1st Edition

Contemporary Dance Festivals in the Former Yugoslav Space (in)dependent Scenes

By Alexandra Baybutt Copyright 2023

    This book expands the understanding of conditions defining the creation and circulation of contemporary dance that differ across Europe. It focuses on festival-making connected with the Balkan regional project ‘Nomad Dance Academy’ (NDA), and highlights collective approaches to sustain a theorisation of festivals using the concepts of dissensus and imperceptible politics. Drawing from anthropological methods, three festivals PLESkavica, Slovenia; Kondenz, Serbia and LocoMotion, North Macedonia, are explored through social, political and historical currents affecting curatorial practice. This book closely follows how festival-makers navigate the values of international development that during and after the Yugoslav wars looked to art as part of peacekeeping and nation-building processes. This coincided with increasing discourse and practices of contemporary dance that gained momentum in the 1980s alongside European festivalisation. I show how contemporary dance acts as an agent for transformation, but also a carrier of older forms of social organisation, reflecting methods and values of Yugoslav Worker Self-management that are deployed by the groups creating the festivals.

    This book will be of interest to dance scholars as well as researchers tracing the long-term effects of the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.


    List of acronyms and abbreviations


    Chapter 1: The former Yugoslav space and contemporary dance in context

    Chapter 2: Introducing Nomad Dance Academy: a foundation for imperceptible politics

    Chapter 3: LocoMotion festival: curatorial praxis and balance

    Chapter 4: PLESkavica festival: the Balkan beef-burger, Defestivalisation and Refestivalisation

    Chapter 5: Kondenz festival: controversies and the scene

    Chapter 6: International development and contemporary dance festivals


    Appendix: Festivals of dance and choreography database



    Alexandra Baybutt (PhD, RSME, CMA) works as a freelancer across Europe in dance and movement research, education and art with a commitment to interdisciplinary practice and collaboration.

    ''This study of three contemporary dance festivals in Slovenia, North Macedonia and Serbia is distinguished by its engagement with social and cultural critique from south-east Europe, illustrating a transnational search for ways of curating and creating differently amid the precarity of the post-Yugoslav region's independent cultural scenes.'' Dr. Catherine Baker, Reader in 20th Century History, University of Hull

    ''Exploring territories that have been little addressed in dance studies, this book contributes insights to the development and transformation of three dance festivals within the former Yugoslav region. Impressively argued, the book traces the politics of festival-making, connecting 'festivalisation' to 'europeanisation'. Richly articulating curatorial praxis as aligned to ethical values, the book enhances our understanding the contemporary dance scene and the embodiment of social, critical and expanded practice.'' Professor Vida Midgelow, Chair of Postgraduate Research & Professor in Dance, Middlesex University

    ''Through intimate knowledge with a particular scene, this book unravels the complex interactions of social, cultural and economic activity that support and sustain artistic practice. It examines how ecologies of dance and ideas function, who they serve, and (in doing so) how they might thrive in the future.'' Mary Paterson, independent writer and co-author of Entanglements of Two: A Series of Duets