The Reykjavík Dance Festival envisions their future
The time has come once again for Iceland’s most ambitious and subversive dance event. This year’s edition of the Reykjavík Dance Festival is subtitled “Feminist Futures” and it comes at a time when they are confronting their own future.
Brogan Davison and Pétur Ármannsson have served as co-artistic directors of Reykjavík Dance Festival since 2021, as well as being partners in life. Both have been involved with the festival for the past decade and have not only watched its growth, they have played an active part in its cultivation.
On the map
“The dance scene in Iceland is on the map globally,” says Brogan. “People come from all over the world to see what’s going on here. We have such good artists.”
The Reykjavík Dance Festival has been running for 20 years, but it has seen significant change and growth over the past decade, solidifying its standing in the global dance scene.
“The festival has really grown and blossomed over the past decade,” says Pétur. “It’s really taken off from being a festival for the local dance scene into an international dance festival that is recognised and sought out by cultural delegates who are already professionals from all over the world. They want to come here to see what Icelandic dance has to offer.”
Despite its reputation, the festival is facing new challenges as their ongoing funding contract from the Ministry of Culture and Business Affairs expires at the end of the year. They are currently negotiating funding opportunities in order to ensure their future.
“It’s a lot of workload for the staff, which has been voluntary until now – which itself is not really sustainable,” says Pétur. “We’re kind of victims of our own success. So now is [our] opportunity to secure the operation with future long-term vision.”
“A lot of artists have made work with very little or no funding but still been really successful,” says Brogan. “But now the scene is starting to get fed up. Things need to change. We need more stability.”
“From the outside it might look like we’re doing really well but it’s just not sustainable,” continues Pétur. “We need to ensure the sustainability of professional independent dance in Iceland.”
Just asking questions
This year’s festival has a sub-festival within it called Feminist Futures that forms the theme of the event. This initiative has travelled between 11 countries over four years within a network called the Advancing Performing Arts Project (APAP), of which the Reykjavík Dance Festival is a member. The root of the sub-festival is to raise questions on the issues of sustainability, inclusivity and care.
“It’s a provocation for each festival to think about their curation through this lens,” says Brogan. “What could feminist futures look like? Who is represented in the program? How would we function as a feminist organisation? How would we communicate and who would have power? Which bodies do we see and not see?”
With many questions raised, the co-directors are taking a close look in the mirror and holding their feet to the fire of accountability.
“In the context of being underfunded; can we call it a feminist festival when people are exploiting themselves to make it happen?” says Pétur. “There is also the exclusivity of contemporary arts in general. Is that feministic? I don’t know if our festival is as much of an answer to what we believe feminist futures are going to look like, as it is a question.”
Whether performances will cause audiences to reflect or have epiphanies, the event as a whole will leave no guest unprovoked.
The Reykjavík Dance Festival takes place November 15-19 with a diverse schedule of events happening throughout the city. Schedule and festival pass information can be found at ReykjavikDanceFestival.com
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