After a year of intensive preparation, for the fourth time the dance festival TanzPlan Ost will take place from August to November 2016. Awaiting the Festival's public is a multifaceted and thematic-rich program presented during seven weekends on diverse stages as well as in other spaces in East Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. To be seen will be pieces ranging from those choreographed by young and emerging artists to internationally established positions. Using their bodies and (movement) languages, the artists uncompromisingly construe individual perspectives of the contemporary world, often radically, through challenging new forms of expression.
Under the new direction of the choreographer Simone Truong, who lives in Zurich, TanzPlan Ost further advances artistic development, exchange, and the network of the independent dance scene in East Switzerland and the Principality of Liechenstein. Thereby, the Festival initiates new impulses, and this year will once more make an important contribution to supporting dance in the region of East Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
The thematic framework of this year's Festival coalesced from the projects submitted in response to an open call. In particular, the Festival addresses the question as to what the local or regional is considered to be today, and how identity can or might be thereby measured. In a broader sense, it is also important, especially with a geographically limited festival such as TanzPlan Ost, to also think about what is to be regarded as regional or even local from an artistic perspective. Does it make sense in light of today's training modes and production practices in contemporary dance to speak of locality? Exactly when is one successful? When one is engaged more locally than globally or vice versa? Doesn't "small territory" work entail more endurance than a modus of constant traveling and its respective non-binding, short-term social exchange at many venues? What does it mean to explicitly choose the local, to be involved where one has settled?
Confronting her own African heritage in her native city of London, writer and photographer Taiye Selasi proposes a different understanding of the local. She writes: "Don't ask where I'm from, ask where I'm a local. […] All experience is local. All identity is experience. I'm a local. I'm multi-local." [Ted Talk, October 2014] For artistic director Simone Truong, herself the daughter of a Vietnamese-Chinese immigrant family and speaking with an accent-free Solothurn dialect, this passage constitutes an important springboard for the thematic programming. In a digitalized and globalized world, withdrawing to a geographical area as an attribute of heritage seems antiquated.
Respectively, Selasi defines local experience according to the three R's of rituals, relationship, restriction, i.e., those rituals that are executed at different locations, the relationships that leave their mark, and the limitations that comprise a frame in which to operate. These ideas have been transferred to and further developed in the concept of TanzPlan Ost. To this end, half a year before the beginning of the Festival, selected choreographers were invited for a workweek in Thurgau to jointly develop the promotional mediation program "Extra". Through this step, in addition to deepening networking and exchange among the artists, TanzPlan Ost also strengthens efforts to bring contemporary dance closer to the public. Formats, emerging from the workweek in Thurgau, address the topic of the local via the three basic actions of walking, exchanging, and talking. The ultimate goal is to provoke new and unusual encounters that are not only intellectually challenging, but also produce physical experiences.
This current program revolves around the specified questions and statements using various ways and means. In one way or another, the pieces shown provide answers and open up unusual perspectives addressing personal blocks by enriching the notion of identity with new ideas and massaging out tension. In this manner the concept of the local will be expanded to make the complexity of our contemporary situation more tangible. Recognizing this complexity and diversity, however, is not intended to divide, but rather to arouse a sense of community. Thereby, TanzPlan Ost explicitly aims to build bridges between performers and the public, also out of the conviction that solidarity is not a question of words, but rather of effort and deeds.