Research – Organisations and social practice

In 2019, we (Gala Moody and Michael Carter aka Cie.OFEN) made the work New People for Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch’s “Underground” season.


New People, a fifteen minute performative experiment and the result of several months research into performativity as social practice. It was our utopian wish that we could create an ensemble dance work using sustainable and healthy ways of collaborating. Although we welcomed failure as part of the process, we found that we were in fact successful in creating the working methods that fostered well-being and solidarity in the group. 


Our new way of working satisfied all of the aspects that we currently enjoy in creating art, opened up further potential in what’s possible in a creative process and went far beyond what the old systemic models were capable of by including well-being, fairness, ethics, sustainability and flattened hierarchy as integral aspects of the artistic and working processes. 


For far too long the status quo has not been supporting dancers and dance-making structures in the current needs. And as a species we are waking up to our unsustainable co-existence in the world and that everyone is responsible for the development of a fair and just world, artists too are realising that they don’t need, or want, to work in oppressive environments.   


So what are the benefits of change? 
Arts institutions will reflect the greater populations and become a place for all people and not just the elite and culturally wealthy. Art making will be enriched by more diverse voices. Theatre and dance making, always a collective practice, can have collective co-authorship, which might lead to greater economic stability for all involved.  


Responsibility for our job, as well as actively participating in the development of the potential (evolutionary purpose) of the organisation, i.e the “direction” of an arts institution is not set in stone. People within the organisation have their own trajectory (evolutionary purpose) in life, and should be able to follow that with greater autonomy. 


Arts institutions then become places that are utopian, they do make structural change in response to climate change, they do make systemic change in response to racism, they make hiring procedures in response to inequality, they create transparency in response to unfair working conditions. They are held accountable and they hold themselves accountable, to be fair and be an example to the society they are in. 
– Cie.OFEN, 21 September 2020.