rent to pay, I feel stuck.. also when I don’t have enough work. So then they send you somewhere for work, it’s nice to pay rent. But when I just want to travel and explore the place, it’s better to not have a house. And to do that continuously.. I mean, I don’t know.. It has not been that long, I sub-rented a place for a month an a half.. (…)
L: But what is it that you want to be in Brussels for? Work or people?
L: And the last year, where did you get the money from?
E: The government. And payed performances. My mom actually pushed me to apply for this government money. Cause I did not want to do it (laughs).
E: Because I did not want to have anything to do with them. And I was like: “They are going to make me do stuff that I don’t want to..” And then the papers…
L: You were saying.. so in freelancing.. (…) do you think this organizational work, is it a lot?
E: I like to make my day full. (…) I prepare for the void in the long term, but in short term I try to keep it full.
L: (…) ..does it also stresses you? the mails and the stuff…
E: I answer immediately. Sometimes I wait a bit, when it’s like bigger applications. Then I send it in later, take a bit time, like two weeks. Because I work on a IPad, so its.. (laughs) (…)
L: .. But could you give me like a number; of how much is actual dancing and how much is all the other stuff..?
E: Right now, it’s all at the same time. It’s movement, its… I go to a performance, and then I go to a dance class, and then I (…) meet Patricia and (…)
L: And you feel that you don’t have a moment of.. you know, re-organizing?
E: I do. You know, I feel like a wave.. (…) Sometimes I am scared to forget, but…
L: So you say that you are constantly moving and (…) do you also try to balance this out..?
E: I think I balance it with all this meditative, like concentration-things on the body — while doing socializing, while being in the metro.. (…) I have the comfort of my body.. I am very happy.. (…) There is so much potential… (…)
L: What is work for you, and what is free time?
E: Work would be what I am paid for. Free time is what I am not paid for. (…) So when I am paid for, I have to. I can also ‘have to’ because of friends, but .. I also want to work, I mean I like my work. (…) So its work, it’s not free time, but it’s still play-time. So I don’t see so much difference… maybe when it’s boring, or exhausting.. but (…)
(…) (19:34) Yeah, that thing with working on your body is like very obsessive. (…) Maybe it’s not the smartest thing to do, but then, it’s useful. To be in touch with…
(…) (25:45) It’s about being available. And I am so available - you can’t even imagine. (…) I am always happy when people ask me to do something. I like suggestions. (…)
L: But when are you not available?
E: When I think its to much, to boring, to much waiting..
L: You don’t like to wait?
E: Hm. I know it’s necessary. (..) But, yeah, I try to fill in things.. So when I am on the train, I practice something… (..)
L: So you don’t really have that, that sometimes you feel that it is good not to do anything?
E: No. I don’t like going to sleep. (…) I don’t like to stop..
L: So you think that when you stop your imagination stops?
E: No, I would say it’s forced… on me. So..
L: Because other people would say that they need to stop to have imagination.
E: No, I get it from.. I get it because I push it.. I push my body and… So some people say I have to take care of it, but I never broke something. (…)
L: And you feel, that you also have to take care of the body?
E: Yes, of course, that is a huge part of the work. My eating changed completely. (…) (32:00) I like to go hiking. I want to have a rich experience always. I don’t like the boring stuff. (..)
L: And what happens when this is not happening?
E. That’s okay. (..) Maybe this is the art, it’s sublimation for.. that after, you do something more. (..) Because it’s a sublimation of the imagination. And that is so nice about dancing, and you don’t need anything for it (…) The work does not start with imagination, it’s start with stimulation. Performance can be a deal, that you deal with (…). This is why I really want to work now. Because otherwise I am like: “Hey, dude, you are keeping all this ideas that you have to work on.” You have to try it out. (…)
L: You have like ritual that you do?
E: Yes, handstand. (..) I practice like rapping and then I put it like in any day rituals, to play.. (…) I want to focus on immediate connections, and not long term.. So in additions, you just give what you have and thats it. (..)
L: What if you get sick or something?
E: Injuries are awful. (…) So the handstand I did today, so inquires are also really getting me.. Because I focus on things that were not even… When I would get ill, I try to be happy… with… I was seriously ill when I was 16 or so, but till then, I did not have any serious thing.
(…) L: (…) What do you like most about what you are doing? And what is stressing you out most about what you doing?
E: What stresses me out most is that I will not be able to continue. And what I like the most is; ah, well (…) About dancing?
L: About dancing.
E: We could say I like dancing the most of the things that I am doing.
L: And what do you mean with.. that about, that you can’t continue what you are doing?
E: Then I disappear. You know that people that just disappear? Some people commit suicide, they disappear.. the obviously don’t disappear. This is why I like when people suggest something, because I like to stay in touch.. (…)
L: And why would you disappear?
E: Because I would not sustain.. keeping, trying, if.. if no one continues to be interested. Yeah. To make a performance is not.. I can have an idea.. but sometimes (..) I also want people to help me develop things and when people are not around, what do I do?
L: So you are somehow scared of not considering the others?
E: (…) I think what I am mostly scared of is not.. that I am touching myself and I am quite dense, and that that is okay and I can just express it. And then you are fine with it. So it’s mostly my mind struggling with the fact that other people have minds. And for that, I need touch. So actually, I need trust. But to have trust is like living inside of someones mind, so that is not possible, but touch is very good.. So trust is very good, but this is like a relation, it relates to time, phases. And… so that is why in the immediate connection, reality. (…) Next time we should talk about the ego….
End of interview.
Selene* Transcript, Interview 24. January 2017 - duration: 94:51 min
S. (w, 35, Venezuela) freelance performer, two kids.
Arrived in 2012 (5 years) in Brussels, came to do a workshop, was invited to do a performance in the Volkshuset. She felt there was something going on in Brussels. She went back to Switzerland however, she married and had her first kid.
Family, all were traveling a lot, her partner is a performer/director too, and they would not know where to go. I. offered that they could run the space, little experimental venue — full of opportunity to meet people.
- First I ask S. how she arrived in Brussels, her story of deciding on the city:
S: (02:10-02:35): We did not know… If we go to this main cities like Berlin or Brussels to.. And he (partner of S) was quite against that, he was: “I don’t want to go where everybody is.. I want a place where I can ground myself.” But for me, this city said something to us..
S: (03:35-04:00): It was like super direct.. We moved and on the same day we started working.. Like non-stop (…) All the focus was in creation. My partner tried to.. decided to make a master. Because he is Norwegian, he kind of got money from the state. So we managed to live. (Laughs) To eat. It was really to eat. No theater, no.. I had a kid at home. So it was like a combination; of caring for the kid and caring for the space. Care for each other. A lot of caring. But it was cool. (…)
L: And now?
S: Now this changed. It was quite an intense period.. (..) I go pregnant for a second time (..) And I was a little bit.. a such a small baby in such a space, so little… Like a new born baby in a space where you are allowed to — We gave always priority to the artist-space. So life, when you put it in a percentage, it was really low, so we gave priority to what was happening there. And I felt not nice, to not give priority to his life and what a baby could need, like calmness and.. In a studio there can happen many things, like noise and strong energies (..) So we moved out, for a year.
And then we go a huge.. house production (..) And it all was at the same time, the moving-out, the big production (…)It was super difficult. We felt that we really had to answer to an economical.. thing, to survive.. We did not have social things here.. we still had a life of an immigrant, with two kids. We were working together, so we did not have a support from outside.. So it was just like, if we managed to do something that you can sell, then you manage, you did it. And I really think that we did not success in that frame. It was a lot of being in a frame… And pressure. And not creativity.. I mean creativity was there, but under fear.. (..) And also, working together, the two kids — it is like to much concentrated in one package. So there as no place to put out; to distract. (…) To observe or.. (…)
- S is telling me that they moved back into the space later on, but more used it as a house then. She also went to Switzerland, for money. I say that I dod that to, we laugh. She then says that she is now entering a new phase, that two producers asked her to work with them:
S: As a performer.. or a dancer, you go and you give a lot, also physical. (..) But I decided that is not enough. So I decided to start again, to work for myself again. And for sure, in my free time, I need to have my private.. research. Like, where I am, as an individual. And that.. here comes what is tricky: Because I feel for me it’s very important the relations, socially, it’s not.. It’s tricky in the sense that I feel I have to work for myself, but I have to fix it in relation to society too. When I am working in the studio for my own, I have the feeling that this is not enough. Like, it was working in a nice form when I was working here, in this space, and I was working for myself and then presenting it at that day, like doing my own deadlines in a way.
L: When you said, that on the one hand, you are glad to have this like fixed job and an income (…) and at the same time you said, that you also felt empty. Or did I understand you not correctly…?
S: No, no, it’s true.
L: So you were like: “I am producing…” for the sake of producing..or for the sake of…?
S: It’s very weird. I felt very strange. I like the project a lot, it’s super clear.. But I have a the feeling, (…) my life becomes super ‘fix’. For example yesterday, I had this meeting, and they already want to discuss.. they are having doubts for 2018, February of 2018. How this is going to be with the two projects, which project I am going to give priority for the touring, if I manage to tour with two kids, if my partner… You know, it’s like really this life for the future, and it’s very concrete. And I did not build that (…)
- I tell her that this is interesting, as I feel that she is, other than other dancers I talked to, maybe also questioning this fixity, where she does not feel so free in, while other people I interview are looking exactly for that. I ask if that is maybe also because she has her family, where she feels, that she has a ‚place‘ where she belongs.. S: Where I belong.. this could be a question. (..) I am not sure were I am belong. And I think that becomes very concrete, when you have such a.. frame, like you know, you are going to be in this city for three years more. (..) And still, I have that question if I want to be here for 3 years more. Because since I am super young I move around in to many cities. Of course, when you do a family.. you must get stable, because otherwise… Or you have a super clear plan. (…) Because you are entering the system; Kindergarden, school… I I think it’s also my development, also philosophical. But it weird, because I kept on somehow behaving in this line, because I guess its the way I learned it. It belongs to.. my educational way. I studied my whole life, many places, in many universities, but going into this cage.. I mean, I don’t want to be too dramatic… lets say: square. It has be intuitive, I am having a projection of live in a different way. But in way, I also believe in what life brings.. (..) I mean, at a certain point, I did it, it was a decision. I said.. Wow, it was super unclear, super difficult to work with my partner, and I said, like, okay, I go for the real world — I mean, I call it like this. I always was really enthusiastic in self-production, do our own things (…) but it became to tiering with him. Or I worked alone but I did not feel strong enough, still. Or I interacted more with people, to understand who other people are doing.. productive things and how they are relating this.. maybe also the ideological life that they have (…) Maybe there are people already dealing with this and I could learn, you know. (…)
L: Do you have a home? Is it Brussels?
S: I kind of answered this question in September 2016. My partner is from Oslo, he is Sweden/Norwegian. And I had to work in the university, the dance university in Stockholm. And of course, we were always thinking: We can always go to Norway. We can always go there and see how we mange there. This was like a phrase. But since I was there the last time, I felt like, I am super okay here. It was the first time that I accept that this actually is my house. Or could be.. I mean, I have to say: It’s ver hypothetical, but somehow.. Something got much more sure about here.
L: And with ’here’, do you mean this space, the house..?
S: No…. It’s super strange. Because at the same time I excepted that, like an reaction.. the missing of my country started to grow. Like, wow, my country.. Or what it means, what I left. Because I don’t call it country, actually it’s more abstract. I don’t see it as my culture…
L: The people you had there?
S: More also the way of interaction. The way we move into a city, how it was ‘moving’ into a city, appropriating it. (…) And I realize, maybe that I make it conscious now. Because I did all this thing instinctive, when I arrived, because it’s my way to survive… And in Norway, there is the other side: The educational and the must-be-like-that.. And wow — Oh, we are arriving to something good here, I think (we laugh). No because, I realize that actually, now (intention) is a moment of validation. What is what I build up, maybe intentionally (…) I think it’s still a contradiction. I still don’t think I really belong to Brussels, but maybe I should.. It’s more to wake up this courage to, I belong to this interaction. (…)
(…) No that is exactly that, I gave priority to make my self stable in a city…. You know, I think there is a strong contradiction there. (…) Or it’s really to go into building up your own thing and organizing and putting up… Its always bound… And then you need to bend your artistical life to the real world. So you make it possible in the real world. And then, what we were doing here, it was actually something very much in between. We did not want to bend our artistical.. (…) You make the whole structure, and you make the thing stable.. Or you keep it somehow less structure, or less.. you can call it “hippie“. (…) But I feel now, it’s kind of a moment to…because this year we did it like this… And okay, it gave the space that other ways.. so I got this work. But I don’t feel fulfilled artistically, or in a social — you can call it ’social-artistical’ way…
L: This is very interesting. As I think we both come from a field were there is a lot of passion for what you doing. But then in the same time, there is this world. (…) There is a contradiction, because maybe it’s not as fast, or maybe it has another value in the first place.. So, I don’t know if I understood you correctly but is it somehow that you are seeing a contradiction in between your artistic work and — and then you have this, like.. wish, that you want to be stable, the projects, the money, and how this can work together..?
S: I think I still do not dare. That I don’t dare to go into that whole bureaucratic thing. I feel that when… (…) I still feel that I have this resistance with the selling thing… to the structure of must-be-sold, and this is a question, for an independent artist.
L: And maybe this comes back to the ’relation-thing’ also. But when I meet the same person completely different — it’s not even, that I want it, it’s, there, the selling is somewhere there. So it’s a different encounter, maybe.. (…)
S: If you have this contradiction.. It is maybe because you have this mind which has this goal, quite far.. But it’s so far, so ambitious, in a society that is still not there. Sometimes you have to accept the place you are in and the tools you have.. And somehow I feel that is what I am working on now. This acceptation, saying, I have this two projects now.. and all what an artist wants that comes to Brussels. And also contacts, and people will no my name.. (…) So I said I give space and I accept this how it is, because it’s also super positive things.. And try to find my courage and to refocus, for the spaces this projects give me that I have empty. How I spend my time.. Because when you have kids, it’s special, you have a very ‘programmed’ life. (…)
L: You know, this is also what I am scared off, always. That I forget this (utopia)..to integrate it. But maybe, this clear cut, of; Here is the utopia and here the world.. its not even right in the first place. Because this ideas are born out of the real world and.. what we see, what we would have different.. and at the same time, they can be very present in this, as a longing or.. Maybe also a sadness, that we can.. re-use for something. Or also, a certain.. excepting that you have this longing, or passion, and not push it out either.. I think the difficult part is, and maybe also were we can like never succeed is, to integrate that…
S: I mean, this is exactly the point where I am now. Because when I was entering now.. getting this structural job, I did not know.. I though it was great, to have this job (…) But now I realize, my life is super empty without my utopia. (…) I think its necessary to give food to that again.
L: But maybe you could use the structure to.. reform the structure or re-use it to… Because its always about communication, utopia too. Maybe structures or institutions can also give us the possibility to.. address, or come to people that you would not reach when you would only be in…
S: .. In your thing. No, for sure. I think it’s always also easy to isolate. I think it’s the biggest fear that people have. It can happen in a city. (…) There is always this being afraid of being out of.. where are the ideas moving on now in society, where are the ideas of art moving on, so there is this fear of isolation. And maybe, I am also scared of that. This afraid of isolation is also always moving with a different phase. Now for me it’s in this structural place, but I still feel isolated.. I don’t know. It’s because, it is you that has to move and build up the circle of society that you want to have around. Its you, that has to build up, the whole time, your encounters, in a way. How and who… (…)
S: (…)You’re also always working on yourself. So for me, it’s quite difficult to take that distance sometimes. You are doing that thing, but at the end it’s always also connected to the development of you own person, physically…
L: This is good, because I wanted to ask you what work is for you. Maybe also compared to free time..?
S: For me there is a separation. Hm. I call work — I need a lot of solitude in this, I need to be alone, for long periods. And in this, I can establish things, associative..
L: And what would be the other thing..
S: Like; free time? Hm, I have no idea really, about what is free time. Clean the cloths… (laughs) No, really, I have two kids. What do I do, I cook.. Actually, I don’t see it more in the relation of night and day. For me, the morning is super important, what I do. How I build it up toward the night. (…) Free time I am not sure, we are having this big discussion in the family about this. I would like to do many things, like traveling and… My partner, he is really fixed in work so he is more like there is no free time. (..) Free time is for sure cleaning. Keeping in shape the house, making sure it does not fall. (…)
- I ask her about the separation of spheres, of work and creation and free time, she:
S: Hm.. Maybe when I am really alone. Or when I set up a group of work. (…) I mean now, when I have free time, I try to work (laughs). So you understand, it’s a bit tricky. Because free time is maybe finally having the opportunity to work for myself. And if I don’t manage to frame it.. when I don’t do that, this is when I feel very empty. Then there is this hole. Like I am then, why am I doing this.. there is no reason. (…) There is also this, that we are home a lot. With the kids. So maybe free time can also be related to people, that could be.. In relation with friends, or…
L: And is it on your own? Or you have certain activities.. (…) ?
S: No, not anymore. When I started to dance, since that.. (…) I mean I was a crazy person! I was non-stop taking all the workshops/classes, it was no time for anything more. I was just like doing all the physical ’blublublu’. No, I don’t do much more. (…) I don’t have this kind of rituals, where I have to do this and than that.
L: And would you like to have this..?
S: More, yes, for sure. I think, so, Mischa is doing that thing. And it’s fix, and I see it totally, I think it helps me, to make me grow. (..) That is the tricky thing when you work on your house. Because you have all in the same place. You can really mix it up. But, I set it up in the studio. I say, I work on this and this time… (…)
- I talk about woking and that people talk a lot about collaboration, asking: Do you feel here in Brussels, there is this community, that you feel part of? Like a dance community?
S: No… no, when I feel a community then maybe with two person. Because we collaborate… So more with specific people. Like, with the people that we can exchange life with art things, and, we don’t have to separate the things so much. actually, I try to do that with every person I meet.. (…) I have few friends which I do things, we try to keep it. I ask them how they see thing. There is collaboration with some people here in Brussels, but not with the dance community, this is for sure not my… It’s more my performance-community…
L: And then its also more about friendship?
S: It’s more about… (…) I am not interested in people, like: “How are you, how is your mother..” And this is why I am interested in creating this spaces where I can meet people in another way. To meet them, its not just about… I have the friends that are related to the kids, so this is a frame (…) Or in an artistic way (…)
L: And what do you like most about what you do? And what is maybe most challenging about it.. it can be things that you already said..
S: Things that I like and things that are scary.. both?
L: Yes, both.
S: (…) In a way, I think it’s, to show.. or to come up with my perception of reality. I consider.. oh, yeah, there is something personal that I like to give to the people, to show it.. to say: “Look, I see it like this.” And interact, on that people. All my work is interactive. And scary, or what I am afraid of would be… (…) I will say another thing which I like: It is often like healing. So my solo-work, it’s often self-healing, in a way. Its about the other ones, but its also super personal. Its about my perception and how I can heal and transform myself, through doing things.. And I really believe that this is possible. And then sometimes I am maybe scared that it is so personal, that you don’t find the link.. How to link it. When it is so personal, that it is no more healing. That it becomes almost like a masturbation. So I don’t feel its a masturbation, because there is no strong transformation, that there is something that grows out of it. Masturbation is much more, like fast result… (…)
L: So maybe scared that you are aiming to fast towards the transformative moment… did I understand it correctly? (..)
S: Sometimes I wonder that what I live personally, that it becomes clear.. That it does not stay something so personal. That I actually link it to society, to reality… To don’t link it. (…) And of course I am afraid to not be able to life out of it, for sure. If I really say, I do this. And then I am not able to live out of it(…)
- I am talking about problems of linking, and that maybe showing the own position and what is not working is also in a way politicizing the own position. S says then:
S: Maybe I am also afraid of the stress (laughs).
L: What stress?
S: Because, maybe it’s.. The stress of… managing everything. The whole ‘Chabanga’..
L: And how do you try to get rid of the stress?
S: I think now I did it with leaving a lot of things. But now I am also realizing that I can not — also it becomes so empty. So this is the other side. When you are not active, you can also be very.. unfulfilled, or so. I think I am in a moment where I have to re-balance. (…) I think this was the way I did it, when we were working, I just ’blulbluuu’ — that can be also: wow! I kind of also need to level it, because you can also destruct things.. It can be very productive but also.. One way is of course, to let it trop. But I don’t like it, just to let it drop. (…)
End of interview.
Sigal* Transcript 18.January 2017 Duration: 79:30 min
S. (w, 7. January 1986, Israel)
S. is somehow a special case, as I feel that she sees herself much more like an artist then a dancer, eg. she somehow left the dance industry some years ago and self-identifies not with it anymore, or even in opposition to it somehow. This is important, as I feel that she does not have the urge to necessarily ‘make’ it in that scene anymore, she found or is struggling for another position, that makes her not directly compete in that sense, in these scene, and maybe, her aspiration is much more to be an outside/ different- reference -point. This is also why she is giving a lot of importance to ‘experience’ as such, while not so much searching for ‚good’ experiences, seems able to include what is there as something that is valid. I think this partly also related to her seeing herself much more as an artist, in one sense at least.
Why S. (30 years old, from Berlin/Israel) came to Brussels - because of P.A.R.T.S in 2006. She did the school, worked in the beginning mainly as a dancer, for other choreographers.
Then felt that she got tired of if, felt that her role was changing, started to do more of her own work.
Since the last 2 years, she changed her structure, more free structure, as she says. Also going more away from dance, dance as a form, but also visual arts, music.
Now: New grounds, funding from Brussels, artist that is deviating from her original medium. Different venues that support her; Stuk in Leuven, Dent gallery Art Lab Brussels, another place in France.
L: Why were you ‘fed up’?
S: Its most of the time goal-oriented, with the tendency to forget, what you are doing. I had this experiences to work with choreographers who did not really know why they were doing things anymore. But you just had to do it.
L: Like ‘produce‘?
S: Yeah. Like: “Okay, we have to make this happen.” But it was like some kind of basic element that was lacking. It was more like, yeah; just how you work and what is the thing that is important when you do it. It became a bit redundant. Like, you know, labour for the sake of labour. Be happy, if you had a project. And you would kind of measure yourself through that filter all the time.
And this in itself started to bug me, as a principle, as something.. It has to do a lot with time- commodity and self-value, according to what you doing. This kind of ‘race’. And I was, am not interested so much.
L: And are you here (in Bxl) a lot? Do you feel, you should be here more?
S: No, not really, I don’t have so much feeling for Brussels. I really see it as a practical thing. I mean, my room is here, and my small comforts. So anytime I come here, I can like ‘spread’ a bit, but I don’t really have a emotional connection to it, I mean I feel, but then I don’t really miss Brussels when I am away.
Its more that I forget that I miss Israel, and then, each time I go there, I feel like: “oh, wow! I actually miss this place.” So this is much more a home, like in the sense that, you know, were I belong to. It’s still there in a way, and then also not, as I am… it creates a little bit of friction in between me and my family, because (intention) I am exposed to lot more data and much more ‘stimulus’ from other people and other minds.. like, its much more wild in a way. So it’s kind of in between, actually.
L: So you would say that you come back to Brussels because you have a place here and so on.. Or is there something more to it? Or why would you say that you come back?
S: I mean, here are also people that I love, but, you know, it’s very much - I don’t know if the are going to be (intention) in Brussels. I mean, it’s still very practical. And then of course, there are some people, and when I see them here, they are really old friends, like 9-10 years. So, this is nice. But I don’t feel like: I come for them. Its more that I come, and then sometimes I get to meet them.
L: But you don’t feel that there is like this community or something?
S: In Brussels? No. Not really. (L says that she thinks that S is not alone with that).
S: Maybe there is this fake dance community, but well. If you see work-spaces, this structures, it has this.. I mean, it ‘makes’ up this fictional dance community, but its actually based on values that I really dis — I don’t believe in. It’s kind of fake. For me. So I mean, if that is the community, I am not really part of it… But I feel that I am getting into forming a community, much more like a network, then a community. And I don’t know what is going to happen to it, but I mean this whole research is actually also coming from a need to — so first of all also; to other stuff, and then; to do it with people that are also…and also people with other life-forms: Not just the human-self-centered thing all the time.
09:48-10:50 L: What is free time for you? Is there an importance to have such a thing? To give yourself different ‘times’ and also create boundaries in between them?
S: As an idea, it’s a nice idea. But in actuality, its not really the case. Because, it’s like I told you; I do one thing and then something happens that is urgent in the moment and then I do it also. I mean, like when we take this example of a friend which is in need, yeah, it’s my free-time but I choose also to engaged in this kind of activity which also has to do with my work, because, lets say part of my work is therapy.. so in different forms. So I kind of jump into this. So my free-time is being kind of.. how do you say it.. ‘hacked’ all the time. But not as an negative thing but as.. like emotional labour is something that you can not really measure but it becomes very, very important in my work. And also in my love life. So this is something I am also not so good at, in this kind of border, because when you work with somebody there is some kind of desire to work together, or an attraction to someones mind, so also in therms of relationships and work, it’s sometimes still a bit confused.
11:35-12:00 Separation Work & time with partner (from dancer to freelance artist)
S: Before it was more separated. I would come home and then be with him, after a project. And then we would go to holidays and then we would come back to work. But now its very much mixed, all together. There is also not really holidays, either. I mean, the idea of holidays is a bit like..
L: No need for boundaries (also emotionally)? Stability? Distance?
S: There are certain moments were it get dispersive rather than creative.. so this kind of moments where you don’t know anymore what is going on, where you are, and where your stuff is. And yes, there then is a need to somehow re-gather. Come back. And this often has to do with more structuring. Like writing an application.
S: It happens after some fractions in my life. When I… when there is a breakup or when there is a drama or an accident. Stuff telling me, okay, you have to get back to.. not necessarily work, but.. to myself, as the center of what os going on. And not to provide centers for other people or other things. I think this is also happening when you don’t separate enough, its just momentarily, like more focused work. I have the tendency to spread… also.
L: And to do that, what would you do, for example?
S: Write an application. It’s like, directing all the inputs and all the creativity towards one thing.. that I know can have a long-term effect.
L: Rituals? Like showering?
S: Oh, yes, totally. This also became totally inseparable from work. What I basically try to do is.. this kind of practice.. (..)
- here S talks about her practice, she invented; 20 min of movement, 20 min showering, 20min of writing: Invention of space (by relationship, intensity, and then loosing that (rituals) again)). But all is work.
L: Eating? How important is it? Where you grab something, how much do you eat with other people?
- S says that she tries not to impose structure, but what her body needs is key. L asks about cooking, when she is able to cook, when this is not really working out..
- here S talks about food, that she is not obsessed with it anymore, she mostly cooks when :”I am in a good mindset, I cook.”, like a: “Processes of self-care.”
L: What would you connect to the word “relaxing”?
S: Taking time for yourself. And listen to yourself.
L: And what kind of practices help you?
S: Movements, just to move really helps (..) Its basically just self-love or self-care., what you feel like now. And then again, I don’t have that dogmatic thing that I need to do this now. It immediately creates a friction. I have a hard time with authority. Also with self-authority. It’s just about what you feel like doing. Sometimes clean my room. (..)
L: Organizational work (Meeting people/funding..) How much is it/ How would you describe it..?
S: Yes, for sure. Especially in the last few months, it became very much like that. Then the transition of just being an executer to doing my own thing is also applying that. There was a time, where I had to go to meetings, write..so when I wrote for example this application, I had to get artistic partners, I had to get like structures to support me, to be able to send this applications… so I was in this very secretary-producer-mode. But again, this is for a certain period of time. Then it is very very intense and condensed in that months. And then you maybe able to do that work. So yeah, there is a period of planning… Where you do all this computer stuff. I mean, I am still doing that, but now is like more balanced, but there are times where you only do this.
- I ask S if that is also unpaid work and if this is sometimes stressful.
S: Yes, of course. I did this thing with Rosi and Ezra and it was part of here Bachelor so of course that was not paid. But this was really disturbing. Actually, I wrote this grant-application because I couldn’t do it anymore with this unpaid thing. So its quite frustrating. And also; you do a lot of working without knowing if you get the grant.. and I mean, this is quite stressful.
L: And this kind of work, like the e-mails and stuff. Where do you do it?
S: Wherever. Really wherever. (..)
L: When a e-mail comes in, do you react on it wherever you are?
S: I don’t always react to it… but, for me its more the messenger than the email that is taking over everything. I mean, when you have it on your phone; then it’s just like.. a bit like ‘virtual hysteria’. But yeah, of course my perception would be different when I would just do it in that and that time, but I think I am aware of that. And when I take deliberately time for myself, I don’t take the phone. (..) When I am taking a walk that is very much ‘designed’ to.. when I think about it more as a clear-out stuff, I don’t take my phone.
L: What do you mean with “virtual hysteria”? I like that word..
S: Hm. I mean, Facebook makes people very anxious, I feel.
S: I mean, for my experience and for what I see, it’s just..it makes people a bit crazy. And also when you think about the question that you were asking before, when you receive an message and then you are kind of obliged to answer.. or people think that it is good, that you always have your phone and your always.. so I try to be aware, of what is going on. Yeah, you can somehow just loose track of..
L: And why do you think it makes people anxious?
S: Because they are a lot of… I mean: It is a virtual thing, but it’s really also a tangible thing. People can.. I mean it connects to your actual life in a much more profound way then you can imagine. And people.. It’s kind of based on ‘self-image’, I mean Facebook is.. what it’s based on. And how you present yourself to the world and then its also about; if people confirm you or not,, if - in the chat - people see but don’t answer.. It just starts to become really like a ‘social disease a little bit. Like a virus, I feel. Sometimes it is informative and helpful, but most of the time it’s just keeping you on guard (intention) all the time, with all this, like… and with email it’s very different, because with emails you don’t have this immediacy of “you saw it, why you don’t answer, is it me?!“ - I mean its a lot of meaning and of what is.. and for me this is really, really dangerous, actually. And it can really disorient me form work, actually, and form doing the things that are actually.. it disturbs my concentration. It’s kind of a disturbance for me.
L: And how do you try to protect yourself from it?
S. I try to not automatically open it. It’s a difficult practice. But I try to do it. I also don’t put internet on my phone all the time. So I try to be more aware of it. Or I tell myself; “don’t go there for the next two hours”. But then, its often like a reflex, sometimes. Its very disturbing. And I think, for a lot of people.
L: When you try to take a break.. like make your head free; why would you do that?
L: Yes, like; Why? What is your thinking behind it, is there one?
S: Because otherwise I feel like I am in some fog.. that I just think that I am not clear. So everything I do becomes a bit ‘fogy’, contaminated with stuff that are not.. that are just disturbances. It slows me down. I can do things more ‘efficiently’, in a way.. like the heaviness, in going into that think. I mean, its a very quantum thing.. when you have something to do.. I mean, it can take you half an hour or in can take you 3 days. (..)
L: When do you think you deserve a break?
S: Just when I get the message form my body that it needs a break. When I am just really tiered, or when I feel like, that I am not really taking care of myself. And I give to much. I mean, either my friends are telling me or I notice something. But now, for example, my friend told me; “He, you need to rest a bit, take a bit time.” And I was, yes this is true.
S: (..) so when my sister came to Brussels, it was just after the accident, and I was complete ‘off’. So she was like: “Stav, you need like - you don’t eat breakfast for example - “. And only by her being here I realized like, shit, yes, I am going quite far away. So yeah, it’s maybe kind of people that bring me back to the ground. But I also try to.. It’s mostly when I have some kind of breakdown. Then I am kind ok, okay; it’s time to… (..)
S: I try to be just more aware. And work with it. And not arrive to this dead-end-point, where you know, it’s kind of too late, and then you really (intention) have to do something. So I try to catch it in time.
- L asks about a difficulty to resign from an idea? Dispense an idea.. from that feeling of constantly be active/ creating something..
S: I think that I (intention) don’t have it. But I start to become the impression, that I am supposed (intention) have it. But I somehow try to work against it. I mean, I also work in ‘spending-time’. So I am very deliberate about spending time and not (intention) do that now.. cause that is very liberating. Because that is like a bit this ‘re-program-ation‘ and that of course does not mean that I want to read and I want to nourish myself with knowledge and stuff. But I try to be aware of it. Because there was a time where I really felt ‘paralyzed’ about that. Because I felt that with every book that I read, I am not reading another one. And that kind of paralyzed me. I think that has a bit to do with this… just, the idea about death. But the idea of self-knowledge or gaining knowledge is super important for me (..) - Here we talk about different kind of knowledge and the difference of Information and Knowledge, experience. Here S says, that for that: “It needs body.“
43:35-44:05 L: (..) and how do you protect yourself from this feeling, from having to gather all the information that you can? What are strategies or..?
S: I just try to do nothing. It something that I un-do, not something that I do. Because it’s not really about something to do.. I think to be aware.. And feel confident.. in not doing something. Or doing something so small that its.. for me this is also, how creativity comes. When I push it, it can’t come, but when I get empty. ..Its kind a reset. (..)
- I talk about practices, S comes back to the mind-set:
S: I mean all this research that I do; Its basically all about that. It’s though sound and smell. Kind of to ‘un-do’ this precondition..idea that we.. and for me it has also to do..it can be like a re-education (…)
- I say that I feel that we are trying to understand/attack the same thing but in very different ways. And the S goes on an talk about un-doing and the change in the subject (47:10-47:43):
S: Its like.. there is no real authority or outside, even the structures that you work with are woking for you.. it’s like being your own master. You know. But it’s a lot of responsibility, I mean, it huge. (..)
- We talk about individual responsibility and S comes back to society, somehow still:
S: No no, I say it much more as a collective thing. That is also becomes so.. not private in a way…
- S talk about what she believes in and is convinced of and what she would like to do: L: So when you say.. you talked about, that is really an experience also. And it has to go through the body too. What would you think.. How can we make like this collective experience out of this, out of the need (intention) that we feel to approach time differently?
S: I mean, I am preparing this spaces, so you should come. (..)
- S talks about her project, that she is trying to work on such spaces and that the body works much more as a ‘facilitator’ to experience, very “experience-based”, she says, “to make the lands a bit wider”, or introducing “other stuff than through humans”, etc. Then she says (53:33-53:40):
S: I mean this has to to with the collective need, I mean I feel it. It’s not only my thing.”- S goes on (58:25-58:30):
S: “I just try to get out of this self-centred-artist-thing. I just don’t like that anymore. It’s just so tiering. And so not the point..of what I am doing.”
- S is talking about her friend that is moving wherever he is and somehow is maybe a bit crazy, and people look at him, but then she states, that in that sense; “There is no need to discharge…”, as you can be comfortable everywhere, so you don’t need a certain niche to get that. - S is further talking about being more crazy and that: “Some years ago, I would have been terrified to act like this…” So now she would not care so much what people would think, she would know better where she was going, as she frames it.
1:07:00-1:07:19: Invisible labour
S: It’s like all this ‚invisible labour‘ thing. I am quite interested in that. Also in the resistance to that, in showing people what I am doing, so I can get validated. It’s not like that, I know what I am doing, but its not so ‘seen’. So it can not be measured.. in capitalistic sense… It’s a frustration that I had, but now I feel like coming to terms with it. I think I know what I am doing now, but then again, it’s like this self-dialogue that has to fixed or cleared or.. yeah, I mean I really had to somehow work on the self-critic. Then again, I think everybody has it, but then I was like: “Why do I crush myself when I don’t do..”, I can really get super nasty. But then I feel, it’s noting outside, it’s really me.. it’s not the relationship, not work. But once you get your work around.. of what it is that I am really doing.. then all this, now it’s this, now it’s this, now it’s this, this transit, all…
- S is talking more about her approach and we drifts a bit to other things, I again ask about strategies that help her to focus and de-stress, in 1:11:56-1:12:14 she states again that is;
S: It’s the accidents that pull me back.“, but then again, we are talking about other things.
End of interview.
Post of V. (another dancer) on Facebook, 30.Mai, um 10:31:
Mein Komputer hat beschlossen keine a mehr zu schreiben und nicht mehr zu löschen ich kann nicht mehr hinein da mein Passwort ein a hat. Was mich zum weinen bringt, da ich fast fertig mit einem Text bin, der wenn mein Komputer mich nicht reinlässt für die Ewigkeit verschwinden wird. Kennt sich jemand aus mit sterbende Mac Books air? oder borgt mir jemand ein Komputer?
Rahel Hubacher, 6. July 2017, duration: 29:12 (Expert)
Tänzerin, Goldschmiedin, Schauspielerin/ Zürich, 45 Jahre, 2 Kinder. Partner selber Tänzer. Ausbildung (Ballett, Modern) in New York, Schweiz und Brussel. (Theater Neumarkt (CH)/ Lower Left (San Diego). Heute Professorin an der HGK Zürich und Privatdozentin.
Ich frage Rahel nach ihrem Werdegang. Sie erzählt von ihren jungen Jahre, wie sie aufgewachsen ist in einem Dorf in der Nähe von Zürich, wie sie mit jungen Jahren mit Ballettstunden angefangen habe, dann die Ausbildung zur Goldschmieden fertig gemacht hat, wobei sie danach direkt nach NY gegangen sei, um dort mit einer bestimmten Choreographin zu arbeiten. Später ist ihr dann irgendwann das Geld ausgegangen und sie ist zurück in die Schweiz, wo sie an der Hochschule für Gestaltung eine Ausbildung machen konnte und später mit unterschiedlichen Choreographen arbeiten konnte. Spannend an diesen Äusserungen ist R’s Kommentar zur Arbeit im Ensemble:
R: Ich wollte zuerst eigentlich gar nicht in das Ensemble. Das hat sich einfach irgendwie ergeben. Ich hätte in dieser Zeit (als junge Frau) eigentlich gerne weiter frei gearbeitet. Wäre gern wieder zurück nach Amerika. Auch mit meinem ersten Mann. Aber er ist dann in die Schweiz gekommen, wir haben geheiratet, auch dass er hier arbeiten kann. Hat er dann auch, zuerst noch als Tänzer, dann als Lichttechniker. Und dann hat es sich wie so ergeben, dass ich als Schauspielerin arbeiten konnte, anstatt als Tänzerin. Einfach, es hat sich so ergeben. Und ich habe es auch sehr gern gemacht. Und dann nach dem Theater Basel ist das Theater Neumarkt frei geworden. (…) Da eigentlich die junge Generation, also wir, wir haben uns dann da beworben und dann… Dann hat sich das so ergeben, dass ich angefangen haben in Zürich zu wohnen. (Pause) Und dort habe ich dann auch gemerkt, dass ich eigentlich nicht mehr Vollzeit arbeiten will. Denn in einem Ensemble Vollzeit zu arbeiten bedeutet einfach zwei Abende in einem Monat frei und der Rest ist man am Proben und unterwegs.. Und die Vorstellung, ein kleines Kind zu haben und es nie ins Bett bringen zu können (lacht).. Ja. Und auch sonst. Also nicht nur wegen den Kindern, auch sonst. Ich wollte einfach selbstbestimmter arbeiten… Und dann habe ich angefangen selbstständig als Tänzerin und Schauspielerin zu arbeiten und jetzt.. seit 3 Jahren habe ich das Fach „Improvisation“ an der HGK zu unterrichten angefangen. (…) Also ich war eigentlich während 10 jähren in einem festen Einsammle und seit.. 8 Jahren nicht mehr.
Ich frage Rahel, ob sie denn immer noch viel unterwegs ist und sie sagt, dass sie zur Zeit ziemlich fest in Zürich lebt. Früher hatten sie aber zum Teil Welttourneen, die längste war 3 Jahre Tournee. Sie spricht über ein zusätzliches Projekt, dass sie mit einer Freundin lanciert hatte:
R: Das hat sich eigentlich durch eine Freundin mit der ich Basler Einsammle war ergeben. Wir waren da fünf Jahre zusammen und haben irgendwie gemerkt, dass wir lustiger weise noch nie wirklich was zusammen gemacht hatten. Und das passiert ja noch viel. Aus Dispositions-Gründen. Weil wir uns einfach sonst immer verpasst haben.
Dann erzählt R von einem anderen Projekt, dass sie unter anderem auch nach Brüssel gebracht hat, aber auch nach Paris. Sie erzählt von einem anderen Projekt mit Sexarbeiterinnen.
R: Und das war eigentlich der Weg in eine.. so wie „selbstbestimmtere“ Arbeitsweise. So wie: „He, lass uns eine Gruppe gründen. Und dann, ja. Aber nebenan habe ich ja noch die Gastspiele gehabt. Das heisst, es war eigentlich auch etwas ein Luxus, diese Gruppe zu gründen. Weil ich einfach finanziert war. Und nur dann gehen so Sachen. L: Und durch was warst du finanziert?
R: Durch die Gastspiele. Ja, das war eine Koproduktion mit dem AU von Berlin. Und da are natürlich Helvetia mit dabei, die Goethe Stiftung, usw.
L: Und du hast es selber grad gesagt, aber wenn du sagst „selbstbestimmter“ dann meinst du damit, das du mehr deine eigene Arbeit machen konntest..?
R: Ja, einfach auf die Situation eingehen können. Wenn jemand hier steht mit zwei Coop Säcken mit Briefen aus den 80er Jahren. Von irgendwelchen Freiern. Und sagt: Macht was draus. Ich meine! Verstehst du!?(…)
L: Und du hast gesagt, es war eigentlich auch irgendwie ein Luxus, das machen zu können. R: Ja, auf jeden Fall. Das ist enorm wichtig. Und es ist lustig, wenn du 5 Jahre am Theater Basel gearbeitet hast und dann brauchst du Fördergelder.. das ist eine grosse Hilfe. Und dann hatten wir aber auch viel private Förderer,(…) Aber das Netzwerk ist wichtig. Ich denke, der Grund warum ich jetzt bei der HGK angestellt bin, ist das ich aus der Praxis bin. Und da kann man sagen, oh ja, lass uns heute Abend noch da vorbei schauen… damit diese Verbindungen gerade gemacht werden können. (…) Ja, ich denke, dass sit enorm wichtig. dass man schon in der Schule so wie.. rein finden kann.
Ich rede davon wie wichtig die Institutionen, die Hochschulen sind. Und rede auch von Brussel, und PARTS, und frage R wie sie die Städte wahrnimmt, im vergleich.
R: Hier sind wir einfach beunruhigt, wenn der Vorverkauf nicht läuft. Weil eigentlich niemand spontan dann auch noch vorbei kommt und ins Theater kommt. (…) es ist lustig, aber auch was die Leiterin von hier (Tanzhaus) vorher gesagt hat, nicht? Es fände ein grosses.. Was hat sie gesagt..? „Beklagen“ statt, oder so. Und ich denke einfach, dass hier viel Energie verloren geht mit Dingen..ja, in der Suche nach Wertschätzung. Und ich denke, gerade als Tänzerin, da kommt hier öfter: „Aha und ja, hast du noch einen anderen Job?“
(…) R: Ja, und ich denke, es ist enorm wichtig auch zu wissen, dass man nur ein kleines Teilchen ist. Und dass man es nicht immer auf den Punkt bringen kann. Dass Riskieren. Eine Umsetzung zu suchen, die vielleicht nicht funktionieren wird. Sich für diesen Dialog zur Verfügung zu stellen. Zu sagen: „Wir leben im 2017 und das Publikum ist durchaus in der Lage, eine Mit-Autorenschaft zu übernehmen.“ Und dass zu wagen, den Räum zu öffnen, ich denke dass ist ein Kampf in dieser Stadt. So wie: „Es muss funktionieren und sonst ist es ja dann auch bald mal verständlich, dass die SVP das Budget für die Kultur weiter kürzen will. So wie: „Es muss ich für die Zuschauer aber schon auch lohnen. Die haben ja schliesslich den ganzen Tag gearbeitet und wollen jetzt auch was für ihr.. die wollen jetzt nicht so was Anstrengendes schauen.“ Verstehst du? Da ist die Haltung schweig, zu sagen: Nein, wir stellen uns da für etwas anderes zu Verfügung. Wir wollen nicht einfach zeigen, dass jemand den Spagat in der Luft kann.“
Ich frage Rahel wie es aussieht mit dem Budget vom Bund, ob es Kürzungen gegeben hat in den letzten Jahren. Sie antwortet, dass sie über die Gelder nicht viel weiss, aber zwei Häuser zur zeit gefährdet sind und vielleicht schliessen müssen. Hauptsächlich in der öffentlichen Debatte auch Abhängigkeit von einem breiten echo besteht. Dass es da umgekehrt aber auch viel Solidarität gebe von anderen Häusern und so weiter, auch Interdisziplinär. Dass sich in diesen Momenten alle Leute zusammen tun, die da aktiv sind und arbeiten.
Ich weiss, dass R bald gehen muss und frage sie zum Abschluss nach Dingen, die ihr Mühe gemacht haben.
R: Ich weiss einfach, so im Produktionsprozess.. aber das gilt auch fürs Leben allgemein. Ich meine.. Also wenn diese Schemata, wie das Leben zu funktionieren hat — wen man die anfängt zu glauben. Wenn man das Gefühl hat, oh, in zwei Wochen ist Premiere und wir müssen all diese Frage nun unbedingt beantworten. Und lustiger weise habe ich diese Ängste viel weniger, wenn ich als Schauspielerin einfach irgendwo angestellt bin. Dann ist das wie meine Aufgabe, dann ist es an mir, dann bin ich angestellt, dass von meiner Seite aus zu denken. Und da kann ich dann eigentlich gegen die Struktur gehen. Aber wenn man dann wirklich selber — also wenn man weiss, dass wenn man diese Arbeit jetzt in den Sand setzt, dass… Es ist einfach viel wichtiger, man wagt etwas und vielleicht geht es am ende Komplet schief, als dass man Kompromisse eingeht. Und dabei vielleicht eine Arbeit umsetzt, die einem dann bestimmt wieder ermöglicht, Förderungsgelder zu kriegen. Gerade auch wen man kurz vor Ende steht. Das sind immer die traurigsten Momente. Wenn man das Gefühlt hat: „Oh, jetzt müssen wir Kompromisse eingehen.“ Wenn man merkt, dass das eigentlich Potential, die Kraft die jetzt gerade rum wäre, dass die nicht umsetzbar ist. Dass es funktionieren muss. Und der wertvolle Moment irgendwie verliert. (…) Und dort, die kleinen Momente, dort zu sagen: „Doch!“ (…) Und gleichzeitig.. Man kann einfach auch nicht mit einem Fatalismus durchs leben gehen. Das schafft man einfach nicht. Die Kraft hast du einfach auch nicht. Weil man denkt ja auch an das nächste Projekt und ans übernächste. Und dann denken wir: „Nein, wenn wir das jetzt machen, dann laufen uns die Leute raus und dann kriegen wir nie wieder Fördergelder..“ (…) Und das ist dann vielleicht auch, dass man sagen kann, wir machen jetzt hier.. Ich weiss nicht ob wir es Kompromisse nennen wollen. Aber wir können das hier jetzt nicht mehr verantwortungsvoll umsetzten und — aber das ist ja auch das schöne, vielleicht findet es im nächsten Projekt Eingang. Das sind ja auch nie abgeschlossene Prozesse, und das ist ja auch das gute daran. Aber dass man wie sagt: „ Wir machen jetzt da einen Kompromiss..“ Und da kommt es auch einfach sehr darauf an, wie nett man gegenüber sich selber ist. Aber in der Über-über nächsten Arbeit.. da taucht es vielleicht wieder auf.“
Eine weitere Dozentin kommt und wir werden unterbrochen. Ich werde vorgestellt und wir reden noch etwas über die Schule, schlussendlich mache ich R darauf aufmerksam, dass ich dachte, sie müsse gehen. Ich danke ihr nochmals sehr herzlich und wir verabschieden uns.
End of interview.
Transcript Marisa 6. July 2017 Duration: 23:56 ( Expert)
Choreographin, w, 48 Jahre, in Zürich Dozentin/Training/Vorstand am Tanzhaus. Ursprünglich von SanPaolo/ London/ Zürich. Royal Academy, später weg vom Ballett und dann zu Zeitgenössischem Tanz.
Marisa erzählt was ihre Rolle ist im Tanzhaus, was sie tut und was ihre Ausbildung war. Auf meine Frage, wie sehr sie die Konkurrenz in ihrem Feld empfindet, sagt sie, dass es besondern zu beginn ihrer Ausbildung sehr stark war, dass sie heute als Choreographin aber eher etwas auf der andre Seite stehe, die Leute zu ihr kämen, sie die Leute aussuchen könne.
M: Ja, das vernetzt sein ist sehr wichtig. Du musst dich ausstellen. Exponieren, so zu sagen. Dass du dort bist, wo es eine Möglichkeit gibt. Und das ist schwierig zu sehen, zu wissen wo denn jetzt diese eine Möglichkeit ist.
L: Und wie findet man denn diese Möglichkeit? Wie tut man dass dann?
M: Also, ich bin jetzt schon weit weg von dem. Weil ich irgendwann angefangen habe, meine eigenen Sachen zu machen. Ich bin jetzt mehr auf der Seite.. diejenige, die die Projekte initiiert, die Leute für die Zusammenarbeit sucht. Die Leute sucht, mit denen man zusammen arbeiten will. Ich war nicht so lang in der Positionen von… ‚Audition’ machen. Aber es war auch ein anderer Kontext, weil ich in Brasilien war. Aber normalerweise, ja, du gehst dan hin, in den Workshop und redest den Choreographen oder die Choreographin an. Du hörst von dem und dort, du gehst da hin und fragst. (..) Aber ich war eigentlich nie wirklich gut in diesen Auditions. Aber ich habe irgendwann dies Choreographin kennengelernt und wir haben uns verliebt. Ich meine professionell. Und dan haben wir lange zusammen gearbeitet (…) M erzählt von ihrer Arbeit, wie sie von Brasilien nach London und dann unter anderem auch in die Schweiz kam, sie sagt:
M: Das war ein sehr nomadisches Leben. Ich war extrem viel am rumreisen bevor ich nach Zürich kam. Ich war da schon 32. Und ich hatte einfach genug vom rumreisen.
L: Und dann hast du dir gedacht, jetzt bleib ich in Zürich?
M: Hm, also ich habe mir das nicht vorgenommen. Es ist dann einfach sie passiert. Weil ich Arbeit hatte hier. Und wenn ich ‚nomadisch’ sage, dann mein ich das wirklich so: Sie gehen dort, wo es Wasser hat. Sie gehen dem nach, laufen dem nach.. wo sie sich ‘Subsistenz‘ aufbauen können. Die Nomaden auch, die geben den Tieren was und die Tiere geben ihnen Fleisch und Milch und so. But you go after your ‘Subsistance‘. Where is my work, where is my food. Und das ist wohl so für die Tänzer, du gehst dort hin, wo es Potenzial hat, wo die Leute sind. Und zwischen 19 und 32 war ich, buh! Ich war in Mexico, in Brasilien, in San Paulo, London, in Zürich. Und.. Und dann habe ich gesagt: „Es reicht.“ Und wollte ich einfach mal etwas mehr Stabilität. Wurzeln. Und dann hatte ich Glück, weil ich hatte Arbeit. (…) Das ist etwas meine Geschichte. Aber was ich sehr, bei den Leuten die zu mir kommen: Es ist sehr unterschiedlich. Es gibt viele Leute die sehr viel reisen. Ein paar reisen viel, weil sie denken, dass hier die Szene nicht so interessant ist. Andere bleiben, weil sie gern etwas hier machen würden. Einpaar gehen, weil es wenig Jobs gibt.
(…) M: Meine Meinung ist ja, dass wenn jemand nicht viel reist.. Das heisst, sehr local ist, irgendwie. Nicht viel reist, tendenziell. Dann sind die Leute so: „Oh, kennen wir schon.“
L: Also die Leute von hier sagen das?
M: Ja, also die lokalen. Und wenn man viel reist, dann ist man so, dann wird man irgendwie mit anderen Augen betrachtet. Aber das ist nur so mein Gefühl. (…) Aber das ist auch nicht immer so. Ich frage M danach, was ihr Mühe bereitet hat, auch im Hinblick auf ihrer früheren Jahre und vielleicht auch, wenn sie ihre Studenten betrachtet. was sie für Schwierigkeiten sieht.
M: Ich denke, zeitgenössischer Tanz ist einfach sehr.. anspruchsvoll geworden. Du musst alles (intention) können. Vom technischen her, aber dann auch ohne irgendeine Technik… also kreativ sein. Und dann musst du auch reden können. Und singen. Und dann auch noch — es wird einfach so viel verlangt. Und dann sollst du auch noch mitreden können. Gut im Team arbeiten. Und und und. Ich denke einfach, dass so das Well-Being von Tänzern — den Druck der es auf die Person gibt, ist unterschätzt. Total unterschätzt. Und es wird mehr und mehr — einfach mehr, man muss immer mehr. Aber ich denke dann wiederum, dass das ein Phänomen ist, dass überall wo man guckt…
L: Und warum sagst du, dass der Druck steigt? Dass das zunimmt?
M: Ich denke, es ist die Mischung zwischen Geschwindigkeit und Möglichkeit. (…) Ich denke einfach: Man muss dann alles. Mann muss dann — und auch, ein Raum finden, wo man sich erholen kann, sich dann darin die Zeit nehmen, dass man sich erholen kann. Alles muss man dann. Es wird alles so zum Zwang. Und irgendwann ist das alles so: Nicht normal. Und ich denke, dass ist in der Gesellschaft. So das: Keine Zeit haben ist cool. Und eigentlich… Das ist eigentlich cool geworden. „Ich habe keine Zeit.. Ich muss das und das und das machen.“ „Ich bin erfolgreich“ Diese Verknüpfung.. Das hat jemand so etabliert und wir.. Wir sind da nach, so völlig konditioniert. Und dann hat irgendwie schlussendlich niemand Zeit. Und dan aber auch: Sagt plötzlich jemand: „Nein. Schlafen. Schlafen ist der Hammer. Und dann auch: Online sein. Plötzlich ist online-sein auch nicht mehr cool. Nicht-online ist das neue Cool.“ Weisst du was ich meine? Und wir gehen zu dem Punkt — you can’t cope with it anymore. Und dort muss man irgendwann sagen, raus. Und nicht nur der Einzelne, wir alle.
L: Und was hast du den so für Strategien, um etwas runter zu kommen?
M: Ja, ich habe meine Strategien. Und ich versuche danach, wenn ich Trainings mache, mit dem zu arbeiten. Rauszufinden, wo ist mein Körper, wo bin ich zuhause. Ich, aber auch mit den anderen. With everybody else. Nicht so: There is only me and where is my personal well-being. I think that there is no personal well-being without the well-being of everybody else. Ich denke, dass wir extrem verbunden sind. Und wie ich da bin, hat eine influence dir gegenüber. (…) Ich versuch das (das Meditieren) einfach ins Training einfliessen zu lassen. Nicht nut als Tool, oder als Strategie, aber auch: There is a change in me. Not as a Rezept, but.. (..) Finding a center. I mean, Dancing is all about that, also physically speaking. But not only. Trying to find how to share certain technics, that… I think that would work.
L: Und was würdest du dir wünschen? Vielleicht so als letzte Frage. Auch weil du sagst, du siehst dass es irgendwie schneller wird. Für dich, aber vielleicht auch für die jüngeren Generationen? In deiner Arbeit, für den Tanz?M: Freiheit. Freiheit zum Wissen, wann will ich mitmachen, wann will ich dabei sein und wann nicht. Die Möglichkeit, sagen zu können: „Das hier ist alles super und wunderbar, aber jetzt brauche ich — jetzt nicht. Die Freiheit to ‘navigate‘ the world. Verstehst du? To navigate und entscheiden. (…) So: I am not forgetting you, I am integrating you, but I have freedom myself, inside.
Wir reden noch etwas über ihr eigenes Projekt, in dem es um Präsenz geht, und ich bin sehr interessiert. Sie gibt mir zwei Buch Tipps „Coming to our senses“ (John Kabat-Zinn) und „The body has a mind of its own“ (Ann Blakeslee) und ist selbst sehr interessiert, als ich ihr noch etwas genauer über meine Bestrebungen erzähle. Zum Schluss verabschieden wir uns und bedanke mich für das Gespräch.
* I changed all names of my respondents.
To illustrate I have chosen two of the many (critical) articles published during this year dealing with time management and the lack of time (German and English): Burkeman, Oliver (December 22, 2016): Management is ruining our lives. All of our efforts to be more productive backfire – and only make us feel even busier and more stressed. The Guardian. Retrieved from www.theguardian.com (30.10.2017). / Jardine, Anja (8 Januar, 2017): Wenn nichts mehr geht. Stress am Arbeitsplatz. NZZ. Retrieved from www.nzz.ch (30.10.2017). ↩︎
Academic literature on the increase of burn-outs and stress related disorders: Allvin et al. 2011: Work Without Boundaries. Psychological Perspectives on the New Working Life. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. / Cvetkovich 2012: Depression: A Public Feeling. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. / Bauer & Schmidt 2014 (December 14): Immer schneller, immer oberflächlicher. Wie Muße, Achtsamkeit und Kreativität zusammenhängen (SWR, Aula). Some selected newspaper articles on the importance of leisure, pause and breaks: Burfeind, Sophie (June 3, 2017): Entspann dich! Süddeutschen Zeitung. Retrieved from www.sueddeutsche.de (30.10.2017) / Schmid, Brigit (July 31, 2015): Die Achtsamkeitswolke. NZZ am Sonntag. Retrieved from www.nzz.ch (30.10.2017). ↩︎
For a critical approach to the term “Cultural industries“, see Garnham 2005. ↩︎
Mauri and colleagues (2017) base their study on well-known research as well as a comparison to NACE-codes such as ESSnet-Culture 2012, Mikić & Unesco Institute for Statistics 2012). ↩︎
Contemporary dance is a segment of the performing arts sector, which also includes any kind of artistic performance. However, actors engaged in contemporary dance represent an essential part of this group (compare: Chapter 4.1.). ↩︎
Own translation from the German original Beschleunigung und Entfremdung: „Sich eine etwas ausgedehntere Pause zu gönnen bedeutet, altmodisch, nicht mehr aktuell, anachronistisch zu sein, und zwar bezüglich der eigenen Erfahrung und des eigenen Wissens, der Ausrüstung ebenso wie der Kleidung, in der eigenen Orientierung und selbst in der Sprache.“ (Rosa 2013: 43) ↩︎
There has been a lot of research engaged with the acceleration of modern society. Some target the acceleration due to technical innovation, others analyze how social change,– or, in a way, how history – is accelerated, so how new trends, fashion and social discourses are alternating (such as Beck 1999; Sennett 1998; Giddens 1991). These contributions mark how people re-orientate and re-plan their life more than once during a lifetime. While success in the modern labour market is often dependent on the exigency to change your job, adapt to new amendments and invest in further education even late in a career (Sennett 1998: 25). ↩︎
Own translation from the German original Beschleunigung und Entfremdung: „Soziale Beschleunigung lässt sich definieren als die Steigerung der Verfallsraten der Verlässlichkeit von Erfahrungen und Erwartungen und also die Verkürzung der als Gegenwart zu bestimmenden Zeiträume.“ (Rosa 2013: 23) ↩︎
The role played by institutions, national bodies and legal frameworks when talking about the phenomenon of acceleration exceed my objectives for this thesis. This is why I limit myself to underlining how institutional bodies are not necessarily opposed, but provide legal frames to facilitate and enhance acceleration. This they do by securing and opening up windows necessary to sustain accelerated social regimes (see also: Harvey 1989a, or on the role of the state in German literature, especially Lessenich 2015). ↩︎
Own translation of the German original Beschleunigung und Entfremdung: „Letztlich fühlen wir uns am Ende des Tages immer schuldig, weil wir die (sozialen) Erwartungen nicht erfüllt haben. Wir sind schlichtweg nicht mehr in der Lage, unsere To-Do-Listen vollständig abzuarbeiten; ganz im Gegenteil: Der Abstand zum Boden scheint beinahe täglich grösser zu werden.“ (Rosa 2013: 110) ↩︎
Own translation from the German version of the book *Der Neue Geist der Kapitalismus. *Boltanski & Chiapello (2003) say that crucial for actors in the project-based polis is: „(…) niemals um ein Projekt oder eine Idee verlegen zu sein, unablässig Pläne zu schmieden, gemeinsam mit anderen an einem Projekt zu sitzen.“ ↩︎
Own trranlation of the German original Das Unternehmerische Selbst: „Untersucht wird die Strömung, welche die Menschen in eine Richtung zieht, und nicht, wie weit sie sich davon treiben lassen, sie nutzen, um schneller voranzukommen, oder aber versuchen, ihr auszuweichen oder gegen sie anzuschwimmen.“ (Bröckling 2007: 11) ↩︎
I differentiate the labour practices of my respondents in more detail in Chapter 4.2 of this thesis. ↩︎
According to Gill (2013) there are several parallels between academic work and cultural and creative industries, whereof the latter is much more well-documented (cf. Crang 2007). ↩︎
Overview of methodological approaches see: Rosa (2005: 199-213). ↩︎
While I think Rosa’s (2016) analysis has value for knowledge-based economies dominated by service industries and individuals living and working in such specific, often ‘western’ parts of the world, it is not up to me to test if that is true for all people around the world. ↩︎
Contemporary dance is a segment of what is introduced here as industries engaged in performing arts (cf. Laermans 2015; Van Assche 2016a). However, I introduce the importance of contemporary dance for Brussels in the upcoming chapter. ↩︎
My data confirms that trend. More than half of my respondents live in St. Gilles. The vast transformation of their neighborhood is an upcoming topic in the conversations we had (see Appendix). ↩︎
As Njaradi (2014: 254) states: “The massive cuts in financial support for arts, culture, and education left their imprint on the independent artistic and cultural scenes, both in the European Union and the bordering countries, especially since many depended on the same European Union funding bodies.” ↩︎
This can also be related to the discussion in Chapter 4.4.1. However, not all participants play under the same prefixes. The place people went to school can be a huge advantage. For people coming from abroad, this may seem like a ‘wall’, difficult to break through. For my respondents, the school P.A.R.T.S. is such an institution, providing people with a strong reference as well as many contacts to fellow peers early in their career. ↩︎
Cf. own data (Appendix), for example: Aurelie, Interview 2017. ↩︎
Own translation. The interview was conducted in German: “Und mittlerweile bin ich an dem Punkt, wo ich es nicht mal mehr unbedingt auf einen Ort bezieh – auf was Örtliches, auf was Materielles, auf was Festes, was einfach fest… angreifbar ist… sondern mehr auf; Menschen, und vor allem aber auch auf mich selber. So das, was man immer mit sich trägt. Und das man gar nicht immer etwas suchen muss und das da und hier findet, sondern das ist etwas… was ich mitbringe. Irgendwo. Und meine Heimat, die bin ich selber!” ↩︎
This can be related to literature pointing to how transit spaces can increasingly lose their meaning if daily functions are spatially disconnected (cf. Augé 2006). ↩︎
Castells has been heavily criticized for the way in which he understands globalization, for critical accounts see for example (Sassen 2003: 254-274) on the connection between globalization and women’s migration patterns. ↩︎
Own translation from the German original: „Spätmoderne Subjekte neigen dazu, Raubbau an ihren körperlichen Ressourcen zu betreiben, was sich unter anderem daran ableiten lässt, dass sie sich nur noch (oder erst) durch ihren Körper stoppen lassen: Erst die Grippe oder der Beinbruch, der Bandscheiben Vorfall oder der Schwindel, manchmal aber auch der Herzinfarkt oder die Krebserkrankung führen zum (kurzfristigen oder auch nachhaltigen) Durchbrechen eines Weltbeziehungsmodus, der in der Spirale schrankenloser Steigerung und Beschleunigung gefangen ist.“ (Rosa 2016: 160). ↩︎
However, a number of pieces in contemporary dance have picked the relation of flexibility and precariousness up in recent years (See also Kunst 2015: 184; Van Assche 2016b). ↩︎
Which is also the reason why one could argue that there is an over-production of creative work, hence, there is a lot of work additionally done, that will never be shown or seen, but will eventually disappear. ↩︎
The absence of any temporal constraints is what can be defined through the German term:* Muße haben *(Cf. new academic research cluster 1015 of the University of Freiburg). However, there is an ongoing discussion how to translate the term into English, neither ‘leisure’, nor ‘to repose’, ‘having mellowness’, or ‘ease’ grasp it entirely. Amore detailed discussion on an accurate definition of the feeling I outline as contradicting a temporal burdened state, allowing, what I refereed to as ‘presence’ regarding my data, would be crucial for further research on this topic. ↩︎
Own translation from the German origina: “Die Negation des Gegebenen ist immer schon eine bestimmte Negation; ohne Welterfahrung gibt es keine imaginierten Gegenwelten.“ (Bröckling 2007: 156). ↩︎
With that book Rosa (2016: 19) aims to add to his work on modern time regimes and acceleration, starting on the ontological relationship between subject and world, highlighting the nature of that connection as crucial for the well-being of the same subject. This *Weltbeziehung, *the way how the subject is experiencing, but at the same time positioning and relating itself to the world, he claims, is crucial for the quality of how world is appropriated. ↩︎
Taking into consideration research dealing with the influence of social practices on the perception of time, I would like to emphasize two elements: Experience and memory (cf. Benjamin 1974; Han 2010; Rosa 2016). With Han’s words, one could argue that dance still is able to produce *Tiefenspannung *(a temporal tension going in- depth), however: While I argue that the future oriented mind-set might be challenged in those moments, allowing the present to open up, I don’t touch on the recalling or re-valuing (memory) of those happenings as an equally crucial part in the transformation of happenings into experience. The differentiation between happenings and experience **relates to Walter Benjamins difference between the German terms Erlebnis *and *Erfahrung. Benjamin describes *Erlebnisse *as episodic, while *Erfahrungen *shape us, they are connected with our history: Relevant for our identity, they touch and transform us. They sink into us in the sense that they alter the way we are and see the world. However, to remember demands a certain **time; a time where we stay with one image or one thought. Han (2009: 44) states: “Remembering becomes passion, when it struggles against the time, which leaves the past to the forgotten.” (own translation from the German original: „Erinnern wird Passion, wenn es gegen die Zeit ankämpft, die das Gewesene dem Vergessenen ausliefert.“ To take time to recall is to realize what is missing, w hich also implies to give things that have come to an end their place. The intimacy of a relation becomes especially apparent when a particular person, object or place is far away, or simply gone: Leaving can feel to leave a part of myself behind, too. Recalling something as gone implies carrying the lack of what is absent. While the void that I carry points in its negativity to a space which is left to be **filled with something else anew.** ↩︎
The extensive data Van Assche (2016b: 6) collected for her research underlines an overall high satisfaction (due to; artistic pleasure (70%), life-long learning (49%) and self-development (35%)) of the dancers with their profession. ↩︎
The passion for dancing points to what Isabell Lorey (2015:39) claims to be a particularity within creative professions; which is a precarization by choice. ↩︎