When are we old? How can experience and embodied knowledge be brought into creative play? And what is the role of dance in questioning the idealisation of youth in our culture?

In view of the demographic challenges faced by our society, the non-profit cultural organisation Bureau Ritter has been championing the value of age and experience since 2014 with its initiative DANCE ON.  

The dominant view of age is that it is a period of mental and physical decline. Dancers are particularly affected by this belief as they are traditionally expected to retire from the stage around the age of 40 – at a point when other professions just begin to profit from their education and experience.

The DANCE ON ENSEMBLE for dancers over 40, founded in Berlin in 2015, shows that there is another way and that everyone wins: dancers, dance and society. Experienced dancers have the ability to tap into the mental and emotional depths of choreographic material. They are present with their entire lived experience. And their physical intelligence and charisma bring a new dimension to the performance that can increase the audience’s enjoyment of a piece.

Finally, the project also addresses a core problem in our society: how older people are valued. We believe that the life experience of older people is a valuable asset but that a change in thinking is needed to recognise it. DANCE ON works to achieve such a shift: As we see it, being old is not a condition that can be rigidly defined or described in numbers. In reality, ageing is a continuous process of growth and development that everyone experiences all the time – a state of being in constant motion.

The dancers of the DANCE ON ENSEMBLE work with internationally renowned choreographers and directors to create a new repertoire. The productions then tour to reach a large audience. The intergenerational outreach programme DANCE ON PARTICIPATION runs alongside the performances to work directly with communities in several of the cities and towns that the ensemble tours to. 

DANCE ON is creating strong alliances with its co-production partners on a national and international level. They include theMunich Kammerspiele, STUK Leuven, Kampnagel Hamburg, tanzhaus nrw, Berliner Ensemble, Sadler’s Wells London, Holland Dance Festival, Theater im Pfalzbau Ludwigshafen, Festspielhaus St. Pölten, Belgrade Dance Festival, and ADC - Association pour la Danse Contemporaine Genève. These alliances make an active contribution to establishing a dance repertoire 40+ and will ensure that the DANCE ON mission is implemented sustainably. 

The DANCE ON Initiative is funded by The Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as well as by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union as part of DANCE ON, PASS ON, DREAM ON.