The individual dance scenes of Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands all have particular resources and challenges. Thus, based on the above assessment of each island we see the potential to meet each other's needs by creating a network which can provide a synergistic ecosystem. Furthermore, from a geographical and historical point of view it seems strange that the three islands with such a close proximity to each other aren't collaborating.
A network between the North Atlantic Islands would allow dance artists facing similar challenges and geographic barriers to connect, share ideas and infrastructures. It also carries the opportunity for a community of colleagues to emerge and confront the isolation when working in the dance sector on the North Atlantic islands.
The dance scene in Greenland is extremely fragile due to a very limited number of professionals residing in the country. At the same time the dance scene is young with the first Greenlandic dance studio having opened in 2011 in Nuuk. In the same year Alexander Montgomery-Andersen graduated from a higher dance education abroad and became Greenlands first professional dancer. Greenlands unique infrastructure also raises the difficulty of targeting more than one city at the time, which usually leads to most opportunities only being within the capital city of Nuuk. Due to the enormous distances between populated areas financial hurdles occur which means that approx. 70% of the population does not get the opportunity to interact with dance.
And yet, Greenland has arranged several internordic dance and culture festivals. Dance teachers both foreign and local come and teach workshops and summer camps on a regular basis. This activity tells us that there is an interest for dance, that facilities do exist and that there is willingness to finance dance related projects and activities. Greenland is lacking dance professionals to facilitate all these activities on a regular basis and is in need of people who want to create dance art and share their knowledge and passion locally. Through a North Atlantic network the few dance artists working locally will have access to resources and a community that can support the scene throughout this process. Further it will allow the dance scene to become more sustainable by avoiding the dance scene being dependent on individuals carrying it single handedly. This will allow the Greenlandic dance scene to flourish and ultimately make dance more accessible.
Iceland is the most populated area in the North Atlantic region and in recent years the Icelandic dance scene has grown thanks to established dance institutions like the Iceland University of Arts, Dansverkstæðið, Reykjavík Dance Festival and the Iceland Dance Company. The growth is reflected in the amount of dance professionals and the size of the dance community and the representation of dance within the society. Unfortunately, along the way, a gap between graduating dance students and professional dance artists has emerged. The early career artists are experiencing difficulties accessing work opportunities as well as integrating into the established structures. This is also reflected in the amount of funding going to early career artists. As a result we are now facing a decrease of new initiatives and absence of dance performances by the new generation. We are witnessing a descent towards a non-sustainable future of the dance profession in Iceland. There is a need for a wider range of opportunities, and sources of inspiration to keep the dance scene attractive for the generations to come. A North Atlantic island dance network could be the meeting point for new collaborations leading to such opportunities and inspiration. Despite the challenges the Icelandic dance scene currently faces, in the North Atlantic island region Iceland can be seen as a hub for dance. In the Nordic context Iceland often has been referred to as the big sibling taking the Faroe Islands and Greenland along.
The Faroese dance scene (here referring to contemporary and street dance) has in recent years bloomed and there is ongoing work done towards establishing a strong dance environment. Dance has become more visible in the Faroese art landscape. There are slowly more opportunities for regular classes for children, youth and adults emerging. At the same time, more professional activity is also taking place. Examples of these are: DansiEksperimentið, that each summer since 2014 brings together professional dancers and dance enthusiasts to create a joint dance performance and RIVA The Faroese Dance Company was established in 2021 which is the first professional dance company on the Islands.
The dance community still lacks their own space. A space dedicated only to dance that can support the increased activity and creative work. All the above mentioned dance activities take place outside of so-called traditional dance spaces, however, dance projects are met with goodwill from various venues and given alternative spaces through in-kind support. The Faroese dance community is working towards establishing a dance space that can be used by professionals for rehearsals and creating new work and for community based activities.
There are some obstacles more prevalent when being based on a small Island group. Professional dance artists based in the Faroe Islands struggle with regularity within their daily physical practice. Their creative practices crave new perspectives and outside input. A dialog is needed to fuel their creative development. Last but not least, they need more opportunities to share their work locally and internationally.
Sporadic inputs by means of workshops and guest teacher lessons are as by now the only input for aspiring contemporary dancers. There is no established structure, within which continuous educational learning can take place. This also hinders a continuous flow of new professionals within the field.