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Dance Austria AT Brussels 2006
AT BRUSSELS AT LAST
Two penguins stand in front of pittoresque scenery, both with a camera around their necks. Exhausted but obviously happy with the place they seem to have arrived just a few moments ago, one bird says to the other: "Austria at last!"
The hospitality and beauty of the country and its people; this, at least, is the image which the Austrian tourist board wants to spread with the help of this international advertising campaign that at long last also has reached the Antarctic regions.
"Austria at last" is also what the Austrian government probably would like Europe’s (hopefully satisfied) citizens to acknowledge after Austria will have hosted the EU-presidency for the first semester of 2006. At last realizing long term and promising agendas. Yet one of these promising agendas is being realised at the moment. It’s an extensive and ambitious cultural programme that on this occasion is being presented in Europe’s capital, Brussels, between February and June 2006.
One focus of this project is to be seen in the invitation of selected works of Austrian contemporary dance and performance. At last, one might add, as this decision is both promising and surprising. For a long time contemporary dance and performance were not considered worthy to represent refined national culture adequately. This may be due to the intrinsic critical potential that these genres both claim and reveal in their practices – by their analyses of the overly visible, by their focus on the body as a potential for resistance or by scrutinizing the performance of cultural, aesthetic and political representation. Knowing that these positions are somehow challenging (and even troublesome), the invitations do promise an acknowledgement of the important cultural and political contribution of contemporary dance and performance to a country's identity.
And not just of one single country as the protagonists in that field come from all over Europe, if not the world. Therefore Austrian dance, as it is outlined in this programme, means dance mainly produced in Austria but nevertheless with artistic and political relevance in and for Europe. This doesn’t depend on a big campaign that counts on queer birds but rather on a selection of works which, by their specific artistic approach and performative realisation, capture promoters’, audience's and politicians’ attention. At last, Austria.