After living in Berlin for 15 years, Petra Roggel came to Brussels in 2004
to work. Living in Brussels feels very different. In Berlin, it is for
example much easier to travel to Moscow and Eastern Europe. Roggel feels
part of several communities: the Kaaitheater-community, the community of
artists and audiences coming to Kaaitheater, the performance / theater /
dance / arts community and of ‘Belgium’, although she knows the Flemish
part much better than the Francophone part. Just before she left Berlin,
she was going more to theater than to dance performances because she was
questioning the quality of a lot of the work that was shown in dance. There
was often no selection made in what was shown and she did not want to
support a scene of decreased quality anymore.
In her job as a presenter, the quality of the work is the deciding factor,
not where a creator is from. Kaaitheater does however have a certain
responsibility in presenting Dutch theater. It is important that the house
has its own signature. The program needs to be a reflection of today and it
needs to be well-balanced. There is a balance between Brussels-based versus
international artists and new artists versus artists Kaaitheater has worked
with for a long time. Roggel feels free in her job as a presenter; she does
not have to tailor her own ideas towards certain perceptions. She takes the
context into consideration but does not have to make compromises. Giving
advice to artists is something she considers as part of her job. She feels
that her work is recognized by the Brussels dance community in the sense
that the audience is very supportive and trusts the program of Kaaitheater.
The recognition she values most is when her conversations with artists are
constructive or when the audience shows its appreciation for a show that
she is enthusiastic about. She travels a lot to go to see performances and
tries to keep track of the work of makers she already knows and to discover
new work. The latter happens in different ways: by the brochures she
receives from theaters, submissions by artists but also by a constant
exchange with people from the arts field and research on the internet.
There is a big difference between working freelance (as she did before) and
working for an institution. It is strange to her to know what she will be
doing next year.