TaikaBox-Reseach and Dev - 2013-16

Tanja Raman dbini industries

International Taika Research and Development

Tanja Raman of Taika Box was supported to undertake a series of r&d visits to producers and dance organisations across Europe to feed into a longer term international strategic plan.

On her return, Tanja reported:

"International Taika was a project that evolved together with the company during the past three years. The project was extended several times and changed quite a lot as TaikaBox underwent major shifts during these years, re-shaping its artistic and production frameworks. This project had an important part in contributing to developing TaikaBox into the organization that it currently is.

We originally planned for this project to help us take steps forward to work internationally and to explore potential new international partners. The focus was on finding venues to tour our work outside the UK. For this purpose, we initially hired London-based producer, Gwen Van Spijk, who has many international connections and a strong track record. We realized early on that this approach was too rigid and did not suit our company. Touring felt too superficial in order to bring benefits in the long-term. We were moving towards creating deeper and more meaningful connections with our partners and the local communities in Wales and we wanted to try this approach to working internationally too. It seemed that there was an interest for working this way. With mutual agreement, we finished working with Gwen and began researching to find like-minded international partners. We gained great help from Siri Wigdel in this process, who has good international connections and more understood what we wanted to achieve.

We started again, but this time, rather than looking for venues to present our work, we started looking for ways to develop long-term partnerships. It seemed obvious to start with Finland, and through Finland we could access other Nordic and Baltic countries as well as Russia. In Spring 2014, we visited potential partners in Oulu and Helsinki.

As a direct result of visiting Finland and meeting with the team at JoJo (Oulu dance centre), a new co-production was planned and created in 2015. This project was supported by my Creative Wales Ambassador award with generous financial support from JoJo.

We had been asked to perform in Paris in Spring 2015, and used the WAI funding to visit the promoters in 2014 and discuss ways of extending our connection. As a result, we arranged workshops with local young people and were also introduced to le104 – an arts centre in Northern Paris that has since offered us a residency.

In late 2014, we also attended the ICE HOT festival in Oslo, Norway. ICE HOT is a dance platform that introduces Nordic dance to international delegates. This was a great way to gain a better insight into Nordic dance and to initiate networks. It was an opportunity to meet with people from Dance Info Finland and Tanssin talo – Finland’s first custom-built dance house, currently being created in Helsinki. These meetings were a good introduction to the Finnish dance sector, and since then, we have run a couple of workshops for dancers at Zodiak in Helsinki, helping to establish us as part of that sector.

From ICE HOT we also gained contacts from further afield - in Japan and the Czech Republic - that we followed up in 2015. John visited Spiral Arts in Tokyo and Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media in Western Japan in late 2015. There is plenty of potential for developing further connections there. However, this needs further work and long-term planning.

John also spent a weekend at the Centre for Arts and Media in Prague, collaborating with artists and producers from all over the world in a dance/technology event. This provided some good connections, particularly in Bremen, Prague and, somewhat ironically, in Coventry (John is originally from the Midlands).

We gained some other contacts from ICE HOT 2014 too, particularly in Norway and Iceland, that we have not been able to follow up yet. We are planning to pursue these later with funding from Finland.

Through Siri Wigdel’s connections we were introduced to the team from Werkplaats Diepenheim in The Netherlands. Tanja visited there in early Feb 2016. This came about from talking with the venue and finding out similarities in our working ethos and values. The connection with Werkplaats was instant and we are now looking at ways of taking the next step to develop our partnership with the organisation by working together in a research project.

It was vital for International Taika-project to evolve together with TaikaBox. It allowed us time to explore how we might operate internationally and start searching for the right partners for us. It certainly expanded our international networks and gave us understanding and confidence to work internationally. We followed the lead whenever we felt that the international partner had similar interests to us. We were more selective, but we feel that we have made stronger connections this way that have long-term benefits to all involved.

TaikaBox will continue expanding its international networks wherever possible. We will apply for additional funds to visit venues that we are interested in developing partnerships in the future, but have not had a chance to do so yet. We are also planning to move on to the next stage of developing partnerships with some of the existing partners that we have created during the International Taika. The plan is to explore working together through research residencies and coproductions. TaikaBox will apply additional funds for these from Wales and Finland and continue strengthening the artistic bridge between these countries.

We are also now looking at ways to develop a production model that incorporates working with international partners and their local communities."


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