ICEHOT Reykjavik

12-16 Dec 2018

By Sara Kemal on 04.02.19

In December I travelled to Reykjavik, Iceland to attend Ice Hot Nordic Dance Platform and a Kedja Network meeting as part of my FST Producer Placement with The Work Room,

Ice Hot is a biennial event which sees artists, producers and programmers from across the world come together to experience Nordic contemporary dance. The festival presents work from both established and emerging artists and its programme is made up of performances, seminars and panel discussions. Having never been to a festival like this before, I was unsure of what to expect but was excited for the opportunity to learn and experience something new. I talked to dance professionals from across the world, watched work from Nordic artists, listened to artists ‘pitch’ their ideas for new works and gained insight into conversations happening in different countries. For me, this was an opportunity to listen, learn and think about how these elements relate to my own experiences, but also to the Scottish dance community. In the weeks that have passed since Ice Hot and the Kedja meeting, my thoughts have often come back to these conversations. It was refreshing to be away from the multiple directions of regular work and focus on immersing myself in the festival; running around Reykjavik from performance to seminar while also trying to see some of the city during the short daylight hours.

Seminars I attended included ‘The arts of Co Production’ and ‘Sharing Across Borders’. Discussion centred around the panels’ experiences of collaboration, programming and co-production. For me, it was an interesting insight into the diversity of these experiences and at times opinions. Sustainability and context emerged as themes to provide a framework for discussion. The panel and audience questioned how to best cultivate meaningful relationships with artists and talked about building this relationship based on dialogue and soft values: trust, creative freedom, support, talking, mentoring, engaging with long term connection and artist development. There was a mix of producers, programmers and artists in the room who all joined the conversation.

Two performance highlights for me were Martin Forsberg’s ‘Ultra’ and Asrun Magnusdottir’s ‘Listening Party’. In ‘Ultra’, 10 male dancers moved together to create a hypnotic and powerful world. Listening Party was a visceral and uplifting journey where a group of teenagers invited the audience into their world by sharing their favourite music and dancing, listening and sometimes singing along. Watching the assured, honest and generous performance was truly inspiring.

After Ice Hot, Anita and I stayed on for the Kedja Network meeting. Kedja is an informal network of Nordic and Baltic dance professionals which exists to develop the possibilities for contemporary dance and a sustainable dance community. The network has initiated a range of projects including a yearly ‘Encounter’, which is a place for the dance community to meet, share ideas and challenges, attend workshops, watch performances and spark new collaborations. Stretch is the next Kedja encounter and will be hosted by Dance Info Finland in Turku, October 2019. The theme for Stretch is ‘expanding professionalism’ and will focus on three thematic areas; personal development and new skills, new ways of organising productions and interaction with the community and ways of communicating dance.

The Kedja meeting focussed on plans for this and asked partners to suggest ideas for keynote speakers and original workshops.

What struck me from the meeting was the feeling of solidarity and community within the network and the commitment to reaching new artists. There was a push to find financial means to support more artists to attend the Encounter and to spread the word about Kedja. A key concern was facilitating meetings between artists and having relevant and practical workshops and then to create space to share ideas and experiences and for new relationships to spark. In a similar tone to the sustainability conversations during Ice Hot, we discussed how to make a lasting connections between artists before and after the Encounter. The partners at the meeting were a mixture of representatives from organisations and independent artists and it felt like a good balance.

I left Reykjavik feeling exhausted, inspired, nourished and incredibly lucky to have been part of such interesting conversations. I am looking forward to working with Kedja as part of my producer placement and contributing to the The Work Room’s involvement with the Encounter in Finland later this year.

 A huge thank you to The Work Room and the Federation of Scottish Theatre for supporting my producer placement and the opportunity to develop my international experience.

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