The düsseldorf festival is one thing above all: a big celebration! Open to everyone and everything. MUSIC – THEATRE – DANCE – NEW CIRCUS … Everything is in motion, is rarely what it seems and yet often strangely familiar. Perhaps the festival’s appeal lies in the way it presents things one might have experienced before in a new light on stage and in new combinations of sounds, continuing to create moments of surprise in its 28th year. Our guests are artists acclaimed around the world who are appearing in Germany for the first time. Or they are ambassadors for our own region that is so rich in culture. What we wish for from the audience is: come in large numbers! And let yourselves be moved, touched, inspired, amazed and enchanted!
A gentle ballet of hands. A daring race through time. A hot cocktail of Brazilian soul and r’n’b. Cool hip-hop from Senegal. A cappella superstars. The vision of a perverted world filled with rampant desire. Dance fever from the city of Casablanca. The reconciliation of Orient and Occident. Breath-taking body art and seductive worlds of dance. Shimmering sounds of drum’n’bass. The beauty of kung fu. With Compagnie Michèle Anne De Mey, Machine de Cirque, Liniker & Os Caramelows, Daara J Family, VOCES8, Hofesh Shechter, Kader Attou & Mourad Merzouki, Dhafer Youssef, Cirkus Cirkör, Jojo Mayer & Nerve, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and the monks of the Shaolin Temple Henan.
This is our trademark and our centrepiece: we always know when we set up our tent in the Burgplatz that our audience knows: it’s that time again. With 900 seats and a large stage the tent is a theatre in more than name. And we’ve got a foyer too: our red Retro Bar in the tent outside is ideal for all kinds of blues. In addition we perform right across the city: in churches, cellars and in concert halls, in streets and squares – and repeatedly in spectacular venues whether it’s high above the rooftops in the Sky Office on the Kennedydamm, on the skydeck SIGN! at the Medienhafen, in the buildings of the old dye works in Flingern or on board a ship on the Rhine.
It all began with music. And it won’t stop for a long time. From the beginning we have focused on the creative presentation of musical traditions and established a platform for music of all varieties in new contexts, remaining constantly attuned to both old and new music alike. Jazz and improvisation play an equal part in our programme to global pop and experimental configurations. We enable singer/songwriters to be heard along with electronic musicians, chansonniers and brass bands, large orchestras and small ensembles, vocal acrobats and multi-instrumentalists, both loud and quiet, sublime and quirky. But at the centre of things there are always musicians who confidently transcend boundaries and whose playing defies any form of categorization.
Our concept of dance is characterized by a lively internationalism that delights in experimentation. We discover and reveal the room for potential that has opened up in dance. We invite choreographers and companies from all over the world, prioritizing artists who no longer work within fixed movement idioms but are more interested in putting work on stage that raises questions and breaks boundaries. Admittedly without neglecting the tastes of the audience: when traditions are stirred up and barriers broken down, as they are with us, when street dance meets Flamenco and kung fu runs into pointe work, a joyful experience is guaranteed.
Actually everything we do is theatre. Though drama in a narrower sense does feature in the repertoire. Albeit in its broadest sense: the theatre we present varies between intimate literary forms and large scale operas: ranging on the principle of “everything is possible, nothing is compulsory” from readings and recitals through radio drama, film and site-specific installations to performative experiments. In doing so we rely equally on established or entirely new projects from the city and the region and performers with national reputations. Occasionally we even take the risk – and so far with considerable success – of creating a production of our own.
We have made New Circus respectable in Germany. The form no longer has anything to do with wild animals, clearing the ring and beautiful acrobats. The “Cirque Nouveau” created in France is not a sequence of numbers: instead it tells stories, follows a dramaturgy, makes references to socially-relevant themes, uses circus skills as the means to an end. It is no longer about physical but artistic achievement – even if the physical artistry of the protagonists of this very special form takes our breath away. The circus has become theatre and has opened up new territory for itself. While losing none of its fascination and its magic – on the contrary!