Created in 2005, Nomad Dance Academy is a Balkan contemporary dance network which is active in the field of dance education, artistic creation, production, as well as promotion, advocacy and cultural policies for dance. Through its cultural activism, it seeks to strengthen various creative and artistic forces in the local and regional contemporary dance contexts of the post-Yugoslav region, in order to contribute to better conditions for contemporary dance development and better working conditions for artists. The partners of Nomad Dance Academy understand contemporary dance and choreography as an artistic and social practice, which deals with working conditions, production, construction, performing, mapping and thinking various presences, absences and representations of (human) bodies, as well as their traces, manifestations and potentialities in the past, present and future.
The Balkan dance network Nomad Dance Academy was founded in 2005, by dance artists, producers, and theorists from the former Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. After the turbulent political period following the break-up of the former Yugoslav federation, they endeavored to create a dynamic and fluid artistic, cultural, and educational space in this part of Europe, to improve the creative and production conditions of dance and choreography, to create new production methods, and to overcome the obstacles in regard to local and national cultural politics which the partners faced.
THE HISTORY OF NOMAD DANCE ACADEMY
Nomad Dance Academy Educational Program 2008-2010
In 2008 the network launched a three-year educational dance and choreography project which provided groups of regional and international dance artists with a multi-month study program in various theoretical and studio dance practices, organized by partners in different Balkan cities (Sofia, Skopje, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Kanjiža, Zagreb, Ptuj, and Ljubljana). The partners invited some of the most important regional and foreign dance educators, artists, dance theorists and historians, philosophers and thinkers. Every cycle of the educational program finished with a series of artistic productions and guest performances, which took place at various locations around Ljubljana under the title Short Cuts. Around 50 students and their educators created a base during those years for a resilient and tenacious regional dance community, from which all subsequent NDA projects have developed. In 2013, the Swiss Cultural Foundation (Pro Helvetia) awarded Nomad Dance Academy with the prize for the best project it funded in the period 2008-2010.
In 2008, the partners committed to establishing local contemporary dance festivals.
In the period between 2008 and 2013 the partners of NDA entered their first European project, Jardin d’Europe, which in 2014 became the project Life Long Burning.
Nomad Dance Institute 2011 – 2019 (NDI)
In February 2011, an NDA task group designed a new research and education program, Nomad Dance Institute. In September 2013, at the inaugural meeting of the project at Museum of Contemporary Arts Metelkova within the frame of CoFestival in Ljubljana, several ongoing activities were initiated. The project declared that: “Everything is education!”, with which it aimed to turn various activities of NDA into the basis for educational materials, practices, and initiatives. NDI is focused on knowledge
Advocacy in the field of contemporary dance contexts and cultural-political systems in the region, entitled Nomad Dance Advocates (2012 – 2019) took place in Skopje, Sofia, Belgrade and Ljubljana.
In August of 2017, NDA organized a summer dance school at Ohrid (North Macedonia), Nomad Dance Summer.
FESTIVALS OF THE PARTNERS OF NOMAD DANCE ACADEMY 2008 – 2019
Already at the beginning of their activity, the partners of NDA committed to the establishment of contemporary dance festivals, which would strengthen the local contemporary dance contexts through their artistic, educational, and advocacy programs, as well as enabling partners continuation with production, and the strengthening of ties and collaborations. Thus, in 2008, three new festival were created: LocoMotion in Skopje, Kondenz in Belgrade, Antistatic in Sofia and Zvrk in Sarajevo.
The festival program which concluded the yearly educational program of NDA, entitled Short Cuts (2008 – 2010), became the festival Pleskavica in 2011 in Ljubljana, and in 2012, transformed into CoFestival, an international festival of contemporary dance.
LocoMotion festival of contemporary dance in Skopje (produced by Lokomotiva, Skopje, Macedonia, 2008 – 2015), stoped to exist due to lack of local support. With the opening of Kino Kultura, Space for Contemporary Performing Arts and Contemporary Culture, in a former cinema house in the centre of Skopje, the program of the former festival was divided into a year-round artistic, cultural, advocacy, and educational program.
Kondenz, festival of contemporary dance and performance in Belgrade (produced by Stanica, Belgrade, Serbia) has been taking place since 2008 in the spaces of independent cultural center Magacin and other venues around Belgrade.
Antistatic, international festival of contemporary dance and performance (produced by Brainstore Project, Sofia, Bulgaria), takes place every year in Sofia.
Zvrk is an international festival of interdisciplinary arts, founded in Sarajevo by the organization Tancelarija (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina), and takes place only occasionally due to the large-scale emigration of cultural workers from Bosnia and Hercegovina.
ORGANIZATION OF NOMAD DANCE ACADEMY
Nomad Dance Academy consists of a Decision-Making Body and various Task Groups which deal with individual tasks on an on-going basis.
The course of the creative, production, and artistic work of NDA, which is organized horizontally and does not envisage a hierarchical or pyramidal way of decision-making, is enabled by the following principles. The PRINCIPLE OF BALANCE suggests that every artistic and production initiative of the NDA should include a consideration of gender, contextual, inter-communal, and partner balance, which should prevent any closing-off and paralysis of interests and knowledge. The Principle of Balance is a principle that fundamentally erodes the inertia of any life and work form of the one (the unit) and presupposes the creative handling of the uncertainty of differences. The PRINCIPLE OF THREE refers to the minimum number of people needed to form a basic creative group or collective. A third member of the unit provides reflection. The PRINCIPLE OF INVITATION replaces the selection method in the work of NDA. An invitation is an affirmative form of selection, with the inviter handling the invitee thoughtfully. The PRINCIPLE OF OPEN SPACE is a tool that assumes that not all things or forms of creative life can be predicted in advance. Therefore, with material, temporal, and spatial means, it creates a reserve with which it secures the future that the work, creative needs, as well as interpersonal relations always turn into a plan themselves anyway. In its work, Nomad Dance Academy uses a range of improvised or permanent work tools, which transform production, creative, and artistic work into a lively and playful work process.