In 1988, the first edition of Steps was held. In 2018, with the 16th edition, we are now celebrating 30 years of the dance adventure that is Steps. The encounters with wonderful artists, who repeatedly thrill us with new ideas and allow us to see the world from unfamiliar and inspiring perspectives, have never ceased to be fascinating.
Throughout these years, the dance scene in Switzerland has been highly dynamic. Dance is now recognised as a profession, educational institutions have been founded and the programme directors at partner establishments now have sound knowledge of dance. Dance has emancipated itself and is being taken seriously. All these developments have generated a hopeful atmosphere.
However, the programme for the current edition was also selected against the backdrop of very different types of changes: In western societies, we are all increasingly aware of a spreading, indefinable feeling of insecurity. Many people are afraid of the foreign, the unknown, neglect and loss.
Out of conviction that art, and especially the art of movement, can have a positive effect, and as a kind of response to this vague anxiety, I would like to bring the concept of “courage” to the fore in the 2018 edition of this festival; I see it as a common thread that runs through all the groups in the programme, in many ways. Dance can open doors that otherwise remain closed, provide the boldness with which to overcome obstacles, pave the way for appreciation and understanding, and even embody political statements.
For artists, it is always hazardous to get involved in the creation of a new work, because the risk of failure is never ruled out. Artistic processes require a willingness to become vulnerable; equally, it takes courage to go on stage and expose oneself, one's ideas and one's visions to our judgement.
For us, on the other hand, as a festival, there is a certain amount of risk involved in acting as co-producer for half of the companies and in scheduling works that do not even exist yet when the programme is set out. However, long-standing close connections with the respective creative minds build confidence and make such decisions possible.
As for you, dear audience, I hope you find the diverse dance experiences highly enjoyable and I look forward to you daring to discover something new.
Artistic Director of the Migros Culture Percentage Dance Festival Steps
Picture: Caroline Minjolle