ABSTRACT

Over the last years, choreography and dance from several Arab countries have gained increasing visibility on the international stage: thematic festivals and events, residency and exchange programs, and funding schemes provide platforms that give insights into a vivid, engaged, and diverse scene of contemporary creation. This intensification in interest and a consequent rise of practical opportunities for Arab artists needs to be contextualized in a series of specific yet entangled movements of protest that took place in the region from 2010 onwards. Those social and political processes of upheaval – often referred to in insufficient, generalizing descriptions like ‘Arab Spring’, ignoring the complexity of the specific events – have helped raise medial and public attention for the cultural and artistic sector as well. Thereby, the intersection of artistic and socio-political movements proves of a Janus-faced dynamic: it inscribes a claim for an intercultural dialogue, which communicates and mediates contemporary artistic practice in the Arab region, its conditions, and contexts to a Western public while engaging in a critical reflection of the concept of the contemporary in dance and performance. However, artists continue to encounter politics of programming and curating which highlight the representation of the spectacular, the ‘new’, the exotic, the ever-other body, lingering in stereotypes or generalizations, that risk losing the complexity of the artistic works and their environment out of sight.