Tiger’s Leap: A Method of Reloading the History of Local Scenes

Ana Vujanović (2008-12)

A Happy Consensual Tribe

Many experts agree that contemporary dance emerged in the West (Western Europe and the USA) during the second half of the 20th century and, therefore, that it was conditioned by the democratic character of those societies. At the same time, it is commonly accepted that societies in the East overslept the second half of the 20th century behind the Iron Curtain that divided the democratic (capitalist) West from the totalitarian (communist) East. So it only stands to reason that there was no contemporary dance in the East. Adhering to this teleological view of history as progress, contemporary dance accordingly appeared in the Eastern societies only with their transition to democracy-capitalism in the 1990s and 2000s. Many agree not only that contemporary dance organically had to appear in the East at that time, due to the new social conditions, but also that its appearance is a proof that those ex-Eastern societies have become democratic. Naturally, this late awakening of the East results in its always-being-late in its efforts to keep up with the contemporary dance scene in the West.[1]

A lot of experts may agree about a lot of things. And when a majority agree on many “things”, the river of history may flow smoothly, all the way from its source, right down to the mouth, the past clearly shaping the future… And here we are, in the present, where one can see, on the international dance scene, contemporary dance both from the ex-East and the ex-West – although still not in equal proportions – that belongs now to the borderless – although not quite “history-less” – global society.

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Not Quite-Not Right Eastern Western Dance Scene

Ana Vujanović (2007-2011)

In order to write about the current situation of contemporary dance in Serbia, I could begin with the conceptualization and contextualization of its synchronic relations with the neighboring scenes, then also with other European or Western ones. As contemporary dance is a new phenomenon in Serbia, there are two problematic theses that I would like to put forward as starting points. Firstly, as there is no local contemporary dance history, there is no need to follow the diachronic traces of the present situation; and secondly, what is currently considered and practiced as contemporary dance in Serbia is contemporary Western dance. Hence, my task here is to clarify the influences, uses, transfers, translations, and appropriations of Western dance paradigms to this context that is not-quite-Western but not-right-Eastern either. Thus my starting point is plain and clear, though harsh. And yet, is it sufficient? I wouldn’t think so. But then, what can we do?

I will now try to examine my theses, in the hope that some new problems might eventually emerge. I will adopt a theoretical-political approach, maintaining that making problems forces us to rethink our common beliefs and habits. Consequently, this essay does not entertain a positivist-scientific approach.[1]

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