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Animated Edition - Summer 2005
Station to station
Dansstationen co-director Torsten Schenlaer explains how dance has reached new levels of popularity in regional Sweden
Dansstationen is Skåne's official venue for dance. We're a meeting place for local, regional, national and international dance, and for the dance audience of the region. We have presented contemporary dance in Malmö and in our county Skåne, in the south of Sweden, since 1991 and have become an important part of the national structure for dance.

Dansstationen welcomes a wide audience, both new, curious first-time visitors and those who already love dance. In 2005 we will have presented the internationally-recognised Cullberg Ballet, but also experimental crossovers with dance and music, local dance schools, residency projects with regional choreographers, co-productions with Swedish companies and international guests. We aim to make it easy to visit Dansstationen, and always to present high-quality dance. Always we ask ourselves the question, what else can we do to entice a first-time visitor to return?

Since February 2004 Dansstationen has resided in fantastic new locations in the heart of Malmö at Palladium, a former cinema, with a strong tradition of moving images and live performances. This 85 year-old building was renovated 2003-2004 to suit the needs of contemporary dance and chamber music.

Palladium is a unique mixture of two art forms represented by Dansstationen, a non-profit organisation, and Musik i Syd, Skåne's regional music institution. The combination has turned out to be very successful. Music and dance have literally found a spot in the centre of town. New audience groups have met under the venue's chandeliers. I can proudly report that Dansstationen doubled it's audience numbers in just the first year.

Dansstationen consists of three different parts: guest performances at Palladium, the Touring Company and the SALTO! festival. The latter two components are aimed exclusively at a young audience. Dansstationen presents between 50 and 75 annual showings of dance, both Swedish and international, at Palladium. The Touring Company clock up about 50 performances per year, primarily in Skåne and Sweden but also abroad. SALTO!, finally, organises between 100 and 150 presentations for a young audience in the region. All told, Dansstationen reaches out to between five and ten per cent of the total Swedish dance audience.

Dance for a young audience
Our work with dance for a young audience started with the SALTO! festival in 1997. The name comes from Latin and means 'I'm dancing' or 'I'm jumping' - an active word! Children's participation in workshops, as well as educational programmes for teachers and pedagogues, is an important part of the concept. Soon after its inception SALTO! became Sweden's largest dance festival for a young audience. These days between ten and fifteen thousand young spectators enjoy contemporary dance all over the county each year in October.

SALTO! is a meeting place for dance audiences, organisers and dance companies. The festival co-ordinator works as a professional link between the three groups, utilising a profound knowledge of their different points of view. The selection of festival performances is a high priority. This has created a security for inexperienced organisers, allowing them a 'safe' first meeting with dance. Each year in February the selection is presented at a showcase day, during which the municipalities are encouraged to combine the work of the professional companies they see with local initiatives from dance teachers, amateurs, etc. The logical outcome is for them to create their own local SALTO! festival. Gradually the knowledge of dance is growing, adding new layers of experience and letting different organisers develop their own ideas. SALTO! has so far supported local initiatives for residency productions in three municipalities, as well as educational programmes, seminars and lectures for teachers and others.

In combination with the SALTO! festival, our own Touring Company has contributed to the development of dance in Skåne. Since 1998 we have produced one new, tourable performance for young audiences per year. The basic idea is to create high-quality dance-theatre pieces for children which can be performed both in theatres and gym halls. Since we moved to Palladium we also stage our productions there, inviting the young Malmö audience to attend. Productions by Wies Merkx (the Netherlands), Claire Parsons (Sweden), Sasha Pepelyaev (Russia) and Kajsa Giertz (Sweden) have been invited to Russia, Austria, Estonia, Germany, The Netherlands, Finland and Denmark.

The work with SALTO! and the Touring Company has turned out to be of international interest. Swedish children's theatre is well-known abroad. We believe that Swedish dance for a young audience deserves a wider reputation, too. Many guests are fascinated by the fact that Sweden can present a large number of new performances each year. It was only natural for us to start International SALTO!, an informal showcase weekend in the middle of October each year. Palladium is the perfect location for a presentation of all of the different SALTO! performances.

SALTO! has been an inspiration - and offered a market - for the Swedish dance scene. This clearly shows in the number of applications at the National Council for Cultural Affairs. The Touring Company has proved it possible to create pieces by well-known choreographers and sell them to a larger audience. We actually show as many performances in Sweden as the Cullberg Ballet. And still there is more to be done.

The foundation Sparbanksstiftelsen Skåne has granted us 1.5 million kronor (160,000 Euro) for a three-year project called 'And what if you wake up one morning and want to see dance?'. The aim is to combine SALTO! and our Touring Company with all the new ideas from the municipalities, using the network of the festival and the production facilities of the company to interact with the audience in new ways. Palladium is a fantastic new building, but also far away from children living in other places in Skåne. How do we link more strongly with a possible new audience? How do children generally access culture and dance? It's no coincidence that the name of this project is a question. What do you actually do if, rising from slumber one morning, you feel you would like to take in some dance that very day? We think that dance itself must provide the choices, the tools and the answers. For more information see www.dansstationen.nu

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Animated: Summer 2005