Extended  Dance Territories – Guest Editors’ Note

Guest Editors: Margareta Sörenson*, Steriani Tsintziloni**

Is dance a  practice that can survive across time? How, why and for whom does dance matter in our current era? 

These and other crucial questions are explored in this issue of Critical Stages/Scènes Critiques; the featured authors  consider what has changed in the practice of dance during the turbulent years of the pandemic and recent periods of international tension. Which elements of practice have resiliently remained and how these surviving elements offer a range of possibilities for dance professionals? How dance transcends national boundaries to raise issues rooted in and linked to diverse socio-cultural contexts? The intense boom of dance in the last decades of the 20th century does not seem to return, but nothing is more difficult than to try to perceive, discover and understand the time we live in and its nowness. 

The goal of this special issue is to recognize dance as a diverse and complex practice with a multiplicity of histories and meanings. Unavoidably, the outcome presented here is selective, and implies a range of limitations, including our own misconceptions. 

In the texts we have chosen for publication, dance is approached primarily as a theatre art or a type of theatrical knowledge. Consequently, traditional, urban, religious or other types of dance practices are underrepresented. However, many of the dance practices explored here take place in the streets, in community settings or in war camps. Our selection was guided by a global perspective which aimed to honor different traditions, conflicting positions and multiple power relations that form both individual and collective actions. 

Independent artists, theorists, curators and critics have developed a discourse on theory and practice of dance in tandem with artistic, social, technological, and environmental issues. History is often implied in discussions of embodied dance techniques as a voice from the past or as a suggestion of heritage and traditions. Public space, AI and non-human elements are imbued in current dance practices which raise questions on how the body is conceptualized, and thus usher in expanded dance practices to raise a new round of questions. In this special issue, we have made every effort to include a wide range of articles, reviews and reports on dance as a contemporary art form which is firmly grounded in the present. The observant reader will certainly discover missing points and elements; clearly the practice of dance, vast and beautifully complex, cannot be adequately covered in one or two special issues. Nevertheless, we feel that our selection of texts offers multiple perspectives on contemporary dance, which we understand as an art form currently engaged in leaping over time passing. 

Cover PhotoCloth. Photo: Håkan Larsson (from “True Art Consists of Gaps”: Interview with Cristina Caprioli – the Golden Lion in Venezia Biennale de la Danza 2024).

*Margareta Sörenson is a theatre and dance critic based in Stockholm, Sweden. A former president of the International Association of Theatre Critics, her orientation is toward multidisciplinary stage arts such as contemporary dance, circus, animation theatre, and the influence of classical Asian performing arts in European culture. She has published books on theatre, puppetry, children’s culture, and dance, including her 2011 book on Mats Ek and her latest book Marionette Theatre, 60 Years and More (2020). She has been a lecturer on the traditions of puppetry in Finland (Turku School of Arts and Communication) and Sweden (Dramatic Instritute and Luleå University of Technology, Stockholm), holds an MA from Stockholm University in dance studies, and lectures on dance history and aesthetics. She is a member of the Research Commission of UNIMA, the international association for puppetry. 

**Steriani Tsintziloni is Assistant Professor of Dance Studies at the Department of Theatre Studies (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens). Having a dance background, Steriani combines academic research, curation, and artistic projects. She has taught at the University of Patras, the Hellenic Open University, the Dance School of the Greek National Opera and the State School of Dance. She was the Dance Curator for the Athens Festival (2016-2019). She was a Visiting Artist at the Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University (CHS Washington 2020-21), and a finalist for the British Council Alumni Awards Greece 2024. Her monograph Under the shadow of the Parthenon. Dance at the Athens Festival of the Cold War (1955-1966) was published by Kapa Publishing and was short-listed for the 2023 State Literary Awards.

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