“Zämmeheebe” is a community dance project initiated by Theater ROXY Birsfelden in 2022 that asks the question What does it take and what does it bring to be part of a group?
Choreographer Rebecca Weingartner has been invited to bring the project to the Miaraka Festival in Madagascar, where she will work with an inclusive group of Malagasy dancers with and without physical disabilities, including company members of Cie.Lovatiana led by festival director Lovatiana Erica Rakotobe. Together they will develop a new interpretation of the piece, which revolves around the themes of “community” and “belonging”.
The Miaraka Festival in Antananarivo, brings together artists with and without disabilities on stage and combines contemporary dance with music and visual arts. “Miaraka” means “together” in Malagasy. The festival is an initiative to promote the holistic inclusion of people with disabilities as cultural practitioners and aims to enable cultural participation for all.
In keeping with the thematic focus of Miaraka – “together”, the project is dedicated to practices of togetherness. “Community” is a term that everyone relates to in different ways. On a very individual level, but also on a socio-political level, it can be used to negotiate questions of identity and democracy. If community is understood in the sense of social togetherness or solidarity, it is worth looking at the past three years, in which the consequences of the pandemic have presented the community with great challenges. However, community always bears the danger of being instrumentalised as an ideological fiction and thus making it impossible to critically question shared values. The society we live in today is characterised by diversity, but also by polarisation.
During daily rehearsals ahead of the festival, the participants will develop movement material based on discussions under the guidance of Rebecca. This will be choreographed into a short dance piece and presented during the festival on 7 and 8 April 2023. The discussions will explore the topic of community, posing questions that range from the personal to cross-societal: What does community mean for you and your everyday life? Where is there community in our society? Where is it missing? Why is community important? What does community look like, how does it feel? What does a practice of community look like? Is there also danger in community? Can community also exclude?
Rebecca Weingartner is a performer, choreographer, teacher and Rolfing practitioner, born in Seoul and based in Basel. She studied contemporary dance at Tanztheaterschule Zürich and the ARTez dance academy Arnhem in the Netherlands as well as physical theater and academy of arts in Amsterdam. She danced among others at the dance company Theater St.Gallen, Compagnie Tabea Martin, Cie. 7273, Cie. Anna Röthlisberger. Her own choreographic works include “The Best is Yet to Come” (2012), “Hope Instruction” (2015), “Wir Sind Viele” (2019), “Equality!” (2020), “Zämmeheebe” (2022) and “Solidarity!” (2022).
[Image: Gaspard Weissheimer]