Dancing in the city – dancing in the countryside

Jana Schmück, Mami Kawabata, Eve Gubler: Wo drückt der Schuh?

Ank Daamen is an interdisciplinary artist from Amsterdam. In addition to various excursions into different media, she has built up expertise in the dance and theater context. In addition to dramaturgical consulting and scenographic work, she has also gained experience as a performer. For the explore dance journal she illustrates the tension in which the Pop Up pieces find themselves in between performances in rural and urban spaces. As follows using the example of Wo drückt der Schuh?

Illustrations by Ank Daamen. Interview with Jana Schmück by Franziska Ruoss | September 22, 2023

Franziska Ruoss

We often talk about urban-rural differences, and certainly they exist to some extent. But do they come into play in your practice in any way?

Jana Schmück

I wouldn’t necessarily distinguish between these two local contexts. Sure, there are different characteristics, but these are not central for me in my work, and I don’t look at urban audiences differently than rural ones. But perhaps one has to differentiate who has access to artistic experience and who can benefit from what and especially how much is on offer.

Ank Daamen Illustration


Do you consider it part of your job to create accessibility to that very experience?


Yes, my work is about reaching an audience – any audience. That is undoubtedly a bit more complicated in rural areas than in urban areas. The art-affine audience is probably less densely represented in the countryside, but it’s there. As an artist, I simply have to find other ways of communicating in order to get in touch at all. Not only in terms of advertising and reaching audiences, but also in my artistic work and how I communicate it.



How do you do that?

Well, it definitely helps not to go directly and completely into abstraction right from the start, but to tie in with something familiar and use it to open up new spaces of experience and thought. I like to create strong and beautiful images that have an associative effect on the viewers. But I also want to challenge the audience. I think it’s important to take up topics that go into uncomfortable territory at one point or another.

Illustration: Ank Daamen



What role can explore dance play here?

I want to approach as many people as possible with dance and enter into conversation with them. And I do that by playing different places and picking people up where they are and not expecting them to come to me. The pop-up format of explore dance is a beautiful and charming tool to do this and the audience in the country – but also in the city – accepts this offer very gratefully.

Jana Stadt_Illustration: Ank Daamen
Jana reaching out_Illustration: Ank Daamen