Berlin-based Club Oval Crossover Dance Battle

Berlin has its privilege to fusion all kinds of style by its diverse residents. One of the most influential events is exactly speaking the same language. An Boekman, dancer, choreographer and dance teacher, who has found the key ingredient for sharing her idea. She is the head of a big training centre for professional dancers: Marameo Berlin e.V, also part of TanzZeit-Team. She said it all started in 2013 at Podewil Palais: an eventful, centuries-long baroque palace situated in midst of Berlin. A key role of cultural education. The tenants decided to create every Thursday evening a special event: “The Wildes Palais” and TanzZeit decided to create the Club Oval- a crossover Dance Battle.

We were driven by an idea that was fascinating to us: creating an event that did not exist so far – connecting the diverse dance scenes that did not relate to each other, or even were quarrelling and wasting energies with rivalries.

They luckily have structural support from TanzZeit and the Kulturprojekte Berlin, Podewil is their headquarter. The working process goes like this: Kulturprojekte Berlin develops and coordinates both recurring and one-off-large-scale projects, events and exhibitions throughout Berlin. Club Oval is a joint venture of Kulturprojekte Berlin and TanzZeit. They both take care of their parts.

The actual working and organizing team consists of two persons, Lydia Thiele and An Boekman. She said, over the years there is a kind of “blind understanding” between them, concerning the responsibilities. Boekman does the “people work” – inviting and searching for teams, the members of the jury, being busy with the “groundwork” of organizing, communicating, preparing. Thiele takes care of publishing, organizing the soloist lists, doing the work “behind the scenes”. They do not have any serious public relation going on. “No marketing whatsoever”, she said. They post it like 2 weeks before on facebook and that’s it. Club Oval runs by itself, sort of a sure-fire success. In the beginnings, there was sort of an anarchist spirit and a struggle to reach out to audiences. What’s supporting their success is two years of hard work. They learn how to deal with all kinds of crisis-management.

How are your experiences in Club Oval, especially about the dance and creativities? Any stories behind you would like to share?

The main story remains the same. The fusion of all styles is totally unique: Swing, Crumping, Twerking, Ballet, African Dance, Hip Hop, Voguing, Tango etc. My favourite is the duets, where we mix two dancers who have never met before and ask them to dance to music both of them have never heard before. They improvise for two minutes. Most of the time it’s hilarious, touching, magic or wonderfully silly. A super-queer voguing star meets the macho Hip Hop dancer, the national champion in Latin-American dances improvises with a b-boy, the tango dancer has his two minutes with a young student from the state-ballet academy. New crews evolve, because the soloist-finalists discover, that they would love to work with each other the very same evening they met first at the Club Oval. A young man gets up spontaneously, a refugee from Syria, asking for permission to do a spontaneous rap: the DJ just nods, he takes the microphone and afterwards, the applause grows into standing ovations. I love those moments.

What does Club Oval offer to the dance community?

There is a powerful radiance and at times a charisma belonging to that very small-scale event ( more than 250 people are not allowed to watch due to security reasons), that attracts many touring dancers, who are just travelling through Berlin. It’s the first contact point for newcomers in Berlin. It’s an anti-commercial, anti-elitist event. Dancers perform on the dancefloor. Nobody asks for their nationality, origins, religion or age. Nobody needs to argue about subjects like equality, tolerance or gender-issues. It’s an egalitarian togetherness, that functions. It’s open to very young audiences due to the minor entrance fee, which in the overall sum is the prize for the winning teams and winning soloist. It simply brings diverse dance communities of Berlin in touch with each other and dancers and crews from abroad.

Any words you would like to share with our audience who are interested in creativity?

Creativities? I just learned some basics about creativity. It seems to be the product of a long evolutionary process. In its most elementary form its the capacity to create an order within chaos, processing is given information, judging them and develop from there a certain pattern of behaviour, that helps to cope with surprisingly new situations, you are confronted with. A deep feeling of satisfaction follows, in case you succeed and so you are looking constantly for new situations, where you can develop your creative skills. It’s such a simple and down to earth definition of creativity – just forget about artists, galleries, dance studios and art. I think it’s not about being interested in creativity, it’s about being interested in basic humaneness, isn’t it?.

With many thanks to Club Oval, Lydia Thiele and An Boekman
For more information about Club Oval please see the link.
Original article in Mandarin contributing to Red Bull please see the link.

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