(German, partly English)
Prof. Lydia Grün (HMTM President), Prof. Jan Broeckx (Director of the Ballet Academy)
(German, partly English)
Anna Beke, David Russo,Prof. Jan Broeckx, Prof. Dr. Andrea Sangiorgio (HMTM), Claudia Feest, Michael Freundt (DTD), Curators of the Symposium
The opportunity to train impassioned ballet students, eager to pursue careers as professional dancers, is an honour and privilege. A richly rewarding responsibility requiring constant scrutiny of ballet’s traditions to ensure that we are ‘cherishing the fire in past practices, not guarding the ashes’. As we share the power of daily rigour to achieve exciting outcomes, our pedagogical choices must never cause the light in any student’s eyes to die.
Mavis Staines, C.M., DHumL and Sarah Moreno (Canada’s National Ballet School)
Panel Discussion (German, partly English)
Teachers in dance education still mostly have a role model function and are perceived as authorities by the students – especially when the students are still very young. This makes it all the more important to create an educational framework in teaching that reflects and incorporates ethical concerns, especially where body-based training is involved. In this regard, the Pedagogical Concept of the Ballet Academy of the HMTM as well as the guidelines of the Ethics Committee for Dance have formulated specific orientation frameworks, which will be questioned and discussed in this panel. Among others, we want to discuss the following questions: How can an equal and mutually respectful interaction between teachers and students be created? What conditions are needed in contemporary dance education at universities in order to guarantee an optimal balance between the achievement of the highest dance quality and the simultaneous long-term preservation of the mental, psychological and physical health of the dancers?
Moderated by Claudia Feest (Dachverband Tanz Deutschland)
Panel guests: Dr. Fiona Bannon (University of Leeds, UK), Jean-Yves Esquerre (European School of Ballet, NL), Prof. Nik Haffner (HZT Berlin – Inter-University Centre for Dance), Prof. Dr. Antje Klinge (Ruhr University Bochum, DE), Friedrich Pohl (Dancersconnect), David Russo (Ballet Academy, HMTM), Prof. Dr. Andrea Sangiorgio (HMTM)
The Dance Education Conference (Ausbildungskonferenz Tanz - AK|T) was founded in 2006 by representatives of all state dance education institutions in Germany. It sees itself as a working group and national interest group with the goal of strengthening professional dance training in Germany. There are no comparable organizations internationally. The AK|T actively participates in the discussions on the educational situation of dance training by representing common interests as a national body intensifying cooperation while at the same time raising the profile of the individual training institutions networking with other international partners.
The most important joint project of the AK|T is the Dance Education Biennial, which has been taking place since 2008 at changing locations as a national forum for the exchange and encounter of students and teachers. The initiative aims at connecting dance training institutions and was started mostly by Tanzplan Deutschland, a programme of the German Federal Cultural Foundation (KSB).
Prof. Dieter Heitkamp (Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts)
Students of Ballet Academy, HMTM
The workshop aims to look at some questions concerning the barre in a ballet class from an anatomical point of view. Aspects such as the order of the exercises, the place of “key” steps or their different kinds of executions. It also looks at biomechanical insights and the use of breath as tools to help dancers perform steps in a healthier and more organic way.
Javier Torres and Violetta Keller (Finnish National Ballet, FI)
The focus on thinness can put extreme pressure on ballet students. A preoccupation with physical appearance can lead dancers to engage in unhealthy behaviours to control their body weight, including food avoidance, fasting, vomiting, and excessive exercising. These behaviours may have long-term and even fatal consequences. Eating disorders are much more common among ballet dancers than in the general population. Importantly, both male and female dancers are affected. The warning signs are often hard to detect since dancers can be very clever at hiding their behaviours and may have a normal body weight. The responsibility of ensuring a ballet dancer’s physical and mental well-being lies, in part, with instructors, family, and friends. In this workshop, we will talk about how to recognize warning signs that may indicate that a dancer is struggling with an eating disorder. We will also discuss ways in which ballet schools and companies can create a safe environment that allows an open discussion about the struggles associated with maintaining a “ballerina body” and how we can all promote a positive body image among dancers.
Dr. Dora Meyer (Ballet Academy, HMTM)
The anatomical requirements for dance differ. In the classical repertoire all steps and positions aim towards the same strict form – and thus a very specific anatomy – while modern and contemporary dance deal more openly with individual prerequisites. In all forms of dance, students and teachers must know what kind of possibilities the body offers and which not. How can they work in the most productive way to achieve the set goals? In order to make the best use and least damage of the dancers’ instrument – the body – it is vital to know and understand the anatomy and functional movement chains. In this workshop, we will discuss the most relevant anatomical structures, their dance specific function, and compensatory mechanisms to use the body and keep it healthy.
Marc Geifes (Ballet Academy, HMTM)
What does it take for dancers to stay physically and psychologically healthy in their profession?
Dancers perform at a high level, physically, mentally and socially. It encourages and challenges! To be able to offer excellence, it takes a lot of care with the most important resource, one's own health. Many academies take this into account and strengthen the health of their students through teaching contents that include prevention. Networks of professional helpers also accompany soloists and companies in their later professional lives.
But is that enough? What are the circumstances that make it easier to accept help or rather to grit one’s teeth and carry on alone? This article aims to show that there are subtle obstacles on a personal and social level. These cannot simply be swept aside. However, a start could be to bring light behind the curtain and to give space to questions that are often still taboo: Am I harming my career by seeking help? Is admitting psychological and physical vulnerability compatible with artistic virtuosity? Where can we provide room for self-care? How does a society deal with its artists when they cannot ‘deliver’?
Prof. Dr. med. Peer Abilgaard (Cologne University of Music and Dance)
How is it possible to support the high demands placed on the cultivation of classical dance and its repertoire, not only as a central component of Western culture but also as one of the most grandiose art forms of our time, with an education that is built on respect for each individual student and the fostering of individual potential? Since the 2020/21 season, Martin Schläpfer, as director and chief choreographer of the Vienna State Ballet, has not only headed one of the largest dance companies in the world, but is also artistic director of the Vienna State Opera Ballet Academy. For Austria's most important dance training institution, which he took over at a time when it was in deep crisis, he has since implemented fundamental reforms together with director Christiana Stefanou and a commission of experts. In an interview with Anna Beke, Martin Schläpfer provides insights into the new orientation of the Vienna Ballet Academy.
Martin Schläpfer (Vienna State Ballet / Vienna State Opera Ballet Academy), Anna Beke (Ballet Academy, HMTM)
Panel Discussion (English)
Ballet competitions such as the Prix de Lausanne are a stepping stone to an elite dance career. For professional dancers, measuring themselves against each other and being judged comparatively takes place not only in competitions, but also during the training or while competing for roles. This everyday competition can spur and inspire, but it can also devalue and break. The pressure to perform at the highest level can create elbow mentality, envy and self-doubt. A pedagogical concept that demands a 'holistic' view of dance students and a 'participative togetherness' is in contradiction to this. To what extent can the tension between artistic excellence and appreciative promotion of the individual be resolved in the context of competitions? Ballet stars for whom the competition has led to a high-calibre dance career will give their views in the discussion together with a renowned jury member and a psychological specialist.
Moderated by Anna Esser and Prof. Jan Broeckx (Ballet Academy, HMTM)
Panel guests: Prof. Dr. med Peer Abilgaard (Cologne University of Music and Dance, DE), Violetta Keller (Finnish National Ballet, FI), Julian MacKay (Bavarian State Ballet) , Bianca Teixeira (Bavarian State Ballet), Shale Wagman (Bavarian State Ballet), Stanisław Węgrzyn (Royal Ballet, UK), Samuel Wuersten (Zurich University of the Arts, CH / Holland Dance Festival, NL)
Performance Lecture (German/English)
Using significant examples from the history of dance and ballet as well as a new creation that will be premiered at the symposium, teachers, students and dancers will question and examine aesthetics and practices from the world of rehearsals and performances together with the audience. Dance in transition? A mirror of its time!
Moderated by Anna Beke and David Russo, Ballet Academy, HMTM
With Prof. Jan Broeckx (Ballet Academy, HMTM)
Dancers: Carollina Bastos, Severin Brunhuber and Bianca Teixeira (Bavarian State Ballet), Students of Ballet Academy, HMTM
Music: Ensemble VOLTA jazz (Fernanda von Sachsen-Gessaphe, singing; Pablo Struff, piano; Jakob Marsmann, percussion; Johannes Stern, double bass)