On the Value of Age
DANCE ON, an initiative by DIEHL+RITTER gUG, focuses on the artistic excellence of dancers aged 40+ whose experience, charisma and dramatic power – in fact their entire dance life – is present on stage. Working with internationally renowned choreographers and directors, the DANCE ON ENSEMBLE will be creating its own repertoire and changing the usual image of dance: a challenge for everyone, including the public. The project will also provide sociopolitical impulses. There are plans for participation formats for older people as well as a research programme dedicated to the largely undeveloped topic of “dance and age“.
What would it be like if exceptional dancers continued performing beyond the age of 40, if their skills and experience remained available to the dance world and the public?
Dance’s image is shaped by the exceptional physical capabilities of young dancers. There are very few choreographies that suit the changed physical conditions of older dancers, and only a few companies use dancers aged 40+. This is a loss for dance and society, as experienced dancers have the ability to tap into the mental and emotional depths of choreographic material. They are present within the scope of their lived experiences. And they enrich the spectator’s experience with their physical intelligence and experience, which open up a key new dimension. These dancers are the philosophers of their field, which means that dance becomes truly rich with age.
Not least, the project discusses a core problem in our society: the appreciation of senior citizens. We believe that the life experience of senior citizens is a big plus but a change in thinking is needed to recognise it. DANCE ON desires to effect this change. As we see it, being old is not a condition that can be rigidly defined or set in stone. In reality, ageing is a constant process of development and change that everyone experiences, an indication that we are always moving.
How the project came about
“Our business is ideas. When we have ideas, we put them into practice – even if that means founding our own dance company!” – Madeline Ritter
Riccarda Herre, a former dancer with Johann Kresnik, and who today works at Diehl+Ritter, started the ball rolling. Why is there is a heavy focus on youth rather than age in dance? With the DANCE ON project, Madeline Ritter and her team not only intend to create awareness of the issue of “dance and age” but also bring about lasting change in artistic practice as well as in cultural and scientific thought. The project aims to draw attention to qualities that can only be obtained with age.
One reference here is NDT3 (Nederlands Dans Teater), a dance company the choreographer Jiri Kylian founded with older dancers and which existed until 2006.
When designing DANCE ON, Diehl+Ritter were able to draw on their many years of experience with artistic and funding projects such as Tanzplan Deutschland and Tanzfonds, both initiatives of the Kulturstiftung des Bundes. Christopher Roman, the former Associate Artistic Director of The Forsythe Company, responded enthusiastically to the idea and joined the team in the spring of 2014. Six dancers will be starting rehearsals in Berlin in November 2015 and thereby giving concrete form to the initial idea.
Artistic and Executive Director DANCE ON and Managing Director DIEHL+RITTER gUG
Madeline Ritter is a fully qualified lawyer with a professional focus on copyright law. She founded tanz performance köln, an international production and performance platform for contemporary dance in 1989 and was its artistic director and managing director until 2004.
She has initiated many European networks, been the director of inter-disciplinary festivals and produced international co-productions in the field of dance, media and performance art. From 1993 to 1998, she was the founding and artistic director of Pictures of (e)Motion, an international festival for dance, film and new media at the Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland in Bonn. She was curator of the dance programme at Theater Heilbronn from 2003 to 2008. She was appointed project director of Tanzplan Deutschland by the German Kulturstiftung des Bundes (Federal Cultural Foundation) in 2004. Her many years of experience of working with artists, institutions and sponsors formed the basis of a partnership-based promotional strategy that was rolled out, under her guidance, in nine cities and with the support of many project partners. Tanzplan Deutschland mobilised 21 million euros for dance and became a model project internationally. When the Tanzplan Deutschland project came to an end in 2011, she founded the non-for-profit company DIEHL+RITTER with Ingo Diehl in order to manage, among other initiatives, the Kulturstiftung des Bundes new dance funds: TANZFONDS ERBE (Dance Heritage Fund) and TANZFONDS PARTNER (Dance Partners Fund). She teaches culture management at various European universities and is a certified coach and facilitator of processes of change. Madeline Ritter is an expert of Initiativegroup Tanzförderung Stadt-Land-Bund as well as a member of the Supervisory Board of Kulturfabrik Kampnagel in Hamburg, the board of trustees of the Kulturfonds (Cultural Fund) Frankfurt RheinMain, the Advisory Board of Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln and since June 2014 of the Board of Trustees of Pina Bausch Foundation.
Concept Development and Project Coordination
Riccarda Herre completed her dance training at the ballet school of the Hamburg State Opera. She then worked as a solo dancer for various companies in Germany and abroad, for example CIE Red Notes in Paris, the Choreographic Theatre at the Volksbühne Berlin and the Tanztheater of the German National Theatre in Weimar.
She graduated as a culture and media manager at the Hamburg University of Music and Theatre in 2004. She has worked as an assistant and production director for various dance companies, theatres and institutions since 2002. She was, for example, project director of the 'Tanz im August' and 'Context' festivals at the Hebbel am Ufer theatre in Berlin. She took charge of the 1st Dance Education Biennale for Tanzplan Deutschland. She has been project co-ordinator of the DANCE HERITAGE FUND and the DANCE PARTNERS FUND since 2011.
After studying theatre science, comparative literature and journalism, Isabel Niederhagen was a researcher at the Institute for Theater Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin before becoming press officer and programme dramaturgist at the Theater am Halleschen Ufer Berlin in 1999.
In 2003, she co-founded the k3 berlin – Office for Culture and CommunIation agency, which among other things manages press and public relations for TANZ IM AUGUST – International Dance Festival Berlin and the DANCE CONGRESS GERMANY.
Artistic Production Management
Jana Bäskau studied German, English and American Studies at Rostock University from 1983 to 1987, then Theatre Studies/Cultural Communication at the Humboldt University in Berlin and Liverpool John Moores University from 1990.
She was press officer at the Volkstheater Rostock from 1987 to 1990. From 1999 to 2011, she worked as at the Volksbühne at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin under the direction of Frank Castorf, initially in the dramaturgy department and then as artistic production manager for the conception phase of Herbert Fritsch’s hamlet_X project (2001/ 02). In 2003, she became responsible for guest performances/international contacts, and in 2006 she became production manager for the cultural exchange programme Copa de Cultura Brasil-Alemanha. She also initiated and managed the production side of international co-productions and guest performances of works by various directors including Frank Castorf, René Pollesch, Dimiter Gotscheff and Christoph Marthaler. She worked as Artistic Production Manager – Guest Performances/International Contacts at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus (under the direction of Staffan Valdemar Holm) in the 2011/12 season, and at HAU Hebbel am Ufer in Berlin (under the artistic directorship of Annemie Vanackere) in 2012/13. She joined DIEHL+RITTER in February 2015 and focuses on the pilot project DANCE ON.
Laura Böttinger studied classical dance at the private Konservatorium Wien University from 2009 to 2013 and has worked as a dancer with various choreographers including Kadir “Amigo” Memis, Cristiana Casadio and Esther Balfe.
In addition to her own artistic practice, she has been actively involved in the Ich bin O.K. cultural and educational association for people with and without disabilities, taught dance to children and young people, been a production assistant on the organisational team for Tanznacht Berlin 2014, and worked in partnership with Jochen Roller, Yuki Kihara and Karin Wickenhäuser. She has been production assistant at DIEHL+RITTER since February 2015.
After training in hotel management, Constanze Lütke worked in various positions in the hotel industry in Berlin from 1982 to 2007, most recently as director of the Berliner Hof hotel and as managerial assistant in the area of hotel and project controlling.
As office manager, she developed the administration department of the start-up company Gorilla Natürlich Fastfood and worked as assistant to the finance director of Veolia Deutschland from 2009 to 2015. Alongside her work, she runs the commercial section of the not-for-profit starke familie association and has been its associate executive director since the middle of 2014. She joined Diehl+Ritter in March 2015 and is in charge of financial management for the TANZFONDS and DANCE ON projects.
Press and Communications
Anna Hankel studied communication and media science at the University of Leipzig from 2010 to 2014. Afterwards she worked as press officer at the dance and theatre festival euro-scene Leipzig for two years. Since October 2016 she accounts for press and communication at Diehl+Ritter.