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Sweat – The Workshop

Category: Artwork, Performance 6. August 2008

In Heinrich Kleist's essay, "On the Marionettentheater", a discussion takes place between a layman and the principal dancer of the city opera. The layman, impressed by the presentation, wants to know what kind of technical mechanism has made it possible for the puppets to dance so convincingly that it seems as though dance itself has been shown in its most perfect form. The dance professional considers this for a moment, then gives an answer: When we see a "perfect" dance presentation and ask how it was done, then we're already missing the point. It does not depend on the mechanics, nor on the perfected techniques with which the individual limbs of the puppets are handled with the most precision.

If one wants to understand why a dance appears "perfect", it is much more effective not to focus so much on the technical perfection, but rather on the mechanisms of the representation of the dance. If these mechanisms are perfect, then the viewer who sees a movement corresponding to the represented one has to call this movement "dance".

And vice versa, when he sees movements which do not correspond to this representation of dance, even if they are also superbly performed, he does not even consider them to be dance. In short: What we perceive as dance is what corresponds to its representation.

In their workshop, "Sweat -The Movie", Tor Lindstrand and Marten Spangberg of International Festival together with the participants take on this topic of the representation of the dance. Contemporary dance is very different and much more than what is shown to us on stage. Contemporary dance is not limited to the isolated movements which are demonstrated to us in video clips and Hollywood movies. But contemporary dance is influenced and rarely separated from such representations of dance. What is dance when the medium of its representation shifts? What is dance?

Lindstrand and Spangberg conceived of a workshop setting in which the participants – all professional dancers – not only reflect on typical representations of dance, either by approaching them or distancing themselves from them, but also investigate cinematic possibilities of the representation of dance and thereby contribute to the definition of dance. "Sweat - The Movie", according to Lindstrand, is "a workshop about the production of a dance film and a dance film about this workshop, which took place as part of the Impulstanz Festival in Vienna". Each participant took part in discussing, training, choreography, building and designing film sets, directing, shooting, and editing. The production took place over 30 days, ending with its premiere on the 31st day, August 8th 2008 at Kasino am Schwarzenbergplatz, Vienna.

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