Empowering women through dance: Meet ArtEmiss Collective

Dancing in the Panorama Bar in Berghain on a Sunday evening, I find myself next to a group of women who are dressed in the most unique outfits. The way they dance with each other and with others brings up a vibe and energy that I haven’t experienced in a long time. I get into a conversation with one of the girls. Her name is Stella and I spend the rest of the night – well and morning – with her. From that moment on, we become friends.

Shortly after I leave Berlin, Stella and her friends set up their own collective. On social media I see bursts of colour, women dressed in the most extravagant outfits, dancing in front of crowds. The videos and pictures that flash by, portray powerful women, hand in hand, exchanging energy, supporting others and each other. 

I see the collective performing at the most diverse events. From dancing at club Griessmuehle to walking the catwalk at the Berlin Music Video Awards, to performing at the afterparty of the NAKT fashion show, to loft parties and big festivals like Feel Festival and Wonderland Festival. 

I wonder, what had happened from that moment in Berghain on and how did everything evolve so quickly? Triggered by curiosity, Stella and I meet up in Kreuzberg to talk about ArtEmiss Collective and its mission to empower.

ArtEmiss is a Berlin based collective of six women founded in the summer of 2018. Stella, Kleo, Sarah, Coco, Mae and Malle found each other through their passion for dance, electronic music and self-expression. Through performing art and giving workshops they wish to ignite feelings of empowerment, boosting self-esteem through body positivity, increase personal growth, support and boost diversity and open the mind.

Your collective is named after a Greek goddess, why is that?

In Greek mythology, Artemiss is the goddess of the hunt, nature and wilderness. She’s a wild and rebellious women. She’s also the goddess of the moon. The moon is of meaning to us. We have a deep connection with it because we go with the different phases of the moon and its passive feminine energy. In short, Artemiss is a protector, a rebel and someone who sticks to her values.

That is what we do too. We are not sheep, we don’t listen to what society tells us to do or their ideas about who we should be as women. Instead we are women that are fierce and strong. Women that do whatever they want to do. We don’t let ourselves be put down. But we’re also very spiritual and we want to help others. In this sense we see ourselves in Artemiss and hence the name.

But also, the way you write ArtEmiss, it’s about women creating art, with the E emphasizing this.

It’s no surprise that a group of women with an eccentric taste and this amount of creative energy have found each other. But what sparked the idea to set up an own collective?

We all met each other at the club. We all like to go out, but we noticed that for us there is a bigger meaning to going out. It’s about spreading love and connecting with other people. The dancefloor is a place where friendships form and people get inspired by each other. Whether it’s through talking or dancing.

That’s what we do, inspiring other people through dance. We love to dance, we’re dancers at heart, we dance a lot with other people. We dance in ways that some people would find offensive or too much. But we want to show people that none of it matters.

There is a spiritual meaning to it for us all. Dance can heal, it can express emotions that you are sometimes physically or emotionally unable to express. It’s expressing yourself in your truest form. 

Then we thought: what can we do to elicit this feeling within people, that they feel that they can express all of this emotion? But also, how can we show women them that they can be whatever they want to be and dance and dress however they want to without being labelled a certain way, or being objectified? 

Suddenly all of this creativity we all shared, our passion for dance and dressing up and our mission to connect and empower women led to the start of ArtEmiss collective. We wanted to inspire others through dance, challenge perspectives on topics through dance and open up people’s minds through dance and the way we dress.

I think it’s beautiful to see a group of young women diving deep into themselves together. I also think this vibe, this energy that you have, you bring it across on other people and that makes your performance even better. How do other people react to your performances? 

We always try to raise the vibe, create a better vibe. It’s the whole setting. Interacting with the crowd, dancing, using our attributes, our costumes and our energy. People are always laughing. We do three sets usually, each 15 minutes. They say it’s short, but stand on that stage, and give everything. You can’t do that for eight hours, we want to put quality into it.

We enter the stage and spread joy through colorful and imaginative costumes. We create a vibe of curiosity by generating an electric tension. Surprise with tools like silky waves in the nuances of the sunset, luminescent wings and glowing fairy lights. Sending the audience on a fascinating visual journey. 

Photo: Ann Maria Juurak

In any way, it’s magical. You come off of the stage and all kinds of people come to us and tell us how beautiful we are but they themselves already look super beautiful so there’s such an amazing vibe. Or like women that are blown away that we can express ourselves that we have the braveness to do it. It inspires them and makes them feel like they can do it as well.

Expression through dance has an emotional as well as a spiritual meaning to you.

Yes but it’s also political. Society tries to tell us how women should dress, how they should behave. Also there is a lot of competition but we don’t have to fight each other as women, we don’t need to be jealous. We can work together, we can be a collective. 

It’s important for us to show women that they can all reach their feminine/masculine side and that there is no bigger present to the world than being yourself in your truest form. To fully accept yourself. To not be afraid of growing into the person you are. We are here to empower and to show what happens if women support each other.

Is it just dancing and performing that ArtEmiss Collective does?

We also host women circles and workshops, like dance workshops for example. The thing is ArtEmiss on its own is a collective. But we are part of a bigger collective called Remind Collective. This bigger collective is like spiritual, we work on self-expression, diving deep into the self, being reminded of who you are, and acknowledging that everything you need, you are already provided with, as everything is inside of you. 

The girls of Remind collective are ArtEmiss, but the bigger collective is also with men. It’s important for us to say we are girls and we only fight for girls. But it’s also important to say we stand for man power. Because everyone of us has a male and a female energy and we want to bring that into balance. Because we want to appreciate men in our life. Because we are men and women, we are yin and yang. We belong together. 

In general, ArtEmiss does the performances and Remind collective does the workshops.

What kind of emotions do you want to trigger when you host a dancing workshop?

We all have restricted emotions and traumas in our body and often, we look away. This kind of emotion stays in your body and gets thicker and thicker and channels pain. So what we do during this workshop is; we sit down, talk about this pain, and then embrace it.

Participants wear blindfolds. They then let their emotions flow through dance. For example, we play five very specific songs, that go really deep into the soul. And then you have a blindfold and dance it off. It’s an experience that you have in group, but at the same time it’s still a very deep experience that you have with yourself. 

We give them blindfolds because we want them to feel safe. If people could see, they would focus on what the other one is doing and not focus on where their pain might be or it might be awkward for them to dance in a certain way. If you have a blindfold, you just do whatever you want to do and you can concentrate on yourself.

This really reflects back on your mission of delivering healing through music and dancing and what you said. It really fits with your collective.

What about performing at an event? How does it work when you get booked by a big festival like Feel Festival. Do you prepare a choreography before you go on stage to dance?

Actually, we don’t really. For us dancing freely is the most authentic way to dance. We either have two types of performances, we have art performances where people see us dancing freely and where we cheer people up and interact with the crowd. We don’t get ready for this. But we also have art performances with choreographies. When there is a stage and people are sitting in front of you and you tell a story. 

How do you get ready for a performance? You’re standing there, you’re ready. What do you do?

We usually ground ourselves. We touch each other and share our intentions for the performance, to think: what do we want out of this night? Do we want to connect? Do we want eye contact? Do we want to open our hearts? To connect with each other? With the audience? With the DJ? With other people? It’s all about setting intentions. Then we hug each other. We look each other deep into the eyes. And wish us a good performance. 

What about your costumes and attributes, there is so much effort in how you look. What inspires ArtEmiss Collective and how do you choose what to wear?

Kleo, one of the members, is like the designer of the group. She has a huge wardrobe. Her passion is this festival, party, extravagant style. She has a lot of contact with cool designers. They send us cool stuff or lend it to us. Or designers from Berlin give us stuff. However most stuff is from Kleo. 

We always have different vibes and different ideas – When we get booked we dig deeper into the motto of the party. We interpret it and think about what we want to bring across and how we’ll do it with our clothes. We have this inspiration group for it. It’s so cool to see what inspires each person because we come from different backgrounds. But also from different music backgrounds. Everyone always comes with something and then it explodes and comes to light on stage. 

Would you like to design something together with the others in the future?

Definitely! One of the other girls, Coco, is doing sewing school and is about to become a fashion designer. I also bought a sewing machine, so I can start making my own things.

We’re also more than a collective. We’re real friends. It’s so cool to have this tribe that you can make clothes with, meditate with, cook with, dance with, express yourself with.

What’s next for Artemiss Collective?

We are growing as a collective in many different ways. Lately it’s not only women that we want to empower. We also had queer people that we inspired with our dancing and workshops. Who come to us and tell us that we helped them open up. This also means we have to expand our message, as it’s not only for women. We want to empower queer people to be themselves too, to inspire them to accept themselves. The same goes for men, we want to expand our message and inspire those who need it to find balance between their masculine and feminine energy. To help them open up to newer perceptions and ideas.

This is what we also want to do with Remind Collective, we want to expand in workshops so we can share more wisdom, connect with more people and to grow together.

In terms of ArtEmiss collective, we’re growing as individuals but also as friends. We’re designing our logo, getting our stickers ready.  We’re going to shoot a video trailer with a videographer soon, to create a video of this years’ amazing festival and club season. 

But we also want to expand our activities. For the upcoming year we want to work on our costumes, learn to handle new props and get better at choreographing and synchronizing dance moves, integrating singing as well.

Follow ArtEMiss on Instagram to see their beautiful performances and enlightening creativity, or book them for your next event.

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