Nordic dance residences & performances 2020-2023

Nordic Hip Hop to the Stage is an international project that aims to build an institutionally backed network for collaborations in the sphere of street culture and performance arts between Continental and Northern Europe. The project provides a platform for French dance-theatre professionals to share their know-hows with the Nordic street-dancers and empower aspiring young choreographers and dancers who have limited access to formal education within their dance-styles.

Done in the cooperation with French dance company Art Move Concept, the project target young breakers who are not yet familiar with dance theatre productions and struggle to make professional career as dancers. As it happens, street dance styles like hip hop, locking or papping often become incorporated into the contemporary dance theatre production, while breaking being a much more physically demanding dance style and therefore considered more as a sport today, rather then a dance style for performative arts, is often not taken for inspiration by choreographers in the Nordics. Meanwhile in France breakers are a part of traditional dance companies for the last twenty years touring around the worlds with dance performances build with a large number of breaking elements.

In order to ensure equal opportunities participants for the project were selected through the open call in October-November 2020 by a committee of independent international dancers. In total about 100 participants applied for the residence and only 10 dancers were selected. The selected dancers have done a series of online workshops before each residence. By spring 2023 two residences with workshops and performances in Paris in June-July 2021 and Helsinki in June 2022 were organised.

During the first residence in Paris in summer 2021 the participants together with two choreographers have put together a dance performance of 15 minutes which was shown during a summer festival outside of Paris. This was the very first attempt to put together a group of dancers who have never dance with each other before and not even met each other in the real life. During the residency, the dancers attended workshops designed by the French dance-company Art Move Concept and acquired basic skills needed for the creation of dance performances on the big stage. The transfer of know-how was done with a hands-on approach with the participants collaborating with each other to create a performance during the residence. Apart from educational activities, mentoring and professional guidance, the participants also visited cultural centres and dance events in France to network and learn about institutional and commercial structures that support performance arts.

In June 2022 all project participants met again this time in Helsinki in order to continue working on the performance by adding new solo pieces and by polishing the concept and the choreography with the whole team. The performance was shown in collaboration with URB festival and Finnish choreographer and producer Sara Hirn at stage of STOA theatre in Helsinki. Three of the participants in the project also presented their first solo-works at the URB-festival. This residence has allowed not only to create a more sustainable piece but also provided new career opportunity for all dancers who have got offers to work both with their national dance companies and international production agencies.

Photo credit: Kansallisgalleria | Finnish National Gallery / Sonja Hyytiäinen

The next stage of the project is the development of the performance alongside the continuation of the educational process. The project will include residences and a tour in Sweden and Denmark in the summer of 2023.

Photo credit: Kansallisgalleria | Finnish National Gallery / Sonja Hyytiäinen

The project is produced by Swedish NGO Nordkonst (Stockholm), the Finnish Cultural Institute (Paris), and dance-company Art Move Concept (Paris), and supported by a network of local partners in each participating country: Café-Danses Bobby Sands (FR), Initiatives d’Artistes en Danses Urbaines (FR), The Finnish Breaking Association (FI), Soul Sessions Oslo (NO), Exiled (SE), Break Forward (DK) and Pskov Hiphop Center (RU). The project is financed by Nordic Culture Fund and Nordic Culture Point.

Interview with Aly Bardan