The National Center for Dance Bucharest
Mission and history
The National Center for Dance Bucharest (CNDB) is an essential institution for the development of Romanian dance culture and represents a unique structure among all other performance institutions subordinated to the Romanian Ministry of Culture. The institution functions as a producer and host of performances, while also working towards equally important goals, such as research, documentation, and archiving, but also the development of programs and projects of art education and professional training. Unlike the other public performance institutions subordinated to the Ministry of Culture, CNDB does not employ artists, instead developing and realizing projects together with artists, artist collectives, and structures and organizations from the field of contemporary dance, on a national and international level.
CNDB generates, organizes, and promotes programs and projects that contribute to the development of contemporary dance culture, facilitating the local scene’s participation in an international dialogue.
History and structure
CNDB was founded in 2004 following a large-scale process of raising the public’s awareness about the lack of any support for contemporary dance, a process that had been advanced for many years by independent dancers and choreographers. They received the support of civil society, the international artistic community, but also the press, through a series of actions and projects that finally convinced the authorities to respond to their needs and found a national dance center.
Between 2005 and 2011, the CNDB operated in the building of the National Theater in Bucharest, with a team of only 9 employees headed by Mihai Mihalcea. From 2013 to the present day, choreographer Vava Ștefănescu has been leading the institution, overseeing a team of 22 employees. Following a government decision in 2016, the CNDB began administering the Omnia Hall (Sala Omnia), a building situated in the center of Bucharest, designed in 1967 by architect Cezar Lăzărescu (1923-1986). The building is currently being refurbished and will become the CNDB’s central location in the near future, containing two auditoriums, rehearsal studios, an archive space / media library, and other facilities for the public.
CNDB has three departments: Production and Broadcasting, Media Library and Archive, and Education and Training, which operate in collaboration with each other in order to forward the Center’s goal: developing dance culture in Romania. The CNDB’s activity therefore focuses on the following strategic directions:
- (co)producing, disseminating, and hosting contemporary dance or interdisciplinary productions on a national and international level;
- working on research, documentation, and archiving projects with an emphasis on the renewal of methods for preserving, (re)presenting, and circulating knowledge; the constant documentation of art projects, projects, and shows, building an archive that synchronizes with contemporary art-making;
- offering professionals and the general audience access to a resource center (the Media Library), a source of information and education in the field of contemporary dance history and theory, an open, active space that blurs the boundary between artists, curators, and theorists; the Media Library houses a collection of international video dance (international productions by choreographers, dancers, and dance companies active in the field of the contemporary performing arts and video art) but also books and periodicals (dance history and theory, critical thinking, performance studies/theory, feminist studies, artists’ books, catalogues, and journals);
- offering a program of art education and training aimed both at professionals and at the general public, through recurring projects such as the Performing School for Kids, the Academy for Dance and Performance (an intensive training program for young dancers and performers), and the Three-Day Laboratory;
- providing logistical support (space and equipment, free of charge) for professionals and non-profit structures creating projects in the field of contemporary dance or the performing arts (production and dissemination, research, but also professional training).
Since its founding, CNDB has asserted itself as a dynamic, innovative institution, active in international networks, connected to contemporary issues and tendencies, contributing, on a local level, to the creation of an environment that fosters dialogue, reflection, and debate.