History of Zodiak
Zodiak – Center for New Dance premiered its first production at the Helsinki Cable Factory in February 1997. The Centre inherited its artist-led philosophy and independent production model from its predecessor, Zodiak Presents, an association of freelance choreographers founded in 1986.
Zodiak was founded with the mission of providing a working venue for independent dance artists. Its goal was to feature bold, progressive work at the cutting edge of contemporary dance, thereby fostering excellence and awareness of the art form in Finland. Zodiak marked a departure from the tight-knit group identity of Finnish dance companies founded in the 70s and 80s in that each choreographer has always been free to work independently with the artists of their choice, irrespective of whether they are Zodiak members.
For ten years Zodiak Presents played an active role as a production cooperative for independent dance artists, premiering an average of 8–10 productions annually. Zodiak Presents had a defining impact on the evolution of contemporary Finnish dance in the 80s and 90s, gaining public acclaim and forging a reputation in the dance field as a bold and ambitious creative pioneer.
In 1997 Zodiak Presents entered a new era by reinventing itself as the Zodiak – Center for New Dance, now with the mission of becoming a broader, more inclusive forum for both the dance profession and the general public. Its redefined goal was to serve as a joint forum and established performance venue not only for the Helsinki metropolitan area, but for the whole of Finland, showcasing the most exciting new artists, productions and trends in Finnish contemporary dance.
Zodiak’s stated mission and production policy is to create, stage and tour new Finnish dance productions, to take an active role in international networking and collaboration, to engage in outreach work and to provide in-service dance training. Rather than adhering to the artistic vision of a particular director, curator or expert committee, Zodiak embraces the principle of collective leadership to maximize its expressive variety, guarantee the inherent plurality and diversity of its artists and productions and also to foster creative cross-fertilization within the field of contemporary dance.
Under this umbrella-like operating philosophy, Zodiak has become an outlet for a great diversity of expression. It artist-led ideology, independent production model and high standard of artistic excellence have gained worldwide recognition, inspiring the emergence of similar organizations elsewhere in Finland and also internationally.
In autumn 2004 Zodiak was designated the regional dance center of the Helsinki metropolitan area within Finland’s nationwide network of regional dance centers.