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How to create a comprehensive curatorial program for Gibanica – Biennial of Slovenian Contemporary Dance Art, which is the most important contemporary dance platform in Slovenia?

In the desire for Gibanica to provide a space for the wider dance community and become a meeting place for diverse dance practices, the members and the management board of the Contemporary Dance Association Slovenia (DSPS) decided for a shift, a turning point.

In the course of the discussions, two working groups were formed: one on the topic of the festival as a selection intended for foreign producers, and another one, which considers the festival through a curatorial perspective. An artistic committee was proposed, which would consist of a representative of the DSPS management board, a representative of the festival’s partners, and a third member. Unfortunately, due to rejections by those invited, it was not compiled in the originally intended form. We, the undersigned members of the artistic committee, faced a great challenge. Unfortunately, the committee was not formed as originally planned because the candidates declined the invitation. We, the undersigned members of the artistic committee, were faced with a major challenge.

If we want to understand Gibanica in its entirety, we should look at the past, think into the future, and experience it in the present, in the midst of a turning point. Considering the financial deficit of 17317,38 Euros (which represents 28 % of the funds allocated to the festival), our wishes and intentions – innovations, connecting the community, participation, and improving the programme by maintaining the competition programme and adding new content – seem very utopian.

From the very beginning, this raised the question of how to be selective, but at the same time connecting and innovative.

The Gibanica 2023 selection team – consisting of Pia Krämer (Germany), Biljana Tanurovska ‑ Kjulavkovski (North Macedonia) and Maja Kalafatić (Slovenia) selected 7 dance performances from the 49 entries. Following a thorough review of different author’s poetics, the selectors put together a competition programme that shows the specificity of Slovenia and appeals to the international dance community.

With the aim of creating a platform and promoting artistic freedom, as well as connecting and placing innovative content that represents possible new formats, we introduced Gibanica Fringe – a programme of experiential workshops, participatory content, and video dance films. Our wish is for the programme to open up and provide an additional space where we will offer, together with dance creators, a wealth of formats, processes and dance practices to the interested local and international public and, above all, connect even more closely through collaborations. In this context, we are aware that our invitation to participate was indecent, as everyone should receive payment for their work. However, due to a lack of financial resources, we were forced to introduce a voluntary contribution, and we sincerely thank all artists for contributing their works of art to the dance community. To achieve visibility, audibility, and presence.

As part of the accompanying programme, we will talk with the authors participating in the competition programme in order to try to find out how certain contents, topics, creative methods and operational models influence their decisions. At the public debate, we will analyze policy strategies in the field of contemporary dance, as inclusive cultural development policies are a necessary condition for professional artistic creation.

The purpose of Gibanica is to present a selection of high-quality contemporary dance art, to create and connect a dance community, and above all, to improve the working conditions of dance artists. In order for the dance sector to be able to achieve top standards comparable to European countries, we need to establish a systematic and planned development. We must also realize that the key value of dance is experiential. You are thus invited to experience a dance turning point in construction!

Mojca Kasjak and Nina Meško, members of the Gibanica 2023 artistic committee