[[HISTORY///HISTORY Deutsche Version in Kürze verfügbar]]
Aurora Nova was set up by dancer and theatre maker Wolfgang Hoffmann. Born in 1967 in East Germany, Wolfgang moved to the town of Potsdam just outside Berlin straight after finishing an apprenticeship as a toolmaker and serving his 18 months compulsory military service. He quickly discovered his love of dance and became actively involved in the alternative arts scene in Potsdam.
POTSDAM / FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL
Shortly afterwards came the fall of the Berlin Wall and everything changed. Travel restrictions disappeared overnight and Wolfgang was suddenly free to explore the famously liberal and flamboyant alternative arts scene across the river in West Berlin. The 22-year old entrepreneur paid for his first dance classes in the West by selling pieces of the still guarded Berlin Wall to eager tourists (pic. right). Not long afterwards he was able to earn his living by teaching what he had just learned in his dance classes to fellow dance enthusiasts back in Potsdam. Inspired by the alternatively run arts spaces he visited in Berlin, he and his friend and fellow dancer Sven Till drew up plans to set up their own experimental theatre, dance and music centre in Potsdam.
fabrik Potsdam opened in October 1990, less than a year after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, and rapidly became one of the most innovative dance venues in the newly reunited Germany. Wolfgang combined his artistic work of creating shows with fabrik and various international collaborators with the business of managing the company’s international tours and running the theatre’s popular annual dance festival - Potsdamer Tanztage.
EDINBURGH FESTIVAL FRINGE
Wolfgang first went to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1999 as a performer with fabrik in Hopeless Games. Co-produced with Russian company Do Theatre, the show became a massive success despite an unpromising start. Dismayed by the extremely difficult technical and economic conditions that artists faced at the festival, Wolfgang was equally fascinated by the vibrancy of the festival and the fact that every show needs to find its paying audience to survive – a refreshing change to the sometimes overly subsidized German arts scene.
The idea for a new venue was born when he realized he could offer artists an alternative model: An artist-led space, where only dance and physical theatre shows of the highest quality would be presented. He proposed the idea to Tim Hawkins and David Lavender of Brighton-based venue Komedia and together they developed a co-operative presentation model which lowered the financial risk to the participating companies and promoted a spirit of mutual support amongst the artists. St. Stephens church (pic. left), a landmark building in the Newtown area of Edinburgh, became home to the first Aurora Nova.
Wolfgang's diverse artistic programme of work was largely new to the Fringe in terms of artistic styles and unusual for its very high production values. In order to present the shows in technically perfect conditions, he brought in a collective of talented theatre technicians from Potsdam called Trollwerk (pic. right). When Aurora Nova began in 2001 with a programme of 16 largely unknown names from 13 different countries, in a venue that was off the beaten track, nobody could have predicted quite how successful it would become. The Name ‘Aurora’ was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the famous battle ship that fired the starting signal to the Great October Revolution in Russia, but to many Aurora Nova really did signal a radically new way of presenting theatre at the Fringe. In a spirit of artistic solidarity artists promoted one another, helped out with the work of running the venue, and the ticket revenues were pooled and shared by all. The programme and the venue became critically acclaimed and won several awards. International programmers flocked to book shows and audiences relished the artistic excellence and generous spirit of the venue.
Wolfgang continued creating work as a dancer. Fallen, a fabrik Potsdam co-production with Jess Curtis from Gravity Entertainment, won a Fringe First at the 2002 Edinburgh Fringe and the Isadora Duncan Award at San Francisco International Arts Festival the same year. Pandora 88 (pictured left) is a duet with long-time friend and colleague Sven Till. It premièred at Aurora Nova in 2003 winning a Fringe First, Herald Angel and a Total Theatre Award. The pair have performed it all over the world since then, including a successful run at Sydney Opera house in 2004.
DUBLIN FRINGE FESTIVAL
In 2004 Wolfgang left fabrik Potsdam to become Director of the Dublin Fringe Festival which he separated from the Dublin Theatre Festival establishing it as a stand-alone festival with a rigorously curated, unconventional and high quality programme. With its innovative programming style and international outlook, he raised the public profile and popularity of the Festival until his departure in 2008 when he moved back to Germany.