This coming season, the Festspielhaus St. Pölten is planning a dance and music project incorporating members of the public of all ages and backgrounds from St. Pölten and surrounding areas. The project was inspired by the Sadler’s Wells Theatre’s community dance project "Sum of Parts" in London.
We intend to work with children, teenagers, adults and senior citizens from different backgrounds, as Sadler’s Wells did. The Festspielhaus St. Pölten is not approaching this as a one-off project, but rather plans to establish enduring structures in order to continue building on the successes of the past years in increasing the availability of and access to cultural events in the region.
The centrepiece of the project consists of establishing up to seven communities of approximately 20 people each. The participants will be provided with regular rehearsal times for the duration of over a year. At the end of the process the individual communities will come together to perform their pieces together in the Main Hall of the Festspielhaus. In keeping with the London title "Sum of Parts", the individual pieces will combine to form a cohesive single work. From the outset, the participants will be made aware that the Festspielhaus takes their project as seriously as it does any other performance, and that their work is considered an integral part of the location’s artistic concept.
Thanks to the cultural promotion activities developed by the Festspielhaus in the past few years, such as , Chor 50 plus, and , there is significant interest in the location’s participatory projects among the inhabitants of Lower Austria. This will make it easier to establish new communities.
The seven communities, consisting of the previously mentioned children, teenagers, adults, senior citizens and "semi-professionals" (dance instructors and possibly dance students), will be supported by well-known choreographers who will work on their choreographies in rehearsal modules established in advance. Most of the communities’ participants will have little or no experience of contemporary dance. The choreographers will be helped by assistants who will work with the communities regularly during the entire development process. Experience has shown that enduring processes that contribute to the social and personal development of the participants as well as the artistic product can usually only be established within groups which work together over a longer period.
There is a central theme which establishes the framework for a common artistic concept. Choreographers have the artistic freedom to develop their works within the boundaries set by the theme of "alles bewegt" (everything in motion). This theme, which is simultaneously the title of the project, does not simply represent the fact that physical movement is an integral part of any dance piece, but also signifies both content and purpose of the venture. By means of "everything in motion", the Festspielhaus intends to create waves within the population of St. Pölten. Similarly, one aim is for the individual participants to realise in the course of the rehearsal process that they, too, have the ability to move groups of people. The foundation provided by the collective work process and the common goal of an artistically accomplished performance is central to this idea. The fact that the members of the communities come from all walks of life means that they are a miniature representation of society. The idea of a "microcosm of society" is at the core of the project. In the same way that the individuals within the communities must combine to form a cohesive unit, the individual pieces will eventually merge to form an artistic whole.
In addition, the music represents a central combining element. The composer and guitarist Maurizio Grandinetti and the percussionist Murat Coşkun have been commissioned to compose the music for "alles bewegt". Some of the music will be performed by rhythm groups working in a similar manner to the dance groups and including participants of the project.
Jane Hackett of the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, choreographer and Creative Director of "Sum of Parts", and the artistic director of the Festspielhaus, Joachim Schloemer, are in charge of the entire artistic direction of the project and will be responsible for combining the pieces developed by the individual communities around the common theme to one full-length piece to be performed in the Main Hall of the Festspielhaus in May 2013.