Tan moved to Finland from Singapore where she worked as the Head of Dance and Theatre programming at the national arts centre, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. For the last 17 years, she has been programming, producing and advocating dance – including leading the da:ns festival, the largest international dance festival in South East Asia.
Having worked in various roles as a programmer, producer, head of department and member of senior management at a large operating national theatre, Tan is well aware of the complexities of a performing arts landscape: “I find it highly important to take great care and sensitivity to bridge the various needs of the artists, the audience and the institution and its stakeholders," she summarises.
At the Dance House Helsinki, Tan leads the programme team, which has three main priorities: establishing programme partners, creating sustainable frameworks for venue hire and preparing an approach for the programme of the opening season. The team is currently intensively working on SPARKS, a four-year project that will produce six works to be premiered at Dance House Helsinki in 2022–2023. "This new project will enable selected proposals by Finnish dance makers to receive full support in the research, creation and production of new works, including trial periods of using larger scale stages to test out their ideas before the premiere," she describes.
Tan's employment relationship is fixed for 1 year – still, the programme planning covers both immediate and long-term perspectives. “We aim to find a unique position within the overall ecosystem as a house that can offer sustainable collaborative models, especially for larger scale stage work," she explains.
Even though Tan arrived in Helsinki in the middle of misty November, she sees it as a privilege to be able to be part of the Dance House Helsinki team: “The house is a very important development in the performing arts in Finland, as the first venue of this scale solely dedicated to dance," she says.
For her, one important aspect of dance is its ability to liberate and reclaim our bodies that have been commodified and moulded by social norms on race, gender, sexuality and age: “Choreographers and dancers give us the gift of stepping outside of ourselves to see the body beyond what it is or is not. They enable us to consider what the body, and in turn ourselves and society, can and cannot say or do."
In addition to Faith, Mikael Aaltonen (Programme Manager) and Pia Krämer (Senior Advisor) have also started their work in the programme team. Get to know them better by reading Mikael's interview here.