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Senior Citizens Art Academy for Dance - A project of the Centre Français de Berlin (CFB)

It all started with a walk in September 2014. The new artistic director of the Centre Français de Berlin (CFB), Luc Paquier, asked himself: who are our neighbours, who lives and lives here in the north of Wedding, what do they know about the Centre and what do they think of it? The answers were sobering: many thought it was an elitist centre for French speakers only, presenting culture that people don't know, that they don't feel invited to. A foreign world! The task could hardly be greater. How could the CFB once again become a cultural meeting place for the people who lived around it?

Veranstaltungen in Berlin: S.K.A.T.
© k3berlin

For seven years now, Luc Paquier and his team have been working on offers, concepts and invitations for performing artists and, above all, the neighbours in the district, in order to enable mutual acquaintance and open, positive togetherness. So now, from 27 April 2022, S.K.A.T. Skat? Almost. S.K.A.T. means: Senior Citizens Art Academy for Dance. The project aims to bring together two worlds that meet far too rarely: the independent contemporary dance scene and senior citizens. Although many people associate personal experiences, memories and positive experiences with dance, contemporary dance is still difficult for many people to understand. Older people in particular often do not feel addressed. Their everyday difficulties on the one hand and the lack of work geared to their interests on the other make exchange difficult.

In 2019/2020, the CFB had therefore already dedicated itself to the topic of contemporary dance with the forerunner project "Körperspuren-Ball" and organised ten balls, each curated by a Berlin choreographer. The response was overwhelming: "I feel free. I can just let myself fall here. Dance as I like. And I don't think about anything else. I think: nice, got up from the chair again and went here." (Participant of a "Body Traces Ball")

A large community of interest developed, with older people from the Wedding-Reinickendorf neighbourhood and residents of surrounding senior citizens' homes. Dancing gave the bodies a (different) meaning (again), enabled encounters between people who are sometimes very lonely. Dancing awakened deep memories and called up buried energies. At S.K.A.T. everyone is welcome, no one is excluded. The CFB is about creating intergenerational communication and talking to each other at eye level. S.K.A.T. wants to remain open. People who actually believe themselves to be rather distant from culture, especially the performing arts, can familiarise themselves with the topics of the most diverse dance issues in an unconstrained way, acquire them and experience new, unfamiliar, surprising things in the process.

Through the cooperation with the Hochschulübergreifendes Zentrum Tanz Berlin (HZT), this project should also enable young artists to learn how to work with diverse audiences. This should help them later in their practice to think about and address diverse groups of all kinds in general. The programme at S.K.A.T. is extensive, sometimes demanding, always free of charge. It highlights different levels and questions of contemporary dance and is especially - but not only - aimed at older people. Participants can attend all modules as well as selected ones. S.K.A.T. consists of several modules:

  • PRACTICE: 10 rounds, led by choreographers from the Berlin independent scene, each with a question about dance.
  • DISCURSES: Speakers will be involved in order to shed light on the question.
  • PIECES: Eight guest performances
  • CREATION: Two artist residencies at the CFB with meetings during the rehearsal phase and/or at showings.
  • DISCOVERY: Joint visits to production venues in Berlin The overall S.K.A.T. programme is scheduled to take place from the end of April 2022 to mid-September 2023. Of course, all hygiene regulations related to the corona virus that are necessary during the programme will be taken into account. The premises at the CFB are very large and have outstanding ventilation. Should no analogous events be able to take place in a safe setting at the respective time, the project will be redesigned accordingly. Due to the experiences with the target group at the predecessor project "Body Traces Ball", accessibility is of course considered from the very beginning. The entire CFB team for S.K.A.T. adapts to the special needs of the participants and provides sufficient space, quiet and assistance so that everyone feels comfortable.
Additional information
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Centre Français de Berlin (CFB)