ImPulsTanz: Provocation and Mastery

The 30th anniversary promises a festival to remember, with acclaimed perfomances, promising premieres and intensive workshops taught by the elite of the contemporary dance world

Top Stories | Alec Kinnear | July / August 2013

The many intensive workshops set this festival apart in Europe and the world (Photo: Judith Lutz)

ImPulsTanz is back for its 30th anniversary. Every summer Vienna becomes the centre of Europe’s contemporary dance world for a month and 2013 appears an especially fine vintage. ImPulsTanz is rare among festivals, as it includes both extended workshops (pro, amateur, beginner) along with an exciting performance programme.


Performance driven workshops

Many of the workshops this year are focused on creating finished performances. After opening the festival with his License to Party, New York innovator Trajal Harrell will workshop a real life 100-year anniversary version of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring for a planned performance.

Then from the world of high pop culture, Black Swan ballet consultant and choreographer Francesca Harper will be introducing dancers to Voice and Movement.

Dance legend and ImPulsTanz choreographer Ismael Ivo is creating another performance piece, Biblioteca de Corpo, which already has an extended touring schedule booked in Brazil.

Provocative performance artist Ivo Dimchev will be mentoring some dancewebbers – 30 special ImPulsTanz scholarships given to promising young dancers and choreographers from around the world – on how to terrorise audiences: So brace yourselves. Dimchev will give us a first-hand demonstration in late July with his own X-On, which promises to be as X-rated as it sounds.

For those after something calmer, yoga makes it into ImPulsTanz in a programme of Yoga Teacher Training for Dancers. In practical terms, more dancer/teachers will then be able to take advantage of the yoga boom to expand their class offerings. Dance teachers will also enjoy the special 150-strong symposium on teaching dance.

The extraordinary assortment of jazz, Rosas, Ultima Vez and Pina Bausch training which characterises ImPulstTanz workshops continues again this year, with top performers from all of these companies and disciplines turning up to provide intensive training. So sign up sooner rather than later.

The best workshops sell out fast and unlike the performances, it isn’t possible for ImPulsTanz to extend the run.

Apart from the teachers, who number among the elite of the contemporary dance world, you are sure to meet some fascinating individuals among your fellow students.


Sexy as ever at 30

For those who prefer watching to full-body experience, there are fantastic opportunities to see the best work of the past and new creations. Ultima Vez is bringing a revival of Wim Vandekeybus’s early masterpiece What the Body Does Not Remember. On the high speed dance front, Quebec star choreographer Marie Chouinard is bringing her latest work Gymnopédies, to music by Eric Satie, along with Henri Michaux: Mouvements.

Next to the genuine artistic genius of Marie Chouinard, something like Cirque du Soleil seems like extravagant vaudeville. And her tickets are less expensive. And finally, high-profile British choreographer Akram Khan rolls into town with his classic Desh along with his own take on Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps, entitled iTMOi.

Beside these polished pieces, some shows sound like train wrecks to some, although perhaps delightful romps to others: anti-dance conceptual choreographer Jérôme Bel brings Disabled Theater, a movement piece for disabled people.

Exhibitionist favourites Cecilia Bengolea and François Chaignaud return from France to thrill audiences with a strange concoction on club music Altered Natives’ Say Yes To Another ExcessTwerk based on dancehall, hip hop, U.K. garage and group sex. Keep your eyes on these two, any party with them in attendance risks turning at any moment into mass naked grooves.

Among the Austrians, Burgenland innovator Chris Haring and his Liquid Loft return with Stadtheater Kassel with a large scale ensemble piece of Lego Love at the Volkstheater, which premiered in April of this year. The previews look great. Dance legends Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker of Rosas fame, Jan Fabre of Troubleyn, Meg Stuart of Damaged Goods, Mathilde Monnier and Louise Lecavalier also bring main stage events.

Along with the international choreographic stars, ImPulsTanz has always featured young choreographers in a special programme called [8:tension]. Tickets for these performances, usually in Schauspielhaus down in the 9th District are less expensive and more readily available, if bought in reasonable time. Here you can see the stars of tomorrow whose works are sometimes fresher than today’s living legends. These young choreographers are striving to make a name and don’t carry the baggage of an expensive company or a huge reputation: Most of them are just trying to make something interesting and personal.


Best shows go fast: reserve early

Be careful though with [8:tension] tickets, for news of a good show spreads fast; the Schauspielhaus is small and the repeat performances are snapped up very fast. You are better off hunting YouTube for preview videos of what is coming to Vienna and booking anything you like based on those. Previews help you dodge the few duds pretty effectively as well.

In The Trap, Portugese beauty Mariana Tengner Barros explores the beautiful woman’s Hamletian dilemma: "To be a bitch or not to be a bitch". The photos of this 40-minute solo look fabulous, and it would be worth signing up early.

And if you are after the main stage events (this year at Weltmuseum Wien, Burgtheater, Volkstheater, Odeon, Akademietheater, Kasino at Schwarzenbergplatz) and don’t want to be disappointed, go straight to your computer now and book those tickets!


For a full list of performances and workshops visit:


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