The artist, often perceived as a figure of stark contrasts, stirs extreme emotions both as an individual and a creator. In contrast, we know less about dance artists; their presence tends to be more subtle. However, they too are not exempt from stereotypes that depict a “true” artist as eccentric, tormented, impassioned, overflowing with profound feelings and melancholy. It’s these traits that garner social recognition and are interpreted as signs of grand genius. While the well-being of spectators has a place in artistic and social discourse, the existence and, critically, the nurturing of a dance artist’s well-being – their work conditions and culture – has largely remained unspoken. In an era marked by exposing repressive situations, we start a conversation centered around the mental health of those who create dance. When does the act of creation transition from being a source of joy and blessing to becoming a curse and source of suffering? What factors stifle free thought and impede creativity? How can we constructively, effectively, and creatively engage with the emerging reality?
We will explore these questions together with our guests from Great Britain, Germany, and Poland, practitioners and theorists alike. They are active participants in the transformations occurring in educational systems, develop programs that take into account the psychophysical well-being of dancers and their working conditions, promote artist health, and are attuned to their needs and shortcomings. Our panelists will share their insights from various angles: as creators, educators, coaches, and dance historians.
Emilia Cholewicka, PhD (PL) MODERATOR – cultural economist and cultural expert, currently serving as an Assistant Professor at SWPS University and a member of the Center for Research on the Creative Economy. Emilia is also a dancer and an alumna of the Roman Turczynowicz Ballet Arts General Secondary School. A recipient of scholarships from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the National Institute of Music and Dance (NIMiT), and the Dean of SWPS University, she has been involved in projects such as Estimating the Number of Artists, Creators and Performers in Poland and CICERONE (Horizon 2020). Her academic work is centered around the labor market for artists, women’s participation in the labor market, the interplay between economy, culture, and art, as well as dance studies, women’s and feminist studies.
Amy Draper(UK) – at C/U she hosts the “Menstrual Cycle Awareness in the Creative Process” workshop. During the panel, Amy aims to highlight the significance of menstrual health awareness as a crucial factor influencing both individual and group well-being of artists, as well as the creative process. Read more about her HERE
Rafał Dziemidok (PL/DE) – performs at C/U. During the panel, he wil share his experiences of dance practices that expose dysfunctional systems. Read more about him HERE
Małgorzata Dzierżon (PL/UK) MODERATOR – choreographer, producer and dance teacher, she currently serves as the Director of Wrocław Opera Ballet. Małgorzata has performed on some of the most renowned stages, with companies such as Rambert, Gothenburg Ballet, and Royal Danish Ballet, and as a guest artist with Wayne McGregor and Ballet Boyz. She has been a lecturer at the Royal Academy of Dance, as well as a guest lecturer at the Royal Ballet School and the Central School of Ballet in London. In 2020, she was an Artist-in-Residence at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, and has worked for many years as Art Director and Producer with Fertile Ground and New Movement Collective in the UK.
Jagoda Ignaczak (PL) – Polish philologist, theater scholar, and dance historian. Jagoda began her professional career as a teacher at the Psychiatric Clinic of the Medical Academy in Łódź. From 1987 to 1997, she served as Senior Assistant at the Department of Drama and Theater at the University of Łodź. Between 1989 and 2016, she was the literary director, playwright, and spokesperson for the Polish Dance Theatre. Jagoda is a lecturer for Postgraduate Studies in Dance Theory at the Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, as well as in the field of dance at the Academy of Physical Education in Poznań. In her panel piece, she will examine the art of dance as a cross-border art form and a social phenomenon, which is not exempt from repressive situations. She intends to revise the attitudes and definitions that have occurred in the history of dance in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Marta Wołowiec(PL) – performs at C/U. During the panel, Marta will address the pressures inherent in the profession, its unpredictability, the lack of a healthy routine, excessive responsibility, as well as the concept of sustainable development within one’s personal work. Read more about her HERE
Paulina Wycichowska, PhD, Assistant Professor (PL) – Head of the Dance Department at the Poznań University of Physical Education. A choreographer, academic teacher, dance instructor, dancer, and art therapist, Paulina is interested in a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to individuals, teaching and learning processes, as well as the practice and dissemination of art. Along with dance classes, she provides mindfulness and creativity training as part of her developmental workshops. During the panel, her focus will be on cultivating and enhancing empathic relationships through the practice and experience of dance/conscious movement.
Simo Vassinen(FI/DE) – dancer, performer, writer, translator and body worker. In his works, Simo integrates the transcendence of dance and rave culture with psychoanalysis, dynamic meditation, body work, and futurology. Previously, he has explored emotions related to climate change and the Eurovision Song Contest. He often combines social studies and journalism with dance and physicality. As part of his investigations into the mental health of dancers, Simo collaborates with the work culture working group at the dance people association, ZTB Berlin During the panel, he will share his research and insights into the emotional and mental well-being of dancers in Berlin during the pandemic. He will further reflect on essential body practices during periods of isolation and discuss the vibrant evolution of dance culture.
Curators: Emilia Cholewicka, Edyta Kozak, Aleksandra Rembowska