16th BELGRADE DANCE FESTIVAL: Emotions for Fans of Finest Art

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Artists from 11 countries will perform at the 16th Belgrade Dance Festival that will take place in March 2019

The 16th edition of the Belgrade Dance Festival will be all about “Emotions”. A total of 16ml of different, and yet equally precious ‘substances’ will form a ‘concentrate’ that will help both the fans of the finest art and absolute novices to regenerate their best emotions. A total of 16 ballet and contemporary dance companies from 11 countries will perform 20 choreographed pieces and 25 solos and duets in front of the audiences from March 22nd to April 12th. The troops come from Grenoble, Lyon, Antwerp, Rome, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Seoul, Philadelphia, Tel Aviv, Nantes, Montreal, The Hague and Johannesburg. The main Festival’s programme will take place in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Vršac. Prior to the 16th Belgrade Dance Festival, there will be a traditional film review “Days of Dance” at the Yugoslav Film Archive (from January 25th to 29th), various workshops, master classes, exhibitions and presentations.

The Belgrade Dance Festival owes its development to the support from the Ministry of Culture of Serbia, the City of Belgrade, the embassies and the cultural centres of participating countries. The long-standing cooperation with
the Provincial Secretariat for Culture of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina and the City of Novi Sad is significant for the affirmation of the artistic dance and the implementation of the Festival’s programme in Vojvodina. Also, for seven consecutive years, the EU Delegation to Serbia has been supporting the Belgrade Dance Festival.

As the main partner of the Belgrade Dance Festival, Vip Mobile has introduced a recognizable model of investments by large companies in culture, with Erste Bank, Visa, Nivea and Nestlé Adriatic also sponsoring the event. The Hemofarm Foundation, DDOR Novi Sad, HEINEKEN, Pardon Marbo Product, Vahali Production Services, Bojović Drašković Popović & Partners, Telegroup and others are the long-standing friends of the Festival.

From the Festival’s very beginning, Diplomacy & Commerce magazine has been supporting and reporting about the Belgrade Dance Festival, underlining the great significance of this unique cultural event. We talked with the
ambassadors of 9 countries in Serbia about the dance troupes from their respective countries performing at the Festival, and how important it is to support such artistic events.

H.E. CARLO LO CASCIO, Ambassador of Italy: Cultural Event of the Highest Rank

The Belgrade Dance Festival which, in the meantime has become a cultural event of the highest rank, brings the comprehensive global artistic dance scene in front of the fantastic audiences in Serbia. This year too, the Italian Embassy and the Italian Cultural Institute of Culture will give their full support to Italy’s participation in the BDF. The Italian dance troupe “Spellbound”, that will participate in the festival, is an excellent ensemble who knows how to breathe life into mesmerizing innovative projects. Their performance in Belgrade, Vršac and Novi Sad will be homage to music and contemporaienity of Rossini’s personality and work. This elevation of beauty of life through imaginative choreography will take your breath away.

H.E. FRÉDÉRIC MONDOLONI, French Ambassador: The World of Contemporary Dance

In the spring of 2019, we will be celebrating 180 years of diplomatic relations between France and Serbia and culture is an essential element of this relationship. Following in the steps its predecessor – French Cultural Centre, The French Institute of Serbia, is strongly committed to promoting and encouraging contemporary dance in Belgrade. Consequently, the success of the Belgrade Dance Festival, devoted entirely to the contemporary dance and supported by a wide public, is the most beautiful of rewards for our previous efforts. Thanks to BDF, we are very
pleased to announce three French performances at the festival – Tordre from Rachid Ouramdane and its two astonishing, internationally acclaimed virtuoso dancers, Passo from Ambra Senatore, reflecting all the grace and subtlety of her choreographic work and, finally, Lobby from the Tie Break Company which mixes hip hop, the new circus and the musical comedy with great humour and dexterity. These three performances will give the audience an excellent insight into the vitality of the French contemporary dance, of its diversity and the universality of its language. I wish you a beautiful journey through the world of contemporary dance and the Belgrade Dance Festival.

H.E.HENK VAN DEN DOOL, Ambassador of the Netherlands: I Hope You Are Intrigued

The Netherlands has been very prominent at the Belgrade Dance Festival (BDF) since its beginnings. However, one group keeps coming back by popular demand of the audience – the famous Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) – that will open the Belgrade Dance Festival 2019. According to Le Figaro” five minutes of the performance is sufficient to be certain: this company is one of the seven wonders in the world of dance”. NDT will perform “Wir sagen uns Dunkles” [We say dark things to each other] by Marco Goecke, where “everything vibrates of sensual excitement”. Dancers move fast, virtuoso, gesticulate in peculiar ways. Darkness Spoken, without words. We will also see the creation of the NDT house choreographers Paul Lightfoot and Sol León with their recognizable, but diverse, choreographic language, packed with emotions. “Sad Case”, created in 1998 when Sol León was seven months pregnant with her daughter, is one of the main pillars of the tandem’s oeuvre. To complete this triptych, NDT brings back a significant work by Lightfoot/León – “Signing Off”, originally created for NDT 1 in 2003. There will be another treat from the Netherlands during the festival. Actually, it is a Dutch-Serbian treat – the performer and choreographer Dunja Jocić will showcase her piece “Don’t talk to me in my sleep” produced by the Korzo Productions. I hope you are intrigued and I look forward to seeing you at the Belgrade Dance Festival.

H.E. ALONA FISHER-KAMM, Ambassador of the State of Israel: Home to Almost 100 Different Dance Ensembles

In the recent years, Israel has positioned itself as one of the leading countries in contemporary dance. Home to almost 100 different dance ensembles, it has developed a profuse scene that is ever more diverse, creative and audacious. I am very proud that Israeli dance companies have been present in Belgrade since the very beginnings
of the Belgrade Dance Festival as, during the three Festival weeks, Belgrade becomes the true centre of contemporary dance trends, gathering dancers and performers from all over the world. This year, as the Festival celebrates its 16th anniversary, we will be bringing to Belgrade one of the most renowned and critically acclaimed dance companies, Batsheva. This is Israel’s biggest company, with an incredible annual performance schedule consisting of over 250 performances both locally and internationally. Batsheva owes its originality, audacity and grace to Ohad Naharin, choreographer and the company’s Artistic Director until 2018, as well as the creator of an original dance technique – Gaga. The answer to what Gaga is lays in the “definition” given by Naharin himself – “We become more aware of our form. We connect to the sense of the endlessness of possibilities.
We explore multi-dimensional movement; we enjoy the burning sensation in our muscles, we are ready to snap, we are aware of our explosive power and sometimes we use it.” Belgrade audience will witness firsthand the Gaga “mystical” movement and its unique esthetic in Sadeh 21, a 75-minute-long performance that the critics labelled a hypnotizing, dream-like experience, bearing unmistakably Naharin’s distinctive choreographic signature. Sounds tempting? See you in the Sava Center on April 8th!

H.E. KATHLEEN CSABA, Ambassador of Canada: Exceptional Promotion Of Canadian Dance Theatre

I am delighted that Canada will be represented at the Belgrade Dance Festival again this year! The Festival has become one of Belgrade’s best-known brands, and every year presents world-class dance companies and choreographers. Over the years, these have included Canadian companies. Three Canadian cultural figures, originally from this region, have been recipients of the “Vip Calling” award for their lifetime achievements: Aleksandar Antonijević, former principal dancer of the National Ballet of Canada, Gradimir Pankov, Art Director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, and Branislav Henselmann, former Executive Director of BC Ballet and current Managing Director of the Cultural Services of the City of Vancouver. Montreal-based Compagnie Marie Chouinard is not new to Serbian audiences and we look forward to their new show Radical Vitality, Solos and Duets that had its world premiere at the 2018 International Contemporary Dance Festival of the Venice Biennale. Its Belgrade performance will take place on April 4 at the Opera Madlenianum. The “Jovan Ćirilov – for one step further” prize for the 2018 Belgrade Dance Festival will be awarded, based on the decision of the expert jury, to Canadian choreographer Marie Chouinard, for the piece Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights. Marie Chouinard is a true cultural ambassador for Quebec and Canada and her company enjoys an outstanding international reputation. Having greatly enjoyed this year’s BDF performance of Compagnie Marie Chouinard’s Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights (I liked it so much the first night that I came back the next night for the second performance), I can hardly wait to see their new production Radical Vitality, Solos and Duets on April 4, 2019. As Ambassador of Canada, I would like to thank the Belgrade Dance Festival, and particularly its director, Ms. Aja Jung, for exceptional cooperation and promotion of Canadian dance theatre in Serbia. I look forward to the 16th edition of the Belgrade Dance Festival and I would like to invite modern dance lovers from the whole region to join the excitement of this wonderful festival taking place in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Vršac.

H.E. MIGUEL FUERTES SUÁREZ, Ambassador of Spain: Vibrant Shows that Invite us to Reflect

Spain and Serbia have very close friendship. In 2016, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between our two countries. The Balkans will always included in the work of Blasco Ibáñez
or of the music of Manuel Manrique de Lara in Spain, where also writers such as Jovan Dučić and Ivo Andrić lived. It was precisely in Madrid, in the late 1920s, that Andrić met Kalmi Baruh, the first great Yugoslavian Hispanist. Serving as the Ambassador of Spain to Serbia has allowed me to be a privileged witness of the deep interest
which Serbs have in the Spanish culture. Their enthusiasm for learning Spanish and their love for Spanish literature, a treasure which we cherish and share together with our Latin American brothers and sisters, is a fitting proof of it. So is the vibrant activity in our Cervantes Institute in Belgrade. The 16th Belgrade Dance Festival will be held this year too. It has undoubtedly become a global reference, taking Serbian dancers and choreographers to the highest levels and bringing top global dance talents to Belgrade. Spain has taken part in the Festival since 2005, with talented artists such as Nacho Duato from the Spanish National Dance Company, and Sol Picó, who have had the opportunity to show the quality of Spanish dance in recent years. This year’s programme includes two Spanish performances from our beloved Barcelona, with the support of Acción Cultural Española and the Spanish Embassy in Serbia. Choreographer Pere Faura and his “No dance, no paradise” provide an interesting reflection on the world of dance – from awe to humorous self-criticism – through a personal interpretation of four iconic choreographies which have become part of the public imagination. Furthermore, Agrupación Señor Serrano – who won the Silver Lion Award to Innovation in Theatre at the Venice Biennale – help the audience confront the current world contradictions through their multidisciplinary. “Birdie” is a dance story about migrating birds which become an imaginary boundary between wealth and misery, war and peace. These are two vibrant shows that invite us to reflect. I have no doubt that all fans of dance will enjoy these performances at the Festival that, as usual, is a guarantee for both talent and quality.

H.E. THOMAS SCHIEB, Ambassador of Germany: Guest Performances by Two Renowned German Dance Theatres

Contemporary dance can be challenging – both physically and emotionally. It pushes the boundaries of dance and forces the audience to think outside the box and open up emotionally. Therefore, I am proud that the Belgrade Dance
Festival will this year host two remarkable dance ensembles from Germany: Eric Gauthier and his team from Stuttgart and the Dresden Frankfurt Dance Company. Eric Gauthier – a dancer, choreographer, art director, and musician – is coming to Belgrade with his latest and last performance as a dancer. “The Gift” is a somewhat controversial title of a performance because in the English language it means “present” and in the German “poison”. This is, I can safely say, a masterpiece. Gauthier takes us on a journey of a psychological discovery of our deepest fears but also the happy moments of our lives. The ultimate goal of the show is to discover who we really are. Eric
Gauthier has many talents, professions, passion, and interests – as do many of us. Sometimes, it is hard to grasp and come to terms with ourselves and the challenges that we constantly face. We´ll see whether Gauthier’s piece can help us surmount the obstacles on this difficult path. The Dresden Frankfurt Dance Company – with its own experienced and sophisticated choreographer, Jacopo Godani – presents a show that merges different branches of art. It is as if Godani and his team are confronting our senses with impossible tasks: to see the music, hear the movement, and sense the scenery. The performance offers such a perfect blend of images and impressions that, while enjoying the show, our senses fuse into sublime harmony. These two performances are visually exciting and entertaining, while at the same time emotionally demanding. One thing is for certain: every audience member will leave the theatre having witnessed a great and intense spectacle for the senses.

H.E. ADAM KOENRAAD, Belgian Ambassador: Discovering Fascinating Piece of Art

The Belgrade Dance Festival has already had the pleasure to host many artistic performances, be it for Geneva Ballet, Nederland’s Dans Theater, Introdans or Aakash Odedra from London. This time around, Sidi Cherkaoui will
come to Belgrade with the Eastman Dance Company which he founded in 2010. Under his guidance, the company has become an exquisite ambassador of Belgian’s contemporary dance scene. As the recipient of multiple awards throughout his career, which culminated in numerous successful artistic collaborations, including the one with the Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovich, Cherkaoui will have the honour to open this year’s Belgrade Dance
Festival with the performance of Fractus V. Inspired by the linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky, his choreography is a reflection of how to approach the most fundamental of challenges that today’s society and individuals are faced with, namely how to cope with mass information, avoid media manipulation, and maintain freedom of speech. Space is needed for the renewal of identities, a process that passes through fractures and the ability to let go of the past. True to the cosmopolitan profile of Eastman’s hometown of Antwerp, a colorful ensemble of dancers and musicians of multiple identities and backgrounds will participate in the performance of
Fractus V. As a newcomer to this city, I am looking forward to discovering together with you this fascinating piece of art, on 22nd March, 2019.

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