Bee’s Pick of the Top 3 from Tanz im August Contemporary Dance Festival

The numbers are impressive: 87 performances, 21 productions, 200 performing artists from 25 countries in seven venues all over Berlin – that’s Tanz im August, one of the most important European festivals for contemporary dance.

2022’s festival saw director Virve Sutinen go out with a bang after nine years and Ricardo Camona, the new director starting with the season 2023, has big shoes to fill.

Dance has been one of the arts that has been deeply affected by the Covid and for the first time since 2019, the international festival Tanz im August, presented by HAU Hebbel am Ufer, is once again showing a full three-week programme with international and local choreographers from different generations.  It took a long time for dancers to be able to rehearse and even longer to perform in front of an audience and Tanz im August was at the forefront of reintroducing dance on stage.

In my eyes not everything was a success, but all in all it was simply great to be sitting side by side with other dance enthusiasts and be part of such a festival. Of the performances I was able to see, these are my top three:

Amala DianorSiguifin

Amala Dianor – Siguifin
(c) Laurent Philippe

Nine young dancers from Senegal worked with choreographer Amala Dianor and others on the production. They were the selling point of this vibrant and energetic piece. Incorporating singing, rhythms and movements, clearly derived from their lives and their cultural backgrounds, they made Siguifin feel urgent and real and very much their own. Their exuberance and joy of life within a work that speaks of togetherness was palpable and gripped the audience at once. One has to wonder, if the idea of working as a collective could produce work that is more layered and rooted than the usual fare?

Trajal Harrell: The Köln Concert

Trajal Harrell / Schauspielhaus Zürich Dance Ensemble – The Köln Concert (c) Reto Schmid

The Köln concert of Keith Jarret and his famous piano solo has inspired many artists and now Trajal Harrell. The US choreographer founded his new ensemble in Zürich and his six dancers use the music as a starting point for exploring deep seated feelings. The voguing dance scene with their easily recognisable body language created visual images, that have infiltrated modern culture and many works in modern dance. Walking endless defilees in an never-ending loop has its own quality and Harrell uses this repetition to distil an essence out of the movements that illustrates the underlying sadness and is unique and universal at the same time.

Bruno Beltrão: New Creation

Bruno Beltrão – New Creation

Highly political and extremely powerful are the words that come to mind while watching Grupo de Rua’s interpretation of Bruno Beltrão‘s work. The use of space in between the dancers and the composition of them to one another tells a story in itself. The smooth urban dance and violent Capoeira inspired moves evoke the social unrest, that shapes the modern, frazzled Brazilian society. The captivating dancers seem to defy the laws of gravity and in doing so speak of a future, where they might win their fight and the shackles that hold them back now might be broken.

All three productions were achingly beautiful and thought provoking – a great achievement of Tanz im August 2022.

I can’t wait for next year’s programme and wish the new director all best wishes.

Advance booking here

Read more of Bee’s Reviews HERE