Mercedes-Benz Bank initiative "Dance for Good!"
Dance is for everyone!
Mercedes-Benz Bank and the Theaterhaus Stuttgart worked together on the "Dance for Good!" initiative to bring the inclusive dance performance "smile" to the stage. Eric Gauthier, Director of the Dance Company at the Theaterhaus and co-founder of the project, talks of his impressions of the premiere and looks back at how it all began.
What an emotional evening! Around 300 audience members in the sold-out Hall 3 of Stuttgart's Theaterhaus and the participants on stage celebrated with standing ovations and lots of good vibes. We had all just experienced something very special. People with and without disabilities performed on stage in "smile". Together they explored the question of what happiness is and also demonstrated what lived diversity means.
With expert guidance from the inclusive dance company "SZENE 2WEI" the group had rehearsed intensively for six months for its grand appearance: Dance enthusiasts from Stuttgart alongside residents from the working community Christopherus Lebens- und Arbeitsgemeinschaft Laufenmühle e.V. in Welzheim. The choreography was created right here with us at the Theaterhaus. Whenever I looked by the rehearsals I was impressed by how the group had grown together and by the progress it was making. The production shows that dance knows no barriers. And that's not all: Dancing is quite simply part of being human. It doesn't matter if you use a wheelchair or have any other kind of handicap. This broadening of your horizons is really important, for our society as a whole, too.
"smile" is part of the "Dance for Good!" initiative and is supported by Mercedes-Benz Bank, which has also been the main sponsor of the Theaterhaus for 15 years. I remember how the bankers based next door approached me in 2015. "We also want to do good together and give something back to society, we want to be part of what you guys are doing." We sat down together and came up with the idea of "Dance for Good!" The message is: Promote diversity and tolerance through dance and theater.
The "Dance for Good!" premiere at the first "COLOURS" Festival in 2015 was spectacular: The bank set up a dance box at the top of the Stuttgart's main shopping street, the Königstraße. Mercedes-Benz Bank donated money for everyone who had their dance moves filmed and put on the internet. And more than 6,000 people participated. In the end "Dance for Good!" had generated 50,000 euros for inclusive dance and theater projects. The 2015 donation campaign was used for "Dance for Good! IDENTITY – Dance Your Fears Away". At the premiere in July 2016, young people from socially disadvantaged families and young refugees performed together on stage in the Theaterhaus. This year's "smile" project was financed with donations during the 2017 "COLOURS" Festival.
My father is an Alzheimer's researcher. That has shaped me. Social commitment is very important to me – and I try to live this with Gauthier Dance. With our Gauthier Dance Mobil we dance for elderly or sick people who are unable to come and see us at the theater. That's why I'm delighted to have found a like-minded partner in Mercedes-Benz Bank. Through our campaigns we hope to continue giving our audience, and ourselves, lots of exciting experiences. Those who have been on stage so far are definitely happy. The enthusiasm and pride of those taking part in "smile" was tangible.
And we also have lots in store at the third "COLOURS" International Dance Festival from July 14 to 27 2019! 20 high-caliber dance productions from all over the world are scheduled to be performed, including two world premieres, four European premieres and six German premieres. And naturally we're absolutely delighted that Mercedes-Benz Bank is demonstrating its commitment again! Because this is precisely what "Dance for Good!" and "COLOURS" have in common: They see themselves as an inclusive event for the entire city. After all, dance is for everyone!
Eric Gauthier is the Artistic Director of Gauthier Dance//Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart and the COLOURS International Dance Festival. He is also the Mercedes-Benz Bank Brand Ambassador.