A Carte Blanche at Dansehallerne Copenhagen

Dansehallerne has been installed in an old Carlsberg factory in Vesterbo district in Copenhagen since 2009. The place is provided by the Carlsberg company and it has always been planned that one day Dansehallerne should leave this place and give it back. During the week I was there, that moment had come, and that created a strange atmosphere… The old brewery is available for the Dansehallerne until the end of 2016, so the team was looking for a new place to settle down and several relocation projects were currently under study. Fortunately, Hanne announced recently that Dansehallerne will be able to remain in the Carlsberg City District, in an other building. In addition to these political and administrative concerns, everybody was also impacted by the construction works that have already started: Dansehallerne was surrounded by construction machines and security fences, embedded in noise and dust… Nevertheless I was warmly welcomed by Hanne, Sofie and all the team!

My week in Dansehallerne

During my stay I had the time to walk around the place and have a look on how everything is running. A week is a little bit short but enough to capture the atmosphere of a place and to get an idea of the activities that take place. I saw the daily rehearsals; I attended a showing of a choreographer who had a 3D project in the Store Scene; I had a meeting with WEGO, a dance and electronic music company who was in residency in the Laboratory stage; I saw 2 performances; I met several services of Dansehallerne…

Hanne and Sofie – The stage team

One of my first aim during this week was to understand precisely how Hanne Svejstrup (Stage Producer) and Sofie Pedersen (Coordinator and Stage Secretary) work, together as well as on their own.

Hanne gave me more details about how Dansehallerne works, how the different tasks are distributed among all the employees, how the activities and the artistic program are planned. She also told me more about her job, what are her main duties and how she organizes her time. She brought me with her to a meeting with a choreographer who will probably be in collaboration with Dansehallerne in the future.

Sofie takes care of the visiting companies and guest productions. She explained me her job, the relationship she has with artists and how she hosts them. She also explained me how she organizes her work with Hanne. She gave me some tips and some specific examples. For instance I was with her when she welcomed a new production and explained them how the theater operates. This is precisely all these little submersions in their work, these “real-life situations” that made me really understand their way of working.

I realized that my job in Maison de la Danse is similar to both Hanne’s and Sofie’s jobs. I am in charge of administratives tasks like Hanne, but I also spend a lot of time welcoming the artists like Sofie. I was really enriching to compare all the little things that build our job.

Jens Christian and Lone – The Project Center

I also had the chance to meet and spend a lot of time with Jens Christian Jensen and Lone Vibe Pedersen who works in the Project Center. The Project Center is a team of two people that helps young choreographers providing them with administrative assistance.

The Project Center offers two kinds of support:

The first one “Coaching and advising” is a free service that helps artists to regulate their jobs, give them tips to get organized, to deal with all the administrative aspects of their work.

The second one “Administration and sparring” is the most important aim of the Project center. It is a further service that helps them create their budget and organize all the financial aspects. The Project Center accompanies the artists in the funding applications and follows them closely in several administrative procedures they have to perform.

After this time spent with Jens Christian, Lone and some artists they helped, I became aware of how lucky the Danish artists were. First because this is almost a free project (if the artists receive a production grant, they just have to pay 5% of the total grant) and also because it is open to all, no matter their experience or artistic line.

Observations

After a few days, I have been really impressed by the horizontal organization of the hierarchy in Dansehallerne. And each time I asked about the organization, everybody told me about a “flat management”, without any pyramidal hierarchy. People were also really aware and proud of this specificity. This leads to a real serene atmosphere, because all people trust each other, no matter their position in the company. And this reflected in the efficiency and simplicity of their work. I also had the opportunity to compare the Danish and the French work conditiions not only in the hierarchy but also in the more practical aspectes like the work schedules, the ergonomy…

I also realized that in all the projects managed by Dansehallerne, there was always a great attention to the becoming of the artists. It was amazing to see how far each person, in their work, was dedicated to this task in his own way: Hanne takes time to meet them and to be attentive to their new projects, Sofie welcomes them warmly and takes care of any details, the team of the Project Center help them for all the administrative tasks.

Finally, I am back to Maison de la Danse with lots of little tips, tools and example to apply in my daily work, but also with a global vision of “our work” enriched by this beautiful stay!

Justine Planus
Assistant Administration / Production at Maison de la Danse Lyon
6 July 2016