Dance travels

30 October 2022

We find out more about Rail2Dance, a two-year Creative Europe project, in which dance travels across Europe – on trains, in train stations and in cities along the way. Our Co-Artistic Director, Anthony, tells us more about the project and his role training the artists and as conceptual creator.

1 | Hey Anthony, you’ve recently been working in Slovenia on a dance project. Tell us about it!

Hey, yes, I’ve been working on a Creative Europe project called Rail2Dance. In August/September, I spent an intensive period in the beautiful city of Ljubljana, Slovenia, leading a dance residency that marked the kick-off of the project, which is two years in duration.

Central to the project is a 40-day tour, during which the selected dance artists will embark on a journey across Europe, from Finland to Slovenia.

The tour starts with a short residency in Finland, then the journey looks like this:

Tampere, Finland -> Vaasa, Finland -> Umeå, Sweden -> Malmö, Sweden -> Chemnitz, Germany -> Nuremberg, Germany- > Maribor and finally to Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Workshops and performances will be developed on the journey and in the stopover cities.

The journey solely uses railway except on a ferry trip between Finland and Sweden.

On the move, the artists will interact with passengers and engage and develop new audiences, by presenting dance performances in train stations and whilst on the transport.

Workshops will take place for local people and for local dance professionals in each of the locations.

2 | Who is involved?
Our project partners are:

Städtische Theater Chemnitz – Ballet in Germany,
Dance Theatre MD in Tampere, Finland,
Plesni Teater Ljubljana in Slovenia
Norrlandsoperan in Sweden.

Artists involved in the project have been selected from each country as well as from the UK.

At different points along the journey, more artists will join in, with the aim of creating bigger interventions.

The project has also had the input of six internationally recognised outdoor arts specialists from the UK, France, Finland, Sweden and Slovenia.

3 | What is your role?
My primary role is to train the artists. This has involved devising a methodology for us to collectively break down and understand the implications of working outdoors and in unusual spaces.

Analysing the practical considerations and stimulating thinking around what might possible is part of this, along with interventions that can be observed and involve participation or interaction with different audiences at different scales.

As the project moves along, it will also be my job to act as the conceptual curator, making decisions around what happens where, selecting and siting the interventions for the main journey.

4 | Tell is about the most special moment so far?
One very memorable moment involved the testing of an idea in the main square in Ljubljana. I’d written a sign, in English and in Slovenian, that said “Feel free to join and enjoy the sounds of the city.” I stuck this to the ground right in the centre.

After a few minutes, I had one of the artists go and look at the sign, and then lye down on the floor. After a few more minutes I introduced another in the same way.

After about 20 minutes, we had a large group of people, old and young, people with dogs, tourists, people meditating – all enjoying the sounds of the city!

People just need permission, that’s what I thought!

5 | What’s the project’s purpose?
Rail2Dance has 3 main objectives, which are aligned with the Creative Europe priorities.

In a nutshell these are around 1) audience development and engaging new audiences for dance across Europe; 2) sustainable mobility and developing a mobility programme for dance artists using sustainable transports; and 3) capacity building – developing and sharing new methodologies and skills for the dance sector.

6 | What happens next?
At the moment the artists are all back in their own countries conducting some action-research. This involves forward development of some of the discoveries we made within the residency.

For this, they each have a budget to employ local artists to assist them in their experiments. From now until March 2023, I will be mentoring the artists online – individually and collectively – reviewing their findings and making suggestions for what could be done to develop ideas further.

7 | Where can people see it?
The project is being very well documented. There will be a wealth of material available. At the moment, the sessions from the international outdoor experts, interviews and a documentary from the kick-off are being edited so people can watch online.

You can follow the journey here.

There is also a short film to watch documenting the first phase of the project with Anthony in Slovenia here.

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