In imagining the first edition of Lugano Dance Project we immediately considered it essential to take care of the creation of a special place for dialogue and cultural exploration of the themes suggested by the artistic offering and by today’s most urgent questions; we wanted a festival that provides people coming here from around the world with the unique opportunity to get together with local communities of artists, operators and citizens and share practices, aspirations and perspectives towards other possible worlds. We are guided by the same spirit and the same unprejudiced attitude that inspired the men and women who pioneered Monte Verità in Canton Ticino nearly a hundred years ago, who in the words of Dadaist Hugo Ball were in search of a refuge for all those who have in mind new projects– new life paradigms based on caring and cultivating the human body and its experiences, far removed from traditional models and systems. We therefore felt it would be only natural to inaugurate this edition with an opportunity for discussion (one that will be followed by many others during the course of the Festival) on a topic that for some time has interested international panels and which the pandemic with the uncertainty and vulnerability it inflicted, brought to the forefront: that of the “audience”, more specifically, the “dance audience” in relation with the topic of curating and curatorship.
For over twenty years the expressions audience engagement, audience development and audience participation have made their way into the vocabulary of cultural programming like powerful mantras to be adopted and repeated, partly as a result of the guidelines of many national and international funding programmes but also and especially as a result of the profound social, political and economic transformations that have swept over the societies we are living in.
The world of contemporary dance, in extending its range of action to all bodies and not only those forged by technique, has developed a series of democratic and inclusive practices and ideas with the aim of creating new spaces where artists and the “audience” can relate to each other and overcome any form of prejudice and stereotype. These are spaces where exploration and reciprocal learning can occur, places for curating and co-creating, outside the optic box of the theatre and much more than the “performance”, conceived within a wider kind of dramaturgy, one that horizontally embraces the perspectives and positions of the artist/citizen and the spectator/citizen. From an idea of the audience, understood as a community of spectators who gather in the standardised venue of the theatre hall to enjoy a performance, we move on to an idea of the audience understood as a community of citizens in which the human existential condition lies at the heart of every discourse and the only 'public' that can exist is the space that people pass through in their everyday lives. The space where our desires, needs, interests, what moves us meet: the sense of belonging to a group, of sharing a vision or a place, as well as the quest for well-being or experience, the crossing over towards other people and other places, three impulses, inner and differentiated, whose common denominator is the human body. Some groups and organisations, already infused by this vocation, like the Case Europee della Danza (EDN Network) or the many artistic residency centres scattered all over the world, have been able to spontaneously expand their programming curated by multidisciplinary teams and inspired by the idea that the art of dance can contribute vitally to the well-being of people, and especially the bodies of the very young and the elderly, of the socially marginalised and oppressed. One successful instance of this is an international project like Migrant Bodies or the Italian Dance well - movement research for Parkinson's disease, a contemporary dance practice that is aimed mainly, but not exclusively, at people suffering from Parkinson's disease and which takes place in museums and artistic surroundings. In just a brief space of time the dance, and naturally with it the human body, has shown that it can be a powerful vehicle for change, one that, by using artistic practices, has the capacity to transfer to people the basic information and tools to face their own existence in terms of their personal resources, relational and soft skills. The same resources that will also make it possible to improve and expand on the purely spectator experience inside the theatre to include all those other “unconventional” sites (urban, suburban spaces, museums, schools) which the artist’s language is learning to occupy and revitalise.
With this first meeting entitled Auditores, Spectatores, Communitas: “caring” for people in the dance world Lugano Dance Project thanks to the important collaboration with RESO - Rete della Danza Svizzera, intends to sow an initial seed, taking care that it will blossom and grow in the seasons to come, moved by the need to identify ever more spaces, or rather, other margins: of error, of utopia, of collaboration, that ability to accomplish something with others, to act together for a common purpose and for the common good, and which after the pandemic emergency seems to be the only way left for us to act, as we continue to reimagine our structures and models in a more empathetic, open and collaborative way.