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

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WHERE IS YOUR HOUSE: interview with Danjel Andersson from MDT (Stockholm)

MDT is a new partner of DÉPARTS since July 2012. Since they entered the network 1 year ago, they have been mostly adapting to the ongoing reality and learning how the network works. This is off course tricky, but at the same time, Danjel Andersson – MDT’S director – told us it was a luxury to get inside a network that already exists for such a long time. It was a privilege even if MDT had to compromise both in terms of budget and calendar with a big period of time without really knowing what will happen in the future, because it has been reformulating  its structure and stategies for the next 3 years.

We talked with Danjel Andersson, about MDT and the Swedish dance scene. In the context of general crisis and political contestation in Europe, MDT is on the contrary in a period of renovation. But this investment also implied a crisis three years ago, because money would be used in renovating and not as production money. Therefore, MDT had to be very creative, it had to enter new modes of work. This made Danjel more and more interested in creating a platform for creativity, where people can fail, instead of trying to be a major payer and producer of work.

Take a look at the interview!





Rita Natálio: Danjel, can you present us MDT, its mission and strategies for the coming years?

Danjel Andersson: On a general perspective, MDT’s mission concerns the work we do with artists: we try to follow artists and their work and to support them. But there is a novelty that has affected a lot our strategy. In the Swedish system, we just entered a new phase where are now able to co-produce, which was something we were fighting for a long time.

In the previous Swedish system, the choreographers we were working with, could be chosen by us but the money would come from the Arts council. In this new system, we are both able to coproduce and the artists can apply for support in the Arts Council, which is more close to Central Europe model for performing arts support.

Also, now we have 3-year subsidy, before we had only a 1-year subsidy, therefore we can plan MDT’S program ahead not only in coproduction but also in circulation of artists (touring). We make sure the artists can have a coproduction money, not only after the première as in the previous Swedish system, I mean before it’s too late.

Since I took over in 2010, this is our main mission: the transformation from a presenter – most of local artists – to a coproduction structure. In the international perspective, we are investing also in presenting and coproducing work in Sweden, and taking Swedish artists abroad.

Rita Natálio: What is for MDT the relationship between national local investment and international perspective?

Danjel AnderssonThe coproduction system that we are now entering for the next 3 years, involves original ideas that give us a unique approach on dance funding for Swedish artists.

Coproduction means preproduction money (for organizing residencies, for instance) and also post-production money for helping the work to tour after its première. We try to gather the money even before the artist as a defined project. I guess it’s important for the artist to have the possibility to fail as well, most of the times they don’t know if a project will work or not. So they will not go around saying: “hey, buy me, because I have a great piece!”.   

It’s normally hard for the artists to do this, specially, when he or she does not have a direct contact with the curators.  Therefore, in a more traditional system, if an artist has the possibility to produce a piece, after he premières it, he will produce a DVD or a Vimeo link and he will send it to people who might like or not. But we know that in general, no curator will buy a piece through Vimeo links without really seeing it live. So if the artist only has the occasion to perform the piece in premiere, then it becomes very hard for him to tour it.

In short, we are working both in the preproduction, production and post-production. We are granting everything that is around the production money, with is new compared with Central Europe strategies. Moreover, most of Swedish artists are not aware of how much money they can ask if an international festival invites them to come, they will not be at ease with the technical rider, because they are not familiar with touring, etc. So we are trying to grant them this expertise.  In some cases, MDT is also working with Replay, which means to present a work that was already showed, when we know that the work has a good recognition. This strategy is directed to local artists, because we can save in travels and invest directly in the works. 


Rita Natálio:   What is your main focus as a curator?

Danjel AnderssonIn MDT are concerned with supporting what I call “New Choreographers”. I don’t like to use the word “young” or “emerging”, because there are lots of cases in which people start to choreograph when there are 40 (because they were working as performers before, for instance). So I prefer to use the word “new”, meaning the ones that are not established in the system yet, they don’t have much money to do their works, they are looking for co-production money, etc. And also they haven’t established networks and audiencse yet, so we need to collaborate with them in these different domains.

Most of them are Stockholm based artists. We try to build a platform for them. Then, our strategy is to create a readable program for our colleagues in other countries, we mingle international acknowledged names with Swedish less known artists. If you look at our program you will maybe have the chance to know more that 30% of the name.  And that is not by chance.  The program has purposedly an international reading.

We apply the same principle for acknowledged Swedish artists, that maybe are not so familiar to an European colleague bur will be recognized in the international scene. We mingle these two ranges of artists (i.e, Mette Ingvartsen, Xavier le Roy, together with Marten Spanberg) and then we will compose the program with 70 % percent of these new “unknown” choreographers, thus creating a precise image of the program that allows people to come and see artists they don’t know.  This allows us to invite artists that are also based in other cities than Stockholm through the use of active networks, both formal (like DÉPARTS) and informal (people that we trust). 

In short, one of my aims is to reformulate the image that we have of a Swedish artist and also of the concept of choreography, basically broadening the scope of artists that we call choreographers and Swedish choreographers.  If we take the example form PARTS, where students come out already as “young choreographers”, in the case of the Swedish system, artists that were not connected with networks whatsoever, will be the first to be supported.


Rita Natálio:   To finish, could we give us an example of a Swedish artist that you now supporting within this perspective of broadening the concept of Swedish artist and choreography?

Danjel Andersson: I guess that for MDT is  more important to develop a community based work. I could easily choose more than 15 artists to present you.  It’s a community of artists that are also supporting each other, even if there are strong individuals.

But off course I got very enthusiastic, with the fact the “Beauty and the Beast” from Amanda Apetrea & Halla Ólafsdótti won the prize Jardin D’Europe. In faxt, it was a production we did 2 years ago and it had all the problematics of the Swedish system I mentioned before.


So now we are in this new system where we can do co-production, and we apply together with artists for this money. Next artist that will be co-propduced in this new strategy and within DEPARTS is Ludvid Daae and hopefully we will make him tour even more!