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Dance and Politics

Edited By Alexandra Kolb

This is the first anthology to explore the fertile intersection of dance and political studies. It offers new perspectives on the connections of dance to governmental, state and party politics, war, nationalism, activism, terrorism, human rights, political ideologies and cultural policy. This cutting-edge book features previously unpublished work by leading scholars of dance, theatre, politics, and management, alongside renowned contemporary choreographers, who propose innovative ways of looking at twentieth- and twenty-first-century dance.
Topics covered range across the political spectrum: from dance tendencies under fascism to the use of choreography for revolutionary socialist ends; from the capacity of dance to reflect the modern market economy to its function in campaigns for peace and justice. The book also contains a comprehensive introduction to the relations between dance and politics.
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3 ‘Theatre has to become political again…’ Interview by Alexandra Kolb


Born in 1939 in St. Margarethen, Austria, Johann Kresnik established his career in neighbouring Germany. He has been a most prolific dance and theatre director, having choreographed and directed around one hundred full-length works. Kresnik is also perhaps the most politically outspoken – and belligerently criticised – representative of German dance theatre. His often extreme choreographic images have earned him epithets such as the enfant terrible and Berserker of the German dance scene. I met the choreographer, together with dramaturg and author Christoph Klimke, in Erfurt in April 2008, where Kresnik was directing a production of Maskenball (A Masked Ball). (See Figure 1.)

Kolb: How did your career in dance take off?1

Kresnik: It started totally by accident, as a walk-on at the Graz opera house. We had a meter-reader who frequently visited the opera and one time he said to me ‘Don’t you want to come with me?’ and I said ‘OK’. I was then about fifteen or sixteen. We saw Aida and I was totally amazed that something like that existed. From TV I knew the Prisoners’ Chorus and the Triumphal March and things like that. It all fascinated me. And then I heard that they were looking for walk-ons for a production of Sommernachtstraum (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) at the Schlossberg in Graz, so I went along. There the manager and the Russian ballet-master saw me, and the ballet-master said ‘You come to me and we will do Jäger [sic:...

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