Forty years of working for Finnish dance
Dance Info Finland celebrates its 40th birthday on February 20, 2020. In 1980, eight Finnish dance organizations joined their forces and formed the Finnish Dance Council (from 1994, Dance Info Finland) in order to develop the conditions of dance art in Finland. Since that, the dance sector has grown and become more organized. Some of the original objectives have been achieved, but new challenges and tasks have appeared in Dance Info Finland's mission to support dance artists in their profession.
One of the founders of Dance Info, the Finnish dance activist, professor and dance artist Doris Laine (1931–2018) believed in the power of cooperation. On her initiative in 1980, associations for folk dance, dance sports, dance teachers, dance artists and dance enthusiasts began to work together to improve the position of Finnish dance.
The 1980s were a revolutionary decade for Finnish dance. Dance got an official status in Finland’s state art policies and public arts administration as the National Art Council for Dance was established in 1983. In the same year, MA degree programmes of dance and choreography were taken in the curriculum in the Theatre Academy of Finland.
In the first years the Finnish Dance Council, the predecessor of Dance Info Finland, did all possible things in order to raise awareness and spread information about dance as an important art form, equal with others more established ones. There were courses and workshops, databases of dance education and dance artists in Finland, seminars about what it meant to be a professional on the dance field, and lots of lobbying and discussions with politicians. The Finnish Dance Council also published Dance Magazine (called Tanssilehti in Finnish) for 30 years.
Collecting and publishing statistics about the number of dance performances and audiences were an important step in showing the importance of the field and paving the way for also independent companies to get access to subventions. From 1980’s to 2000 there was a significant growth in the dance sector – in the number of professionals entering the field and of new dance companies born.
Networking with the global dance field was essential for Dance Info Finland since its beginnings. International promotion of Finnish dance at fairs and events around the world, platforms and showcases multiplied from about the year 2000 until these days. Cooperations, joint programmes, residencies and international exchange seem to be key words today in Dance Info Finland’s effort to support the dance professionals in developing their work and careers.
International dance day was celebrated for the first time in 29th of April in 1982 on ITI’s (International Theatre Institute, Unesco) initiative. Behind the idea was Doris Laine, a Finnish member of the ITI committee and the founder of Dance Info Finland.
Over the years, Finnish and international dance field and the professions have changed, grown and diversified. The need for an organisation which supports artists’ work, creates new opportunities and networks both domestically and internationally has not disappeared. Take a look at the ongoing projects >
Like one of the founders of the organisation Doris Laine imagined, both domestic and international collaboration still is in the core of Dance Info Finland’s work. In 2020 Dance Info Finland has 11 member organizations who represent the variety of Finnish dance field, dance art and culture.