Dance profession is changing – Stretch 2019 Turku helps dancers to find new skills and new perspectives to work

Sanna Kangasluoma, 16.5.2019

Keðja presents: Stretch 2019 Turku is an international encounter in October, open for dance professionals from Nordic, Baltic and European countries. The focus is on capacity building and acquiring new skills, new working models and better communication about dance.

Katarina Lindholm, Dance Info Finland’s manager of international affairs describes Stretch Turku event as

  • a low-threshold platform for networking with colleagues from different countries
  • not a marketplace
  • a non-hierarchical gathering
  • good discussions with colleagues
  • creating the same warm atmosphere that makes Keðja participants come back to every encounter

Stretch 2019 Turku builds on the Keðja community born out of dance professionals’ encounters in the Nordic and Baltic countries for over ten years and counting.

“We have witnessed that these encounters generate connections and collaborations,” says Katarina Lindholm. “There are not many events/opportunities like this for dance artists and other professionals of the field,” she points out.

“Creating a sustainable dance field is one of our main principles – strong connections between dance professionals in neighboring and nearby countries and a strong community help us in reaching this goal,” she states.

Dance professionals gathered to Kedja Mariehamn encounter in 2014 © Uupi Tirronen

How to expand our thinking about our professional capacities?

The main theme of the Stretch 2019 Turku programme is Expanding Professionalism. The focus is on capacity building and acquiring new skills, new working models and better communication about dance. All these are key issues when developing the dance field toward a more sustainable direction. These themes will be dealt with through talks and discussions, workshops, sharing sessions and roundtables.

Stretch’s keynotes stretch from ecological perspectives on international artistic work to the development of dance professions.

The exciting speakers include Alison Tickell, founder of Julie’s Bicycle (UK) that supports the creative community to act on climate change and environmental sustainability. Alison Tickell’s keynote is brought to us via video conferencing.

Kai Lehikoinen, director of the Center for Educational Research and Academic Development in the Arts (CERADA) will focus on how we should expand our thinking about our skill sets. “It’s time to start seeing artists as experts,” he states. Keynotes will be followed by a panel discussion.

Numerous working sessions and practical workshops will deal with various subjects such as artist residencies, coaching methods, contextualisation and dance dramaturgy, leadership, collaborative work, sustainability, role of producers, content marketing, WiseMotion method, etc.

Turku, Aura riverbank. © Riikka Campomanes

Turku is hometown for the Regional dance centre of Western Finland, several performing art companies and many freelance artists who show their programme in the evenings.

See the Stretch programme here › The programme will be completed and updated.

For all roles on the dance field – Legacy of Keðja dance community

“Keðja is family. Keðja has given me all the sisters and brothers and cousins I didn’t know I had,” states Jesper de Neergard from Bora Bora Denmark who has been to Keðja encounters since the beginning.

“It’s overwhelming how interesting it is to share views and discuss performing arts in Keðja – as Keðja is not a union of only one of the roles in dance production but all of the roles.”

Photo © Uupi Tirronen

Ulla Mäkinen, dance pedagogue in North-Carelia College Riveria describes the atmosphere of the encounters very communicative.
“It is very easy and natural to get to know new colleagues, meet old ones, and even to start long-lasting friendships. I’ve had a pleasure to bring graduating students to encounters with me – and they experienced the event as very inspiring, and also fruitful for future working opportunities.”

“Everybody can contribute and is necessary in forming focuses and agendas that are important for the future development of dance,” Jesper de Neergard explains. “Not only one aesthetic branch of dance but all – depending on the overview the participants have.”

What would you expect from Stretch 2019 Turku?

“An encounter is a VERY fun way of boosting your passion with new prepared knowledge and a clarity of what is needed to proceed and make it better,” Jesper de Neergard says.

It’s like a very necessary family giant party – you go from there drunk and you will never sober up again. Believe me! 😉 – Jesper de Neergard

“I expect Stretch to be a warm and welcoming event for new and old participants. I hope it brings us together on the level of movement and that of watching movement, in listening and interaction, in body and mind, in the cross pollination of perceptions and dreams,” Ulla Mäkinen paints.

We welcome all professionals and students from the field of dance: from choreographers and dancers to producers and managers.

Stretch 2019 Turku is organized by the Regional Dance Centre of Western Finland, and its main partners are Dance Info Finland and the City of Turku. The encounter is supported by Nordic Culture Fund and the Finnish Cultural Foundation’s Varsinais-Suomi Regional Fund.

The international partners are Kultur i Väst and Norrlandsoperan (SE), Dansearena Nord (NO), Bora Bora – Dance and Visual Theatre (DK), Danceatelier (IS), Estonian Dance Agency (EE), Contemporary Dance Association and Artist’s Group ”Fish Eye” (LT), The Work Room (GB), Tanzfabrik Potsdam (DE), Dance Theater Ljubljana (SI).