How to Be Together?

Conversations on International Exchange and Collaborations in the Performing Arts

We need to talk. About everything that currently is not, about everything that could be, and about everything that has been.

Theatre and dance works are often created by international teams and in production work across national borders. In many of these projects, translocal constellations are themselves a topic and transnational encounters the starting point for artistic work and research. International travel has been drastically reduced recently and will be so for many months to come. Our task, as international co-producer and local cultural promoter, is to unite the arts and the general public. Bringing together different perspectives from different regions, we are challenged to redefine the prerequisites of our work.

This is what we – and our worldwide colleagues – want to talk about. We need to see what the current situation means for the various parties in the international art industry and to exchange the ideas and strategies that have been developed and tested in the past weeks. For three days, we will discuss recent artistic experiments and other experiences and approaches with experts from all over the world.


The seven sessions were recorded and are available here.


Conference schedule


by Virve Sutinen (Tanz im August) and Matthias von Hartz (Zürcher Theater Spektakel)

Thu, 27 Aug, 14:00-14:10 (GMT +2)


Thu, 27 Aug, 14:15-15:15 (GMT +2)

With Samara Hersch (theatre maker, Melbourne) and Faye Driscoll (choreographer, New York)

Host: Kyoko Iwaki (performing arts researcher, Tokyo)

The performing arts are a field of experimentation with, through and around the body. Experiences of physical co-presence, sensuality, intimacy and human connection are created and researched through live performance. The necessity of physical distancing poses a major challenge to the practices of most performing artists. In order to continue building connections between performers and audiences, producing altered modes of paying attention to one another, and shifting perceptions of the body, performing artists have started experimenting with different aesthetics, presentation formats and media over the past few months. In this conversation, theatre maker Samara Hersch and choreographer Faye Driscoll will share their experiences with the production of intimacy through listening-based performance setups as well as insights and new perspectives that they have gained throughout the process of developing and presenting their work for audiences online and at home. With «Guided Choreography for the Living and the Dead», Faye Driscoll has created a series of audio works that invite the listeners to re-conceive their body and its limits. Samara Hersch has developed an at-home version of her theatre project «Body of Knowledge» with teenagers during lockdown. While discussing artistic interests in closeness and absence, body and voice, they will also reflect on the possibilities and limitations of performing with a distance and through technological extensions.


Thu, 27 Aug, 15:30-17:00 (GMT +2)

With Rucera Seethal (Artistic Director National Arts Festival, Makhanda), Kee Hong Low (Curator, Hong Kong International Black Box Festival, Hong Kong) and Sepehr Sharifzadeh (Co-founder Re-connect Online Performance Festival, Tehran)

Host: Dagmar Walser (cultural journalist, Basel)

Since the beginning of physical distancing, shutdowns and the added restrictions of international mobility performing arts venues, producers and curators around the world have been developing strategies to adapt their artistic programmes to the new pandemic-related circumstances and to create alternative ways of bringing performers and audiences together. Some of them had to re-invent their modes of operation and communication within months, some partly built on the experience of previous or ongoing crises. This conversation will revolve around the challenges and potentials of organising festivals and other live art programmes in times of pandemic: how to connect performing artists, communities, and publics in alternative and effective ways, both locally and trans-locally. Drawing on recent experiences with artistic programme making in South Africa, Iran and Hong Kong, the invited speakers will discuss different approaches to the organisation and presentation of performance events and new perspectives for how to enable international exchange and collaboration in the Performing Arts during periods of crisis and beyond.


Fri, 28 Aug, 14:00-15:30 (GMT +2)

With Lázaro Gabino Rodríguez (Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol, Mexico City), Isabelle Stoffel (theatre maker, Zürich), Torsten Michaelsen (LIGNA, Hamburg), Maryam Bagheri Nesami (dance artist and researcher, Auckland), Mamela Nyamza (choreographer, Cape Town)

Host: Ogutu Muraya (writer and theatre maker, Nairobi)

Due to restricted international mobility, artists now have less possibilities than ever to meet «in real life» with both their audiences and collaborators. Artistic exchange and collaboration across continents and geographical distances has temporarily come to a halt or entirely moved into the digital sphere. In this conversation between participants from two different artistic projects that were created in transcontinental collaborations during the past couple of months, we will hear about the experiences and implications of working creating across a distance while producing and working with imaginations of other realities, places and audiences elsewhere. Together with Isabelle Stoffel, the theatre collective Lagartijas tiradas al Sol have created the audio experience «Una muerte de la que nadie habla» for listeners at Zurich Lake. The radio art collective Ligna has invited 13 choreographers and performance artists from different countries for the international radio ballet «Zerstreuung überall!» that is to be experienced in public space.


Fri, 28 Aug, 16:00-17:30 (GMT +2)

With Arundhati Ghosh (Executive Director, India Foundation for the Arts Bengaluru), Dea Vidović(Director, Kultura Nova Foundation, Zagreb), Heba Hage-Felder (Arab Fund for Art and Culture, Beirut - tbc)

Host: Marie Le Sourd (Secretary General, On the Move, Brussels)

Radically altered conditions for production and presentation of performing arts have immediately raised questions of new models of support for the sector that react to financial difficulties art workers are currently facing due to work cancellations. To make the situation even more challenging, some productions operate within structural conditions that are more dependent on international exchange than it will be realistically possible in the coming months. This conversation will address the pressing needs of art workers that lead to developing appropriate funding schemes, as well as other cultural policy instruments and concrete strategies for a more sustainable collaboration in these unprecedented conditions. The topic of international collaboration within this session will be approached also from the angle of a meaningful exchange about the current situations in different regions of the world, since a better understanding of it is essential as a basis for strengthening international solidarity and collaboration.


Sat, 29 Aug, 14:00-15:00 (GMT +2)

With Sibylle Peters (performing artist and researcher, Hamburg), Akira Takayama (theatre maker, Saitama)

Host: Judith Knight (performing arts producer, London)

The performing arts are based on physically shared presence, mostly taking place in a direct encounter with an audience often gathered in a theatre venue. They generate, negotiate and cultivate forms of assembly and they enable unlikely encounters. Such moments are vital for social cohesion and cultural exchange, which cannot easily be translated through long-distance communication. Physical distancing and lockdown isolation present even bigger challenges to artists who make participatory or community-based performances. In face of the radically changed rules that limit assembly both as a cultural and a political practice, Sibylle Peters and Akira Takayama will discuss the repercussions of the current contact restrictions for their work and they will consider possibilities of how to assemble differently.

Register here


Sat, 29 Aug, 15:30-17:00 (GMT +2)

With Alice Ripoll (choreographer, Rio de Janeiro), Calixto Neto (choreographer, Paris)

Host: Nayse Lopez (journalist and director of the Panorama Festival, Rio of Janeiro)

This session includes the presentation of the short film «About Questions, Shames and Scars» by Alice Ripoll & Cia REC and the premiere of the video performance «Pro Futuro Quilombo» by Calixto Neto, followed by a conversation with the artists about their experiences living and working in the face of structural racism, a neo-fascist government, and the coronavirus. As these crises potentialize one another, Black people and people of colour are even more exposed to the politics of death in Brazil today.

The starting point of the presentation by Calixto Neto is the reenactment of an iconic solo piece of Brazilian contemporary dance: «Samba do Crioulo Doido» (2004) by choreographer Luiz de Abreu. The artist dives into the history of this creation and the context that gave birth to it more than 15 years ago, and he compares it to the Brazil of 2020, like an inventory of our days. The short film by Alice Ripoll & Cia Crea emerged from their reflections of an artistic team with a director and dancers, who are very different, about a Brazil of serious inequalities, Bolsonaro’s fascist politics, COVID-19, and their performance «aCORDO».

These artistic presentations are part of Brazil Hijacked, a program of exhibitions, video performances, films and talks created to give visibility to the project of destruction of culture and contemporary thought currently happening in Brazil. To do so, it invites Brazilian artists and culture activists to talk about how neo-fascist project of the Bolsonaro government is affecting their lives, dreams and future. «Brazil Hijacked» was originally created for Antic Teatre / Festival Grec Barcelona 2020 by independent curators Eduardo Bonito and Isabel Ferreira. The presented video works are co-produced by Zürcher Theater Spektakel and Tanz im August.

Register here

WRAP-UP SESSION - reflection and future prospects

Sat, 29 Aug, 17:30-18:00 (GMT +2)

Observer: Marta Keil (curator, Warsaw)

In the concluding session, performing arts curator Marta Keil, who has been invited to observe the entire conference, will review some of her main insights and impressions from the three days in order to facilitate thinking together of future trajectories within the context of the discussed topics.

Register here

Artistic direction and cast

KurationMaria Rößler und Ana Letunić
BildStudio Marcus Kraft

Digital conference

A joint event of Tanz im August / HAU Hebbel am Ufer and Zürcher Theater Spektakel




Active participation: 
Registration via Zoom on this site. No registration deadline; registration still possible after the event has started.
Passive participation: A video stream will be activated here 15 minutes before the event starts.
Please note: Access only possible during festival.


The online conference is supported by Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia. In cooperation with the German Federal Cultural Foundation.
The conference is presented in the player of the streaming platform SPECTYOU.



shows from today
  • Th 27.08. 14:00 Admission free 
  • Th 27.08. 15:30 Admission free 
  • Fr 28.08. 14:00 Admission free 
  • Fr 28.08. 16:00 Admission free 
  • Sa 29.08. 14:00 Admission free 
  • Sa 29.08. 15:30 Admission free 
  • Sa 29.08. 17:30 Admission free