© Jose Figueroa
Dada Masilo, from South Africa, is one of the internationally renowned dancers who will be performing at Dansens Hus in 2019, Photo: © Kevin Parry

Liberating movement

TEXT: LIZ LONGDEN | PHOTOS © JOSE FIGUEROA

By presenting the work of some of the world’s most innovative and dynamic dancers and choreographers, Dansens Hus aims to inspire, challenge and bring the joy, power and freedom of dance to an ever-wider audience.

Dansens Hus has a wide-ranging remit, but it is one which artistic director Annelie Gardell is able to summarise succinctly: to support dance as an art form and to enable as many people as possible to enjoy the unique experience of watching contemporary dance performances. “Dance is an art form that gives us another way of understanding ourselves and others, not through words, but through the body and its movement,” Gardell explains. “When you watch a performance, you can feel that something of what is happening on stage is passed to the audience, and that they feel that energy and emotion in their own bodies. It’s a kind of coming together of body and soul, which can be a very deep and moving experience.”

As Sweden’s largest stage for guest performances of contemporary dance, Dansens Hus functions as a national hub, supporting Swedish artists and participating in outreach projects across the country. But the venue has also gained international renown, enabling it to attract some of the most exciting talents from across the world. And, with 2019’s programme including performances from South Africa, Canada and Lebanon, Gardell says that the theatre makes a conscious attempt to also give a platform to non-European dancers and choreographers.

“For us, it’s very important that we also show works from other continents, because it’s about offering different perspectives,” she explains. “Just in the same way that we have works by well-established artists alongside more experimental pieces by newcomers, it’s about showing and encouraging diversity.” It is also, she adds, another important way of supporting dance as an art form. “Not only the audience, but also the dance industry, need that nourishment of new ideas and alternative perspectives.”

That diversity is also reflected in Dansens Hus’ audience. Gardell notes that ticket sales have doubled in recent years, with both genders and a broad spread of age groups well represented within the audience profile. “There is something about dance that works on a very intuitive level,” says Gardell. “You don’t need to understand a text; there may not even be a narrative. You can simply experience and feel it and create your own meaning. And that can be very liberating and makes it something that everyone can enjoy.”

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