ODH is a unique opportunity to meet like-minded artists and technology specialists who are interested in creative risk-taking and collaborate in an exciting and supportive atmosphere. Together we explore the relationship between dance and technology to kickstart the future of performance.

ODH24 takes place from 27th – 31st May 2024 in central Oulu, Northern Finland. We are currently looking for participants. Applications are welcome from artists, coders, designers, musicians, dancers, etc – who can demonstrate a commitment to collaboration with a focus on integrating the moving body into their practice. 

ODH24 is a safe space for exploration. Participants will work together to explore the provided technology within a performance context, guided by experienced mentors. The programme will include a matchmaking event on Thursday the 30th of May, and ends with an informal sharing of ideas on the final day – with a small invited audience.

The idea of the Dance Hack transdisciplinary concept is to work collectively on new ideas, rather than preparing things beforehand. The technological theme of this Hack is yet to be confirmed, so anything could happen. The focus is on the relationship between dance and technology, and the process of integrating the two. Last year, we had sensors, interactive projection and soundscape, live musicians and AI.

ODH24 is part of a larger project realised in partnership with Central Europe Dance Theatre (Hungary) and Developing Art (Romania) and co-funded by the European Union and Oulu Culture Foundation Oulu2026. Oulu Dance Hack 2024 is followed by Dance Hacks in Budapest in November 2024 and Bucharest in April 2025.

Participants will be paid a fee and per diem (also covering time spent travelling)

ODH is committed to environmental sustainability. We will cover the cost of the participants’ slow travel and cannot accept participants who use air travel in relation to participating in ODH24. Accommodation is provided.

As an event providing equal opportunity and accessibility, we welcome applicants with special needs or care responsibilities, and can negotiate resources to support their attendance. The venue for ODH24 is a ground-floor studio that is wheelchair accessible.

The call for participants for ODH24 is now closed. Thank you to everyone who applied. We have 120 applications to look through and will notify everyone before the end of March.

The call for participants for Budapest Dance Hack will be launched later in 2024.

If you are local to Oulu and would like to receive an invitation to future Dance Hack events, please enter your details here:

When TaikaBox moved from Cardiff, Wales to Oulu, Finland in 2015, we had a dream to set up a dance/tech studio where artists could experiment with the relationship between movement and technology. We’re still on that journey to having a permanent studio, and in the meantime, have found ways to work with artists from all round the world, introducing them to our methods of cross-media collaboration.

In 2016, we launched Oulu Dance Hack with a 3-day intensive hosted by EduLAB and the Dance Department at Oulu University of Applied Sciences (OAMK). 12 artists were selected from an open call process, and travelled to Oulu in August, spending the time with TaikaBox and a small selection of dance and media students.

We invited local tech businesses to come on board and gave the artists opportunities to work with a robot arm and multifunction sensors as well as the TaikaBox toolkit and the EVE environment at OAMK.

After a day of introductions and experiments with various sensors, the artists split into groups and headed off to their respective studios to get hacking. With support from TaikaBox and some peer sharing sessions, they created short dance works that were shared at the end of the project, inviting an audience to tour the studios to see what had been created.

video made by Jussi Liikala

The structure of the project was repeated in 2017, with a different robot arm, a drone, IR camera/floor projection and the addition of two local musicians to support the visiting artists.

video made by media students from OAMK

In 2018, the Hack was again extended by a day and the artists had access to a 360 camera, 3D tracking with multiple kinects and floor projection, and MYO movement sensors triggering a sound/projection environment. After the sharing at OAMK, we moved into Oulu Museum of Art and showed the work there in the evening.

That was the year we started collaborating with Studio Siilo at Kulttuurivoimala. They run a media workshop that works with young people who have been out of work for a long time, teaching them how to make films and documentaries. They sent a camera crew into the studios throughout the Hack to document the process. We also added morning classes to the programme.

In 2019 we shifted the Hack week to later in the year and integrated it into LUMO – Oulu Light Festival. This meant that we were unable to use the studios at OAMK, so started the week in City Dance and then moved up to Oulu Museum of Art. To connect with the LUMO festival, we incorporated streetlights, flexible LED strips and moving head lights into the project, setting up a programme of performances that was seen by hundreds of visitors over the festival weekend. The collaboration with LUMO, plus funding from the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation enabled us to bring in more mentors and cover the visiting artists’ travel and accommodation costs.

Due to Coronavirus restrictions, 2020’s Oulu Dance Hack was canceled and the situation impacted the 2021 Hack – but in a good way. In Autumn 2020 we were able to rent a studio in Pikisaari for 8 months and set it up with camera, computer and speedy internet to be able to connect with studios elsewhere. (the story of our Connected Studio System is here)

We worked with the system during the Moving Barents – Out of Urgency project, but felt that it would benefit from some deeper research into the nature of connecting two studios, so ODH21 was a collaboration between us and Central Europe Dance Theatre in Budapest. Because of Corona regulations, we could only invite three independent artists into our studio to work with three dancers from CEDT on stage in Bethlen Theatre. The results were fascinating and the project has paved the way for future collaborations.

Coronavirus restrictions once again impacted on Oulu Dance Hack, with February’s ODH22 becoming reduced in scale to focus on Finland-based artists – with one artist joining us online from her studio in Germany. The team took over Pikisali at Oulu Theatre and worked on one main theme, improvising with tech provided by OAMK and Probot. We were joined, for the first time, by Fab Lab, who spent two days with us creating wearable tech and costume elements, and by Damien Brun from University of Lapland who brought a couple of LED wigs for us to test.
The whole week was documented by Kulttuurivoimala and resulted in a live-streamed performance demo and discussion.

The ODH22 Demo was broadcast live on Friday 11th February

OULU DANCE HACK 22b took place at the Proto Showroom on Pikisaari in September. This was the first time we had specifically invited visual artists and designers into the team, which worked really well in the gallery setting. We welcomed Fab Lab into the space for a couple of days and also collaborated with photographer J P Manninen for the first time.
The event also hosted the first pilot for Oulu Sound Hack, bringing local sound artists together to collaborate alongside the dancers and designers.

In 2023, we hacked in the main theatre space at Cultural Centre Valve, with the theme of Artificial Intelligence. Using AI as part of the creative process proved to be a little frustrating, as it is currently impossible to use realtime, but, by combining various AI apps with a toolbox of sensors, we generated some important conversations and interesting performance systems. Under the supervision of Tomi Knuutila from University of Lapland, we experimented with speech to text, text to speech, text to image, video processing with text and conversations with Chat GPT, also exploring ways of generating prompts from choreographic improvisation. The demo at the end of the week generated some lively discussion with the audience. I think that 2023 was our most philosophical Dance Hack so far…

The City of Oulu will become a European Capital of Culture in 2026. Oulu Dance Hack is part of the Cool Contrasts project. Over the next few years we will begin to connect with other European cities, running a programme of Hacks with likeminded organisations and commissioning a series of works to form the basis of Finland’s first Festival of Augmented Dance in 2026.

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