Maat Festival was launched in 2009 by Tomasz Bazan, leader of Lublin’s Maat Projekt Theatre, to showcase the latest Polish and foreign explorations on movement. It gave stage to projects oscillating around performance art and using body language or forms connected with it. The festival’s presentations were often in opposition to commonly accepted canons and standards, while they strived to act as a continuation of the avant-garde.
In 2009-2012 the festival concentrated on making Polish audiences familiar with artists who are no strangers to risks and have their own, original language of artistic expression. Special emphasis was also put on multiculturalism and understanding both the differences and common features of different cultures so that a dialogue between them would be possible. As of 2010, apart from completed performances, the festival also showcased works in progress from debuting artists.
The 2009 edition’s motto was Forms of Training the Body, while the 2010 edition’s focused on Space of the Body. The 2010 edition was also dedicated to the memory of butoh master Kazuo Ohno, who died on 1 June 2010. Butoh is one of the permanent fixtures at the festival; it has been performed by such artists as Sylwia Hanff, Daisuke Yoshimoto, Kan Katsura or Ryuzo Fukuhara. In 2012 the festival’s programme consisted of performances, practical workshops, lectures on dance and performance art.
To date the festival gathered such guests from abroad as: Ryuzo Fukuhara (Japan/Slovenia), Sławek Bendrat and Dominik Krawiecki (Switzerland), Daisuke Yoshimoto (Japan), Kan Katsura (Japan/USA); as well as Polish artists: Mikołaj Mikołajczyk, Anita Wach, Rafał Dziemidok, Jacek Brzeziński, Irena Lipińska, Jakub Porkari, Natalia Kalita, Minika Kotecka, Sylwia Hanff and India Czajkowska, Elżbieta Rojek and Daniel Bird, Piotr Trojan, Romuald Krężel, Kinga Boruń and Katarzyna Mróz, Patrycja Płanik, Maciek Połynko and Paweł Korbus.
Among the lecturers have been two Polish dance critics Julia Hoczyk and Anna Królica, curator Adam Kamiński (e.g. Mandala Performance Festival and Wrocław's Wibracje taneczne series), as well as Kan Katsura, Japanese butoh dancer.
In the course of its four subsequent editions from 2009 to 2011, Maat Festival was a search of new body dimensions in movement and dance – a search led by artists representing a radical attitude towards the body, attempting a redefinition of dance techniques, dramaturgy of dance theatre and perceptions of the body in dance. Special attention was paid to the most relevant representatives of the newest contemporary dance. In 2009-2012 the festival featured more than a dozen artists who have focused in their work on laboratory development process and have inscribed risk into their explorations. The choice of participants automatically characterised the profile of the festival and placed it in an original niche.
The year 2013 is a turning point for Maat Festival as it transforms itself into an international residency programme and becomes a specific “home of dance” where audiences will be able to interact with guest artists the whole year long, with their residencies proceeding one after another throughout the year and culminating in December 2014. This elaborated formula makes the programme a precedence in Poland. Each residency will be accompanied with a docufiction film presenting the guest artist, eventually creating a body of unique film material. The organisers are hoping for the programme to become a permanent platform for performance art and dance in Poland. This year’s “maat festival – border line 2013” gathers Anita Wach, Kaya Kołodziejczyk, Anna Steller, Magdalena Jędra, Barbara Bujakowska, Mikołaj Mikołajczyk, Rafał Urbacki, Przemysław Kamiński i Korina Kordova.