A Carte Blanche in Lyon

I had a great opportunity to visit Maison de la Danse during its season’s presentation. Even though the presentation week was very busy, I had a chance to meet almost everyone. A huge thanks to all working at Maison de la Danse for a warm welcome and sharing the best practices with me!

Helsinki Dance House will be the first statge dedicated to dance in Finland. It will open in 2020, which means we are not only busy in building the actual building, but also the audiences: Dance House Helsinki will increase significantly the amount of dance audience in Finland and that is something we have to work hard for. Since there are many similaritites between Helsinki and Lyon cities, regions and dance houses (population, size of the stage and audience, etc.), I wanted to to the Carte Blanche week at Maison de la Danse and see how the’ve succeeded in reaching out vast audiences. My main interest was in communication but also in developing and working with audience.

Most impressive thing during the week was the amount of the audience at the presentations and the loyalty of subscribers. Almost every night there was 1.000 people first queuing to get inside, then sitting at the auditorium for almost two hours and listening presentation about the next season’s performances and choreographers. The programme was presented by the programming team and the artistic director Dominique Hervieu.

After the presentation subscribers had a chance to book tickets in advance – before the tickets sales opens to all audience. The formular for booking was very clever in many ways and it obviously created some sort of hype among the subscribers. This was something that really amazed me, and it showed the importance of taking care of regular customers, involving them and getting them really to know the whole programme.

Second thing that impressed me during the Carte Blanche was the use and understanding of videos. Maison de la Dasne uses videos in all its actions and in every level. Numeridanse.tv project opens the archives to everyone which I think is very good for raising dance awareness all over the world. Also, Maison has its own technician who films all the performances seen in the house. Video is one of the easiest and most effective ways to communicate about dance, but I think in general it is still underrated in terms of getting people involved in dance. Maison de la Danse does a really good work in changing this culture.

Third very important thing during the week was to learn about the structures of the programming. I really liked the idea that Maison de la Danse has its own person to take care of young people so that in the programme there will be also several performances especially suitable for them. Maison has also a youth programme that includes active projects with local school and teachers. This is a great way to reach out future audiences and make dance familiar for youngsters.

All together the Carte Blanche week in Maison de la Danse was very inspiring and I’m really happy they were willing to share so many things with me. It was interesting to see all the actions made there towards public, sponsors, artists, local people, other cultural institutes, etc.

Sharing best practices and working together is important if we want dance as an art form to succeed in Europe and in the world.

Tiia Lappalainen
Press Manager at Dance House Helsinki
7 June 2016