World travelers tend to wear their secrets on their skin. You can read them easily and just by doing that, you already feel like you’re part of their crazy adventure. From my experience, this strange phenomenon happens because most of them are also artists of some kind; they are good at a particular craft, they sing, they play an instrument, they’re photographers, they draw portraits, they paint or they…dance. That last one’s my favorite kind and inspired this traveling dancers guide to the best dance festivals Europe.
For traveling dancers like me, you’re probably always taking into consideration a dance opportunity waiting for you at your destination. Whether you want to perform or watch other fellow dancers perform, it’s always good to have an idea about the major annual events happening across the old continent. I’ll give you an overview of the ones I got the chance to try out and trust me, I’m a picky dancer, so you won’t be disappointed.
For all you traveling dancers, here’s my guide to the best dance festivals in Europe!
Contact Improvisation Festival in Bucharest, Romania
Taking place in the busy capital of Romania, at the National Dance C, the Contact Improvisation Festival is usually divided in three main parts the pre-festival, the festival itself and the post-festival dance retreat.
The pre-festival is ideal for travelers since it comprises of four days of training with one three hour class per day and lots of free time to enjoy the city. In 2019 the workshop was held by the American choreographer Scott Wells and it costs $95.
The festival itself takes up more than a week, usually around 10 days and puts you through a busy schedule: five full-day classes, five single classes, jam sessions, teachers’ performances and a wacky street performance called Contact the City. The fee, which includes full access to the festival and two meals per day, is $305.
While the first two sections are mainly traditional dance workshops, the last one, the post-festival dance retreat is something else. REALLY. For a $220 fee you get to spend a week in the wilderness together with a whole team of dancers and choreographers, right in the heart of Transylvania. The strong connection between you and Mother Earth will bring out the most talented and visceral dancer in you. It’s just great and you need to try it out. Nature is a great source of inspiration and these people know how to make you reveal it in yourself.
Just a heads-up, this festival is also usually taking place in June and it gets to synchronize with the yearly GLOBAL UNDERSCORE event, so you’ll get to participate in this international movement as well.
Monoplay – Festival of Solos in Zadar, Croatia
Given that you are a solo-traveller or that you are simply the only dancer in your traveling group, Monoplay’s got your back. Focusing on contemporary dance solos and their expression in contemporary theatre, this festival is ideal for amateurs and professional dancers alike, as its very friendly atmosphere makes everybody feel safe and comfortable while performing.
You can also just book and buy tickets to any of the amazing performances taking place there and watch Zadar based dancers give their best on stage. Watch out for the yearly call for artists and show the world what the solo artist in you has to say. If you do not wish to perform, you can also opt out for participating in one of their dance workshops to boost your skills while on the move.
Plus, the festival takes place in Zadar, the city with some of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever witnessed. Alfred Hitchcock himself was amazed by the sunset scenery here and described it as the most beautiful sunset in the world. If the master of suspense loved it, I think you should give it a try. Keep in mind that this event is taking place in August every year, so you might want to plan around that.
International Dance Week in Budapest, Hungary
This is a major event. As a dancer who happens to be in Hungary or around the country in July, you must attend it. With teachers coming from around the world to share their knowledge and techniques with you, this one week-long event is going to smooth out or completely reshape your dance style. Since it has both workshops –with a very busy 9 to 9 program –and performances, you will not have a lot of time to explore the city, so make sure you have time to do that before or after the festival.
You’ll be part of an international creative platform and you’ll get a chance to connect with dancers from all over the world. It might just be me, since my former ballet teacher is from Budapest, but I believe that this is a truly great place to perform and learn the wicked ways of contemporary dance. The insane dancers from BANDALOOP agree with me, as they have also performed here, on one of Budapest’s tallest building. And when I say ON, I mean on its walls. You can check out their stunning performance here.
Solo Contemporary Dance Festival in Ankara & Istanbul Fringe Festival
I love Turkey. Not just for its rich and tumultuous history, but for its music, for its spices and for its artists. What’s a better place to have all these things together other than an art festival? Honestly, I don’t know, so I’ll stick to praising it.
Happening sometime in June of every year, the Solo Contemporary Dance Fest in Ankara is another great opportunity to showcase your solo work while traveling. You’ll get thorough feedback from professionals who will take into account your dance skills together with musicality, interpretation and of course performance. All in all, it’s a good opportunity to reassess your position in the dance world.
The Istanbul Fringe Festival is a brand new multidisciplinary art event happening in September 2019 which promises to bring together experimental creations from artists across the world. If it feels like you have something eccentric enough to present on their stage, you can check their website out and apply.
Although I haven’t tried them out yet, here are a couple more events that attracted my attention lately and which I can recommend just by looking at their videos from previous editions: Birmingham International Dance Festival and Figueres MOU – which I promise has nothing to do with my obsession with Dali.
That being said, I hope to see more and more fellow travelers at dance events across the world so we can set the stage on fire together. I hope you enjoyed my traveling dancers guide to Europe, thanks for reading.
P.S. Don’t forget your point shoes when you pack!
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