Dansportalen
Dragos Mihalcea and Charlotta Öfverholm. Photo Vojtech Brtnicky

Dragos Mihalcea and Charlotta Öfverholm. Photo Vojtech Brtnicky

Festival: Fucking Burn It – Age on Stage

STOCKHOLM: For ten days in October, the Dansmuseet in Stockholm became the site of a dance festival entitled Fucking Burn It – Age on Stage. The author of the idea, its organizer and main star in one person was Charlotta Őfverholm, Swedish dancer and choreographer with an international reputation.

Her own experience of life and ageing in dance (fantastically described in the new documentary Force), and the one of her colleagues who has been on stage for more than twenty-five years and still has stamina to keep going, inspired this event. It was a celebration of mature dancers and of everything what they can offer us.

Apart from performances, dance films and a photo exhibition, a very important part of the festival was the Seminar Age on stage. Its purpose was to examine this burning issue in the dancers lives from a theoretical perspective and more importantly, to offer a platform for discussion.

The impressive attendance of the five-hour long seminar confirmed the importance of the topic for the dance community. After an introductory performance of Lucky by Charlotta Őfverholm, three speakers were invited to pinpoint different problems of the aging in dance and offer material for further discussion.

Fay Nenander. Photo Mia Crusoe

Fay Nenander. Photo Mia Crusoe

Fay Nenander, consultant to dance artists, spoke about the various prejudices that society has towards dancers, about the historical and ideological baggage of dance itself (art of young bodies, movement as text and body as instrument, athleticism vs. artistic message), and about ageing.

Globally, the society is becoming older, according to statistics there will be more people over 60 than those under 5 already in 2020. These sociological shifts lead to needs of re-consideration and change of attitude towards older people and older dancers. She also pointed out feelings and needs of the dancers (for instance lack of appreciation and self-confidence) and their importance for the art form.

Paul Bronkhorst. Photo Mia Crusoe

Paul Bronkhorst. Photo Mia Crusoe

Later, Paul Bronkhorst from 'Transition program for Dancers' in the Netherlands spoke about his experience with dancers who were undertaking the transition into a new career. Bronkhorst stressed one important aspect: just like any other artist, to be a dancer is not really a career, it is a way of being and it is not possible to simply stop being a dancer.

However, unlike musicians or actors, dancer’s main instrument is declining with the time. Some of them decide to undergo the transition, but some of them simply want and need to create and perform anyway.

Madeline Ritter. Photo Mia Crusoe

Madeline Ritter. Photo Mia Crusoe

Such attitude represented Madeline Ritter, lawyer, arts manager and founder of a new dance company for mature performers Dance on, which will have its first shows in January 2016. Madeline recounted an inspiring story of this initiative – she received great national and international support, which proves that the dance world was obviously starving for such a company.

Since the disappearance of NDT III, a group of similar influence and popularity has not been created, and yet this trend has not disappeared completely. Choreographers like Jiří Kylián and Mats Ek keep creating for dancers of advanced age: just this year fantastic projects Kyl-works and Yxa premiered.

But not only them. During the seminar it turned out that only in Sweden there are more choreographers who want to work with older performers, right because of their experience and charisma: RTV Dans, 3:e våningen or KORDA AIM.

Some foreign artists (Lisa Drake, Wendy Houstoun) also reminded their Swedish colleagues that the attitude towards older people in Sweden is actually more open and acceptable than in other countries.

Dancers, choreographers, representatives of theatres (Operan, Dansens Hus) and Dansalliansen discussed different strategies and experiences: what must be changed in order to make the older dancers and their work more visible and acceptable?

Is it the approach of institutions, public prejudices, promotion?

Education and money were also hot topics. For this, it was very important that representatives of most of the educational institutions (Ballettakademien, STDH/DOCH) and foundations that support arts (Kulturrådet, Konstnärsnämnden, Carina Ari stiftelserna) participated in the debate.

Age on stage. Photo Håkan Larsson

Age on stage. Photo Håkan Larsson


The biggest problem of the ageing dancers is that they do not get as much possibilities to perform and be able to create, since they do not have enough support, institutional and financial.

They want to go further, develop their art and create, but on the other hand at a certain stage they can’t make constant sacrifices just to be able to do the art (especially in case of freelancers) and/or compete with younger generations. It was sad to hear that some great, older artists simply can’t take it any longer and stop, despite that they would have so much to tell and give.

In conclusion, the participants of the seminar agreed that it is important to make the mature dancers more visible, stress their value, promote and support them (financially and morally), break the prejudices and give these artists REAL freedom.

If they still have the stamina, force, ideas – which is quite impressive in itself – society can profit a lot from them as artists and life role-models. They should not be discriminated because of age and conventions.

The seminar touched many aspects of 'Age on stage' and involved representatives of various groups, which I found very important. Hopefully it was a starting point for further discussion and an inspiration and encouragement for those who courageously go “against the tide”.

Seminar Age on Stage 16th of October, Dansmuseet

Fucking Burn it, 9 – 17 October 2015, Dansmuseet

Petra Dotlacilova
20 Oct 2015

Jag ville bara dansa
NorrDans
Dans i Nord
GöteborgsOperan

Läs mer här:

Powered by SiteVisionlänk till annan webbplats