Hybrid Symposium "POSITIONS:DANCE#4 Creating Access – DIVERSITY"

A critical examination of power in dance

October 21st to 23rd 

Last year's symposium POSITIONS:DANCE #3 CONDITIONS - QUALITIES OF ARTISTIC WORK AND WORKING CONDITIONS of the Dachverband Tanz Deutschland taught us many things, but above all one: the international dance scene may appear diverse, but still needs a good deal more awareness, further sensitization and change when it comes to diversity. 
A structural white hegemony still prevails here as in other areas of society. This is why the German Dance Association has decided to develop its vision and structures further in order to guarantee access, diversity and balance whether for its institutional identity, or for its public commitment. In parallel to many necessary transformations being gradually implemented via a critical discourse of the DTD towards its own operations and internal dynamics, we move forward and approach the Dance Prize celebration with a symposium entirely dedicated to diversity, under the umbrella theme of "Creating Access." Next year we will talk about another urgent topic – #Inclusion –which is also still neglected in the dance scene. 
This year's symposium POSITIONS:DANCE#4 Creating Access #Diversity (AT) is already thought differently in its preparation. With a curatorial team made of: Nora Amin (main curator), David Konno and Mey Seifan, the symposium is conceived and curated from an already given diverse and non-traditional perspective. The aim is to raise awareness, to uncover hidden or misunderstood racism, to deal with body images and culturally shaped views of dance.


Impressions of the Symposium POSITIONS: DANCE#4 at PACT Zollverein in Essen

Impressions of the Symposium POSITIONS: DANCE#4 at PACT Zollverein in Essen



    This year, the symposium suggests an approach that is embedded in the intersection between the representation of dance history, the images and definitions of the dancing body, and dance education in all its forms. To conceptualise the encounter with an intersectional approach means to finally open each category to dialogue with the other, to examine how the structures of discrimination are recycled, interwoven and expanded across dance history-telling, the normalisation of racism within the images, notions and definitions of dance and the dancing body, and the rooting of a discriminatory perception and consciousness of dance within education and pedagogy that reproduce all the above and disseminate it. If we aim for access and diversity, it is high time to question our notion of normality, to work across all the sections that support and feed each other towards discrimination, elimination and injustice. If those discriminatory sections are strengthened by the fact that the zones of dance operations are dismantled and dispersed, then one force of resistance would be to collect all our knowledge and creative criticism to mend the fragmented field of dance with an egalitarian healing eye. Hence to analyse across and beyond, and from a critical stand, while being aware of all the past discussions and conferences, integrating and building on them, and going beyond them towards concrete future actions. 

    Access and diversity should be discussed beyond the usual circles of allies, so that the impact can expand and have further socio-political consequences. These topics should be addressed with the awareness that the obstacles are strongly rooted and are empowered by the fact that they cut across all systems of knowledge transmission creating blockages, and inherently supporting each other. Dance is one segment of those systems, a segment that is representative of the infiltration of discrimination and of its thread of connections, alliances and intersections. 

    It is our intention to not only approach those three zones in an intersectional way where each topic addresses and reformulates the others, and vice- versa, but also to conceive the symposium in a manner in which all three topics are interwoven within the daily program and across the course of the three days. We plan to offer experimental formats of presentations and encounters within a space where friendly and unconventional exchanges can take place and grow beyond verbal statements. Therefore, we extend the contributions towards interactive, participatory, creative and performative contributions and testimonies.

    Creating Access#Diversity aims to explore perspectives from the silenced voices and from the non-elitist angle, while aspiring to trigger critical discourse from the practitioners’ point of view, and from experiential journeys. 


    The symposium suggests to navigate across the following themes and questions:


    • Is it a Western history-telling of dance? How can we explore alternative narratives and processes of dance history-telling that emerge from the body and the physical memory? Is this dance history created/told from the perspective of white privilege? What are its unspoken/hidden histories/stories? Can an alternative history be formulated from a practice-based perspective rather than academic theoretical discourse? How to examine the inherent and masked diversities/discriminations within a European and German dance archive?
    • The dancing body: How to decolonise our knowledge/pedagogy of what the dancing body is? Of the physical ability? And how to decolonise the notions of who can dance? And what dance is? Analysing the categories and choreographic intersections of cultural dances, folk dance, contemporary dance, street/urban dance, community dance, among others. How are those forms discriminated against, and with them the dancing body that creates them? Issues of visibility and representation? Whom do we dance for? How did the pandemic increase discrimination and reduce movement and the sense of spatiality, and with them the projection/connection of emotionality/empathy and togetherness in society and in performance?
    • Accessing equity within dance education and pedagogy, developing progressive notions of how education and dance pedagogy can be decolonised? And the notion of “education” itself? how to create a system of knowledge sharing and transfer beyond hierarchy, racism and divide? How to re-position dance for youth -and its education- within the overall system? How to examine diversity within higher education dance institutions? How to integrate experiential journeys and dance memory/history-telling within dance transmission? How to de-centralise the processes of learning and exchange? What future do we aim for and how would it break the cycles of discrimination and divide?


  • Curators



    Nora Amin (Main curator)
    Performer, choreographer, writer, theater director and scholar, researcher and lecturer.

    Scholar of the Center for Theatre of the Oppressed (Brazil, 2003), founder of Lamusica Independent Theatre Group (Egypt, 2000), where she choreographed, directed and produced 40 performances of dance, theater and music. Founder of the Egyptian nationwide project for Theatre of the Oppressed and its Arab network in Lebanon, Sudan and Morocco, fellow of the Academy of the Arts of the World (Cologne, 2015), fellow of the International Research Center for Interweaving Performance Cultures (FU, 2015-2016), Valeska Gert Visiting Professor of Dance Studies (FU, 2018), Visiting Lecturer at the Center for Contemporary Dance, Hochschule für Musik und Tanz (Cologne, 2020), Workshop Leader at Tanzfabrik (2019-2021), at Berlin Mondiale (Wasserwerk Program, 2020-2021), and Mentor at PAP (Performing Arts Program / Berlin-LAFT) and at the Flausen + Bundesnetzwerk Program. Her most recent book is Dance of the Persecuted, a feminist perspective on the history of Baladi dance in Egypt, linking coloniality with patriarchy and capitalism, published by MSB Matthes & Seitz, 2021.


    David Kono
    Actor, performer, dancer - Dortmund, Germany
    Participant International Forum 2019

    David Guy Kono was born in Douala. After completing his training as an actor, dancer and puppeteer in 2005, Kono was awarded best actor at the 2009 festival Theâtralement Votre. Kono worked with kainkollektiv from Bochum in pieces such as "Fin de Mission," which traced the colonial traces of Europe. In 2015, Kono developed the performance "no title" as part of the program "The Incantation of the Disquieting Muse" at SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin, which explored different perspectives on the body and the invisibility of the soul. In 2017, Kono conceived the performance "Lah Kâm" as part of the MusraraMix Festival in Jerusalem, which addressed the tension between an inside and an outside. As part of the FAVORITEN theater festival in Dortmund, Kono developed the performance "tchâ. sol. Boden", in which he explored the historical parallelism of wealth and exploitation. In 2018, David Guy Kono was awarded the Förderpreis des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen für junge Künstlerinnen und Künstler.


    Mey Seifan
    Choreographer, lecturer, cultural manager and activist - Berlin, Germany.

    The Syrian choreographer and performer has been working for several years on the possibilities of expressing protests physically - of letting body and protest enter into a dialogue. She explores the conscious and unconscious levels as well as the possible space in between. In 2011, she created the Syrian Dreams Project, archiving dreams of Syrian citizens from the revolutionary period. Since then, her projects have been based on this archive and the questions that follow it. Mey Seifan developed a performance concept based on field studies and academic-artistic studies on the themes of "dream, lucid dreaming and dream after trauma". She implemented this in her trilogy "Destruction for Beginners" and in the installation and performance "Siesta".

    After many years of ballet training in Damascus, Mey Seifan studied dance at the Frankfurt University of Performing Arts. She then worked both in Germany and Syria, where she founded the company TANWEEN and established the "Damascus Contemporary Dance Platform" at the Damascus Opera House. She then studied theater at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. Besides her choreographic and pedagogical activities, she has a long experience in the field of cultural management and has directed several international projects, among others at the Goethe Institute Damascus. She also works frequently as a lecturer and consultant, and has been a member of several juries for theater and dance projects in Arab countries. Mey Seifan is political and feminist and in 2018 she co-founded NESWA. E.V. co-founded and is now the executive director of the association.

    She has been living back in Germany since 2011.


  • artists & speakers

    artists & speakers

    Ziad Adwan
    Ziad’s work spans writing and directing text-based theatre, choreography, community theatre, academic engagement. Ziad was trained at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), and then took a PhD in Theatre Studies at Royal Holloway in London; his thesis was on "Mistakes, and Making Mistakes in Cultural Representations". Ziad taught at the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damasucs. He currently lives in Germany and directs theatre and runs several workshops. He is affiliated with the ERC Project:
    Developing Theatre at LMU Munich. 


    Joy Alpuerto Ritter 

    Joy’s roots are from the Philippines, was born in the USA and grew up in Germany. She graduated at the Palucca School in Dresden and learned philippine folk dance from her mother. She has been working with companies/choreographers like: Akram Khan, Cirque du soleil, Wangramirez, Christoph Winkler, Constanza Macras, Yui Kawaguchi and Heike Hennig. Her Dance reaches out to a diversity of styles from urban dance, voguing, folk to contemporary dance. Since 2016 she has found international response as a Choreographer and is one of the Aerowaves artists 2020.


    Grichka Caruge

    is a dancer and choreographer, specialized in Krump.

    Grichka competed in numerous solo and team battles, including twice winning the EBS Krump World Championship.
    He co-founded RAF CREW in 2007, where he won the HIP HOP World Championships in 2009 and co-choreography “RAF city’z” (2010). He also founded in 2009 the collective “Madrootz“, which brings together many French pioneers of the krump movement but also international leaders. Since 2013 he has been artistic director of the International Illest Battle, an international Krump meeting, the 9th edition of which will take place in May 2022 in La Villette. In 2017, he co-choreographed the short film Les Indes Galantes, by Clément Cogitore.
    Teaching Krump and Hip Hop internationally since 2007, he decided in 2019 to offer his artistic vision of krump in a krump choreographed piece, Birth, and also A human race in 2021 on the theme of racism.


    Canan Erek

    is a German-Turkish dancer, choreographer and curator living in Berlin. She has been working as a freelance artist for 25 years now and has realised numerous projects in the field of dance. 
    Since 2016, she has been the initiator and artistic director of "PURPLE - International Dance Festival for Young Audiences", which takes place annually in January in Berlin. From 2022 she will be the curator of the international dance festival "Tanz!Heilbronn".


    Bahar Gökten

    is a dance artist. From her foundation in urban dance styles, she explores movement from a variety of approaches. Her process-oriented creative philosophy is characterised by a cross-genre curiosity and the power of improvisation. The promotion of young talent and the exploration of choreographic methods are essential. Her collective nutrospektif, founded in 2012, stands for the visibility of urban dance styles in a stage context and has been one of the Factory Artists at tanzhaus nrw since 2020. Bahar is currently artist in residence at the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum in Cologne. 


    Adham Hafez 

    Theorist, artist and curator, Adham Hafez writes on contemporary art history outside of western paradigms, on choreographic systems, climate change, and postcolonial legacies. As an artist, he works with installation, choreography and sound. Currently a PhD candidate at New York University’s Performance Studies Department, Adham Hafez holds three Master’s degrees: one in Political Science and Experimental Arts, a second one in choreography and a third one  in Philosophy. Hafez founded Egypt’s first performance studies and choreography research platform, named HaRaKa (movement, in Arabic). He is part of the editorial collective of Cairography Publication (Brussels) and Natya Publication (Montreal), and a Global Fellow of the Middle East Studies Academy. 



    Christine Henniger

    Head of the Media Library for Dance and Theater at the ITI Germany. She coordinates the ITI research area Archive and Practice, which focuses on the theoretical and practical intertwining of the performing arts in archival processes, including questions of international and transnational relation within the heritage discussion, issues of digitization and preservation, canonization and curation. Current projects include: Archives of the Independent Performing Arts, concept phase TanzArchiv Berlin, DFG project "Digitally Networking Performing Arts Media Libraries".


    Raphael Hillebrand

    Born in Hong Kong, rooted in Germany and West Africa, raised in Berlin and educated through hip-hop: choreographer Raphael Hillebrand uses his background to realize his visions of hip-hop dance theatre.
    By working on an international level, with amateurs as well as with professional dancers, he takes up his instinct for socio-political topics and cultural identities and translates them into his choreographic works of hip-hop dance theatre.
    As a source of ideas and founding member of the world's first hip-hop party: Die Urbane. A hip-hop party, he is committed to decolonization as well as empowerment and cultural diversity. 
    On the occasion of the German Dance Award in October 2020, he will receive a special honor for outstanding development in dance.


    Kirsten Maar 

    works as a dance scholar and dramaturge. Since 2018 she is a junior-professor at the Dance Department at Free University Berlin. From 2007-2014 she was a member of the DFG-Collaborative Research Centre „Aesthetic Experience and the Dissolution of Artistic Limits“. Her research fields are the intersections between visuals arts, architecture and choreography since the 1960s, social choreographies, ethics of curating, gender and ethnicity and class issues in the arts, scoring practices and composition. She is co-editor of Assign and Arrange. Methodologies of Presentation in Art and Dance (Sternberg 2014) and in 2019 she published Entwürfe und Gefüge. William Forsythes choreographische Installationen in ihren architektonischen Konstellationen (transcript). 


    Nancy Naous

    Choreographer and performer Nancy Naous, was born in Beirut to a Palestinian mother and a Lebanese father. She studied theatre and dance in Beirut and Paris, where she founded the company 4120.CORPS, 4120 being the number of kilometers that separates Beirut and Paris. Nancy’s work is woven between dance and theatre, and feeds on the heritage, rituals, gestures, and dynamics of Arab societies. Her latest creation, Turning point (Dancers?), a reflection on the perceptions that dancers crystallize in Arab countries continues to tour internationally.


    Qudus Onikeku

    is a movement artist and embodies diversity. He lives and works in Lagos NG and Gainesville, USA. Over the decade, he has established himself as one of the preeminent multitalented artistes, working today with different media: performance, research, installation, curating and community organizing. He is the co-founder and artistic director of QDance Center Lagos. His dance works is in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada and he has been a guest professor of dance at the University of California Davis and Columbia College Chicago. Qudus is currently the first "Maker in Residence" at The Center for Arts, Migration and Entrepreneurship of the University of Florida - 2019-2022. 


    Livia Patrizi 

    received her dance training at the Folkwang University in Essen, among other places. This was followed by engagements with Mats Ek, Pina Bausch and Maguy Marin, among others. Since 1994 she has also worked as a freelance choreographer. She is the initiator of the TanzZeit programme and the artistic director of TANZKOMPLIZEN, which produces dance for young audiences. Until the beginning of 2019, she led the research and material development project "Kunstlabor Tanz", from which the digital practice tool Calypso emerged. Kunstlabor Tanz is a partner of the certificate course "Artistic Interventions in Cultural Education" at the Institute for Cultural Policy at the University of Hildesheim.



    Neda Pouryekta 

    is currently project manager for urban relations at PACT Zollverein. Prior to joining PACT she worked 7 years in the field of German Foreign Culture and Education Policy. Her international work experience is based on projects in the MENA region, East Africa, and Southeast Europa with focus on strengthening civile societies, peace education and intercultural exchange. She lived in Iran, Yemen and Iraq and holds a master’s degree in Oriental/Islamic Studies and Sociology from Ruhr-University Bochum. 


    Rajyashree Ramesh

    born in Pune, raised in Mumbai, Bangalore, living in Berlin since 1977, is a dancer and movement researcher. In addition to school and university (Bachelor of Science), she trained for several years as a solo dancer (Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi), graduating in 1972. In Berlin, she founded the Academy for Performing Arts (1993) and the Rasika Dance Ensemble to promote young dancers (1996). Since then, conception of cross-cultural/genre stage productions, international lecture-performances, workshops and paper presentations. After certifying as Laban Movement Analyst (2008), doctorate from Europe-University Viadrina (2019). Currently developing a dance movement degree (“Bharatha-to-Bartenieff”) at the Global Music Academy Berlin.


    Laia Ribera Cañénguez 

    is a Salvadoran artist living in Berlin, whose artistic work moves between documentary object theatre, performance and visual theatre. She works as a performer, director and theatre pedagogue in her own productions as well as in collaboration with groups and theatres such as She She Pop, Ballhaus Naunynstrasse, etc. She has worked in physical theatre in Barcelona and Berlin. She studied physical theatre in Barcelona and has a Master's degree in theatre education from the UdK Berlin. In her work she is mainly concerned with feminist, postcolonial and queer perspectives. 


    Henrike Kollmar 

    has been working at nrw landesbuero tanz since 2017 as a competence center for the independent dance scene in North Rhine-Westphalia. Her focus is on the development of dance projects in the context of cultural education and the establishment of dance mediation in diverse fields. Previously, she worked as a dramaturge at the tanzhaus nrw in Düsseldorf, curated festivals, initiated mediation concepts and accompanied choreographers in their artistic process.


  • Videos and documentation 2021

    Videos and documentation 2021




    All recordings of the Zoom session of the symposium from October 21 to 23 can be found on our Youtube-Channel.


    THURSDAY, OCTOBER 21st 2021

    Opening note with Michael Freundt, German Dance Association

    Reversing Perspective, Keynote by Rajyashree Ramesh (India/Germany)

    Community statements on dance, Video by Nora Amin (main curator) and Neda Pouyekta (PACT Zollverein)

    Historytelling/Dancing Body, Cooking-Performance and talk with Mey Seifan (Syria/Germany)

    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 22nd 2021

    Dancing Body by Laia Ribera Cañénguez (El Salvador/Germany)

    Teaching the 'Other' / Dance Education, Ziad Adwan (Syria/Germany), André Takou Saa (Cameroon)

    Stragies of counteracting the inequalities experienced by non-western dance forms, presentation by Qudus Onikeku (Nigeria)

    What’s the Matter with education in dance? From transdisciplinary atistic research and alternative artivist approaches back to the University and Art School? Kirsten Maar, Freie Universität Berlin - SCRIPT will be ready for download shortly.

    Against Recognition' and the decolonisation of dance practice Adham Hafez (Egypt/USA), Raphael Moussa Hillebrand (Germany) und Nancy Naous (Lebanon)


    SATURDAY, OCTOBER 23rd, 2021, 10:00 – 13:00 & 14:00 – 16:00

    Dancing Body: Hirarchy of forms? Dance taboos? Normality? Racism? David Kono (Cameroon), Joy Alpuerto Ritter (Germany/USA), Grichka Caruge (France/USA) and Bahar Gökten (Germany/Turkey)

    Historytelling in education and dance mediation: from the personal/individual to the collective/institutional by Livia Patrizi (Germany/Italy)

    Archiving a discriminatory history of dance? How to achieve a diverse audience for dance? Christine Henniger, TanzArchiv and Canan Erek (dancer, choreographer, curator and festival director)

    Constructing action plans and future projects


  • Documentation of the Symposia 2018 – 2020

    Documentation of the Symposia 2018 – 2020

    Since 2018, the DTD invites to Essen to the symposium POSITIONS: DANCE, each time in the context of the award ceremony of the German Dance Prize.

    With the symposia we put current topics of the dance scene in the center, give space for perspectives and positions. Dance professionals take the floor to discuss their work situation, artistic and cultural-political goals, from which demands and work tasks are developed. For the umbrella organization, the symposia are an important central forum for sharpening the cultural-political agenda as a competent partner for the dance scene.

    Three editions of POSITIONS: DANCE have been realized so far: #1 Future of Dance, #2 Ethics in Dance, #3 Conditions in Dance.

    Documentation of the symposia 2018 - 2020 (availlable only in German)