Preparing the second edition of the Springback Annual for print, I felt a rush of scrambled emotions: pride, fear, wonder, nostalgia, grief, hope.
Springback is a unique project, drawing upon a Europe-wide network of contributors to bear witness to the mixed and multiple currents of contemporary dance across the continent – particularly its independent sector. Many streams, not mainstream, I like to say. To leaf through the Annual is to form a composite, flickbook portrait of a year’s worth of performance – mostly live, but also on screen.
This year’s Annual, though, ends at a very particular moment: spring 2020. Suddenly, that portrait has acquired a bright patina of nostalgia, as if caught in a camera flash just before things went dark. It is a pre-coronavirus picture. How vivid it looks. And how startling that we had taken the camera’s flare for natural daylight, its lens for reality.
Habitually, we treat reality and normality as if they were much the same. This crisis has prised them apart. The unimagined has become real, normality delusional. What does that fissure reveal to us? As the flash fades, what do our eyes see as they adjust to the new ambience? What values do we find ourselves discovering – or doubting – or ditching? What aspects of normality might we not want to return to, of reality that we might want to keep?
In the midst of a crisis, it is hard to answer our own questions: we have to wait and see. Nevertheless, it remains valuable to register this moment – for now, and for posterity.
In that spirit, we have drawn upon our strongest asset – our international network – to build another composite portrait in the new light we are living in. Our guidelines: don’t scramble to report on online offerings and digital repurposing: there’s more than enough of that already. Rather than struggle for answers, let us focus on thoughts and feelings, and see what emerges. Choose something that matters, no matter if it seems small or insignificant.
Below, you can read the texts that have emerged. They range from personal accounts of embodiment to reflections on connection and disconnection, and wonderings about dreams that have become possible, maybe even necessary.
I will sign off on another note. A virus in the system can provoke markedly different outcomes. A recovery. A collapse. Or a change in the system itself. What will the future bring, both within the field of dance and in the wider world? We do not know. But I think we do know, collectively, that if it is just a return to normal, something is wrong. There is hope in that.
For the full mosaic of 14 viewpoints from Springback writers, click here and scroll past the introductory text
For the follow-up article to this editorial, see ‘Strange times’, on eerie absence and dance as presence