International conference in Stockholm – BALLET: WHY AND HOW?


An international conference to illuminate the role of ballet in the life of today’s dancer BALLET: WHY AND HOW? will be hosted by Balettakademien in Stockholm from September 13 to 15, 2012. The conference is organized in partnership with ArtEZ School of Dance, Arnhem, Netherlands and in co-operation with The Juilliard School, Dance Division, New York, U.S.A.The aim of the conference “Ballet: Why and How?” is to provide an international forum for the exchange of ideas and expertise concerning the role of ballet in the professional life and education of the dancers of the future; specifically those whose goal is contemporary or commercial/jazz dance. Schools which provide vocational education for such dancers have long debated how to maximise the benefits of ballet training for their students; which methods to chose, what differences there should or should not be compared to “traditional” ballet training and other related issues. These debates are often mirrored in the professional field amongst both free-lance and contracted dancers: “How” to train ballet? “Why” to train ballet? “Why and how” should ballet classes be available for the professional free-lance or company dancer?

Despite an increase in interest during recent decades in examining ballet’s role in professional and vocational contexts, the subject has never been addressed on an international level, giving advocates of all sides the opportunity to share their experience and expertise with others. By engaging international experts of the highest calibre, “Ballet: Why and How?” aims to illuminate the role of ballet in the dance of today. The conference will present a balanced debate of as many aspects of the subject as possible. Hopefully, delegates will be stimulated, provoked, given opportunities for reflection, exposed to arguments and exchanges of views and, not least, given new insights. The sharing of expertise is one of the most important aims of the conference. There are no given conclusions. What “Ballet: Why and How?” will offer is open debate, the opportunity to gain from others’ experience and to see established practices in a new light.

It will also offer a rare opportunity for leading actors in dance to meet and discuss a subject of mutual interest; a chance for educational establishments and professional companies to meet on common ground; a seldom offered breathing space for reflection about our common heritage and our path forward.

As well as keynote speakers representing international schools and companies, there will be debates, panel discussions, research, movement sessions and master classes.

Keynote speakers include: Sungsoo Ahn, Choreographer and Artistic Director the Pick-up Dance Company, South Korea; Jason Beechey, Rector Palucca Hochschule für Tanz, Germany; Irene Dowd, Anatomical and Neuro-muscular specialist with Canada’s National Ballet School and the Juilliard School, New York; Lynda Mainwaring, Associate Professor of Psychology, Toronto University, Canada; USA; Ohad Naharin, Choreographer and Artistic Director, Batsheva Dance Company, Israel; Lawrence Rhodes, Director of the Juilliard School’s Dance Division, USA; Mavis Staines, Director of Canada’s National Ballet School. Other invited speakers will be leading figures from both schools and companies from UK, Sweden, Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Norway, Iceland, Finland etc. These include at the time of writing Cristina Caprioli, Founder of the independent dance company CCAP and Professor of Choreography at the University of Dance and Circus, Stockholm; Elisabeth Platel, Director, the Paris Opéra Ballet School; Johannes Öhman, Artistic Director the Royal Swedish Ballet; Sanna Nordin-Bates PhD, Psychologist specialising in dance; Derrick Brown, international Master Teacher, Professor Matthew Wyon, Eva Karczag, Kevin Cregan, Amy Raymond, Stijn Celis, Jefta van Dinther, Shobana Jeyasingh, Ana Laguna (Dancer of the Swedish Court) and many others The conference will take place at Dansens Hus, at the City Conference Centre just across the road, and at Balettakademien and Danscentrum. There will be a full social program in the evenings including receptions, dance performances and a boat trip.

The conference will attract approximately 250 delegates comprising top decision makers within the world of dance such as vocational school directors, artistic directors, heads of departments and senior teachers. Also important is the participation of teaching staff, choreographers, dancers and students.

The partnership between the two European vocational schools Balettakademien, Stockholm and the ArtEZ School of Dance Arnhem, guarantees a strong European input. The co-operation and support of the Juilliard School, Dance Division, further highlights the international importance of “Ballet: Why and How?” and Juilliard’s participation as a non-European supporter will give a global perspective and access to expertise from one of the world’s best vocational schools. The international profile of “Ballet: Why and How?” opens the opportunity of arranging a number of special meetings parallel to the conference; one highlighting the role of ballet in the Nordic/Baltic countries and exploring how this region can cooperate and exchange ideas in the future; another for directors and staff of MA programmes in choreography to exchange knowledge and aspirations, a third for an open discussion of problems and solutions for those organisations which arrange open classes for professional dancers and finally a meeting for those heading teacher training/BAs in dance education programmes.

The resource group supporting the conference consists of advisory, international and on-site members.

Their experience covers artistic direction of internationally known dance companies; outstanding stage careers both in ballet, contemporary and commercial dance; international dance education and much more. Patrons of the conference include Princess Christina of Sweden; Mikhail Baryshnikov, Mats Ek and Jiri Kylian.

The conference website at gives you the latest information, registration form, the conference programme, details of keynote and other speakers, supporters etc. I look forward to welcoming you to Stockholm. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or need information.

Registration is now open and any events are limited in numbers so “first come, first served” applies. Register on the website NOW!

The conference is arranged in collaboration with Dansens Hus, Stockholm.

“Ballet: Why and How?” has received funding grants from the Pro Suecia Foundation, the Swedish Arts Council (Kulturrådet) and the Nordic Culture Fund.

“Benefactors” of the conference to date are the Cullberg Ballet and the Jewish Theatre, Stockholm.

“Friends” of the conference to date are:

The ARDT Foundation, the Netherlands; Balettakademien, Gothenburg; Balettakademien, Umeå; Balettschüle of the Basel Theatre, Basel, Switzerland; Dansalliansen AB Stockholm; Danscentrum; the Israeli Embassy, Stockholm; Korea University of the Arts, School of Dance, South Korea; Fontys Dansacademie, the Netherlands; Gothenburg Ballet; The National Ballet School of Iceland; Kristinehamns Folkhögskola; Norrdans; Norrlandsoperan; Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Norway; Regionalteater Väst Dans; The Royal Conservatoire, The Hague, Netherlands; The Royal Swedish Ballet; The Royal Swedish Ballet School; Svenskscenkonst; Skånes Dansteater; The Society of Regional Dance Consultants, Sweden; Teaterförbundet; Valuas College, The Netherlands; University of Dance and Circus (DOCH) Stockholm etc.