"Tanzjahr 2016" kicks off Friday in Berlin under the motto Dance Now! with special performances showcasing the diversity of dance at Bellevue Palace. The initiative wants to communicate the impact of dance on society.
Germany's contributions to the contemporary dance world are many and varied. From the inception of expressionist dance and dance therapy by Mary Wigman in the early 20th century to the striking Tanztheater that choreographer Pina Bausch made famous in the 1970s, Germany has played an influential role in the way we experience dance performances today.
Drawing attention to that influence and to the great diversity existent in Germany's dance world today are the goals of "Tanzjahr 2016" or the "Year of Dance" declared by the Dachverband Tanz, an organization of dance companies across the country. The Federal Ministry of Culture and Media has since taken on sponsorship for the action.
"I happily took on the patronage for Tanzjahr Deutschland, an initiative that was put together by a number of partners in the dance world," said Culture Minister Monika Grütters in a statement.
"I hope the initiative achieves great success in reaching its goal of communicating the impact dance has on a society."
A highly official kick off at Schloss Bellevue
"Tanzjahr 2016" kicks off Friday (19.2.2016) at Schloss Bellevue in Berlin with President Joachin Gauck hosting a special hour-long presentation by members of dance companies from around the country.
"The President's invitation to the 'Germany Dances' Soiree at his official residence gives the hope that dance will be recognized and respected for its relevance within society," Christiane Theobold, interim director of the Staatsballet Berlin told DW ahead of the planned performance Friday.
"The evening at Schloss Bellevue will show the diversity of dance on stage and throughout the Tanzjahr and will answer how dance responds to cultural and societal issues and how it can in turn be a part of the community."
The Staatsballet Berlin is one of seven dance companies performing at the event. Other performers include a soloist from the Tanztheater Pina Bausch in Wuppertal, members of Düsseldorf's E-Motion Tanzcompanie and Haptic Hide from Frankfurt, which will be performing from the original ballet, "Aerobics!"
A year of dance
Friday's performance is the first in a series of big events scheduled to take place across the nation throughout the year celebrating dance.
First up is the Dance Platform Germany (Tanzplattform Deutschland) from March 2 to 6, a five-day festival that takes place bi-annually to showcase the 12 best contemporary dance productions put on in Germany over the previous 24 months. This year's festival will take place on stages across Frankfurt; among those invited to perform is Paula Rosolen of Haptic Hide.
In June, the Tanzkongress 2016, an international forum for the discussion of dance, choreography and movement theory will be held in Hannover (16-19.6.2016). This year's event centers on the topic of dance's development as an art form throughout the 20th century, leading to what we know today as contemporary dance.
Following on that theme at the end of August (31.8 - 3.9.2016) will be the international "tanzmesse nrw", an international networking event that brings artists and their audience together, this year in Düsseldorf.
But it's not only large-scale trade fairs that are on the agenda for the Year of Dance. Nearly every stage across Germany will play host to new performances and premieres throughout the year as they pay homage to the country's important position in contemporary dance and attempt to confirm the vital role that dance plays in society, as a connector, integrator and high art form.
The Association of Dance Archives will likewise use the occasion to come together in Cologne in October for an international meeting followed by a four-day film festival focusing on the role of dance in documentary films, titled, "Darf ich bitten?" ("May I?")
The Tanzjahr serves as a chance for everyone involved in dance to showcase their work, as Thomas Thorausch, the Deputy Director of the German Dance Archive in Cologne knows well.
"At Schloss Bellevue I'll represent the national Association of Dance Archives and present a bit of the archival materials we have at our disposal," said Torausch. "We'll be carrying on this momentum forward throughout the year, with a special focus on our meeting on October 21 to discuss the digitalization of these archives. It's an exciting opportunity to expand our reach."