The award winner and honours 2024


Sasha Waltz


Jury statement

The jury awards the German Dance Award 2024 to Sasha Waltz for her international appeal, her commitment to the independent dance scene structures and, above all, for her artistically unique and disciplinary-bursting oeuvre.

As a dancer, choreographer and director whose life and work is centered in Berlin, she has been a key figure in the development of contemporary dance since the early 1990s. To this day, she has continued to develop her distinctive choreographic signature and aesthetic vision. Sasha Waltz is undisputedly one of Germany’s most renowned dance artists, both nationally and internationally.

Sasha Waltz's extensive oeuvre encompasses various creative periods: the early intimate, narrative-humorous pieces that she developed at the Sophiensaele in the 1990s, as well as the large, imposing dance productions at the Schaubühne Berlin in the early 2000s that focused entirely on the relationship between body and space. This was followed by her exploration of the art of opera, which led to a new genre, the 'choreographic opera'. Her intensive research into new relationships between visual art and dance as well as contemporary music and dance runs through her entire oeuvre, not only in her spatial explorations as part of the Dialogue projects, but also in her exchanges with artists from various disciplines. In recent experiments, she has created pieces that can be danced by both professional and non-professional dancers. With all these different approaches, she has both enriched contemporary dance and significantly influenced the development of other artistic genres. 

In close collaboration with her life and work partner Jochen Sandig, she has repeatedly opened up new spaces for dance including the founding of the Sophiensæle (1996) and the Radialsystem (2006) and attracted new audiences for dance both nationally and internationally. With 'Sasha Waltz & Guests', a company structure has been created that enables the artist to collaborate on large international projects as well as experiment with new forms and in which the company's dancers are also empowered to be creative.

Biography Sasha Waltz



explore dance – Network for Young Audiences


Jury Statement

The German Dance Award jury honors the work of the explore dance network in the category Outstanding Development in Dance. For less than 6 years, the explore dance network has been developing formats across federal states that focus on contemporary dance as an art and cultural practice on stage and in educational projects for young audiences. Its own mission is to "close the gap that still exists in the cultural offerings for children and young people in Germany”.

Until 2021, the network's hubs included the three partners: fabrik moves in Potsdam, Fokus Tanz | Tanz und Schule e.V. in Munich and K3 Tanzplan Hamburg. In 2022, the network expanded to include HELLERAU - European Center for the Arts. explore dance is funded by the federal government and participating federal states, an exemplary example of TANZPAKT Stadt-Land-Bund.

With a diverse range of thematic offerings from friendship to physics, the network creates spaces at various locations, for example also in kindergartens and schools, for experiencing contemporary dance and the socially relevant issues it addresses. This not only takes place within the project partners’ associated programs. Every year, all world premieres of the respective season are presented together in one or more festivals. 

With formats such as the Mobile Pop UP, explore dance goes beyond its main objectives to offer children and young people dance through performance, it also introduces them to modes of perception and takes them seriously as an audience. 

explore dance’s focus is not only on dance education through the support of teachers in local networks or through its own magazine, The Journal.  The touring system, which allows individual members to show their work throughout Germany, is also a special strength of the network. In this way, contemporary dance is actively reaching out to young audiences, as it is an audience that cannot travel to festivals, galas or well-known venues in the same way as working adults. 

Networks are constellations without a center. A network that wants to work across federal states needs strong hubs - and the stamina to cultivate and maintain them sustainably and consistently. This is exactly what explore dance achieves - multidirectionally, for six seasons, at several locations, with many creative bodies and minds - for a large audience of children and young people. 

Information about the Network



Dieter Heitkamp


Jury statement 

The jury has named Dieter Heitkamp as winner of the German Dance Award 2024 – Honorary award for his lifetime achievements.

Dieter Heitkamp is a Gesamtkunstwerk. He moves vigorously in several areas of artistic creation, such as: dancer, choreographer, educator, director, mentor, visual artist, advocate of young dancers, perhaps there are more to come?

A leader in dance for the past 45 years, miraculously energetic, incisive and dynamically responsible for the transformation and evolution of contemporary dance in Germany.

One of his many historic acts was to introduce contact improvisation (CI) to the German dance community. Dieter Heitkamp began his CI journey in 1977 and began teaching CI two years later in 1979 in Germany while also co-founding and co-directing the Tanzfabrik in Berlin. He continues today to be instrumental in the CI movement as a teacher and promoter.

For the next 19 years between 1979 to 1998 his vital dynamism spread throughout the city of Berlin and the country. Choreographing, teaching, directing, making art, mentoring, changing policy, these were and still are Dieter Heitkamp’s activities.

The year 1998 marked the beginning of his Frankfurt phase at the Academy of Music and performing Arts - HfMDK, first as a substitute professor, then as of 2001 as director of the dance department. Dieter Heitkamp transformed the largely classical dance department on the brink of closure into a cutting-edge contemporary dance program where local resources and guests are inter woven, making it a highly regarded institution of contemporary dance education. In 2023, Dieter Heitkamp retired after 25 years as a professor at the HfMDK. 

Dieter Heitkamp is a prolific force in German dance. He initiated countless programs, formats, performances and is a tireless artist and educator who supports and encourages young dancers, inspiring them to be flexible, creative and lifelong learners.

Biograpy Dieter Heitkamp