Social eMotions goes Tanzmesse

Last week the Social eMotions project and especially the dance piece was promoted at Tanzmesse 2016, the largest dance trade show in Europe. 

We were a part of the Dance Info Finland booth, and had a half-hour slot on Friday to demonstrate our work. To give you some context: the main exhibition is in NRW Forum, a beautiful venue that is way too small for the event. The booths are organised mainly according to nations or regions, for example Dance Info Finland hosted a booth where a number of Finnish dance companies then could hang out to talk to people who represent festivals or theatres around the world, and might be interested in staging their performances. To draw crowds to their booths, people do what people in exhibitions do: play videos on screens, display outrageous props, dish out calling cards, candy, memory sticks, hold raffles, serve free booze and have parties etc. Ok, the last one might not happen everywhere, but it is a good way to get people to show up. The place is hot, hectic, busy, stressful.

Therefore it was great that the Finnish booth was an attempt to create an oasis of calm. The booth was designed by Margit Sjöroos and it was pretty much the only booth where you could discuss with someone without shouting or someone constantly bumping into you. Well done, Dance Info Finland!

So, we had a presentation and a demo at the booth, and we had an audience that was about the size that could fit in the space. We first talked (or yelled, as the Vallila fabrics are not magic and thus can’t keep out all the noise) about the project in general, including the scientific part of it. We had some really good questions from the audience, and then we demoed the work – me operating the mobile voting and holding out cards showing the emotion words, Jarkko and Johanna dancing.

I was mainly trying to keep the voting and cards in control, but I made a couple of observations. First, it now feels weird to see the movement without hearing the music. The cellos and their expressivity has grown to be so integral to the work, it is difficult to even recognise the movement, or see the emotions in it without the music. Second, the audience was very intensively involved in the demo, which given the context, was not something that happens automatically. Some people even found the web form and voted.

As expected, as the demo itself progressed, people started to drift away, having persisted through our ten–fifteen minutes of talking and almost ten minutes of dancing. We were happy with how the demo turned out, and that there were so many people, and they were genuinely interested in our work, both the scientific and especially the artistic. I hope this will lead to gigs in the future!

Being a part of Tanzmesse was a really good experience, even though I only took the “light” version and stayed for just the day. Jumping into these completely new contexts, and talking about the research project to non-science people is really interesting, but probably a part of being a “rohkea tekijä”, or having “bold initiative” that Kone Foundation was thinking about when funding our project. This project, and especially the marriage between art and science has definitely been a huge learning experience, and it has had a major boost to my professional development.

We are now getting ready for the premiere of the work in Oulu, OuDance Festival on the 18th September, all the pieces are coming together!

(pictures: Pirjetta Mulari, Dance Info Finland)

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