ImPulsTanz: Where the Dance Is

In July and August, Vienna hosts workshops, shows, and classes for dancers and enthusiasts alike

The dance festival includes both preformances like “Silk” with Florentina Holtzinger | Photos: Nellie de Boer

Interactive workshops for both amateur and pro dancers | Photo: Domenico Giustino

The dance festival includes both preformances like “Silk” with Florentina Holtzinger | Photos: Nellie de Boer

Just when you think it’s too hot to move, Vienna’s cultural scene is hit with a summer dance festival called ImPulsTanz, bringing the contemporary dance world to the city for a little over a month.

Now in its 25th year, ImPulsTanz continues to go through maturity pains: Should it show the way or just reflect the dance environment? In the past, as an early advocate of Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker and Wim Vandekeybus, ImPulsTanz seemed to be showing the way to the future, down a wide highway of movement. In recent flirtations with conceptual dance, ImPulsTanz spends much time following the parade of non-movement organised by the new tailors of the dance emperor.


Dance-along coaching

Indicative of just how wide ImPulsTanz has drawn dance’s borders this year is the coaching project Standup PerformDance. It’s a mix of stand-up comedy and dance taught by Guy Cools and Ria Haraki.

Another very internalised coaching project on creating solos will be led by Canadian conceptual artist Benoît Lachambre. On the side of movement, Wim Vandekeybus leads a sold-out coaching project on “fragility laughing at strength”, unapologetically focused on his own very physical work.

Interactive workshops for both amateur and pro dancers | Photo: Domenico Giustino

Choreographic Platform focuses on Austria this year, which means a huge wallop of conceptual dance. You’ll get theory from Chris Haring, Philip Gehmacher, Saskia Höbling and Doris Ulrich. With luck we’ll get a little bit of dance practice from Anne Juren and the crazy Superamas. While the focus on Austria holds few surprises for us, it is a great chance for the country to showcase its wares, though the shelf seems a little bare. Austrian movement-driven choreographers just don’t seem to get invited, despite the existence of prolific creators like Nicky Adler, Darrel Toulon and Elio Gervasi. The Austrian invitation list lately slants very heavily in favour of the Tanzquartier Wien anti-movement dance club.

If you’ve always wanted to experience the deep engagement of participating in dance, don’t miss the chance to start at ImPulsTanz. Reasonably-priced (by bourgeois standards) training with world-class instructors in a splendid venue awaits you. The Arsenal is a fascinating space, a former theatre warehouse and one-time military headquarters for the Imperial army. Even if you are only looking for applied moves that you can take to a nightclub, there are three different workshops in hip hop and house dance, taught by luminaries like Marjory Smarth and Jermaine Browne.

Those who do the pro and semi-pro workshops get a chance to show off their work in the Expressions performance at Arsenal, this year on 11 August.


Performances and prizes

Jan Fabre is bringing two restagings of the early works, The Power of Theatrical Madness and This is theatre like it was to be expected and foreseen [sic]. Fabre truly masters the stage, both for drama and for dance. Don’t miss this chance to see two of his major works. Performances are from 18 to 22 July in the Burgtheater and MQ Halle G. On 14 and 16 July, Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker will show her classic Drumming from 1998, with a live performance by music ensemble ICTUS.

In 2012, ballet has not been forgotten. Opéra National de Paris appears in a mainly contemporary programme including a guest appearance from Staatsoper ballet director Manuel Legris. What makes Opéra de Paris special is that it is perhaps the only top-tier dance company in the world to dance classic and contemporary almost equally well. The venue is splendid: the Burgtheater on 24 and 26 July.

If brand new works by new voices is what you seek, the 8:tension series is for you. By its nature inconsistent, new and not-fully-proven young choreographers bring fresh works to ImPulsTanz in a smorgasbord of strangeness. In any given year, there will be two works of genius and three more of varying quality. And a few that go off the rails. One huge part of the thrill of theatre is to go into a performance with no real idea what will happen. This year they all compete for the Prix Jardin d’Europe – a $10,000 cash award.

Major parties include a Bandaloop album pre-release party on 20 July at Kasino am Schwarzenbergplatz, with the big closing party in the same locale on 10 August with DJ Kormac. The ImPulsTanz parties are much less about drinking or drugs and more about dancing than your standard Vienna summer parties, although impromptu hedonistic performances sometimes happen, especially in the presence of Cecilia Bengolea.

The ImPulsTanz lounge is happily back in the Burgtheater vestibule. A magic atmosphere reigns there on a hot summer night, where the beer and spritzers flow cold and the music and bodies burn. Every night from 22:00, between 12 July and 12 August.

See festival programme:

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