Heide-Marie Härtel, Artistic Director of the German Dance Institute Bremen, receives the German Dance Award 2021


Jury Statement GERMAN DANCE AWARD 2021

The founder and director of the German Dance Film Institute in Bremen is known for her strong stances and introducing touching imagery to the world of dance. Her life's work is associated with a globally outstanding institution and the impulse to capture dance through the medium of film and to give it new life. 
Through her own documentaries and the tens of thousands of films and videos preserved by the Dance Film Institute, Heide-Marie Härtel has made an extraordinary contribution to the intangible cultural heritage of dance and the development of contemporary dance, as if artistic developments are not documented, dance loses its history and political context. For dance can and must push off from this ground and leap into the future – time and again. 
Having trained as a classical dancer and initially having worked as a dancer with Johann Kresnik's dance theatre, Härtel's life is characterized by changing perspectives and clear positions. During her training and while dancing with the company, she questioned artistic developments, political attitudes, and the general conditions of theatre. Once she took up a camera and turned from a dancer into an observer, the perspectives of the artist and the political being were merged. The aim is to unveil dance theatre not only as an ephemeral art, but also as a political movement. A committed dance networker in Bremen and throughout the country, she has become synonymous with the concept of dance film as a form of politics on behalf of dance. 
Through her work, Härtel has created an enormous treasury drawing on the past and present of dance as a source of knowledge, attitudes and inspiration for dance artists and dance filmmakers – foundations from which contemporary artistic and media developments can leap into the digital age.


Biography Heide-Marie Härtel

Award for outstanding artistic developments



Jury Statement GERMAN DANCE AWARD 2021

In her many years of tireless work, Ursula Borrmann has contributed extraordinarily to developing the quality of classical dance. Thousands of students have been trained using her method, and generations of professional dancers have passed through her school. Borrmann has established teaching standards for Germany that have become an indispensable part of dance education. What is special about her work is the differentiated advancement of the Vaganova system into a methodology for teaching at private ballet schools, offering teachers in this sector with a method to prepare their students for a professional dance career. The Borrmann-Methodik® (Borrmann Methodology) has helped many schools of artistic dance to offer systematic, continuous and responsible training from the initial preparatory exercises to the most demanding forms of classical dance and thus pave the way to a professional career for their students. Beyond dance skills and abilities, the method places particular importance on musicality, artistic expression, and interpersonal interaction. Ursula Borrmann has the fantastic ability to use her profound knowledge and wealth of experience to instil enthusiasm for the fascinating logic of the methodology of academic dance. Today, a large network of national and international teachers work successfully with the help of the Borrmann-Methodik®, enabling future generations to develop professionally in this wonderful art form.

Biography Ursula Borrmann

Award for outstanding artistic developments



Jury Statement GERMAN DANCE AWARD 2021

Claire Cunningham uses and estranges (from their intended use) her crutches as an extension of her dancing body. She describes her piece "The Way You Look (at me) Tonight", which she developed in collaboration with Jess Curtis and which was selected for the Tanzplattform Deutschland, as a social sculpture and sensory journey for the two performers and the audience. The selection of her choreographic work for residencies and performances in Germany has made Claire Cunningham a role model for the next generation of dance professionals.

During a pandemic, disabled artists are particularly vulnerable and their mobility and the visibility of their work are even more limited than usual. Cunningham also perceives her art, which she consciously develops from her perspective as a disabled artist, as activism. Her artistic work stimulates debates on topics such as care, intimacy and disability culture and her work is exemplary for the work of other pioneers towards a future where physical diversity is part of dance and society. By virtue of her impressive stage presence, artistic consistency and humour, Cunningham is helping to advance this development, which urgently requires more support and appreciation in Germany.

Biography Claire Cunningham

Award for outstanding performer



Jury Statement GERMAN DANCE AWARD 2021

Adil Laraki is the outstanding performer of German law – to the benefit of all dancers on the stages of this republic. He himself was a dancer, and as an advocate for dancers, he has remained loyal to them. Laraki drives progress by improving the rights of artists and all employees of German theatres through his unionist, cultural policy, and social engagement – and he does so with a great deal of humour and unique skill. You could say that the status of the performers in our theatres is being preserved by a dancer doing what he does best. 
Many know Laraki as the theatre lawyer at the Cooperative of German Stage Employees, where he is the chairman of the national association and assessor at the stage arbitration court. He studied stage dance at the Hanover University of Music and Drama and then was hired by the local state theatre before switching to the Essen Ballet. In addition to his many roles in choreographies by Balanchine, Van Manen, Tetley, Jooss, Cullberg and Cranko, he had already begin advocating for the rights of his colleagues as a company spokesman in those early days. Today, he likes to describe himself as a "shrewd bazaar merchant" and has been working on improving the professional situation in German theatres with charm, passion, and foresight for 30 years.
We are thus honouring one of our ranks who is at least in some measure responsible for the fact that the old stage patriarchy has been crumbling for a few years now and an ensemble network such as dancersconnect has been able to emerge so that artists no longer simply have to follow orders but, thanks to Laraki's advice and the defense he offers them, are enjoying growing rights. Indeed, these changes have meant that dance in general is becoming increasingly important on German stages. In other words: thanks to Adil Laraki, dance is more often in the right and is also enjoying more rights. 

Biography Adil Laraki

Program leaflet German Dance Award 2021

Commemorative publication laureate 2021

Commemorative publication honors 2021

Award winners of past years