HELLERAU – European Center for the Arts Dresden [Germany]
As long as 100 years ago HELLERAU Festival Theatre earned its reputation as a “Laboratory for the Modern Age”. Inspired by the Lebensreform (Life Reform) back-to-nature movement and the Garden City concept, new ideas on rhythm as an artistic concept fell on fertile ground and a space to grow in HELLERAU. In HELLERAU, Europe’s intellectual elite came to the legendary summer festivals held by the great reformer Émile Jaques-Dalcroze’s Rhythmics school, wanting to develop new means and ways of connecting life, work and art. The outbreak of the First World War put an abrupt end to HELLERAU’s first golden age, yet the legend of HELLERAU lived on, surviving both its use as a military base and academy in the 1930s and its occupation by the Soviet army between 1945 and 1991. After the army moved out, the people of Hellerau and Dresden reclaimed the grounds of the Festival Theatre with art projects and forms of cultural occupation, turning it into a place for the cultural Modern Age.
Since April 2009 performances have again been held at the Festival Theatre all year round. Under Dieter Jaenicke’s artistic direction HELLERAU – European Centre for the Arts Dresden has set itself the ambitious task of becoming one of the most important centres of the contemporary arts in Germany and in Europe once again. Focusing on contemporary dance and contemporary music, but also with modern forms of theatre, and as a centre for the contemporary fine arts, HELLERAU aims to re-establish itself as a “Laboratory of the Modern Age”.
Dieter Jaenicke described the direction taken by the European Centre for the Arts: “In HELLERAU the main task is and has always been the Contemporary Arts. It is all about turning HELLERAU into a lively interdisciplinary arts centre that is modern, sophisticated and successful in every respect: one that is provocative, radical, global, European and situated at the geopolitical point where East meets West.
A working environment for the arts, a site for intercultural and interdisciplinary exchange; a place where the arts develop, are created and displayed, but also a place for reflection, contemplation and looking ahead. The arts cannot merely be self-referencing, related to appearance, beauty and form. The arts should and must become involved elsewhere. The major topics and problems we face – hunger, poverty, the climate, regulating globalisation so that it is compatible with human life and makes sense for society, all profits aside – these topics too will be addressed in Hellerau.”
HELLERAU cooperates with various partners including modul-dance, the European Dancehouse Network, Netzwerk Neue Musik, the Semper Opera House, euro scene Leipzig, Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, Palucca Schule Dresden – University of Dance, the Carl Maria von Weber University of Music and many more institutions.
The fundraising society HELLERAU – Association for the Restoration of the Festival Theatre Grounds (Verein zur Rekultivierung des Festspielgeländes) supports the work of the European Centre for the Arts.
The partner organisations on the grounds of the Festival Theatre complement the HELLERAU events calendar. HELLERAU has one of the world’s best choreographers right on site: William Forsythe. It is the fixed address of DEREVO, the German-Russian dance theatre company. Since 2009 the Neue Sächsische Kunstverein (New Saxon Art Association) has been settled here. The Trans-Media-Akademie (focusing on new media art) holds the Cynetart festival here, and the German Werkbund (a craftsmen's association) is also based in HELLERAU once more.