Reykjavík Dance Festival 2011
Nine years ago, a group of six dancers and choreographers searching for a platform to show their work brought the Reykjavík Dance Festival into being. Since then, the festival has taken on incarnations ranging from a line-up of solos in 2003, when money was tight, to a high-production-value couple of evenings in an empty warehouse by the harbour in 2007. This year’s festival, which takes place September 5 through 11 at locations around downtown, breaks records for both the number and diversity of performances, installations, films and courses on offer.
We spoke with two of the nine dance artists that make up this year’s team of organisers. Ásgerður G. Gunnarsdóttir works with the performance group Hreyfiþróunarsamsteypan, and has been involved with the festival since 2009. This year, she has taken on a leading role in festival coordination (“basically RDF is what my life revolves around these days,” she says). Steinunn Ketilsdóttir will premiere her piece ‘Belinda and Goddess,’ created in collaboration with Sveinbjörg Þórhallsdóttir, at the festival; she also has been involved in running RDF since 2006.
WHAT ARE THE GOALS OF THE FESTIVAL?
Ásgerður: Reykjavík Dance Festival is first and foremost a platform for independent Icelandic dance makers and dancers to show their work. Its future goal is also to import more international pieces and introduce them to Icelandic dance audiences.
Steinunn: The festival is also a place for Icelandic choreographers living and working abroad to share their work with the Icelandic audience. For instance, this year Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir [who is based in Berlin] will come to the Reykjavík Festival with a new piece.
In 2007, we started inviting international guests to the festival: presenters and directors of festivals, theatres and dance organisations around Europe. This has opened up many doors for the Icelandic dance community.
HOW WILL THIS YEAR’S FESTIVAL DIFFER FROM EARLIER EDITIONS?
Ásgerður: This festival is quite a lot bigger than the earlier ones. We are adding programmes, and this year we have a special section dedicated to dance short movies and installations.
Steinunn: We also have two workshops this year for the first time. One is a dance workshop with a teacher named Inaki Azpillaga, who is renowned in Central Europe and has been teaching at some of the biggest dance festivals around the world. There will also be a workshop with an agent from Germany for Icelandic performance artists; the topic will be marketing of performances internationally.
Ásgerður: Then I also forgot to mention, the festival will issue out a festival newspaper, which will be released on the fifth of September. The goal of that is to cover dance as we would like to see it being covered. There will be interviews with fine artists, musicians, dancers and dance makers, the schedule, interviews with participants around the subject of dance and its situation here in Iceland.
WHAT KIND OF WORK WILL BE SHOWN AND IS THERE A PARTICULAR PIECE YOU’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING?
Ásgerður: There are a lot of collaborations between Icelandic and foreign artists. For example, John the Houseband, a performance band, consists of artists from Iceland, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Sweden. Then there is also a collaboration between Icelandic and Israeli dancers [‘> a flock of us >’].
Then the Swedish dance maker Alma Söderberg will perform her piece, ‘Cosas,’ that got selected into the Aerowaves, a cross border dance performance network, this year. There are also Icelandic choreographers performing, for example Lára Stefánsdóttir, Helena Jónsdóttir, and Sveinbjörg/Steinunn. And there are newcomers, such as the group TANZ, which is a collaboration between newly-graduated dance, theatre and music-makers from The Icelandic Academy of the Arts.
It is too hard to choose [one piece]… I think I look most forward to seeing all of those local and international artists, writers and artistic directors meeting and mingling, creating networks and discussing the constantly growing dance scene here!