If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part of Your Revolution was founded in 2005 by curators Frederique Bergholtz, Annie Fletcher and Tanja Elstgeest. Each was individually approached to curate a visual arts programme in the context of a theatre festival in the Netherlands – namely Festival a/d Werf in Utrecht (Frederique Bergholtz), Theaterfestival Boulevard in ’s-Hertogenbosch (Annie Fletcher) and de Veenfabriek in Leiden (Tanja Elstgeest). The three curators decided to work together and take up the challenge to think about visual art within a context which embraces performance-based practices such as theatre, music and dance.
For its first edition, If I Can’t Dance borrowed the model of collaborative working from the theatre by investing in an elaborated programme that developed through its very enactment, at each event and at each location. Because of the ambition and scope that this theatre structure offers to the production of contemporary art, it still functions as the main mode of working for If I Can’t Dance today. This becomes manifest in our long-term collaborations with artists, researchers and partner organizations, that take form in two-year editions of commissioned productions that develop over time and are presented at different institutions in the Netherlands and abroad.
If I Can’t Dance defines its way of working as ‘contemplation, interrupted by action’, a quote borrowed from artist Hanne Darboven, who typified her practice as such. Each edition is an ongoing process of research – of ‘contemplation’ – segmented by moments of presentations at the subsequent venues enabling public exchange – opportunities for ‘action’.
If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution produces art works and thematic programmes. Departing from a spirit of open questioning and long term enquiry with artists, If I Can’t Dance is dedicated to exploring the evolution and typology of performance and performativity in contemporary art.