Heading closer to Sarajevo and deeper into the Mess programme – Open for Everything

From Gare d’Nord its the briefest of strolls round the corner to slightly less grand Gare d l’est.  After a quick cup of extra strength coffee I’m back on the train – this time heading down to Munich on one of SNCF’s very fine double decker TGV’s.  Too fine in many ways as I quickly get told off by the ever so polite card for taking a telephone call on the train!  It doesnt help that I dont know the French for quiet carriage.

Moments ago we left Strasborg (just before 6pm local time) and the sun – which this morning was back lighting mist over the river colne as I left Essex – is now quietly but very brightly setting to my right.

As I travel down through Eurpoe I’m reading about the opening show at MESS – DorkyPark’s Open for Everything .  A record of a very different type of journey – the travels of the Roma community throughout Europe wherever life, work or indeed the situation takes them.

Since 2010 Dorky Park artistic director Constanza Macras has been researching the different ways of life, dance styles and music of the Roma in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The performance uses music and dance to take the audience through the lives of the European Roma of today, seizing upon, playing with, and depicting with humor the prejudices, clichés, misunderstandings, similarities, traditions, discrimination, poverty and violence the Roma face. It asks who is making use of whose prejudices? And just who are the true nomads of the 21st century?

DORKYPARK was created in 2003 under the artistic direction of Constanza Macras and dramaturgy from Carmen Mehnert. It is an interdisciplinary ensemble that works with dance, text,  live music and film .  As many of my current projects work across film/digital, music and theatre (see Martin Green’s / LEPUS Into the Cuckoo’s Nest for example) I’m looking forward to seeing how DORKYPARK work across the disciplines.

The company has been touring extensively across the world, being invited to festivals such as the Festival d’Avignon in France,  the Wiener Festwochen in Austria, the Seoul Performing Arts Festival (SPAF) in Korea; the Buenos Aires International Festival (FIBA) in Argentina, Attakalari – India Biennial in India or Dance Umbrella Johannesburg.

Like many of the European avant garde makers DorkyPark is a large company.  Europe doesnt confine its experimental work to one person shows and studio spaces! The actual company members are: Miki Shoji, Nile Koeting, Johanna Lemke, Felix Saalmann, Emil Bordas, Fernanda FarahHyoung Min KimAna Mondini and Luc Giol. Guest dancers / actors: Louis Becker, Daisy Rampson Philips, Anouk Froudevaux, Tatiana Saphir, Mandla Mathonsi, Thulani Mgidi, Melusi Mkhwanjana, Fana Tshabalala, John Sithole, Yi Liu, Juliana Neves, Huanhuan Zhang, Huimin Zhang, Xiaorui Pan, Lu Ge.  Rehearsal directors / training: Miki Shoji, Johanna Lemke and Ana Mondini. Music collaborators: Chico Melo, Oscar Bianchi, Robert Lippock, Almut Lustig, Kristina Loewe, Lochenson and Santiago Blaum. Stage designers: Janina Audick, Laura Gamberg, Alisa Kolbush, Chika Tabakashy and Tal Schacham. Light designers: Sergio de Carvalho Pessanha and Catalina Fernandez. Costume Design: Allie Saunders, Gilvan Cohelo, Constanza Macras. Directors Assistants: Niki Fisher and Felipe Amaya.

Apart of its productions the company is actively engaged in organising of ‘curatorial programs’ mixing theory and practice such as the  “Dance about Architecture“ international Symposium curated by Constanza Macras and Lukas Feireiss or “On Fire“ residence program with South African and Berlin artist on gender and tradition.

(My research trip to Mess Festival has been made possible by an Artists International Development Award from Arts Council England and the British Council, see here)

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