Struggle for Romanian dance

22 December 2003, Romania

At last there has been a breakthrough in the long struggle for recognition of dance as an art form in Romania. The Minister of Culture and Religious Affairs has recently announced the appointment of an official dance counsellor and has promised financial support for a major choreographic project in 2004. Late in 2002, an advocacy group was formed to represent all sectors of the dance community in Romania. UNDAR has still to define a common focus; an obvious stumbling block to the progress of the cause. Tensions between generations of choreographers have been exacerbated by the frustrations of dealing with a dismissive bureaucracy. Officials were embarrassed into funding the Balkan Dance Platform’s performance at the BucharEST-WEST Dance Festival in December 2002 after a prolonged campaign to highlight the lack of official support for dance. Protests have continued at every international opportunity, with scant response from the government until recently. Now with the offer of an official dance counsellor, the sector has nominated Ion Tugearu for the role – a suggestion that has met with the approval of the Ministry. Tugearu is universally respected for his forty-year career and his impartiality and openness to dialogue. He will take up the role in January 2004. Proposals for the major project are still under consideration. Dancers are resigned to the fact that they must compromise some creativity and artistic integrity to create a climate that will lead to the reforms they desperately seek. The struggle has been long and bitter, but there are positive signs that change is on the way.