This production represents a smart, warm, and witty essay on contemporary dance, which links and entwines various issues and attitudes, including dance as a form of physical labour, thus announcing the main thematic focus of the festival which will tackle the issue of labour in the contemporary world, but also labour laws, labour market after the coronavirus pandemic, and the question of labour in performing arts
At the opening, the presenter Miloš Milovanović greeted the ambassadors, the representatives of the festival founders, the City of Belgrade, journalists, and critics. He particularly greeted several hundred theatre professionals from abroad, who will be attending Bitef over the next couple of days and take part in its programmes. He stated that they would make it possible for Belgrade, in these trying times marked with the global economic crisis, right-wing extremism, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, to turn, for ten days at least, into the theatre centre of the world.
The festival was opened by the Russian critic, director and curator Marina Davidova, who was recently made to flee Russia due to her political views. In her opening speech, she said that, by attacking Ukraine, her country also attacked its own culture, stating that Moscow, which, until several months ago, used to be one of the cultural centres of the world, turned into a place that artists are running away from. Expressing her hope that this would be the last war in Europe, that the cultural links between Russia and the rest of the world will be soon repaired and Russian theatre returned to Bitef and other international festivals, she pronounced the 56th Bitef open.
The grand opening saw numerous famous people from public life and the diplomatic corps. Some of them were also: Nataša Mihailović Vacić, acting city cultural secretary, Gordana Goncić, vice-secretary for culture, Emanuele Giaufret, the ambassador and the chief of the EU delegation to Serbia, the ambassador of Belgium Cathy Buggenhout, the ambassador of France Pierre Cochard, the ambassador of the United Kingdom Sian MacLeod, the chief of the cultural department of the Canadian embassy Olgica Marinković, the director of the Goethe Institute Frank Baumann, the director of the French Institute Stanislas Pierre, the director of the British Council Peter Brown, the director of the Collegium Hungaricum Klára Szentgyörgyi, the director of Atelje 212 Novica Antić, the director of Yugoslav Drama Theatre Tamara Vučković, the director of Little Theatre “Duško Radović” Aleksandar Nikolić, the director of CZKD Ana Miljanić, the director of the Museum of History Dušic Bojić PhD, the president of SANU Vladimir S. Kostić, Ljubica Beljanski and Sanja Krsmanović Tasić for CEDEUM, actors Milan Marić, Svetozar Cvetković and Slaven Došlo, fashion designer Dragana Ognjenović, visual artists Uroš Đurić, Siniša Ilić…
Bitef Prologue presented on 23rd September the performance (Not) the End of the World, directed by one of the currently most famous directors Katie Mitchell and in the production of Schaubühne from Berlin. This year’s Bitef will last till 2nd October and present nine performances from six countries in the main programme, and a variety of side programmes. On the second day of the festival, 26th September, Bitef will present two performances: Gardien Party from France, directed by Valérie Mréjen and Mohamed el Khatib (Historical Museum of Serbia at 7 pm), and Tijuana from Mexico, directed by Lázaro Gabino Rodríguez and Luisa Pardo at Nationa Theatre in Belgrade, 9 pm).