JUNCTION - Dance in the context of flight, migration and asylum.
From 2014 - 2021, Mobile Dance offered dance workshops in accommodation centres for refugees in Berlin. We worked in 5 long-term partnerships with centres across Berlin, a team of around 30 artists and with hundreds of families each year. The project combined the approaches of dance artists with specialist educators to support children and their families in coping with the repercussions of traumatic experiences, arriving in Berlin and managing their challenging living situation.
The artists taught once a week, every week and the project became an integral part of each centre with which we worked. The focus was upon a trauma- and diversity-sensitive body training which activated inner resources, developed stamina and strength, and countered the effects of anxiety and stress through breathing and touch. Another important element was improvisation, supporting the participants to be in the "here and now". Co-creative choreographic processes worked with themes relevant to the young people to offer a place to investigate issues affecting them and to expand their own agency and creative potential.
Every 12 weeks, the families met at the Tanzparty (dance party) with hundreds of Berliners at Uferstudios, who were a key partner in the project. Professional dance artists and musicians present their work alongside the children and young people. After the performances, the Danceoke filled the dance floor with people strutting their stuff, trying to keep pace with the dance videos from around the world. The Tanzparty was a celebration of a diverse city, welcoming newcomers, as well as a platform for the work of newly arrived artists who want to network into the Berlin performance scene.
JUNCTION actively recruited artists who had arrived as refugees, seeking to create paid work opportunities for those wanting the engage with the project or present their work. The Tanzparty was co-hosted by Nada Al Aswad, who took part in JUNCTION when she arrived. Assistant roles were offered to artists wanting to gather experience of working in this field. At the height of the project one third of the artists working on the project had themselves arrived in Germany seeking asylum. All artists were trained in diversity- and trauma-sensitive approaches, received regular coaching from project founders Jo Parkes and Barbara Weidner, and met once every 12 weeks for an artist exchange. The multi-professional partnership of Parkes and Weidner was the foundation of the project, bringing together the expertise of Parkes in participative dance, that of Weidner, an education specialist in supporting families who have experienced trauma.
JUNCTION became a model of good practice in Germany and abroad. Parkes and Weidner were often invited to speak and lead workshops on the approach (workshops/presentations in Sweden, Italy, UK and Germany in partnership with the Foundation for Community Dance, ZZT, Bern University, Kultur i Vast, DOCH among others). In 2016, Parkes co-founded a working group on dance processes with those arriving as refugees with the National Association of Dance in Schools and Parkes and Weidner worked with the Union on the publication "Dance with Refugees", along with a list fo recommendations for artists working in the field. These publications can be accessed in links at the bottom of this page.
Mobile Dance was part of ZUsammenKUNFT and Berlin Mondiale and thanks both partners for their support and collaboration. We also thank the staff at Uferstudios for their tireless work and support.
Due to the pandemic and illness in our staff, we have been forced pause the project JUNCTION. Barbara Weidner continues to work with young people and women as part of her work with Berlin Mondiale. In response to the war in Ukraine we recently offered two exchange meetings at Aktion Tanz to share learning and experiences will colleagues. Jo wrote a blog post to disseminate some of this information further which can be accessed here.
STRONGER - A short film with mothers and children about what makes you stronger. By Jo Parkes, Ute Freund and Christiane Schniebel.
SKYLINE - A festival of performances with young people and the artistic team. By Sven O. Hill and Christiane Schniebel.
MOTHER - A short film with mothers and children about motherhood. By Jo Parkes, Ute Freund and Christiane Schniebel.
TANZPARTY Trailer - A look inside a dance party, an quarterly event at Uferstudios. By Sven O. Hill
At the beginning of the pandemic, Berlin Mondiale launched a digital offer for families in accommodation centres. In a series conceived and managed by Barbara Weidner, artists working for Mobile Dance made a series of video workshops for this project which you can access below.
JUNCTION ist Teil von Berlin Mondiale. Berlin Mondiale ist ein Projekt in Trägerschaft des Kulturnetzwerkes Neukölln e.V. Berlin Mondiale wir gefördert durch die Senatsverwaltung Kultur und Europa.
Die Veranstaltung wird gefördert von ChanceTanz, einem Projekt des „Bundesverband Tanz in Schulen e. V.“ im Rahmen des Programms „Kultur macht stark. Bündnisse für Bildung“ des BMBF.