What the Body Remembers

On the Topicality of Dance Heritage

24 August – 21 September 2019


What the Body Remembers

On the Topicality of Dance Heritage

24 August – 21 September 2019

At the conclusion of the Kulturstiftung des Bundes’ (German Federal Cultural Foundation) eight-year programme Tanzfonds Erbe, which has realised 60 individual projects, the Akademie der Künste is hosting a series of special events including an exhibition, performances, workshops and lectures. Using dance as an example, cultural memory is understood to be an open process of contemporary art. The appropriation of historical choreographies and their transformation through dancers’ bodies and movements creates a space of cultural memory.

A retrospective view of 20th century modern dance shows how new images of the body, choreographic concepts and perception levels have evolved since the beginning of the century, while moving away from classic ballet and other movement traditions. These changes stand for emancipation, for a liberation from gender roles and body images, for the dynamics of new utopian beginnings and political assimilation, but also for resistance. Dancers, such as Isadora Duncan, Mary Wigman, Gret Palucca, Jean Weidt and Valeska Gert, have not only revolutionised dance as an art form, but have fundamentally inspired the other arts and have raised questions about the political dimensions of dance. A similar situation developed with the new departures of post-war Modernism, including dance theatre in Germany, Butoh in Japan, Modern and Postmodern dance in the USA or contemporary dance in France and Belgium.

The programme focuses on questions concerned with passing on knowledge of choreography and dance between generations, and accordingly, also on building up a repertoire of contemporary dance. Possibilities surrounding reconstructions of historical works and their physical and performative transformations will also be explored. What methods are used to translate historical material from the archives into present-day dance, and which appropriations and enhancements are practised? How does this material and performance relate to one another? And how can archives be reinterpreted as a place of creative process for historical as well as contemporary dance?

An extensive exhibition and installation, Das Jahrhundert des Tanzes (The Century of Dance), brings together materials from German dance archives and international performances. A programme series of more than 20 current dance productions focuses on the exemplary dance heritage of Isadora Duncan, Mary Wigman and Valeska Gert through to Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Xavier Le Roy using dance as a contemporary art form. A master class is set up to guide international students through the subjects of choreographic movement and body research. A discursive special event programme reflects on societal and politico-cultural meanings of dance and choreographic heritage, situating them in the context of postcolonial and historical-theoretical debates. A film series and a reader on “The Century of Dance” complete this diverse programme.

What the Body Remembers: On the Topicality of Dance Heritage
A programme of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin,
in cooperation with DIEHL+RITTER and the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation)

Funded by the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb) and the Institut Français  Germany. In collaboration with Tanz im August and Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin. The master class is funded  in the framework of the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

Das Jahrhundert des Tanzes (The Century of Dance)

25 August – 21 September 2019
Mon – Sun, 3 – 10 pm, 8/5€
Akademie der Künste, Hanseatenweg 10, 10557 Berlin



Press material

Press photos

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  • Fase, Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich, 1982 Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker
    Foto © Tanghe Jean Luc
  • Zwei Giraffen tanzen Tango - Bremer Schritte
    Gerhard Bohner / Helge Letonja
    steptext dance project / Theater Bremen
    Foto © M. Menke
  • Retrospective
    Xavier Le Roy
    Museum of Modern Art, New York
    Foto © Matthew Septimus
  • Fase, Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich, 2018 Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker
    Foto © Anne Van Aerschot
  • Totentanz II
    Mary Wigman Theater Osnabrück
    Foto © Jörg Landsberg
  • Mary Wigman, Zeichnung zu Le Sacre du Printemps, 1957
    Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Mary-Wigman-Archiv Nr. 969
    © Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln
    Pol Pi
    Foto © Marc Domage
  • Dancer of the Future
    Mirjam Sögner
    Foto © Fabian Uitz
  • Rekonstruktionen von Stücken von Lucinda Childs von Ruth Childs
    Foto © Mehdi Benkler
  • Rekonstruktion AFECTOS HUMANOS Dore Hoyer, 1962 / Susanne Linke, 1987 Tanz Renate Graziadei
    Foto © Oliver Look
  • Jours étranges
    Dominique Bagouet / Catherine Legrand
    Foto © Caroline Ablain
  • Angst und Geometrie Gerhard Bohner Theater Bielefeld
    Foto © Joseph Ruben
  • The Complete Expressionist Ernest Berk / Christoph Winkler
    Foto © Dieter Hartwig
  • Tread, 1970
    Merce Cunningham
    Stephen Petronio Company
    Foto © Ian Douglas
  • Sur le fil
    Cie Nacera Belaza
    Foto © Claudia Pajewsk
  • Valeska Gert, Japanische Groteske, ohne Datum
    Fotograf unbekannt
    Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Valeska-Gert-Archiv
  • Valeska Gert, ca. 1925
    Fotograf unbekannt
  • Izaskun
    © VA Wölfl
  • Tanzmaske von Victor Magito, 1926
    Foto © Susanne Fern, Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln
  • The Sick Dancer, 2018
    Takao Kawaguchi & Tomomi Tanabe
    Foto © Masabumi Kimura
  • Josephine Baker bei der Ankunft auf dem Zentralflughafen Berlin-Tempelhof, 14. Mai 1959,
    Pressefoto © Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln, Bestand 225, Archiv Josephine Baker