Dance with social commitment
June Johnson Newcomer Prize 2021
Mirjam Gurtner was born in Basel in 1980 and studied dance at the Theater Basel, the Staatsoper in Vienna, the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), and the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London. She has been working as a freelance choreographer in Basel and Berlin since 2015. Her artistic practice is concerned with improvisation, instant composition, and the correlation of sensual perception and physicality. She also teaches and lectures in inclusive dance and is involved in professional, inclusive and intercultural dance projects internationally (in Basel, Bern, London, Jakarta, Lagos and elsewhere). From 2011 to 2016 she worked as a rehearsal director and dancer with the Candoco Dance Company in London, where she is an associate artist. Those she has danced for include Trisha Brown, Jérôme Bel, Thomas Hauert, Rachid Ouramdane and Wendy Houstoun.
Mirjam Gurtner’s latest piece, “PLAY” (2021), premièred at the Theater Roxy in Birsfelden in May and was performed in June at the 48-Stunden-Neukölln Festival in Berlin. The site-specific “sit stand lie/push pull stroke” (2020) was a collaboration with the artist Lisa Premke for the Kesselhaus at the KINDL Centre for Contemporary Art in Berlin. “SKINNED” (2018) was also created at the Roxy and opened the Berlin Dance Festival at the Sophiensæle in 2019. Her intercultural work “FIGURES” was first staged as a site-specific performance installation at the Museum der Kulturen Basel during Basel Museums Night 2020, with over 3,000 visitors in attendance. Mirjam Gurtner was awarded a Dance UK Mentorship for Future Leaders in 2016 and received support from the Tanzbüro Berlin’s TANDEM programme in 2017.
PLAY, the current dance production by Mirjam Gurtner’s company, revolves around various states of play-acting: two female and two male dancers are accompanied by a one-woman punk band and move from order to chaos, from relaxed coexistence to a violent trial of strength. In her early work, Mirjam Gurtner also plays with conventions by, for example, integrating refugees into her pieces. As a choreographer she has developed a distinct and compelling language in which prescribed social structures come up against the existential freedom of dance.
Beate Engel, Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation