‘Tradition New’ is an ethno-festival and conference, that took place in 2017 for the first time. This Summit Zero, as we count it, managed to bring together three professional ensembles from the region, Kolo, Lado and Tanec, , in a historic fashion, after a twenty year long interval. During the zero edition of ‘Tradition New’, we also had a successful scientific gathering that raised numerous questions, challenges and dilemmas that are to the inspire forthcoming ethno summit and set it in motion.
All this is just the beginning.
This ethno summit, with the accompanying conference, had as the subject of its research the notion of ‘choreography of folk dances’, the issue of choreographic authorship as well as contemporary production within professional ensembles. Feeling the need to nurture tradition but also to understand it dynamically, we brought together participants from different parts of the world (USA, Ireland, United Kingdom, Macedonia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Serbia) who belong to different academic traditions and who broached the subject of this conference from different angles. The talks were grouped into thematic wholes (panels) that shed light on the very complexity of the question/issue of ‘tradition on stage’. The panels addressed the following subjects: the matter of the very notion of ‘choreography’ as well as the notion of analysing and classifying choreography of folk dances; the matter of staging (costumes, singing), as well as the laws of the stage; the matter of professional and amateur education of dancers and (future) choreographers; transmission of choreographic knowledge, role of ethnochoreologists and enthnochoreology as a discipline. Finally, the gathering also touched on the matter of tradition, understanding tradition in various academic and education contexts and the concept of preserving tradition within national strategies and international organisations such as UNESCO. The panels were followed by discussions, with a ‘round table’ held on the last day summarising the impressions and conclusions in the best possible way, but also raising numerous other significant questions.
It should be mentioned that the conference was open to dancers, choreographers and students and that the heads of ensembles Kolo, Lado and Tanec attended the presentations and took an active part in them. The goal of this particular form of conference was networking of professionals from different disciplines, exchange of experiences and an utterly open dialogue. On the bases of the comments of the conference participants, we concluded that it was this very organisation platform that contributed to a vibrant and inspiring exchange of knowledge.
One of the key questions that was raised by the opening of this dialogue was the question of education of dancers and (future) choreographers. During the conference, we had the opportunity to learn about the education matrices in countries where choreographers’ training exists at a higher education level. We heard about the experiences of choreographers’ education in Bulgaria and China, as well as about some very specific traditions of development and institutionalisation of ethnochoreology in Ireland and Serbia. The issue of education of future professionals is certainly a pressing one and the forthcoming ethno-summit will explore this matter as well.
Still, the umbrella question of ‘where and how to proceed’ remains a constant challenge. And it will continue to do so. Our ambition was not to offer definitive answers to all the questions either. For the time being, we wish to look into new forms of collaboration and communication among experts, but also with broader public.
Internet space of ‘Tradition New’, this little ‘slice of web’ of ours, primarily exists in order to initiate new modes of networking and collaboration that we explore. We therefore invite you to become involved and take part in creating this very tradition of ours – a new one.