A Finnish perspective on touring and international coproduction in contemporary dance

Possibilities of international co-production and touring

In early February, a group of international dance professionals met in an Atelier-meeting in Helsinki, to discuss practices of international co-operation and touring. The meeting was attended by European Dancehouse Network members as well as representation of Finnish regional dance centers, state-subsidied dance theatres and Finnish dance festivals.

Collaboration on all levels

Finland is lacking a proper structure for dance to tour. Yet, art expert Isto Turpeinen thinks this is just a matter of time: Touring system will be operating within two to three years. To achieve this, a lot of work, especially co-operation is needed, says Turpeinen. Not only within the dance field but also across the whole cultural field.

We need to do ‘dance activism’. Also practical training is needed, for example what does a dance production require to be able to tour. Is there a workshop or artists discussion included. And how is the PR handled, explains Turpeinen.

According to Turpeinen one of the key issues is to define the tasks for various parties. For example, regional dance centers could function as a link to a local theatre house, and provide expertise on dance issues. Many theatres lack experience on dance and they would need help for example on marketing the performances to the audiences.

Crisis forced to co-operate

Examples of operational structures for dance touring were also presented during the Atelier-meeting.  In Portugal, touring collaboration began after the economic breakdown. Co-operation was a way to survive.

Everyone understood that we all need to compromise. We all had to give up on our egos, says Pia Krämer from Portuguese cultural association O Espaço do Tempo. In the beginning, only a few city theatres and independent theatres were part of the touring system. But now after four years there are twelve instances collaborating. According to Krämer, the artists would have completely disappeared from the Portuguese dance field without the touring system and collaboration. And without the artists, there wouldn’t be theatres or dance houses.

Dance and performance art are relatively new in theatres. Dance artists should directly contact the heads of theatres and convince them about this, says the artistic leader Jesper de Neergaard of Bora Bora, a Danish dance and visual theatre.  Denmark has a touring system for dance and performing arts. Thanks to the system the dance performances have reached wider audiences and in smaller places than before. De Neegard believes that once a touring system will begin in Finland, it will be very effective.

Tiia Lappalainen
11 February 2016
Article first published on Dance Info Finland.

Documentation of the Atelier

Dancer Maija Karhunen shared her impression of the Atelier in a text entitled The Joy and Sorrow of Structures.

The Joy and Sorrow of Structures

Additionally, EDN documented the Atelier in a video summary:

Helsinki I Finland