With compass, #1 – 2021
Since 2017, the Sebastian Weber Dance Company in Leipzig has been working with a permanent ensemble, a band, a choreographic assistant, a production manager, a PR crew. The artistic director of the company talks about courage, strategies and quiet hopes.
Sebastian Weber, there aren’t that many supra-regional dance companies from Saxony, especially not with their own ensemble. What is important about that?
In the beginning, there wasn’t so much the idea of building a new ensemble. I wanted to reinvent my choreographic methods – tap dance, actually. But the collaborative process inspires. We tried out everything. Out of that came a huge push, that’s still the core today. Company and work are one. Like an expedition team: the situation can change, should even change. But the team stands.
How do you set up a company strategically?
I have wishes and visions for the company, independent of ideas for individual pieces. My lick into the future is 20 percent plan and 80 percent agility. The trick is to have a strong sense, a compass, of what’s good for the company. Then the weather can change rapidly, but we still don’t lose our bearings so easily.
We can’t do it without funding.
For example, if I want to get a three-year conceptual grant, I have to outline what I plan to do in those years. The questions I have to answer in such applications help me understand my own ideas. It sharpens my focus.
What’s the biggest challenge of trying to work long-term?
I have to try to acquire multi-year funding to be able to offer prospects to my team and partners. And I have to find allies. So strong houses or festivals that choose us, regionally and internationally. I tell everyone we are looking for partnerships, not jobs.
If contemporary dance is a niche, then tap dance is even more so! How can you escape this niche and to where?
Tap dance as a label is a curse and a blessing. Some people think it’s cool that we’re doing something new. They think that just as there is New Circus or Nuevo Flamenco, the weaver will do New Tap Dance. Others have no desire for it in principle. It’s also a question of how inclusive the aesthetics of a house, a festival program wants to be.
What should the name Sebastian Weber Dance Company stand for?
I don’t think about the name. I always have the feeling of being a beginner. Almost an impostor. But we do try to set a high standard for ourselves. To our fitness, our technique, our creativity and our commitment to each other. My dream would be: The company becomes so strong that we don’t have to be afraid that tomorrow everything will be over. We once wrote down our wishes: our own rehearsal center. Wooden floor. A junior company. A tour of Japan … Why not? Abridged version; the full article appeared in tanz magazine, November 2020.
Sebastian Weber Dance Company (DE)
FOLK FICTION is a production of Gesa Volland + Sebastian Weber GbR in partnership with Theater Koblenz; funded by Fonds Doppelpass of the German Federal Cultural Foundation.