Dance exchange programme between Finland and Hong Kong established

A Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony was held in early April 2017 for ‘Creative Meeting Point: Hong Kong x Finland’ – a three-year residency exchange programme for dance artists from Hong Kong and Finland, organised by West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) and three Finnish dance institutions: Dance Info Finland, Zodiak – Centre for New Dance, and Dance House Helsinki.

The collaboration promises to further the development of the dance sectors in each place.

This is West Kowloon’s first joint effort with international dance institutions, and part of their mission to promote the development of arts and culture in Hong Kong. The collaboration promises to further the development of the dance sectors both in Hong Kong and in the Nordic region.

“Over the past 10 years, Finland has been proactively reaching out to foster partnership with countries such as Korea, Japan and Australia. Their well-established dance management and promotion experience can provide a solid reference for Hong Kong’s way forward,” says Anna Cy Chan, Head of Dance, Performing Arts, West Kowloon.

”Dance is a form of language without barriers. It provides us with a common bond and platform for international collaboration and partnership,” she continued. “Finland has been working closely with a number of Nordic and Baltic countries such as Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in dance promotion and development.”

“Their concerted efforts have made the region a leader in this field. By partnering with Finland, West Kowloon will be connecting Hong Kong dance sector with the many Nordic countries in this network. Over the past 10 years, Finland has also been proactively reaching out to foster partnership with countries such as Korea, Japan and Australia. Their well-established dance management and promotion experience can provide a solid reference for Hong Kong’s way forward.”

“We are delighted to learn that Dance House Helsinki, a new dance house will open in Finland in 2020, at roughly the same time the Dancehouse in the Lyric Theatre Complex of West Kowloon District will also be launched. We hope, through this collaboration, both parties will benefit from the experience sharing in terms of programme planning, audience development and engagement. This will no doubt facilitate Hong Kong’s dance industry development and enhance our international connections. Dance is a form of language without barrier and it provides us a common bond and platform for international collaboration and partnership,” added Ms Chan.

The Dance House Helsinki (Planned to be opened in 2020/21) aims to be an accessible and welcoming gathering place for the public/sector while providing amenities for high quality dance performances. The Dance House Helsinki will also ease the decades-long, chronic shortage of rehearsal and performance space for dance artists in the metro area of Finland.

The ceremony was officiated by Duncan Pescod, CEO, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Louis Yu, Executive Director, Performing Arts and Anna CY Chan, Head of Dance, Performing Arts at West Kowloon, Jari Sinkari, Consul-General of Finland and Johanna Manni, Consul, Consulate General of Finland, Hong Kong, Sanna Rekola, Director of Dance Info Finland, and Harri Kuorelahti, Artistic Director of Zodiak – Centre for New Dance.

At the sharing session following the signing, Sanna and Harri presented the overall dance scene in Finland and the Nordic region while the six dance artists from Hong Kong and Finland shared their inspirations and experiences.

The participating Finnish artists are Carl Knif, Sari Palmgren and Linda Martikainen. The participating Hong Kong artists are Justyne Li Sze-yeung, Wayson Poon Wai-shun and Ivy Tsuik Yik-chit.

Three dance artists from Hong Kong – Ivy Tsui Yik-chit, Justyne Li Sze-yeung and Wayson Poon Wai-shun took part in a visit to the Nordic region from 30 November to 18 December 2016. In Copenhagen, Denmark, they visited the international dance festival “ICE HOT”, before taking up residency at the Zodiak – Centre for New Dance in the Cable Factory in Helsinki, Finland, as part of the Helsinki International Artist Programme. Under the exchange programme, Finnish dance artists Carl Knif, Sari Palmgren and Linda Martikainen recently arrived in Hong Kong for a 12-day residency, from 11 March to 22 March. During this time they have interacted and exchanged experience with local dance artists, creative talents and the public. Together with their Hong Kong counterparts, they will work towards a co-production in 2019.

In line with its mission to promote the arts and the cultural development of Hong Kong, the WKCDA has been actively identifying opportunities for collaboration with different domestic and overseas cultural organisations. Apart from signing this MOU with Finland, the WKCDA also signed a partnership agreement with the Shanghai Center of Chinese Operas in 2016. By 2021, the WKCDA plans to have set up cooperation arrangements with four to five cultural institutions from different countries.

Dance Info Finland, established in 1980 (original name as The Finnish Dance Delegation) has the mission to promote the development of Finnish dance art and improving its status and operating conditions in society. It is also an active expert in international collaborations taking part in the steering committee of the ICE HOT Nordic Dance platform, Australia-Finland Dance Exchange and so forth.

Zodiak – Centre for New Dance is a progressive dance organisation in Helsinki and the most significant production house of contemporary dance in Finland. The mission of Zodiak is to produce, present and promote works of high artistic quality and innovation. For the audience, Zodiak offers a versatile program of cutting-edge contemporary dance, events and activities.

The West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong. With a complex of theatres, performance spaces, and M+, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances, and cultural events, as well as provide 23 hectares of public open space, including a two kilometre waterfront promenade.

Sources: Dance Info Finland, Consulate General of Finland in Hong Kong and Macao

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