About Dance Information Norway and dance in Norway
DANCE INFORMATION NORWAY
Dance Information Norway (Danseinformasjonen) was established in 1994, under the name ‘Senter for Dansekunst’. Dance Information Norway is a national information and resource center for dance, founded by ‘Norsk Ballettforbund’ (now ‘NoDa’- the association for choreographers, dancers and pedagogues), and funded by the Ministry of Culture.
Dance Information Norway is a non-profit foundation, employing four people aiming to promote the art of dance in a multitude of ways. Working with information and documentation is of particular importance, providing an online calendar and weekly e-mail newsletters to the dance community and interested audience. We are proud to present the only comprehensive overview of dance performances and dance-related activities across Norway. The center is utilised by professional dancers, amateurs, the general public, students, the media and authorities.
In addition to activities such as providing guidance and advice, Dance Information Norway runs a specialised library focusing on dance history and theory, as well as a video library comprising approximately 1000 videos/dvds. Dance Information Norway also administrates the production space called ’Scenehuset’, letting it to choreographers and dancers. The center also coordinates several international events such as UNESCO’s ‘Dansens Dag’ (International Dance day). In addition, Dance Information Norway is one of the eight participating countries in ke∂ja, a Nordic-Baltic EU project, and manages Writing Movement a project that seeks to strengthen dance discourse in the field itself as well as in the general population, by arranging workshops and seminars, and stimulating the production and publication of dance texts.
An important project that will culminate in establishing a Norwegian dance archive has been collecting oral and written documentation on Norwegian dance history, focusing on the independent dance scene during 1960-1994.
Dance Information Norway's activities and projects, places us as an important component of the Norwegian dance scene.
THE DANCE SCENE IN NORWAY TODAY - STRUCTURE
At the moment, there are only two companies; The National Ballet (Den Norske Opera & Ballett, Nasjonalballetten) located in Oslo and Carte Blanche located in Bergen which receive set annual government funding, and the art-form has mainly developed in the arena of independent dance. Several independent dance companies are working with varying degrees of continuity, on project-financing from the Arts Council Norway and additional financing from smaller
The majority of companies are still based in Oslo, where infrastructure and work possibilities for dancers are more developed, although recent years have seen the establishment of regional centres and venues for dance, from Dansearena Nord in Hammerfest, to Regional Arena for Samtidsdans in Sandnes among the largest. The larger established companies are mainly found in the capital such as: Jo Strømgren kompani, zero visibility corp (Ina Christel Johannessen), Ingun Bjørnsgaard Prosjekt, impure company (Hooman Sharifi), Oslo Danse Ensemble, Eva Cecilie Richardsen and Henriette Pedersen.
However, Norwegian dance is an emerging discipline throughout the country, both in quantity and in quality. Some companies are based regionally, with partial regional financing, for instance Stellaris DansTeater (Solveig Leinan Hermo) which is based in Hammerfest and recognised as the dance company located in the furthest northern point in the world. In later years, the established companies have received funding exceeding 1 million kroner, for multiple years, through a new funding scheme in the Arts Council (basisfinansieringen).
In addition to companies with annual support, approx. 40 -50 companies annually receive funding for smaller productions nationally.
Venues and tours
Prior to ‘Dansens Hus’ starting their activities on various rented premises in 2004, the three theaters for independent performance art: Black Box Teater (established 1985), BIT Teatergarasjen (1983) and Teaterhuset Avant Garden (1984) were (and continue to be) of great importance to the development of Norwegian dance. Through the collaboration in ‘Nettverk for scenekunst’ the theaters worked to promote exchange and the touring of Norwegian and international performance art. The theaters have extensive international networks and have contributed to the promotion of Norwegian dance. However, there is no tailor-made infrastructure for the touring of dance performances in Norway. The national touring theatre ‘Riksteateret ’ produces or co-produces 1-2 dance productions every year, while through the scheme ‘Den kulturelle skolesekken’ the organisation and network ‘Scenekunstbruket’ produces and promotes a large amount of performances for children and young people, dance being a substantial part of the performances on offer.
There are three major dance festivals in Norway; October Dance Norway (Oktoberdans ) in Bergen, established 1997, Coda – Oslo International Dance Festival, established 2002, and Dance Festival Barents, established 2004. The first two festivals occur biannually and function as a showcase for Norwegian contemporary dance, as well as visiting choreographers and companies. The latest years several smaller festival initiatives have emerged, like Multiplié (Trondheim) Ravnedans in Kristiansand, Norwegian festival for dance and film (Haugesund), Improfestivalen, Mind The Gap, Rethink Dance, Urban Moves, and more. Black Box Theatre in Oslo recently renamed Marstrand, its annual performing arts festival Oslo International Theatre festival, and continues to present cutting edge contemporary dance.
‘NoDa’ – the association for choreographers, dancers and pedagogues, has more than 700 members. However, this also includes pedagogues as well as retired dancers, thus one cannot give an accurate view of the working field. Dancers are also working within theatre productions, especially musicals. Additionally, not all dancers and choreographers are unionized, but high numbers do indicate increased growth in the dancers community.
Dance Information Norway has documented the number of dance performances in Norway and Norwegian performances abroad, from 1995. Comparing the numbers from 1997 with 2007 reveals an increase of nearly 116% in all. The biggest increase, we see in Norwegian performances abroad with a 682% increase. In Oslo, performances increased by 123% and regionally by 51%.
For several years political parties have, across the board, agreed to increase their support of dance. The current government launched ‘Kulturløftet’ with the aim to contribute 1% of the GNP to the cultural arena, by 2014. Dance is one of the 15 entries in ‘Kulturløftet’. In 2013 The Ministry of Culture launched 'Dance in all of Norway' ( 'Dans i hele landet"), a strategu for the development of the dance sector, pinpointing areas for development across its different parts, among other things education and touring.
NORWEGIAN DANCE HISTORY - AN OVERVIEW
Norway has a relatively short dance history. This may in part be due to our unions with Sweden and Denmark, as Norway did not have a royal family, nor aristocratic patrons, under which ballet and dance could develop and flourish. But despite its short history, dance has developed greatly, especially post-WW2, and today we have a multitude of Norwegian dance of high quality.
‘Ny Norsk Ballett’, was established in 1948, as Norway’s first independent company, and is seen as the forerunner to The National Ballet. The founding of a workers union for dancers in 1947, was markedly earlier than in other countries. ‘NoDa’ has continually worked to improve the conditions and rights for dancers, and has contributed to the proliferation of dance in Norway today.
Establishing the full-time education at ‘Ballettinstituttet’ (now ‘Den Norske Balletthøyskole’) and ‘The Norwegian Opera’ in the middle of the 60s led to the education of more dancers and choreographers, which in turn led to the establishment of independent companies.
There were no permanent positions beyond The National Ballet, so dancers would freelance, and as a result several independent companies were established in the 70s and 80s. Their directions would vary, but many were based on contemporary dance. This was in contrast to the classical direction dominating The National Ballet. In 1979 State ballet college/‘Statens Balletthøgskole’ was established. The educational institutions have been, and are today, very important for the development of Norwegian dance.
A public funding policy for independent performance art was first introduced in the 1980s, in the form of funding of ‘running costs’ as well as artistic development, for independent companies. The policy has since changed many times, resulting in a definition of the funds as ‘project funding’. The consequences of this have been that many long running and stable independent companies ceased to exist, and work shifted towards being defined as individual projects. A choreographer would run a project and collaborate with artists and performers varying from production to production. This kind of production dynamics strongly favouring project-based work, has on the downside contributed to a less stable work situation for dancers.
In 1989 the independent company Carte Blanche was nationalized, and relocated to Bergen. The aim was to strengthen the art of dance outside Oslo, but the decision led to extensive controversy in the dance profession at the time. Carte Blanche is today the national contemporary dance company, and the only company bar The National Ballett with set annual funding. Permanent positions are only available in these two companies, leading to all choreographers and the majority of dancers freelancing. Contemporary dance is the dominating dance form on the Norwegian independent dance scene.
In 1993 Norway showcased dance as an independent art form, in their Year of Dance. As a result, ‘Senter for Dansekunst’ (now ‘Dance Information Norway’) was established with funding from the Ministry of Culture. The founding of such a resource center for dance, with several employees, led to further the professionalism of dance and the center has contributed to the positive development of the art of dance. The center was also given the task of establishing a ’Dansens Hus’ . Today ’Dansens Hus’ is a reality and opened in February 2008. A historical and defining moment has been reached for dance in Norway.
Kirsti Skulleruds Ballettskole
Forklart meg livet
Jo Strømgren Kompani
Oslo Danse Ensemble
(Multi-bill) R.U.NPulpLeap Through Gates
Das Nebelmeer – Riding Romance 2 (RR2)
Hvis dette er min kropp
Far Out. Remix
Jo Strømgren Kompani
St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre of Tchaikovsky
Nøtteknekkeren: St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre of Tchaikovsky
Impure Company / Hooman Sharifi
Deep Down Dopeizm (3D)
Now the field is open
Ellen Sejersted Bødtker
Ella Fiskum Danz
Meny à la Munch