The Autostadt presented the first Movimentos Festival in spring 2003. Originally conceived as a contemporary dance festival, the series of performances represents a commitment to a universal art form. Dance is a fundamental expression of human movement. “When a spark of inspiration flows from the stage to the audience, we have achieved our goal”, explains Movimentos Artistic Director, Dr. Maria Schneider. The programme of events gradually evolved to include classical, jazz and pop concerts, theatre, staged readings and discussions.
What started out as a series of dance performances evolved to become one of Germany's leading cultural events in 2006 when lectures, discussions, matinees, concerts, and dramatic readings were added to the Movimentos program. Along with a diversity of dance performances, the festival lineup included some of Germany's top stage and screen stars.
The Volkswagen KraftWerk, an unrestored power plant, proved to be an ideal place to stage Movimentos dance productions. In its first year, the festival hosted dance companies from Brazil, Taiwan, Spain and New York. What started out as a regional festival with a handful of contemporary dance performances, has since become one of Germany’s most popular cultural events. Movimentos attracts audiences from across Europe and enjoys a solid international reputation. The tradition of selecting specific themes for the annual Movimentos Festival was introduced in 2006. Over the years, leitmotifs have ranged from “Respect” (2007), “Trust” (2008) and “Responsibility” (2009), to “Truth and Beauty” (2011) and “Wisdom and Knowledge” (2012). The Movimentos Festival extended its scope in 2007 to include new venues in and around the city of Wolfsburg.
The first series of jazz concerts presented in the Autostadt’s ZeitHaus museum combined modern music with a display of automotive milestones. This pioneering approach added a new feature to the Movimentos concept with jazz, classical and pop concerts. Artists appearing in the industrial atmosphere of the KraftWerk include Brian Ferry, Sting, Peter Gabriel and the grand master of the blues, B.B. King. By 2010, the Movimentos Festival calendar of events listed no less than 80 performances. Dance companies come from countries all over the world to perform in Wolfsburg. More than 30,000 tickets are sold each season and Movimentos shows routinely attract sell-out crowds.
Celebrating its tenth season and setting new attendance records, the Movimentos Festival featured a series of theme-based co-productions with international dance companies in 2012. As a widely acclaimed series of cultural events, the Movimentos Festival has become an important venue for the performing arts. Working in close cooperation with artists, the Autostadt gives them the creative space they need to develop their skills. The continuing success of the Movimentos Festival over the past decade has a lot to do with the trusting relationships established between the Autostadt and performing artists – and a visionary approach to modern culture.
For the twelfth annual Movimentos Festival, the Autostadt invited all guests to join in the pursuit of happiness. More precisely, the theme of "Happiness", which needs to be liberated from the world of unfulfilled promises. Since the "pursuit of happiness" was already stipulated in the U.S. Constitution in Jefferson's time, it comes as no surprise that inquisitive people have opened research institutes specializing in happiness. The six-week festival shared the Autostadt annual theme, which serves as a guideline and a source of inspiration. It's a game of twenty questions, a search for answers, and an attempt to understand happiness.