A Lesson on Flying
When I was a kid, I dreamt so often that I was able to fly that I eventually got uncertain of whether it was actually true. If I really, _really_ focused, maybe I could manage?
This memory comes back to me while crossing the bridge between Sweden and Denmark, watching a new country grow on the horizon. No wonder I eventually became a circus artist.
I told my parents I wanted to be a circus artist at age two, started youth circus in Oslo at five, went into politics at twelve, and graduated as a circus artist at 21. Now, at 23, I am privileged enough to combine my political agenda with my profession, as a core crew member in Acting for Climate, and I am privileged enough to cross Scandinavia for my three-week experience in the New Horizons Leadership Program.
My nomad heart bleeds with pandemic guilt and honest excitement.
Now, a week later, I will let you in on a secret: I have gotten to know some people who can easily convince you that they are able to fly, and then actually find a way to make it happen. Luckily, they happen to be my hosting organisation: DYNAMO Workspace for Circus and Performing Arts in Odense, Denmark.
DYNAMO started up in 2017, yet their dream has existed for a long time. Their two artistic directors (and circus artists), Gry Lambertsen and Rune Vadstrøm Andersen, saw an urgent need for space(s) where professional artists can continue developing, exploring and creating. And since nobody else seemed to make that happen, they decided they would have to learn how to fly themselves. Together with producer Ida Nørgaard, they make up the leadership that keeps DYNAMO running and growing.
Coming from the Norwegian circus field, I see in Norway needs and potential very similar to the momentum and impact DYNAMO creates. Norway has a long way to go in terms of recognition and infrastructure for contemporary circus, and a crucial step is to establish a circus space. It will give artists an opportunity to “come home,” boost the creation of Norwegian performances, and create a ripple effect within the whole circus and performing arts community – everything from access to teachers for social circus, to crossover exchange between circus and other art forms. Like Rune and Gry, I would also like to fly.
I have three focus points during my experience at DYNAMO:
1. Creating a punk and inclusive circus space
My Norwegian DYNAMO; how to make it a reality? As artists, how do we create bottom-up solutions, where we take the lead and create the infrastructure necessary for our artform to bloom? How can we balance being practising artists, and advocate for the development of circus in our region? Does one have to choose the one or the other?
2. Incorporating sustainability on all levels
What part does circus play in a sustainable and just society? What is our responsibility as artists? What is our responsibility as future and current leaders? What can DYNAMO do to become a sustainable circus house?
3. Flat structure, the artist/administrator, and remembering to have fun
What is the ideal model for a circus organisation, or a company? How do you create ownership? How to let go of responsibility? Can you practise trust?
My second day, I tried to map out what I see as core values of DYNAMO:
Punk – Visionary – Inclusive
Watching the crew in their space, is like watching someone in their home; constantly redecorating, reorganising, renovating. They juggle practical fixing with zoom meetings, festival planning, funding, artistic development, big dreams, and small practicalities. Rune tells me their strategy from day one has been cooperation.
Having mapped out what I perceive as core values at DYNAMO, I mapped out what values I would like to build my experience upon:
Trust – Openness – Cooperation – Sustainability
During these weeks, I will pose some questions, I will answer some, I will share my thoughts with you. I hope to meet you in a space built on trust, openness, cooperation and sustainability, and invite you to come along and collaborate with me on finding the solutions.
Welcome to my digital diary of the New Horizons Leadership Program!
All artwork by: Emma Langmoen
Published on: 18. January 2021
NHLP has been made possible with the support of Nordisk Kulturfond and Nordic culture Point, Nordic Council of Ministers, and Lund Municipality