When Eleanor Bauer came to Brussels, she did not know anything about the
city; she only knew that it would be “discursively advanced”. The
reason why she moved from New York to Brussels was P.A.R.T.S.. Her
expectation when coming to Belgium was to make dance her main activity and
she succeeded. She often thinks about moving somewhere else but expects
that she will stay in Brussels for quite a while because of practical
reasons. One of them is that she can make money for dancing in Brussels,
which was not possible in New York. Although she is getting to like
Brussels more, she misses Santa Fe (where she was born) and New York (where
she used to live) and their social ease. Compared to those places, Brussels
is a cold and rough city. Now that she can finally dance for a living, she
feels that other areas of her life are empty and that she is lacking roots.
But instead of being constantly in denial, she tries to focus on her life
Brussels is a city with so many immigrants and passer-bys that it belongs
to nobody. This neutrality makes it a good home for foreigners. Bauer sees
the same phenomena happening in Berlin and wonders whether it is the
multiple identity of the cities themselves (created by a historical
division) that makes them so welcoming towards foreigners.
To define the Brussels dance community she starts from her own perception.
The community consists of people she knows with similar discursive /
artistic interests or affinities. All the people she knows in Brussels are
directly or indirectly related to the dance field. She never realized that
there existed such a thing as a Brussels dance community until she left
Brussels. Only by going away from it, it was affirmed in its existence.
Similarly, it was only by going away and returning to her apartment that it
affirmed itself as ‘home’. “It’s the re-entry that makes it a base,
more than actual active dwelling”. As one further explores his
surroundings, the place where one lives becomes more intimate.
Where she was born, what she calls home now and where she feels most at
home are three different places. Because most people she knows in any of
those places do not know her in the other two, those places also correspond
to another part of her, almost like another identity.
Internet plays an important role in her mobility. Her social life happens
partly in virtual reality. When she is on her MySpace page, she is not in
everyday reality anymore. For a long time she felt more socially and
emotionally connected online than she did in physical reality but she
started to invest in her acquaintances in Brussels.
About the language issue she says that it is easier to follow an
intellectual conversation about performance in French or Dutch (because
theoretical terms are often similar in different languages) than to
understand an everyday conversation. It can be refreshing to be with native
speakers who understand everything (even word plays).
Bauer’s priorities have to do with good life quality, not so much with
career (anymore). She wants to find financial stability and a place where
she enjoys living. She would like to create without having to worry about
fitting into a market or discourse. Since she left school, she allows
herself to have a personal taste again, to like or dislike things. Before,
she was not interested in judgments and only tried to absorb as much
information as possible. Her artistic and survival needs are basically in
conflict because they are interconnected. Although she is not in school
anymore and can make her own choices, she is not completely free to do what
she wants to do. Legally, she can only be in Belgium to dance, so she
cannot have “a dumb job” that would give her an income to rely on and
therefore artistic freedom.
Bauer feels she is too influenced by circumstances and expectations to feel
free in her work. The context is often too strong to be ignored. There are
all kinds of restrictions that keep her from making the work she really
wants to make: financial and administrative restrictions but also less
obvious ones, like the hesitation to do something that is considered as
‘unacceptable’ by the community. Because she is so aware of who and
what she is responding to, she often ends up making things as a response to
those circumstances. Her dance education might have made her over-saturated
and over-educated, which makes her criticize what she would intuitively be
inspired to do.
She mentions that P.A.R.T.S. offers a functional network for its students;
it brings professionals to the school so that students have a “potential
professional existence” when they leave school.