The more time I spend at Vienna’s month-long ImPulsTanz festival year after year, the more I’m convinced that it is not just one festival: it is as many festivals as the number of its visitors (this year that number was around 137,000). From the 122 performances, 230 workshops, 128 free dance classes in the ‘Public Moves’ series and the talks, discussions, dance contests, exhibitions etc., each festivalgoer needs to curate their own selection, resulting in a very unique festival experience. One thing is sure though: if you, like me this year, are lucky enough to spend several weeks at ImPulsTanz, around the third week you won’t even bat an eyelid if you see someone starting to dance at a tram stop (true story). For one month, dance becomes an inherent part of the city.
My ImPulsTanz consisted of 16 shows and 1 workshop; here is my account of the thoughts and issues that arose during those weeks of living in an intense dance dream.
The festival was opened by Tanztheater Wuppertal with one of Pina Bausch’s last works, Vollmond from 2006. The show is a series of joyful nonsense in typical Bausch manner with typical Bausch characters on a stage dominated by a huge rock and water – lots of water. Towards the end of the first act, it starts raining, and soon enough the scene is literally flooded, a playground for dancers to swim, splash and spill. When you enter a theatre, you are often expected to leave reality behind, but this time, amidst concerning news of severe drought throughout Europe all summer, it felt a bit uncomfortable to watch a performance that turns an entire stage into a swimming pool to provide a spectacular backdrop. Vollmond dates back to a more carefree time (only 16 years ago!) but I couldn’t help wondering: in the near future, will it still be acceptable to create and perform such a show? Given our resources – will it be possible at all?