Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Hello from Copenhagen!Dance critic and writer just joined today


  • This topic is locked This topic is locked
9 replies to this topic

#1 Gunild

Gunild

    New Member

  • New Member
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 12 December 2008 - 06:04 AM

Hello Everyone!

I have been watching and reading Ballet Talk for some time now, and finally got up the courage to join this fascinating group. I am a retired professional dancer (classical ballet and modern dance), teacher and choreographer from the U.S. now based in Copenhagen. I have served as a professor of dance for many years at both American and Danish colleges and universities and now write dance reviews and articles part-time for several dance magazines in Europe and the U.S. I regularly attend the Royal Danish Ballet, Danish Dance Theater, and other Danish and visiting European, American and Asian dance companies that make a stop in Copenhagen or Malmö, which is just a short train ride under the sea to Sweden. I have personally met and worked with many of the local choreographers and dancers in Denmark and some from Norway, Finland and Sweden, and I am happy to share what I have learned and observed in the Danish and Scandinavian dance world as an American living in Denmark over the past six years. Occasionally, I get back to the U.S. to visit family and friends, and of course, I try to catch and review as much American ballet and modern dance as I can while I am there.

Sincerely,
Gunild

#2 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 12 December 2008 - 01:14 PM

Hello, Gunild.

We are happy to welcome you to BalletTalk. We have a nice Scandinavian contingent, but the Danish members are not as active as they once were. We hope you will help pick up some of the slack, as there is much interest in what's going on there. I, for one, am a great fan of the RDB and have seen far too little of them in recent years.

As a teacher and choreographer, you might be interested in joining our sister board, BalletTalk for Dancers. If you haven't seen it, it has special forums for teachers, and its Pro Shop is frequented by those with an interest in the technical aspects of presenting dance. Members of both boards are asked (but not required) to keep the same user name for both boards.

We're glad you're here and look forward to hearing from you! :devil:

#3 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 12 December 2008 - 02:51 PM

And Ballet Talk for Dancers doesn't have anyone with the user name Gunild yet, so that would make registration there easier.

#4 balletmor

balletmor

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 51 posts

Posted 12 December 2008 - 04:04 PM

Gunild! As a Danish American myself, I'd like to welcome you and look forward to your insight! Welcome aboard! :devil:

#5 Gunild

Gunild

    New Member

  • New Member
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 13 December 2008 - 05:46 AM

Thank you everyone for your kind and warm welcome! And thank you for inviting me to your other site for teachers and dancers. I will do my best to help out with information regarding the Copenhagen ballet scene. As I am new to this site, it would be helpful to know specifically what people are interested in hearing. There are several sources for news on the ballet directly from the theater, the local newspapers and websites for which I can provide direct links. However, they do not often address the issues beyond whom is working with whom. While my Danish is rudimentary, I am not able to translate directly, however I can most likely provide a general overview of ideas presented in articles and announcements. The interesting thing to me, is what is happening on the ground, and in the studios. I have found that the dance institutions here are very closed and difficult to reach, and the politics here is not very pretty at the moment, so they are very touchy about the press getting a whiff of anything unseemly, and yet all is not right in the state of Denmark, so-to-speak, but people are addressing it as best they can, I suppose. However, they are having a very big problem filling seats in the three big theaters they now have in Copenhagen. Perhaps they will be more open to speak if they know who the audience of Ballet Talk is and how big it is. Would you be able to give me that information, the demographics, so I can pass that on to Nikolaj Hübbe and other directors who want to reach an international audience? He is very interested in bringing back the high international status the Royal Danish Ballet once enjoyed, yet is finding a lack of interest and support from audiences here at home. Excerpts of my one hour interview with Nikolaj Hübbe for Dance For You Magazine in Germany, will be published in January 2009, with the complete transcript of the interview posted on their website as well. The interview I did with Silja Schandorff, principle dancer of the RDB, will also be presented in this issue. (http://www.dancefory...ne.com/home.php)

Thank you kindly for your support. I look forward to our future discussions.

All the best,
Gunild

P.S. Yes, I am sort of a strange mixture of Danish and Korean heritage American born in New York City. Makes for interesting looks from people who try to figure out what I am on both sides of the Atlantic.

#6 Anne

Anne

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 231 posts

Posted 16 December 2008 - 08:37 AM

Excerpts of my one hour interview with Nikolaj Hübbe for Dance For You Magazine in Germany, will be published in January 2009, with the complete transcript of the interview posted on their website as well. The interview I did with Silja Schandorff, principle dancer of the RDB, will also be presented in this issue. (http://www.dancefory...ne.com/home.php)

It's great to have another Danish-based ballet talker with us! I'm really looking forward to reading your interviews with Hübbe and Schandorff and I hope you'll give some reports on what you see on the stage. As I'm living in the wrong part of Denmark I see far to few perfomances of the RDB, but I'm always greedy to read other's reports.
Hübbe had a lot of publicity, when he started out as ballet master in Copenhagen this summer, but there has been more quiet lately, so I'm really curious to read your interview. I hope he's not toot disappointed already. He aired some heavy disappointments on behalf of the dancers and their (lack of) working ethic in an interview in a newspaper some months ago. I must admit that my first thought was, that he should have kept these thoughts to himself or inside the house. My second thought was, that I hope he's not too frustrated already, because in my opinion he has a lot to give this company, both technically and dramatically, and I really hope he'll stay with us.
It needs some patience to turn around a big ship like the royal ballet AND it's audience with years of bad habits on it's history. To be among the audience on a rainy november evening for a balletperformance where most of the seats are sold beforehand in a mixed subscription-packet of opera-/ballet-/play-performances can be a most depressing experience. The audience show absolutely no enthusiasm, even if the performance is great. Maybe they do enjoy it but they don't show it. I sometimes think it must be difficult for the dancers to keep up the enthusiasm when the audience seem to be so indifferent. That is one of the reasons I enjoy so very much going to a balletperformance in for example Paris, because there you have the feeling of being among people who can really value what they see and give the dancers the applause they deserve, if they deserve it (what most of them mostly do!). I think we - and by we I mean the Danes in general - should be better at showing appreciation and enthusiasm. And we should also be more courageous and curious and not only attend the traditional and wellknown programmes.

#7 Gunild

Gunild

    New Member

  • New Member
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 18 December 2008 - 11:31 AM

It needs some patience to turn around a big ship like the royal ballet AND it's audience with years of bad habits on it's history. To be among the audience on a rainy november evening for a balletperformance where most of the seats are sold beforehand in a mixed subscription-packet of opera-/ballet-/play-performances can be a most depressing experience. The audience show absolutely no enthusiasm, even if the performance is great. Maybe they do enjoy it but they don't show it. I sometimes think it must be difficult for the dancers to keep up the enthusiasm when the audience seem to be so indifferent. That is one of the reasons I enjoy so very much going to a balletperformance in for example Paris, because there you have the feeling of being among people who can really value what they see and give the dancers the applause they deserve, if they deserve it (what most of them mostly do!). I think we - and by we I mean the Danes in general - should be better at showing appreciation and enthusiasm. And we should also be more courageous and curious and not only attend the traditional and wellknown programmes.


Well said, Anne!

Thanks so much for your kind reply. You should look me up whenever you come to Copenhagen. We'll do lunch and go to the ballet together! :angel_not:
Maybe we will be the only ones standing up and yelling "Bravo", but it will be fun anyway! Like you, I really enjoy the wonderful audience response in say, Moscow, where the hall is packed with all ages, lots of children with their teachers and parents, and everyone on their feet applauding the ballerina whom they absolutely love, and who is absolutely charming! It is inspiring. Sadly, that rarely happens here in Denmark, even if, as you say, the RDB does a wonderful job. You are so right on with your description of the Danes. I am only half Danish and born in NYC, so I guess I have escaped the Jante law.

You will see in the interview with Nikolaj, that we are both perplexed by the attitudes of both audiences and artists. However, the RDB has experienced some standing ovations and audiences yelling "Bravo!" in 2008 for their Jiri Kylian Silk & Knife production. The young Danes absolutely loved it! But I believe it was probably because it was presented more as an irreverent circus act accented with rude bodily functions and suggestive sex organs, a lot like the really base Danish humor one might overhear in a bar, than a ballet production. I heard people say, "It's wonderful! It's not like ballet at all!"

Sort of sad, isn't it? But like some cultural institutions that are 100% sponsored by the government, the Royal Theater has been slow to respond to changes in the times and audiences. They do have to deal with updating their look, the marketing issue, outreach, education, and the perception Danes have of it being an old, dusty institution for pensioners. While other industries in Denmark like the design, fashion and film industries, are developing a hip, happening, dynamic and star-studded online presence, the Royal Theater looks pretty arthritic and creeky in the knees by comparison. I got the impression that Hübbe is more than aware of this problem and is aiming to do something to improve the situation, but what exactly? We talk about this in the interview.

We also have to look at the political landscape in Denmark for the last ten years. The party in office during those years has had a huge impact on the arts in Denmark, and not necessarily a good one. Three or four years ago, there was a move to centralize something like 450 million kroner (90 million US dollars) to one theater in the country, the Royal Theater in Copenhagen, probably because of the new opera house. All other theaters in the rest of the country, which includes all the community theaters, childrens theaters, dance companies, and community governments, have had to share and compete for a meager 7 million kroner (1.36 million USD). That has forced many smaller dance companies and children's theaters to close, as well as prevent communties and schools from having dance or theater presented to their young people. Not only that, there is no accreditation bureau here for dance education, and no university fine arts degrees in dance or dance education such as there are in most other European and North American countries.

We do have a dance studies minor at Copenhagen University started by dance critic, Erik Aschengreen, but it does not teach teachers how to actually teach dance technique and creative movement for non-dancers, just book stuff like dance theory and history. Even so, their graduates are allowed to teach dance technique in the highschools as well as dance history and theory.

There is also a one-year pedagogy program at the state School for Contemporary Dance, but it also does not teach teachers how to teach non-dancers ballet technique, only creative movement for children and youth and contemporary technique for the candidates' peers. Soon, they want to establish a three-year "graduate-like" degree in pedagogy, but it won't be attached to the university, so graduates will not receive a university masters degree that can be recognized throughout the EU. This is the information I have found through my discussions with other theater professionals in Denmark and from the little news briefs hidden in the back pages of the local papers.

In Denmark, there is no formal education for ballet teachers. The Royal Danish Ballet sends their new teachers to an optional two-week seminar at the National Ballet of Canada. That's it. No ballet teachers are taught how to teach ballet to adult or young adult non-dancers, which is quite different from teaching children hand-picked for the RDB school.

We have no lack of ballet teachers as there have been so many Danish retirees from the Royal Danish Ballet and School. But very few make it outside the system. There is very little interest in making dance education professional outside of the RDB.

In addition, dance is not considered a subject in school, like music, drama or fine art; it is a subdivision of theater and is grouped with sports and football under the ministry of culture. Dance is seen as recreation, fitness, or entertainment, not as an art form. Real modern dance is non-existant, except when Alvin Ailey comes to town. Most contemporary dance seen outside the RDB, is really movement theater and performance art. There is not much dance in dance these days. And I hear it has been this way in Denmark for 30 years. No wonder, there are problems. Perhaps the future will see some changes for the better.

And contemporary dance performed at the ballet becomes what I call "balletified". It loses all sense of weight and flow and becomes a lot of positions. It's not really modern dance or post modern dance or even what the UK calls "new dance" or what Sweden calls "nutidsdance" (now time dance) or "samtidsdance" (dance of today). It is contemporary choreographers setting their works on ballet dancers who are not trained to do this type of dance and calling it modern dance without manifesting the basic tenets of modern dance... gravity and weight, momentum, initiation and follow through, fall and recovery, release and movement quality. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It is a lot of wiggling and gesture, flexed feet and undulation with no sense of weight; it is often modern arms over ballet legs and fourth position. If you like that kind of stuff, it's great, and they do it well. But if you are a true, blue, American-trained modern dancer with a sense of gravity, fall and recovery, momentum, flow and space-time-energy aware, it really leaves one feeling empty and undernurished and maybe even a little embarressed for the dancers.

But no one seems the wiser here. I do not get the feeling that the audience knows what it is looking at. As a teacher, I specialized in training ballet dancers how to do modern dance and visa versa, so I painfully know what they are missing. But maybe it's just me.... I don't know. No one at the RDB has asked me to help, and I do not expect that they will. It is a very closed society here, and it is very hard to be accepted into it as an American and as an artist-academic, even if I am half Danish and have been here over 6 years and my extended family has been here since the 1400s. Tim Rushton, a Brit and once dancer with RDB and now director of Danish Dance Theater, which by the way has no Danes in it because Rushton can't find any Danish contemporary dancers that can do his work well enough, once told me that it took 15 years for him to be accepted as a "Dane". And by the way, Danish Dance Theater bills itself as a contemporary dance company, but it is really a contemporary ballet company. Again, it is a lot of wiggling and undulation over ballet fourth position and arabesque. Maybe that's the new modern here in Europe. I don't know. I have never seen Danish Dance Theater perform real modern dance. However, Rushton had an American dancer a few years back, and he was wonderful to watch. But no one seems the wiser. Again, I do not think the audience knows what it is looking at. And I do not think that the ballet dancers turned "contemporary" choreographers and directors know the difference either. I am sure they would be offended to hear me say that, but it is painfully evident in their work.

Please keep in mind, this is only one person's observations and opinions. I certainly do not think one can generalize a whole country of people and artists, but I have observed trends and seen enough dance here to have a point of view, albeit probably not a very popular one. So, I am sorry if I offend anyone. I do truly wish to help Danish young people and artists develop dance as an art form in their own authentically Danish way, rather than just copying outside influences, which they are often very good at.

I would like to see Danish artists develop their own modern or contemporary dance, which speaks of Danish thought in a uniquely Danish way, but I do not see that they are receiving much support or incentive or significant challenge to do so, to vastly improve their handle of the craft and become more professional and sophisticated, from the Danish dance world, the Danish people or the Danish government. People are very content and comfortable here. There is cradle to grave welfare, and no one wants for anything. It is mostly a middle class society, and there really is no reason to strain or strive for greatness or excellence. What is, is good enough. They pay their high taxes and expect the government to do a good job, and for the most part, it does. But when it comes to the arts, government is not necessarily good for its development.

So, in Denmark we have classical ballet, contemporary ballet, and performance art or movement theater or watered down Butoh mixed with a Danish version of German expressionism. No modern dance.

One of the few contemporary Danish choreographers, who is truly an artist is Kitt Johnson. She has impressed me continuously over the years and does really phenomenal solo work, which I would definitely call Art, with a capital A. But I do not know how appreciated she is within Denmark. She tours extensively internationally.

The few artists outside of RDB and DDT who attempt to do modern dance or claim that they are modern dancers, do not have the technical strength or skill, imagination, artistry and mastery of choreographic craft to match the international competition. You can find technically much better and interesting dancers and choreographers from the former Eastern block, the low countries of Europe, France, Israel, UK and of course, America. Interestingly enough, many of them were trained at schools started by former American modern dancers.

Don't get me wrong; I love ballet. I know it well, and I love it well. But I also love really good modern dance and contemporary dance done with the qualities from which the choreography was built. In my former life, I was an unusual dancer in the sense that I trained and performed professionally in both dance forms in the U.S. I was very lucky to be able to do this. So I can feel the difference in my body, and I can see the difference on the stage. The qualities of contemporary choreography are often lost in translation when staged on ballet companies. Sorry, but that is my opinion. Being independent has its benefits. I can be honest.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel; a new generation of young people are growing up and have a different attitude towards almost everything. I see it when I teach the young people, and I see it in the younger parents. We will have to be patient for a few years, until these young people grow older and bring their enthusiasm with them to the theater, if it is not squashed by Danish society before then.

I have started a new forum on Facebook in order to reach the younger Danish crowd, who are all on Facebook, it seems. You can have a look here: http://groups.to/balletbuddies/

The point is to make it friendly, fun, educational, inclusive and inviting for newcomers to dance as well as us oldies. Because young Danes often feel left out, alienated or intimidated by the ballet or dance theater, we want to make it accessible and intriguing to them. We are inviting a few gymnasier (hs/college) students and university students every few months and hopefully in the end, we will have a nice group of young people mingling with many of the stars of the ballet and contemporary dance companies who are already on board. It is purely a social and educational site for the group members and the youth. But we also have some big names like the mayor of Copenhagen and the director of the Finnish National Ballet in the group. However, as the old saying goes, you can bring a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. Who knows if the members will actually dare to discuss anything or go to the theater together. Scandinavians tend to be very shy and reserved in comparison to say, Americans. So, it is all a big experiment.

As it is a sticky situation with me being a dance writer, I am refraining from posting my own reviews. I will only post interviews and news I dig up. However, others in the group will probably find reviews and post them. The forum is in English and Danish. I would be most grateful for any feedback or suggestions you may have for the format or for audience development in Denmark.

All the best,
Gunild

#8 Anne

Anne

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 231 posts

Posted 21 December 2008 - 05:01 AM

Well, I don't know much about modern dance, I'm afraid, so it's difficult for me to fill in on that subject in a qualified way.

But you write more generally about the Danes' lack of understanding of dance as an artform:

In addition, dance is not considered a subject in school, like music, drama or fine art; it is a subdivision of theater and is grouped with sports and football under the ministry of culture. Dance is seen as recreation, fitness, or entertainment, not as an art form.

.
I agree on most of that, sadly enough, but I know there is an initiative called "Dans i skolen" (Dance in the school) which works succesfully for integrating dance in the schooleducation of children. You can read about it on Dansens hus
It started back in 2001, I think, and their ideas have been implemented in some schools already. That makes some hope for the future. Let's talk about that one day!

#9 Gunild

Gunild

    New Member

  • New Member
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 21 December 2008 - 11:35 AM

Well, I don't know much about modern dance, I'm afraid, so it's difficult for me to fill in on that subject in a qualified way.

But you write more generally about the Danes' lack of understanding of dance as an artform:

In addition, dance is not considered a subject in school, like music, drama or fine art; it is a subdivision of theater and is grouped with sports and football under the ministry of culture. Dance is seen as recreation, fitness, or entertainment, not as an art form.

.
I agree on most of that, sadly enough, but I know there is an initiative called "Dans i skolen" (Dance in the school) which works succesfully for integrating dance in the schooleducation of children. You can read about it on Dansens hus
It started back in 2001, I think, and their ideas have been implemented in some schools already. That makes some hope for the future. Let's talk about that one day!



Hi Anne,

Thanks for your reply. Yes, I went to a couple of Dans I Uddannelse meetings a few years ago because I wanted to help out and teach dance in the local schools, since this was my profession in the U.S. where I served as a professor of dance at several universities, had over ten years experience teaching dance in the schools and sat on state councils for establishing and describing standards in dance in the schools. I also have a professional advanced graduate degree in it from one of the leading universities in the field. At this point, I am probably the only one in Denmark that has this type of advanced degree plus professional experience.

When I got to Denmark, I had good intentions to offer my expertise for free, but it was turned down over and over again. I am beginning to think that being turned down in Denmark is actually an indirect compliment, because it seems those in power have turned away many of my Danish and international colleagues who are really great at what they do, highly qualified, professional, talented and skilled. Are we all over-qualified? Is that the problem? I don't really get it. Other Danes have tried to explain it to me in terms of the Jante law, but it still baffles me.

Sadly, Dans i Uddannelse couldn't or wouldn't help us, I am not sure even now. Plus, they refused to recognize my level of expertise (I even gave them my CV) and they refused my counsel. So, what can one do? I ended up doing it on my own and brought my little troupe of young dancers to several schools in Denmark and Sweden without any help or financial support from Dans i Uddannelse or the Danish arts council. We applied for many grants and were always turned down. Despite this, we serviced over 5000 children and youth.

One of the dance consulents of Dans i Uddannelse finally asked my how I did with nothing, what they could not do with a 1 million kroner budget, and that was, make contact with the schools, get the admin interested enough to bring dance artists in, make the technical arrangements, help the young dancers choreographer a show, teach the workshops and perform a short concert with a question answer session with the audience following. Well, I did it by making lots of phone calls and emails, establishing relationships with key people in each school and devoting a lot of time to educating both the school administrators and the dancers in my little group as to what and how dance could be presented and shared in public schools and colleges.

We had some good experiences at a few gymnasiums where the youth were familiar with theater or were in dance classes at the school. But at most of the other highschools and gymnasiums... oh my. It was not easy. No help from the teachers and parents. In many cases, the children and teenagers were constantly talking, yelled rude things at the dancers, said rude things to me while I was teaching or presenting work on stage, threw things at the dancers during performances, switched on and off the lights, ran all over the auditorium, making phone calls on their cell phones, eating and playing with their friends. And there were adults in the room with them, but doing nothing to stop it. I had heard horror stories like this and worse from teachers in the inner cities of the U.S. I felt like I was experiencing a similar thing here in what I thought was a calm, peaceful, orderly Denmark.

So, you can see, it is not an easy situation. I do not blame most dance artists for not wanting to do this work in the schools, because of the difficulty of it and the lack of respect and support. And certainly, the Royal Danish Ballet could not and should not expose their professionals in this way. Something has to be done in general education first to prepare children and youth to see dance and theater in general.

In our little troupe, all the dancers and I volunteered our time and resources and worked together to make the choreography, costumes, and workshops. It was not easy, because young people in this country, I have been told by them, are taught by all their teachers and parents, over and over again, NEVER to work for free, always to make top wages, union wages, for what they do even though they have absolutely no work experience. Volunteering your time and resources is frowned upon. Sad, and not very practical for young dancers outside the RDB, especially, who only get three-four years of dance training. I have been told by older Danes, that this attitude is taught in order to avoid exploitation by the upper classes, as happened many decades ago and led to the revolt of the working classes in this country. Well, I don't see any danger of exploitation now. I just see the young dancers losing out because they cannot compete with all the young foreign dancers taking all the professional dance jobs in this country. Even Nikolaj Hübbe told me that there are not enough ballet dancers from the RDB school who are good enough to become soloists in the company. He will have to hire foreigners.

I don't know about you, but I have not seen many young people get professional jobs right out of school in any field, not just dance, especially if they have no experience on their CV. They have to have some volunteer work or unpaid internships to gain experience while they are in school and/or soon after. That was what my little company provided... training and experience for one or two year's until they got into a professional company or quit to go back to university and go into another field of study. It was a good testing ground for many of them who went on to bigger and better things or figured out that dance was not for them. Either way, it is good.

At the time, Dans i Uddannelse just gave brief seminars about teaching dance for children. Plus, whatever dance artists did in schools had to fit into three very narrow programs outlined on paper by the government. I applied for these programs and never got a response. Dans I Uddannelse did not help coordinate the arrangements needed to bring dance artists in touch with schools who wanted to bring in dance and not many of them did, at the time. I have not seen a whole lot of change since.

Dans i Uddanelse is not as effective as it could be and their budget is quite small for the big job they have. There are 1.5 million children in Denmark, and in 2004, the organization received 1 million kroner. That is less than 1 kroner spent on each child to receive a dance experience in school. The last report I saw, Dans I Uddanelse was able to provide dance experiences for around 4300 children out of 1.5 million in the country. That is less than .3% of the population of children in the country. If I was a tax payer in Denmark, which I am, I would be very upset about this. But no one seems to care.

From what I have read on their website, Dans I Uddannelse does not bring ballet into the schools. From what I understand, they only bring creative dance or modern dance for children into the schools, which is understandable, but limited. So, how do the youth of Denmark learn about ballet and how do they learn how to understand what they see at the ballet? I really don't know.

Fortunately, there have been a few highschools/colleges in Denmark who have recently started small dance programs at their schools and hire a teacher with a minor degree in dance studies from the University of Copenhagen Dance Studies program. These teachers tend to be very enthusiastic about dance and quite good with teaching dance history and theory and some have even been dancers in the past. So, this is a hopeful improvement.

I do not want to trash everything that is being done, certainly it is better than nothing, but it should be a lot more and requires more money than is given to it. I think Danish tax payers should be a lot more demanding of their government cultural programs and civil servants, especially in dance, and demand more professionalism and accountability and transparency.

There are a lot of road blocks in the system for Dans I Uddanelse externally and internally. There are only two dance consulents for 1.5 million children. I know both of them personally, and I know the foreman of Dans I Uddannelse personally. All very nice people, but often have their hands tied, and none of them have advanced degrees in dance education or arts administration. I think the highest degree among them is a B.A. Not that one cannot do a decent job without an advanced degree, but it sure helps in the long run to have the extended training and professionalism in order to help bring a program such as this to standards that equal those of the rest of Europe and North America. Denmark has a very long way to go to reach that level.

In the past, Dans i Uddannelse has told me that they have trouble finding schools who want dance artists. Why is that? Is it lack of interest? Lack of understanding? In the States, we had the same problem. Well, you just have to educate the administrators as much as you educate the students. It is always like that. One has always to justify dance, and all the arts. Sadly, it just is this way. But it can be done with good results. That was my job in Ohio. In a suit, I presented dance education to public school superintendants, administrators and teachers. I even had them get up and dance! It was funny. But afterwards, they were hooked. I showed them what the educational and social value of dance was, and how children can gain important leadership, social and intellectual skills as well as an outlet for expression, physical and aesthetic development. But I don't know if Danish administrators would be such good sports, even give it five minutes of their time, let alone try to dance in their seats. Perhaps after a few shots of snaps or some gløg, maybe?

Dans i Uddannelse can provide information, but that is about it. The rest is up to the dance artist. As you can imagine, this is quite a hard thing for a dance artist to do, that is why organizations are made in order to help dance artists and schools find each other and arrange dance experiences in schools. There is a lot involved in setting up even a one-hour dance workshop at schools. These dance consulents sit at their desks making very good salaries, while the dance artist, who make next to nothing, struggle to do all the legwork and grantwriting on their own with next to no support and no financial assistance. It has been very frustrating for many Danish artists, and even Dans i Uddanelse itself, who really want to help and are not getting the support they need. I know the administrators personally, and they have asked me how in the world I got schools to invite our little company. It is like the blind leading the blind here, and even though I want to and can help quite a bit, the society will not let me in. So, what can I do?

There is a systemic problem in the dance world here that makes it very hard for dance artists to get into the schools even if they wanted to, and most of them don't, and one can understand why. Just the lack of respect alone would turn anybody off, but the lack of support, makes it even more difficult.

Anne, I really appreciate your generosity and interest and your willingness to listen. I really appreciate it very much, and I apologize for getting on a soap box here and expressing my views. Dance education is my life's passion, so one can understand the frustration of meeting so many road blocks in Denmark for so many years, not just for myself but for many, many others who have their hearts in the right places and want to share dance with the children. To live in Denmark, one must be very, very patient. That is my life's lesson, I guess. But I have to admit, that it is such a relief to go to other countries where dance, in all its may forms, is loved and enjoyed and nurtured so much more.

All the best,
Gunild

#10 Giannina

Giannina

    Gold Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 844 posts

Posted 21 December 2008 - 01:42 PM

These exchanges are very interesting. However, the Welcome forum is here exclusively to welcome our new members. Please continue your conversations on forums you feel fit the subject. I am going to close this thread (if I can figure out how to do it.)

Giannina


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):