Dance in Switzerland

The Swiss dance scene is heterogeneous, diverse, multifaceted and multi-layered - just like the country itself. Stylistically, an array of styles can be experienced on Swiss stages, from classical ballet to more conceptual contemporary dance, dance theatre to hip-hop and urban dance styles - and all at a very high level.

Although dance is mainly at home in the urban centres, it can also be found beyond the big cities. The structures in the different parts of the country are developed differently: German-speaking Switzerland, like the entire German-speaking region, is characterised by a parallelism of scenes, although the boundaries here are gradually becoming more permeable: on the one hand, multi-discipline houses in five cities run their own institutional companies; in addition, a diverse independent scene is promoted in the different regions. This is well networked and organised in the form of regional IGs. In French-speaking Switzerland, Geneva has a large ensemble at the Opèra de Genève, Lausanne has the independently organised Béjart Ballet, but above all the region is brought to life by a traditionally strong and well-organised independent scene. Ticino has a few independent companies.

In many different towns and regions there are theatres and festivals that (also) present dance. The dance festival Steps of the Migros Culture Percentage also brings a dance festival with national and international productions to Swiss stages every two years.

Thanks to a large number of private dance schools and well-trained dance teachers, dance enthusiasts are introduced to dance with great expertise from an early age. In preparation for a professional dance career, several professional training programmes have been available in Switzerland for some years now at different levels and for the whole range of stylistic orientations (EFZ apprenticeship, higher professional education, Bachelor's and Master's degrees).

In addition to the Swiss-wide professional association Danse Suisse, which works to improve the framework and working conditions for dance and dance practitioners (more on the profile→ here), there is also a structure in the form of the partner organisation Reso, which is involved nationwide with various projects, primarily in the promotion and mediation of dance.

In federal Switzerland, dance is mainly promoted by the cantons and cities. The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia is particularly committed to networking and touring abroad. It also promotes dance with specially developed formats.

In the area of cultural promotion, numerous private foundations and organisations are also committed to dance creation in Switzerland.

The Federal Office of Culture honours and promotes dance within the framework of the Swiss Federal Awards for the Performing Arts (from 2021, formerly the Dance Awards).

Since 2017, the Swiss Archive of the Performing Arts Foundation (SAPA) has been the right address for the documentation and archiving of stage arts and thus of dance creation.

Danse Suisse belongs to a whole network of professional associations and organisations active in the cultural sector, which are united under the Suisseculture organisation and bring the common concerns of those working in the cultural sector into politics at national level. Danse Suisse is also a member of Suisseculture sociale for the betterment of cultural workers in all matters of social security and pensions. In connection with COVID-19, another network has been formed in the form of the Taskforce Culture, to which Danse Suisse also belongs and which is working together to improve the situation of cultural workers in the face of the pandemic.