Argumentation of selection for Gibanica 2015
The selection process was led by several guidelines that arose, partially from the applications themselves, and partially from the Slovenian context as we perceive it. Our first guideline was to view and judge each performance on its own value as regarding choreographic content in its widest sense. We were looking for strong and authentic artistic positions that push the form and content of contemporary dance further away from safe and known strategies; this push might be in format, performance, timing, content and the connection to sound or the interaction with reality. The next important direction to consider was how to bring an international dimension to the Slovenian scene by finding the best ways of balancing a national context with international tendencies.
The majority of the selected artists are mid-career professionals. However finding performances that would bring younger and outstanding performers into the spotlight was another guideline. Our decision was also to respect the classic exchange between the stage and audience; a decision informed by the limited time frame of the festival itself and our main intention of promoting Slovenian art within an international context. As a result, the most radical formats were unfortunately left out. We hope that the audience and guests of Gibanica 2015 will have an exciting insight in the best of the Slovenian dance scene with all its pluralism of physical expression and dynamism of ideas. As a selection committee, we would like to thank all the applicants and for this opportunity for an in-depth insight into Slovenian dance.
Nina Meško, Iva Nerina Sibila, Marc Olivé López
Nina Meško is well known within Slovenia as a contemporary dancer and choreographer. For the past seven years she has been working as an independent expert advisor on dance with the Republic of Slovenia Public Fund for Cultural Activities (JSKD).
Nina has been professionally involved in dance and choreography for over a decade. She was awarded a grant by the Ministry of Culture to train in New York. All her original pieces (Watching Alice, 13 Hours in April, Crash Course in Flying, Deep Show, What a Feeling, The State of Things) showcase an articulated conceptual structure and a strong interest in experimentation. She has performed at numerous events in Slovenia and abroad. Nina Meško received two major international residential grants – ArtsLink (NY) and Tanzquartier (A).
→ Nina Meško about Gibanica 2015
Until now, I was connected with the Gibanica Festival as an author, dancer and choreographer and several times participated with my dance productions in some of the early festivals. My initial reaction to being invited to this year’s festival selection panel together with Iva Nerina and Marc Olivé, was cautious. I was worried that “smallness” could present a huge burden. I understand the situation of contemporary dance in Slovenia very well because I am both interested and closely follow what’s happening. I still remember the decisions, the dilemmas and the results of our predecessors – the various selection trios from previous festivals. I have also always been of the opinion that the selection of the Gibanica programme is really a “one-selector job” because this would prevent the inevitable subjectivity in a selection to be additionally aggravated by compromises having to be agreed amongst the three selectors.
However, the exchange of opinions with my co-selectors turned out to be invaluable and productive. About 50 applications were submitted, and all had distinctive approaches to contemporary dance and the artists not only vary, on the whole, in their artistic accomplishments in this field but also in terms of space, poetics and topics they use as their starting points. Our task was to select just nine works that had made the most impact in contemporary dance in Slovenia over the last two years and possibly pushed its horizon even further.
At first we engaged in our work individually and then collectively analysed each project. I personally was in favour of works distinguished by clear creative and analytical consideration, with convincing stage presence, original structure and a dose of audacity. We didn’t always share the same opinion; in fact the selection of works for this year’s Gibanica is a sum of three individual outlooks which – perhaps unexpectedly, or not – added up to a successful whole. The chosen works don’t fall under one common concept, topic or thread but they all share strong and authentic artistic positions that are pushing the form and the content of contemporary dance further from the safe zones and known strategies, whether in format, performance, timing, content, connection to sound or interaction to reality.
Some of the pieces submitted and selected were produced outside Slovenia and without any Slovenian funding, with their creators finding suitable production conditions in other European countries. One of the messages of this year’s festival programme might be that we are not only witnessing a brain drain but also a drain on creative and thinking bodies. Of course, many excellent artists are still active at home, but they work in poor conditions that, mainly due to the lack of training space and unsystematic funding, don’t allow for continuous work.
The Gibanica format only allows a limited number of performances and this made it impossible to include in the programme many artists who significantly co-create the Slovenian dance scene. Nevertheless, I hope that over the three days Gibanica will bring together the Slovenian dance scene which both needs and deserves stable working conditions and a position equal to other artistic practices.
Iva Nerina Sibila is a dance artist and critic from Zagreb, Croatia. She is the editor of the dance magazine Kretanja, a member of the editorial board and resident critic for the website plesnascena.hr, and a critic for the European magazine Tanz. She is active as a dance artist with the IMRC (Integrated Movement Research Collective) for dancers with and without disabilities, the Institute for Catastrophe & Chaos and Trafik, a Rijeka-based transitional-fictive theatre. She graduated from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds.
→ Iva Nerina Sibila about Gibanica 2015
From my Zagreb perspective, I must admit that I am somewhat envious of Gibanica as a platform for contemporary dance in Slovenia. Its recent change in format made it a partner project in the discipline itself which means it is based on consensus and mutual interest.Croatia still lacks such a common frontline to maintain the professional status of dance, to promote artists internationally and to help the dance scene reflect on its position. Hence, considering the broader European context of budget cutbacks and limited production possibilities, I offer my heartfelt congratulations for this year’s edition.
The question that struck me during the selection process – which I assume accounted for the majority of dance productions created in Slovenia over the previous two years – relates to the internationalisation of the dance scene against what we call the “local context”. That is, what is actually meant by ‘theSlovenian dance scene,’ and consequently what informs the selection criteria for aSlovenian dance festival?It is obvious that such a festival promotes the work of local dance artists and their producers, but in Teja Reba’s (President of the Contemporary Dance Association Slovenia) letter to the selectors, she writes that Gibanica “presents… the plurality of expressions…” that “either through the form or content have left a strong mark on the Slovenian scene over the last year.”
It is impossible to measure such an impact however, and therefore the selectors’ focus was to choose works that go beyond the expected dance expressions and which offer indisputable strength, consistency and autonomy. However, is a Slovenian production one that is funded by the Slovenian taxpayer? What about the tendency, or even necessity, for international or EU co-productions? How many Slovenian citizens does it take for a work to be considered Slovenian? And then what to do with those who have been absent from the local scene for many years and whose works don’t refer to the local context and yet which open up new lines of thinking in ways that makes them important? Dance is a nomad and in many ways isextra-national – but the issue of communication with the local situation, and in particular when confronted with a constant drain of talent, is highly complex and triggers a certain amount of anxiety. It also opens up the debate about issues of centralisation, the availability of resources and infrastructural support.
The final programme as selected by Nina, Marc and I, is a result of our brief collaboration and the mutual understanding between three professionals with different backgrounds and experiences. Our choice was guided by the requirements and limitations posed by the festival format. The position of power conferred on us that we accept as selectors, means the inclusion of a smaller number and the exclusion of the majority, and despite our attention to pluralism of expression in the final programme, it still reflects some sort of hierarchy of values. The extent to which our selection responds to the current requirements of the dance scene, will be testified by the festival itself. In the meantime I would like to thank the Gibanica organisation team and all participating artists for the trust placed in me.
Marc Olivé López was born 1973 in Barcelona, Spain. He studied Contemporary Dance at The Institut del Teatre de Barcelona and Dance studies at The Place, London and graduated in Social Work at Ramón Llull University. He hold a degree from the USHS University in Strasbourg and the University Robert Shuman and a degree in developing European Projects from the Col·legi de Sociòlegs I Politòlegs de Catalunya.
He worked as an assistant production manager at the Het Net Theater in Brugge until 2004 and from 2002 until 2004 also worked as assistant choreographer for the ENCLAVE Dance Company directed by Roberto Oliván in Brussels and Cia. Huellas. He was a stage manager for different productions of Zarzuela with soloists from the OBC (Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona I Nacional de Catalunya). In 2005 he started work as a programmer at the Teatre Mercat de les Flors de Barcelona, and still hold this position today.
He has been part of a dance jury in national and international choreography awards – such as the Premios de la Feria Internacional de Teatro y Danza de Huesca, MasDanza Dance International Contest, Dance International Contest Burgos – New York. He has also been an invited teacher on a Masters degree in Production Policies at the Univeristat de Barcelona and participated in different EU projects with the Teatre Mercat de les Flors, these included; Modul-dance, IDEE (Initiatives in Dance through European Exchange), Xin-A-Movs-‘s (Artists exchange between China and Europe), The Modul Dance project and the EDN (European Dancehouses Network). He participated as a member of the following: The Spanish National Commissions, Commission for Dance Productions, Commission for Dance Touring Productions, Commission for developing a dance plan residency programme.
→ Marc Olivé López about Gibanica 2015
My experience of the Gibanica selection process has been fascinating. It has been interesting on one level to gain a better understanding of what is going on within the dance scene of Slovenia and on the other to discover what dance institutions are working within the country. From an external point of view I realized from the applications to the festival that only a few of these maintain a relationship with, or work along lines relating to the physical theatre and dramaturgical composition. I observed that as in most other countries in Europe nowadays, it is very difficult to gain the opportunity to work on group pieces, with the majority of works therefore being solos or duets. Not many of the works I saw focused on choreographical writing, particularly in relation to space and composition. Indeed many of the artists have a closer association with experimentation and even research in their work. From that perspective what I found particularly interesting were some pieces related to the body and voice and others working on instant composition and improvisation. In general, the dancers in all the works demonstrated really good skills and movement in terms of technique and dynamics (when related specifically to the needs of the piece being performed and how the approach of body, composition and the necessary “tools” used, belongs to the particular characteristics of that specific piece and the working lines that the choreographer/dancer is following on his/her development of a dance language). Talk about the internationalization of Slovenian dance works is not easy. As with anywhere, this is very much related not only to the “quality” of the specific works, but also to whom the work is directed and then finding the right interlocutor for each work. These works (and it’s just my point of view) can indeed have a life outside Slovenia, but the hard work is to identify the right spaces and contexts for these works to be shown and to find the partners that can present them and collaborate with the artists in terms of presentation, co-production or coaching.
The selection we made is of course just our choice and this does not mean that the other works were not good or that these are necessarily the best. The selection is just a point of view and the result of three people considering and agreeing on certain criteria, but three other people would surely make a different selection.
Gibanica 2015 is an opportunity for dance promoters and dancers to come to Ljubljana and gain an overview of what’s going on in Slovenia and have the chance to meet both artists performing and others who will be around and are interesting as well.