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Ljubljana Workshop: expect the unexpected!

Performing Gender always restarts from Ljubljana and City of Women festival will host the first Workshop 

The annual International Festival of Contemporary Arts – City of Women will take place from the 4th to the 8th of October in Ljubljana. Every year, it attracts several thousand visitors from all ages, professions and interests. In this context, the first Performing Gender workshop will see the 10 dancers exploring the project's themes in dialogue with the dance maker Koldo Arostegui González and the local dramaturg, Tea Hvala. The outcome will be a final sharing by the whole group in front of the festival audience.

The workshop is a unique occasion for a dance maker and a dance dramaturg to work with such a diverse ensemble of young professional dancers. For the dancers, it represents a full immersion in a complete creative process, followed in each of its constitutive steps.

We had a very interesting conversation with Koldo and Tea about their expectations and feelings on the project and the upcoming event. Read further to find out more! 



Koldo, during the first year of the project you have participated in the five training weeks, in which all dancemakers, dramaturgs and partners shared their reflections and inputs around the project’s themes. Who is the person or the encounter that had the strongest impact on you? Is this shaping how you will lead the ten young professional dancers in the upcoming workshop in Ljubljana?

Koldo: We have met many people during the first year of the program. Many of them have been inspiring in different aspects. I could not choose just one person. Eva Viera in Madrid offered us a lot of queer visual references. Her subtle presence allowed us to connect with the images on a very personal level. To meet Lizz Aggis in Holland and to listen to her was a privilege. I admire her honesty and artistic freedom.

To share this journey with Roberta, Jija, Natasa and Sophie has been amazing. We have spent so much time together going through the same experience. Having different artistic interests and languages, we have found places in common to exchange and share ideas, thoughts and stories. They have been vital in this training year.

I have taken tools and ideas from every person I met. I will use many things in the workshop with the ten dancers. Using this tools will allow me to dig into my own interest and to create a language to share it with them.



Tea, the workshop in Ljubljana will take place during the City of Women Festival, an event that fits perfectly with Performing Gender’s core topics, such as gender identity and artistic expression, which are addressed by the festival both in theory and in practice. You have studied these themes and collaborated with the festival for years: how do you think the workshop and the 10 dancers will relate to this “rich” environment?

Tea: City of Women has scheduled the Performing Gender workshop carefully. It begins already on September 30th, so that by the time the festival starts, the workshop participants will already have four days of work with the choreographer and dramaturg behind them. It will allow them to be more confident about the movement, form and content they want to explore at the workshop and share with the audience on October 6th, and equally important, it will allow them to observe other festival events from a specific point of view, related to their focus at the workshop. Last but not least, by October 4th, they will already know each other, which will allow them to view and discuss events together - again, from their specific point of view and form of involvement in the festival.

The workshop takes place daily between 10 am and 5 pm (with a lunch break in between). Since most of the exhibitions, performances, installations and concerts take place later in the evening, the scheduling of the workshop is going to make it possible for them to attend these events. Since all events are directly or at least vaguely connected to the Performing Gender project theme, and since the participants of the workshop are going to have the opportunity to meet the guest artists, City of Women offers them a “rich” environment indeed.

Regarding the sharing, Koldo Arostegui González, Teja Reba and I have put a lot of effort into making sure that the venue, timing and context of the final sharing are going to make it clear to the audience that the participants are going to show a work-in-progress, not a final product of their/our work. This will allow the participants to be more relaxed, and less goal-orientated at the workshop. We want the atmosphere to be playful, and the workspace to be safe for experimentation. Same goes for the sharing, which is going to be followed by a discussion, moderated by Laura Kumin.

Now a question for both of you. Could you give us a little preview of the workshop? What can we expect from that week overall?

T: You can expect the unexpected! That is to say, since the workshop is devised as a playful experiment, we cannot - and don’t want to - foresee the outcome in advance. We can and have, however, set a framework. At the workshop, we are going to use movement as a tool to get a profound insight into gender; in the ways, it is written in and all over our bodies. We aim to create a safe space and playful atmosphere that will allow us to reflect on this topic, look for new ways of understanding it as well as experiment with our genders in a performative and collective context.

K: Gender has been a very important topic since I can remember. I have been always aware of how important it is and how it affects our lives. During this year I have been able to connect the topic with my artistic practice. I am full of ideas, questions and doubts and I feel eager to share all of them with the group of dancers. However, I want the participants of the workshop to connect with the topic on a very personal level. To engage with the topic from their own voice. I want to create a space to be playful and to take risks. A place where we all find together new ways to be in our bodies. Dance can take us to infinite worlds, dance can lead us to the unknown and at the same to inform us precisely of who we are.

Stay tuned for more updates on the Workshops and to find out the 10 dancers!
Read more about the Festival here.