Within my contribution, I present the research project “Choreographies of Precariousness. A Transdisciplinary Study of the Working and Living Conditions in the Contemporary Dance Scenes of Brussels and Berlin” (supervisors: Katharina Pewny, Rudi Laermans, Christel Stalpaert; UGent and KULeuven; sponsored by FWO). For this conference, I would like to concentrate on the specificity of the contemporary dance profession and to elaborate the landscape of working in Brussels.
Working formats in contemporary dance revolve around internationalization, mobility, transnationalism, and collaboration. Contemporary dance therefore requires an appropriate social security system taking into account the specificity of the profession.
Brussels attracts many foreign dancers, as it offers prominent training possibilities, and hosts several reputable companies and workspaces. Flanders has established a unique social security system for the performing arts professions; however I will elucidate where the system collapses when it comes to contemporary dance. I will demonstrate how dance artists question the working conditions they are confronted within Flanders by analyzing their performances of precaritiousness. Flemish dancer Benjamin Vandewalle uses his piece Co-Productie (2011) to advert to the socio-economic situation, through abruptly stopping his performance in the middle of the piece, clarifying to the audience that he will not continue since the Minister of Culture decided to downsize project subsidies in the middle of the season. He calls for the investment of 2,500 euros by the audience so he can finish the piece. The latter tactic can be seen as one of many ways dance artists are bound to work collaboratively against their precariousness.