© Karolina Miernik

Cancellation of the ImPulsTanz Festival 2020 & postponement of certain projects

On 17th April 2020 the Austrian Federal Government announced further steps regarding its measures against COVID-19. Those measures as well as the international situation, the continuing massive travel restrictions and unpredictable visa problems, force us to take a painful but nevertheless clear step: The 37th edition of the ImPulsTanz – Vienna International Dance Festival from 9th July to 9th August 2020 cannot take place in its originally planned and later adapted form.

As of February 2020, 240 workshops and research projects by and with 150 teachers from 50 countries and more than 100 performances by 50 international and Austrian companies were planned in the Burg- and Akademietheater, Odeon, Kasino am Schwarzenbergplatz, Schauspielhaus and in the workshop centre Arsenal. Furthermore, we were looking forward to cooperations with the mumok – Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, the Leopold Museum, the Austrian Film Museum and the Kunsthistorisches Museum as well as to a focus on Swiss artists, a cooperation with Flanders and an exchange with the THEATRUM Festival in Moscow.

A new, major focus of ImPulsTanz is the expansion of the workshop series Public Moves, which takes place daily, outdoor and free of charge during the festival. In addition to its already highly popular locations, the Anton-Benya-Park and the Vienna Prater, this year’s series will also happen in Donaustadt.

Further venues and formats were in the planning. Our artistic and creative energy was indeed far from exhausted when it became clear in mid-March that we would have to deal with a well-conceived adaptation and reduction of the programme rather than with further projects. The adjusted workshop programme with 156 workshops and research projects, the catalogue as well as a preview of selected performance highlights were published on the ImPulsTanz website on 9th April 2020.

That all of this cannot take place now is sad. We would like to allow ourselves this one, emotional moment while we – like so many others – are busy with understanding the general situation and especially our role in this time: as an international festival that has always highlighted sensuality, contact, encounter, joy of life and the passionate and critical accompaniment of our present. This includes responsibility towards our artists, staff, guests, participants and audience. By cancelling the planned programme, we are following the measures of the Austrian Federal Government. At the same time, we support the manifold as well international activities by civil society and artistic communities in dealing with COVID-19.

We are currently holding intensive discussions with artists, sponsors, our cooperation partners and the venues, where we are guests, about how to proceed. Especially the ImPulsTanz festival – as well as our whole artform – thrives on live atmosphere, diversity and international, transcultural exchange. Therefore, we are doing our utmost in order to revive this atmosphere, if at all possible, with Public Moves in summer and together with our museum partners in autumn. The 2020 programme will be largely maintained for ImPulsTanz 2021 (15th July to 15th August). Nevertheless, it is important to be open for new artistic works, that are still being created in response to this crisis, for the upcoming programme.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our funding institutions, the City of Vienna, the Federal Ministry and the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, all of our sponsors and partners, the press and especially our audience for their support. Furthermore, we appreciate the lively interest in our published workshop programme that points out how important social and physical contact and movement, art and culture are.

We keep you posted and look forward to dancing together again!
Your ImPulsTanz team

Photocredit: Karolina Miernik
Liquid Loft / Chris Haring "Candy's Camouflage" © Chris Haring

Liquid Loft / Chris Haring (AT)

Under the merciless motto “Fake it ’till you make it”, one of the internationally most renowned Austrian dance companies, the group Liquid Loft around choreographer Chris Haring, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. At ImPulsTanz 2020, these masters of sensual-all-too-sensual utopias will be honoured accordingly: Liquid Loft will present a world premiere and two of their “classics”! 

Almost cult status: Liquid Loft’s Posing Project B - The Art of Seduction, awarded with the Golden Lion for best performance at the Biennale di Venezia in 2007, will be shown again for the first time since 2008. Within the framework of the festival’s cooperation with mumok – Museum of Modern Art Stiftung Ludwig Vienna, which pays a great homage to Andy Warhol, Liquid Loft’s [ImPulsTanz Classic] from their Warhol trilogy will naturally be on show: Candy’s Camouflage (Museum Version) is returning to the mumok after its extraordinary success during the ORF Long Night Of Museums in 2016. And last but not least, we are looking forward to the world premiere of BLUE MOON you saw ..., the title of Liquid Loft’s new great creation.

“The pose is not rigid; it trembles at the peak of its own movement, where the body becomes an image for others and thus reveals itself.”

This is the bewitching entry thesis to Liquid Loft’s grandiose play with and around The Art of Seduction. “The game of seduction is complex... Seduction seeks to create bonding through mutual deception.” And who better to demonstrate this than the great performers of Liquid Loft, here in a setting between installation and dance, in which they lure us, the audience, into those intriguing games to Andreas Berger’s deceptingly perfect lip-synch-sound scapes? After interludes in Semper Depot (2007) and Halle E (2008), Posing Project B now wanders into the wonderful Odeon Theatre. And we will witness if and how timeless seduction works!

With references to Film noir and the Warhol Factory, the trio Candy’s Camouflage calls up projections of the feminine – or what one may take for it: deceptive stereotypes and fragile clichés are put to endurance tests. What remains are enchanting tools of camouflage and deception, which provide the possibility to create a new self again and again. Here, constant change is the fundamental principle, mutation’s the game.

In their new work BLUE MOON you saw ..., Liquid Loft will be located “in a world of constant presence. It is a world that is self-sufficient in every moment, that makes any refuge to memories impossible. In this world, post-humanist approaches and visual references to the Nouvelle Vague can be found. In its search for lost cultural references, Liquid Loft slip through rituals that do not follow any obvious liturgy, encountering the ambivalence of refusal and the poetry of distance.” (Liquid Loft)

Obviously, we have nothing more to add to this beautiful poetry of distance, except perhaps: yes, please, more and more of it, for at least another 15 years, together with Liquid Loft!

Photocredit: Chris Haring
Geumhyung Jeong (KR) - Spa & beauty © Tae Hwan Kim

Geumhyung Jeong (KR)

At once tender and unsettling, the films, sculptures, installations and performances of Geumhyung Jeong, one of the most exciting artists of her generation, are often studies in animism of some sort. In 2020, ImPulsTanz presents in cooperation with the Leopold Museum a comprehensive solo exhibition of the visual artist, performer and dancer. For the first time, five of her internationally acclaimed works for stage and museum will be shown in this density.

The Viennese audience may well remember her highly comical lecture performance Oil Pressure Vibrator about her affair with a (real) excavator as an object of desire, which was shown in 2014 as part of the [8:tension] Young Choreographers’ series. Since then, the South Korean artist’s career has taken off – with award-winning shows from Seoul to New York. Now, the Leopold Museum is hosting three of her exhibitions including performances over a period of three weeks: Homemade RC Toy, REHAB TRAINING and Spa & Beauty. A reunion with the dazzling fictional figure in love with the excavator will take place at the Vienna Schauspielhaus and the Austrian premiere of 7Ways, one of her early works, awaits us at the Kasino am Schwarzenbergplatz.

The work of Geumhyung Jeong explores the relationship between the body and the objects surrounding it. She throws herself into precisely choreographed, intense and oftentimes risky interactions with her own body, bestowing a bizarre, disconcerting life upon plain, everyday objects.

Homemade RC Toy, a large-scale installation consisting of numerous robotic sculptures built from DIY technologies and short films demonstrating the strange choreographies to which she subjects her “homemade” bodies unfolds an enchanting eroticism of “technical animism”. This ensemble of homemade toys and the artist’s body – the exhibition becomes also the stage for her latest live performance – questions the boundaries between desire and control, human and machine, animate and inanimate. 

In REHAB TRAINING, Jeong has developed a customised rehab programme for an immobile, life-sized dummy. Selected assistive devices and rehabilitation equipment are used to improve the dummy’s body functions and movement skills. As time goes on the inorganic object starts to become its own unique kind of life form. Who is controlling whom? And how should we define this relationship when the boundary between subject and object is no longer clear?

This also blurs in the installation Spa & Beauty. Here it is about the ubiquitous industry of beauty and body care products – brushes and sponges, lotions and potions become artistic objects and are explored in relation to their users – us. In each of these manoeuvres we see the knife-edge of the erotic and violent, the humorous and the uncanny. In the age of the digital and virtual, Jeong is getting to us and, through the use of plastic materials and mechanisms that directly intervene in her own body, unfolds a complex set of interrelations manifestly situated in reality, in the physical. Beyond perspectives of the personal, the exhibition (with live-demonstrations by the artist) reflects the fundamentally changing societal relationship between viewer and viewed, agent and consumer, human and object – also and especially in times of self-isolation and physical distancing! 

And what can follow after Mette Ingvartsen's 7 Pleasures, which we were able to marvel at last year at the Volkstheater? The 7Ways of Geumhyung Jeong: 7 peculiar duets by the artist with objects that explore the potential of the body – its sensuality, power to change the surroundings and ability to undergo transformations through the power of desire. Despite its almost brutal simplicity, this early performance by Jeong is a poetic and amusing provoking little masterpiece reflecting upon the so confusing and increasingly pressing question of the material and imaginary boundaries between bodies and machines.

Photocredit: Tae Hwan Kim
Dada Masilo „The Sacrifice“ © John Hogg

Cie. Dada Masilo (ZA)

The internationally acclaimed young South African choreographer was celebrated by the Viennese audience already in 2014 and 2017 in the Volkstheater, which was completely sold out several times. Now, after Swan Lake and Giselle, she returns to Vienna with her brand-new work The Sacrifice, this time on the big stage of the Burgtheater.

The dancer and choreographer, who grew up in the township of Soweto, became famous in works by William Kentridge and with her fulminant re-writings of the romantic ballet classics Swan Lake and Giselle. Now she is taking one historical step further and dedicates herself together with 15 dancers from her Johannesburg based company and three live musicians to Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring from 1913 – certainly one of the most re-staged pieces of modern ballet. Masilo developed her fascination for the subject matter during her studies in Brussels at the school of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, P.A.R.T.S, when she got to know and rehearsed parts of Pina Bausch’s legendary Sacre production.

Since then Masilo has been fascinated by Stravinsky’s complex, driving rhythms. But instead of merely showing “how a chosen one, the Sacrifice, dances herself to death”, the highly committed choreographer, who has already opened up the romantic narratives to topical issues such as gender roles or the representation of homosexuality, is looking for more: her intentions act like an echo sounder into the depths of this most famous ritual in dance history.

Together with the ensemble, Dada Masilo explores the dances and rituals of Tswana dance from Botswana, where her cultural roots lie. Her choreography interweaves their unique rhythmic, expressive vocabulary, which is also used for healing and storytelling, with highly dynamic elements of contemporary dance and ballet. This eagerly awaited premiere in April 2020 will be developed and performed in collaboration with composer Philip Miller, who works a. o. with William Kentridge, and a great South African musical trio: master percussionist Tlale Makhene, violinist Leroy Mapholo and singer and vocalist Ann Masina. We are looking forward to another artistic milestone by this exceptional choreographer!

Photocredit: John Hogg
Akram Khan Company "Outwitting the Devil" © Jean-Louis Fernandez

Akram Khan Company (UK)

Night after night I have the same dream:
I am young, immortal, an axe in my hand.
The young man cannot imagine the old man he will become.

As a very young man, more precisely in 2001, Akram Khan was already celebrated for his first piece Rush as part of the [8:tension] Young Choreographers’ Series at ImPulsTanz. Now, for the 20th anniversary of his worldwide acclaimed company, he is coming back to ImPulsTanz at the Burgtheater. Vertical Road, the work with which he literally moved the Viennese audience to tears in 2011, combined contemporary dance on a vertiginous level with the spiritual dimensions of Sufi dance. Outwitting the Devil, premiered in the fall of 2019, marks a new phase in the artistic work of the now mid-40-year-old star choreographer, whose choreography for the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games in London for sure has burned itself into the memory of a very broad audience.

“I have awakened to a new way of dancing. And that is to dance my ideas through the bodies of others, including older dancers, who carry their histories and complex emotional experiences within them. But what remains unchanged is my passion for exploring old and new myths in the context of our times.” (Akram Khan)

Three sources are the inspiration for his new masterpiece. The plot is inspired by a just recently – in 2011 – discovered fragment of the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest surviving works of world literature. It is a violent chapter in the life of the young Gilgamesh, narrated by his older, dying self (performed by Dominique Petit), about the brutal destruction of a huge cedar forest, home to wild creatures and spirits. This enrages the gods, who severely punish the young king. 

For his piece, Khan brings together a fantastic ensemble of six artists from different continents, generations and dance styles, including the French dance legend Dominique Petit. The stage design, in turn, is inspired by The Last Supper, or more precisely, by Susan Dorothea White’s The First Supper in response to Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic painting, which depicts women of many cultures gathered at a table. White’s intention is to challenge the assumptions of a patriarchal religion. Because, according to Khan: “How we tell the stories of our myths matters: our systems of belief and our forms of power are defined by the question of who sits at the table.”

Outwitting the Devil is at the same time a choreographic hymn to diversity, and a disturbing and overwhelmingly danced version of “the world’s first first environmental poem”, which could hardly be more topical – “a puzzle pieced together in the dark, that contains the story of who we once were, and may again become.”

Photocredit: Jean-Louis Fernandez
Wim Vandekeybus / Ultima Vez "TRACES" © Danny Willems

Wim Vandekeybus / Ultima Vez (BE)

In his latest production, TRACES, Wim Vandekeybus is looking back on his past works. And because the famous Flemish choreographer has left these traces in a most impressive way as well in Vienna and with an enthusiastic audience, it seems like an imperative to us to present this highly dynamic work on the stage of the Burgtheater: After all, Vandekeybus and his company Ultima Vez have been guests at ImPulsTanz since their beginnings in 1989 with more than 25 productions, film works and research projects, most recently in 2019 with the celebrated Go Figure Out Yourself at mumok Hofstallung.

In TRACES Vandekeybus follows his initial formative intuitions. In his most recent productions, fables were central. Now he returns to the body – to the instinctive impulses, the breathtaking reactions and the immediate energy found in his first performances. He does so now with an increased attention to the more and more complex and chaotic reality of our bodies. The result is the rediscovery of a simultaneously powerful and vulnerable vitality in a world of technological and ecological menace. 

TRACES, created for the international Europalia Romania Festival, takes us to Romania’s overwhelming natural landscape, which includes Europe’s last primeval forests. In the Carpathians, this still completely untouched wilderness in the heart of Europe with its unique flora and brown bear, wolf and lynx populations, Vandekeybus is looking for traces older than humankind and its memory. How much nature still lives in human beings? How much animal in the human body? And what happens if this is at risk or in danger? When we have to take intuitive decisions in order to survive?

While facing the corona crisis, these are questions that suddenly arise in a very concrete and intimate way for each of us. In TRACES this becomes an inner story that unfolds beyond language and that can only be told in the pulses of dance and music. Together with eleven great dancers and to the original music of five musicians directed by Marc Ribot and Trixie Whitley, Wim Vandekeybus takes us on a timeless and highly topical search for an overwhelmingly repressed nature.

Photocredit: Danny Willems


Designed by CIN CIN, / Photos by Ulrich Zinell / Performers: Elizabeth Ward & *mirabella paidamwoyo dziruni*

Workshop catalogue available for download

For professionals, beginners and dance enthusiasts: all workshops and research projects are included in our new catalogue. DOWNLOAD

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Date: 01.06.2020, 17:00 | Link:
© ImPulsTanz - Vienna International Dance Festival