Tawny Andersen


Originally from Luxemburg, Tawny Andersen grew up in Toronto, Canada. She moved to Europe in 2001 and chose Brussels to settle. Brussels was an obvious choice for her: it was then known as the mecca of contemporary dance with a strong community. Its central location in Europe was another plus. She came to Europe because she wanted to learn more about different dance methods, techniques and ideologies that did not exist in Toronto. It took her two years before she could actually start working. In this period, she had a sensation of being invisible. She wanted to work and went to auditions but could not find a job. In the meantime, she has seen many people leaving Brussels, going back home and changing careers. In the Brussels dance community, the law of the ‘survival of the fittest‘ seems to apply.
People are drawn to Brussels because of the strong work that has been produced there the last 20 – 30 years. People want to be close to that productivity and are inspired by it to create their own work. Andersen does not like the city and never felt really connected to it. As a consequence, she does not have the intent to stay forever. This temporariness influences her relationship to the city and to her life there. It gives it a kind of urgency and heightened sensation. Because mobility is inherent in the lives of dancers, belonging is a feeling that is portable. She enjoys being anonymous in a new city and re-inventing herself. She does have a residency card, but it is only valid when she is working. For her this shows that the system is not designed for artists, who often work for short periods in different places. When she took classes during her first years in Brussels, she had the sense of belonging to a community because she saw the same people every day. Now there are too many people in the Brussels dance field that she does not know. The community has become really big, with many new people coming in to find work. Sometimes work situations can create a community as well. Under the most favorable circumstances, the work so intense, the commitment so high and the shared interest so strong that the experience creates a community. Andersen’s social circle comprises people from the arts community, which is a logical consequence of the fact that she came to Brussels to work. The larger Brussels dance community consists of several smaller communities that all circle around different ideologies of work. Andersen feels part of several ones. She is involved in different projects and levels of organisation and gets in contact with different ways of working: the classic hierarchical company model with a director/leader as well as a collective where everything is discussed together. Both systems have their pros and contras.
She feels most visible in Toronto, where she is labeled as ‘the one that works in Europe’. Visibility in Brussels can be somewhat threatening. The Brussels audience is so well-informed and critical that nobody wants to première in the city. As a matter of fact, creators are more visible than interpreters. The luxury of the interpreter is that when the piece was bad, there is always the safety that “it wasn’t my piece”. Andersen explains that as a performer, you can often “selfishly enjoy a project”. Even if you are not able to defend the piece, you can often find something interesting in it to work with. She experiences the Brussels dance community as a judgemental community that has a tendency to categorize people. She feels as if she is being watched all the time. In her work, she has a huge sense of freedom. Her instable professional life gives her the possibility to be spontaneous and to follow her desires. She assumes she will continue in this profession, although it is very youth-oriented.

productivity – temporariness – collaborating – stupid job – Danish passport – bureaucratic – virtuosity – pursue – re-educate the body – regularity – heightened sensation – competition – commitment – internet – Toronto – avant-garde – sensation of invisibility – more laid back – survival of the fittest – hierarchy – wholesome – categorize – eloquent – freedom / instability – youth-oriented profession – exhilaration – being inspired – getting in shape – commuting


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