The programme was built from an understanding that dance performers today develop their craft from multiple, interconnected sources and experiences of movement and performing. Thus, the term ‘contemporary dance’ is understood in a broad, expanded sense, or rather in its true sense, as diversity of people, practices, aesthetics and cultures, that can’t be pinned down as one stable thing. It is seen as something that is constantly being redefined by complex histories and relationships to the present, entertained by different dance artists and dance communities.
The journey begins with the students themselves, their backgrounds and drives within the diverse learning community that the students, teachers, artists and staff of ECD form together. Individual and cultural differences are valued and attended to, whether they produce harmony or friction, in a context where everyone can learn from everyone.
On the level of the programme, this open understanding of ‘contemporary’ means that the content goes beyond the dance and performance forms attached to the Western choreographic canon. It expands to the (often marginalised) expressions and techniques of the so called social, street, urban or Non-Western dance practices, considering them as important artistically as the said canon.
On one hand this approach translates into a rich and vigorous training programme during which students practice a diverse range of dance and performance techniques, somatic practices, and theoretical subjects,. They are involved in repertoire, research and creations projects that provide numerous opportunities to work with inspiring, challenging and relevant artists from diverse cultural contexts, as well as the opportunity to perform often and in a variety of formats.
Upon graduation students will have the skills, physical and mental awareness, imaginative abilities, critical capacities, precision and agility to start their life-long careers in dance. However we also hope that they will have something more and perhaps richer.
Broadening our perspective and redefining our understanding of what ‘contemporary dance’ is, translates into an environment in which each student’s personal story, background and artistic aspiration is equally important and represented. We strive to offer students a safe place where they can explore their individuality, artistic personality and challenge their (world)views. We invite students to think and act as artists with their own voice. In this way, they will hopefully have the confidence to carve their own unique path as artists. They will find perhaps their own way to help create new possibilities to envision the world and to keep dance evolving.
Our hope as well is to continue working on what dance training and education can be rather than perpetuating the same ideas of what it should be. Since an education is a first stepping stone into a professional dance world, we -ECD students, teachers, staff and guest artists alike-hope to be able to contribute to the ongoing process of diversifying the choreographic canon as well as contemporary programmes, and be involved in the ongoing effort to change the modes of doing and making in the professional world, to a field that is based on equality and mutual respect.