International collaboration on Nordic and other levels – Ice Hot and Hot Pot

Sanna Rekola, 23.3.2018

Dance Info Finland’s Director Sanna Rekola’s blog post explores the topic of internationalization and the success factors of ICE HOT Nordic Dance Platform. ICE HOT proves that it’s easier to get more attention while working together.

ICE HOT partners ©doublExpose

ICE HOT partners ©doublExpose

ICE HOT Nordic Dance Platform is a biannual event organized by its five Nordic partners: Dance Info Finland (FI), Dansens Hus Stockholm (SE), Dansens Hus Oslo (NO), Dansehallerne (DK) and Performing Arts Iceland (IS). The program at each platform consists of both dance from established Nordic dance companies as well as newcomers. It offers dance professionals from all over the world the opportunity to see Nordic contemporary dance, at its best. ICE HOT´s main mission is to increase the international working opportunities for Nordic dance artists. Next  ICE HOT Nordic Dance Platform will happen in Reykjavik 12.-16.12.2018.

The very first ICE HOT was organized in Stockholm in 2010. The platform reached immediately its target group with the unique Nordic identity and distinctive look. A strong brand made the marketing of the event easy. Anyhow, for international promoters, festival directors, artistic planners and other guests, the most important reason to attend the event has always been the opportunity to see and explore dance from five countries at once.

In 2012 ICE HOT was organized in snowy Helsinki. It was freezing cold and snowing all the time so the festival busses needed to fight their way through the city. The harsh weather conditions and ability to stay on the schedule, strengthened the image of Finland as a country where things are done like planned, no matter what.

The Nordic dance platform’s effective co-operation, the idea that we get more visibility and we are more attractive together drew festival leaders’ attention in China, Japan and South-Korea. Could it be possible in Asia, too?

Inspired by Nordic collaboration

At the end of 2017 I was invited to take part in Hot Pot East Asia Dance Platform organized for the first time in Hong Kong. People from Europe, Australia, USA and Asia gathered to the event to explore Chinese, Japanese and Korean contemporary dance.

Hot Pot was inspired by the Nordic co-operation and Ice Hot. Compared to its Nordic source of inspiration, the challenges of the collaboration between Asian countries were much bigger. Before Hot Pot East Asia Dance Platform was launched, ICE HOT partners, especially Dance Info Finland shared the knowledge and good practices to the East Asian colleagues to plan their platform and collaboration.

The planning process strengthened the relations between Nordic and Asian dance organizations and taught a lot about international collaboration. By involving ourselves into the planning process, we shared some Nordic values and ways to collaborate.

Hot Pot’s program was selected by each East Asian partner country. For example Chinese picked dance pieces from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Macao and Taiwan. Complex combination of performances worked and the organizers were happy with the results of the first Hot Pot. For European festival directors the event offered a possibility to see a huge selection of Asian contemporary dance at once.

A National dance platform in each country or one shared ICE HOT?

Nordic collaboration seems easy compared to collaboration between Asian countries with a variation of social systems. Starting from Helsinki, Nordic ICE HOT has been funded by the Nordic Council of ministers. A common marketing and art export concept motivated the Nordic Council to support the event. Anyhow it was clear from the start that the funding is not permanent.

We’ve been discussing about the future of ICE HOT among the partners. Is there a certain need for Nordic dance platform? Is ICE HOT the best way to answer to that need? And how can we fund the event after Reykjavik’s ICE HOT (which is the last one funded by Nordic Council)?

Increasing the amount of national funding seems to be the only realistic way to continue organising ICE HOT. At the moment the partners are looking for the opportunities to increase the national funding on their own behalf.

Oslo’s Dance House is already prepared to finance its share of the costs of ICE HOT. Before the decision was made, Norwegian dance community had a discussion about starting their own dance platform for Norwegian dance in Oslo. After a moment of reflection, they came to the conclusion that the national dance scene benefits more from Nordic collaboration and that its financially effective.

Some also played with an idea of having our own dance platform in Finland.
According to the possibilities (i.e. money), we do invite regularly festival directors and other specialists to familiarize themselves with Finnish dance.

But what about organizing a full length event only for Finnish and trying to reach the international presenters and guests? Do we have enough interesting, high quality performances to fulfill a huge program? Would it be interesting enough for the international audience? Who would have the resources to organize such an event? No doubt Norway would have found the funding for their national dance platform if they’d thought organizing one would’ve been wise. But they didn’t.

Sanna Rekola
Dance Info Finland

Btw. This year’s ICE HOT Reykjavik received 350 applications. It seems that the event responds to the need of the artists and companies to go international.