Investing in a
new dance generation
in Europe
Credits: Joshua
Culture Program of the European Comission

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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WHERE IS YOUR HOUSE? Interview with Cristina Santos, Forum Danša director


Before reading the interview, a small but very important remark:

Today, the Portuguese Foreign Minister Paulo Portas has handed in his resignation. The government number two quit his post just 24 hours ago, and many rumors foretell the fall of the Portuguese Right Government who as negotiated the national public debt together with Angela Merkel.


Cristina Santos

(text taken from a audio interview conducted by Rita Natálio)


September16th 2013 – December 2014

“The new edition PEPCC (Fórum Dança dance formation cycle) will be very different from the previous courses we had here. The new course will be divided in modules that are co-coordinated with invited teachers. Each bloc is more articulated than it was before, because we are concerned with programming a calendar in dialogue to a previous line of research decided autonomously by the choreographer. So, every technical or theoretical class is programmed in dialogue with each mentoring module, each bloc of studies will have a certain inner coherence. I must say that we are really aiming for a new articulation of contents and technique, an articulation which we were not exploring so directly in our previous courses.

Among the artists invited to teach in PEPCC, we have Vera Mantero, Lia Rodrigues, Patrícia Portela and myself. In my module, for instance, I will try to approach a domaine of practice and technique. I want to understand together with students how are certain practices informing and developing work, how are them promoting and supporting a work. What territories can be open by choosing a certain practice?

In class, I will work with some invited choreographers like Jennifer Lacey, Loic Touzé, Margarida Bettencourt.  For instance, in the case of Lacey and Touzé , they are both very engaged with a specific training in their artistic works. What I want to promote is a space for students to analyze this issue of technique and training in their own works, so this will be the space where they can also do their proposals. An ex-student of our previous PEPCC, Urândia Aragão, will also take part of the program with her experience in TKB (Transmedia Knowledge-Base for contemporary dance) and documentation practices

Also, in the new structure of PEPCC, we try to articulate modes of study, both  theoretical and technical. In our previous programs, students were always in search of theoretical studies but they manifested a certain insatisfaction about the way we were constructing the relationships with practice (or the lack of relationship). Now, in each module of our course, we are asking to Theory teachers to bring contents that are more specific to the practice and reality of students. We attempt not to separate theory from other studies. How can we do this? It’s not easy, specially in what concerns teachers coming from academic formats. But we try to provide students multiple access to knowledge, form reflection, to documentation of practices”


 We are going to work with half of the Money we had before (Cristina Santos) 


 “The way we were structurally  depending of external funding till now, is not working anymore, specially with the situation of the economical crisis. I am very concerned with the access of young dance students to professional work. It is more and more difficult, comparing with previous dance generations 15 years ago for (our ex-students who got out form school in 2000, for example), to have to access to financial support, to have the opportunity to work.

In one hand, Portugal never supported activities that are more or less “invisible” like formation, structure, space, research, experimentation etc. This is known in our country, there was never an investment in these areas. With some exceptions off course, but that’s the general picture. On the other hand, we have supported to some extent the area of creation, cultural equipments, festivals, etc. But in the case of Forum Dança, as it is an “invisible” structure of formation, it suffers from both problems: naturally it suffers from the crisis that now is born, but also it suffers form a structural “invisibility” to Portuguese institutions.


The Nineties and the Now – the “Noneties”


“If we compare the situation of our school today to the economical picture of culture twenty years ago, when everything was still to be constructed (there was no kind of cultural support, etc),  the situation was opposed to what it is today. 

In that time “nothing existed”, but there was a potential for everything, a dimension of dream, an ascending line of “wanting more and being able to achieve it”.  Our community of artists was in a process of affirmation, here and abroad. Our public policies for arts funding started to appear. It was the time he had for the first time a Ministry of Culture, that was now recently extinguished within this process of crisis that our country is now facing.

Today, we have a brutal withdrawal of all supports and we are forced to a painful re-adaptation. In the Nineties, there was a dimension of future, the idea (the ideal) that we could achieve certain things or fulfill our plans. In that time, we guaranteed certain things in cultural policies for dance that were rare in other European countries, like Spain or Italy. We started to have a regular support for performance arts that permitted us to even think of alternative formation, development of alternative spaces, etc.

Now, we are loosing all that. For example, just for you to know, we just lost 3 dance studios that we had guaranteed we out past efforts. We took 20 years to have that space, a peculiar and rare infrastructure in Lisbon with 3 studios and a multipurpose room. Now, we have just  a small space left from the original area we occupied in the last years. This causes in me a big anguish because we really depend on the management of a space.