www.tanzfonds.de – Dance Heritage Fund

For a long time, the history of modern dance enjoyed only limited visibility in the public arena. There are many reasons why the history of modern dance is as inaccessible as it is, but there is an obvious and urgent need to stimulate new methods of passing on dance heritage. An understanding of ‘embodied lineage’ must be embedded in programmes that stimulate the development of new learning tools and technologies – both digital and analogue – that contribute to the way dance is taught in the future. Tanzfonds Erbe investigates existing modes of archiving and documentation as well as the potential for digital technology to function as a repository for archival content and a tool for dispersing the intangible heritage of dance. In the last three funding rounds 41 projects have been selected, 32 of which have now been completed and documented. These projects have been carried out in close cooperation with archives, choreologists and contemporary witnesses: stage works, films, symposiums, and websites. AIMS The aim of the tanzfonds.de website is to make the dance-heritage projects funded as part of Tanzfonds Erbe accessible beyond the funding period, to archive them, and to offer insight into the production processes. Tanzfonds Erbe was created in order to facilitate the bequeathing of dance in fresh, innovative ways, and to increase the visibility and knowledge of dance history. Artists granted funding under Tanzfonds Erbe are asked to use a wide range of archives for their substantiated research. They work closely with experts such as historians, dance scientists and choreographic experts and in doing so to help clear up copyright issues. The artistic results of this process are intended to provide the general public with access to a vibrant history of dance that until now has only been available to a small group of experts. IMPLEMENTATION The concept for Tanzfonds Erbe was developed in numerous discussions with dance practitioners and experts. Project agency Diehl+Ritter used these talks to develop the concept to be submitted to the Kulturstiftung des Bundes. Tanzfonds Erbe not only funds dance works but has also taken on the role of documentarian and invested a lot of time and effort in the documentation of research and production processes, as well as the productions themselves. The tanzfonds.de website has been developed by experts: the dance and theatre scientist Isabel Niederhagen developed a three-part documentation concept that shows the processes and results of the individual projects; the filmmaker Andrea Keiz, who has many years of experience documenting dance pieces on video and is herself a trained teacher of dance improvisation, was responsible for camera and editing; and the concept for the website, which aims to appeal to both experts and non-professionals alike, was developed by the journalist and cultural scientist Stefanie Lohaus. RESULTS An evaluation from September 2015, which review the first funding phase from 2011 to 2014, shows that Tanzfonds Erbe fund has made a big impact on the dance scene and sparked a debate about dealing with dance heritage. The fund has also highlighted the often-underfinanced status of dance archives, which have now had to face an onslaught of choreographers and project participants. Both the individual projects and the tanzfonds.de website have been – and are being – enthusiastically received by the public, as the excellent visitor figures show. The wealth of material emerging from this process has become valuable study material for researchers, students and artists, allowing them to investigate German dance history more thoroughly. It also shows how to approach dance heritage from an artistic standpoint. The abstract term ‘dance heritage’ has come alive in the public arena. EUROPEAN CONTEXT The worldwide web is an easy-access archive of humanity. Transnational initiatives such as EUROPEANA supply and support this domain with thousands of digital artefacts. However, the history of modern dance enjoys only limited visibility in the public arena – both offline and online. Recently, national initiatives such as Tanzfonds Erbe, initiated by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, or the Kulturerbe Tanz (Dance as Cultural Heritage) in Switzerland, have been introduced in a bid to reverse this fact, but in most European countries there is no substantial support for accessing and disseminating intangible dance heritage. Many of the Tanzfonds Erbe artists and projects are not limited to Germany but also include other European states or even other continents. Most parts of the website are therefore translated into English.

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