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  • Writer's pictureyamanalu

Will I find Danzón here?

During the months of September and October of this year, I was granted a #TakeHeart residency, together with HELLERAU EZK. The title of my residency was “Wenn ich den Danzón tanzen würde” translated to: if I were to dance el Danzón. For those who don't know, Danzón is a social dance from accompanied by a particular music style, very popular in México. The origins of this dance and music form, are found in Europe. When I chose the theme of my research for this residency, it was the path of el Danzón trough history what attracted me, rather than the form it self. I thought -what if I were to bring el Danzón back to Europe, to Dresden Germany, how would it be danced here today? and how would the music sound like?-.

To answer this questions, I created a plan, a plan I thought was perfect, however, my very perfect plan soon changed, to a better one:

During a gathering organised by HELLERAU EZK, many artists had the opportunity to share their #TakeHeart research. I was on the very first week of my research, and I felt very vulnerable to share, but it was great! I was given a lot of different questions by the other artists, questions that shifted my perspective. One question in particular caused me to change the course of my remaining 7 weeks of research. The question was -What if Danzón is already here?-.

Well, for the next three weeks of my residency, I would go out to different places every day, places where I thought I would find el Danzón. Days and weeks passed, and I found nothing, not a glimpse! Instead of being frustrated for not getting any answers, I started to analyse and ask my self, what Danzón is to me, I started reducing it to its essence. I was about to give up, when one day during my 'searching rounds' I saw a figurine, a statue announcing the Museum of Saxon Folk Art. I stopped and stared at the figurine, then I looked at the Museum and asked my self, -will I find Danzón here?- This question felt immediately different, and I realised what I had just done, I had changed the question, from will I find el Danzón here?, to, will I find Danzón here?

This change of question might sound like an insignificant technicality, for me it wasn’t, it was as if I had a new Dresden in front of my eyes. I started looking at different places and situations in a different way, looking for a being rather than a thing. This change in attitude made my search much more fun, and much more pleasant. At the beginning nothing extraordinary happened, until one day, when I was less expecting to find Danzón, I experienced it for the first time!

It was on a Tuesday night around 10:30 pm at the airport of Dresden. When I arrived to the airport it was pretty much empty, I saw the times for the next arrivals and noticed that I was quite ahead of time, so I placed my self far away from where people usually gather to receive someone. At three minutes past eleven, people started to gather. As I was observing I thought, -there is enough space here, how come people aren't dancing here?- As soon as this thought crossed my mind, I started noticing the rhythm in the movements of the people who were standing (but not standing still) I then started noticing the rhythm with wich new people would arrive or just walk by. This was it! people were dancing Danzón! and the best part was that people were doing it without knowing, or perhaps they did know, because they were all dressed quite elegantly, and I know from my memories from México that Danzón likes elegance.

After this experience, I had new confidence in my research. I took the time to analyse what had happened at the airport, to look for a different space, but a similar context. I remembered that Danzón likes plazas, so I went to the Theaterplatz, the plaza in front of the Semperoper Dresden. I went there a number of times, always one hour before a scheduled performance would start. Every single time, Danzón was there, and always with music and under the sun. I was so happy to see that here in Dresden, Danzón likes the good weather and life music, just like in México.

Danzón did not appear everywhere I went, and some times my patience was tested. It seemed as if I had to forget I was looking for Danzón, in order for it to appear. An other remarkable experience happened as I was in the Deutsches-Hygiene-Museum: Here, I didn’t see it where I had thought it would appear. But I did hear it somewhere else, in the kitchen of the museumsKÜCHE, the rhythm of the steps and the voices of the people in the kitchen created a Danzón like atmosphere.

From the experience in the Restaurant of the Deutsches Hygiene Museum I learned that looking for Danzón is like looking for fairies in the woods, you don’t find them, they find you.

During the last week of my #TakeHeart Residency, I had the opportunity to work in HELLERAU EZK, my aim was to bring the experiences of my research to an ‘artificial’ space. I was not looking for Danzón anymore, however it did appear in the garden behind the main building. One afternoon after work, I was swinging in the swings, and a girl joined me. Suddenly the girl started to scream, her mom told her to stop but she would’t. From outside the garden, a boy started to scream as well, he entered the garden and continued screaming, so the girl continued screaming. They were having an experience together, a social experience, two strangers, meeting for a moment and then going about with their life. This two children gave me the biggest realisation of all: Danzón is a social experience, an energetic encounter.

With the above mentioned experiences, and many others I didn’t mention, I now can say with absolute certainty that just as in México, Danzón in Dresden likes plazas, big spaces, free spaces, as soon as there are tables or banks in the middle Danzón does not appear. On the other hand Danzón does not mind playgrounds or trees, it also does not mind chatter, screams and loud music, in fact it quite likes it.

This #TakeHeart Residency, "Wenn ich den Danzón tanzen würde", was Supported by Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media within the program NEUSTART KULTUR.

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