The festival

Lugano Dance Project was created with an important aim in mind: to produce three new dance performances every year, conceived by three leading contemporary choreographers from the international scene, drawing on the support of a network of relationships with some of the world’s most important cultural institutions.
The first edition of this project aims to lay the foundation for building an ideal bridge of ideas linking Switzerland, Europe and North America with a view to creating a focal point for the relationship between art, the human body and movement, an intuition that emerged in Ticino out of the experience of the Monte Verità and which spread around the world through the practices of Rudolf Laban.
Lea Moro from Switzerland, Anglo-American Annie Hanauer, Canadian Virginie Brunelle and their completely new choreographies Another Breath, A space for all our tomorrows and Fables, constitute the festival’s programme.
Enriching and completing the programme will be an evening with Tanzfaktor devoted to the young choreography scene in Switzerland, performances, artist's workshops, video installations, documentaries, opportunities for learning featuring the participation of internationally renowned artists, young Swiss talents and scholars.

Aware that we had struck just the right balance of energies, Carmelo Rifici and I envisaged a large-scale international contemporary dance festival. In a very brief space of time, a little over five years, the LAC has realised an important project in the region, both from the artistic standpoint and in terms of audience engagement, and it has been able to achieve this, also and especially thanks to our vibrant production activity.
Lugano Dance Project marks the LAC’s coming of age and clearly shows the cultural centre’s editorial policy which is increasingly oriented towards the contemporary scene. With the Lugano Dance Project the LAC is aiming to go one step further, positioning Lugano to both public and professionals around the world as a cultural hub and a city at the heart of the European continent. The festival aspires to lay the foundation for potential exchanges between the old world and the Americas, with a special focus on North America and Canada, a land of great festivals and the place where I was born. It is my hope that this will prove to be the first of many editions, and that during the days while the festival is running Lugano will become the city of the dance, a place where leading professionals from around the world can meet and dialogue.
We decided to invest in the dance because dance is a universal discipline that encompasses all the other art forms including gestures and movement and because it is profoundly in line with the LAC’s mission. It’s also a festival that I feel is particularly “my own”, one that sums up my professional career. It has been an important challenge that inspired us with the experience of Monte Verità, which flourished in Canton Ticino during the early twentieth century, the site of a spiritual quest and the rediscovery of the human body which expressed an urgent craving for utopia by a group of people who were fleeing from a world at war.
I hope that our project, which has chosen to back a group of artists whom I believe are on the threshold of a professional “turning point” - Virginie Brunelle, Annie Hanauer, Lea Moro - can be an opportunity to introduce them effectively into the world of the arts: a commission from an international festival heightens an artist’s visibility, fosters their professional growth, leads to international tours, financial support from government agencies in their home countries, and improves their capacities and economic sustainability.
Complementing and adding to the programme is the documentary film Dancing Free by Elettra Fiumi which describes the making of Lugano Dance Project and which will be participating in leading international film festivals.
Lugano Dance Project is a quality festival that draws on the fundamental cooperation of Franklin University Switzerland, of the Fondazione Lugano per il Polo Culturale and the generous support of the Manitou Fund, an arts patron whom I would like to take this opportunity to thank, certain that our project represents an example of a good practice that will serve to encourage new and fruitful exchanges between arts patronage and the world of culture, a practice that is still not common in Europe.
Let me conclude by thanking the City of Lugano which seven years ago created the cultural centre: without its vision for the project none of this would have been possible.


The first edition of a contemporary dance festival always involves difficult and important choices and sometimes these can even be gambles or, rather, experiments. Contemporary dance is a universe that has many different shapes and forms and it is hard to give a brief summary or explanation of them; and yet I am firmly convinced that one of the basic principles of my mandate as artistic director of the city’s cultural centre is to experiment, to try out new pathways, to explore the unexplored, to provide a reading of the contemporary scene, to focus on what is currently being done, on activities which by their very nature involve risk.
Since its inception the LAC has expressed a natural vocation for the dance, both by being a venue for large ensembles, and by producing internationally renowned artists. I believe that an entirely new festival like the Lugano Dance Project can provide further essential insights into the contemporary scene, a theme that accompanies and inspires the activities of LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura.
A festival that focuses its attention on the human body in all its frailty – which became so dramatically apparent earlier with the pandemic and now with the war in Ukraine – needs above all to be entrusted to sensitive and intelligent people steeped in the spirit of the times, people who can show this with “care” in their own bodies and in the bodies of their performers. I am certain that the presence of Canadian Virginie Brunelle, Anglo-american Annie Hanauer, and Lea Moro from Switzerland, mothers of the three choreographic creations produced by the LAC, was a wise and courageous choice. These are three artists who accepted our invitation to find inspiration in our present age so rich in change and transformation, so far removed and yet so near to the complex period that gave rise to the utopian community of Monte Verità, a settlement on a hill not far from Ascona, an experience that piqued the interest and curiosity of some of the greatest artists and leading intellectuals of the early twentieth century.
I believe, as others have before me, that truly contemporary art is not just about realising every kind of art form but consists in adopting a perspective on the contemporary. Being in the present means above all looking at its shadows and relating it through complex languages, like that of the dance.
Ours is an expansive festival extending its activities into places and spaces of the LAC and other parts of the city, some of which have never before been used for live performances, and which are revealing their hitherto unexplored possibilities. The week will be an intense one, full of special moments of performance and insight which I hope will arouse the curiosity and attention of sector operators but especially of the public: five days in which, thanks to Tanzfaktor, we will see the best of the new Swiss choreographic scene, we will be going inside the LAC’s museum spaces with Cristina Kristal Rizzo, we will access the sites of the Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano with Cindy Van Acker, we will get the chance to share a coffee with the stars of the festival at the Lido Riva Caccia, during the day we will have fun at the Skatepark, in the evening we will celebrate by dancing in Piazza Luini along with Muhammed Kaltuk.
I am certain that this festival is a real opportunity for the entire region: a chance to discover and to learn. The entire programme was chosen, with the help of Lorenzo Conti’s careful input, to remind us that in a world that has relapsed into madness, women’s bodies and voices remain the only antidotes to savagery.


In imagining the first edition of Lugano Dance Project we immediately considered it essential to take care of the creation of a special place for dialogue and cultural exploration of the themes suggested by the artistic offering and by today’s most urgent questions; we wanted a festival that provides people coming here from around the world with the unique opportunity to get together with local communities of artists, operators and citizens and share practices, aspirations and perspectives towards other possible worlds. We are guided by the same spirit and the same unprejudiced attitude that inspired the men and women who pioneered Monte Verità in Canton Ticino nearly a hundred years ago, who in the words of Dadaist Hugo Ball were in search of a refuge for all those who have in mind new projects– new life paradigms based on caring and cultivating the human body and its experiences, far removed from traditional models and systems. We therefore felt it would be only natural to inaugurate this edition with an opportunity for discussion (one that will be followed by many others during the course of the Festival) on a topic that for some time has interested international panels and which the pandemic with the uncertainty and vulnerability it inflicted, brought to the forefront: that of the “audience”, more specifically, the “dance audience” in relation with the topic of curating and curatorship.
For over twenty years the expressions audience engagement, audience development and audience participation have made their way into the vocabulary of cultural programming like powerful mantras to be adopted and repeated, partly as a result of the guidelines of many national and international funding programmes but also and especially as a result of the profound social, political and economic transformations that have swept over the societies we are living in.
The world of contemporary dance, in extending its range of action to all bodies and not only those forged by technique, has developed a series of democratic and inclusive practices and ideas with the aim of creating new spaces where artists and the “audience” can relate to each other and overcome any form of prejudice and stereotype. These are spaces where exploration and reciprocal learning can occur, places for curating and co-creating, outside the optic box of the theatre and much more than the “performance”, conceived within a wider kind of dramaturgy, one that horizontally embraces the perspectives and positions of the artist/citizen and the spectator/citizen. From an idea of the audience, understood as a community of spectators who gather in the standardised venue of the theatre hall to enjoy a performance, we move on to an idea of the audience understood as a community of citizens in which the human existential condition lies at the heart of every discourse and the only 'public' that can exist is the space that people pass through in their everyday lives. The space where our desires, needs, interests, what moves us meet: the sense of belonging to a group, of sharing a  vision or a place, as well as the quest for well-being or experience, the crossing over towards other people and other places, three impulses, inner and differentiated, whose common denominator is the human body. Some groups and organisations, already infused by this vocation, like the Case Europee della Danza (EDN Network) or the many artistic residency centres scattered all over the world, have been able to spontaneously expand their programming curated by multidisciplinary teams and inspired by the idea that the art of dance can contribute vitally to the well-being of people, and especially the bodies of the very young and the elderly, of the socially marginalised and oppressed. One successful instance of this is an international project like Migrant Bodies or the Italian Dance well - movement research for Parkinson's disease, a contemporary dance practice that is aimed mainly, but not exclusively, at people suffering from Parkinson's disease and which takes place in museums and artistic surroundings. In just a brief space of time the dance, and naturally with it the human body, has shown that it can be a powerful vehicle for change, one that, by using artistic practices, has the capacity to transfer to people the basic information and tools to face their own existence in terms of their personal resources, relational and soft skills. The same resources that will also make it possible to improve and expand on the purely spectator experience inside the theatre to include all those other “unconventional” sites (urban, suburban spaces, museums, schools) which the artist’s language is learning to occupy and revitalise.
With this first meeting entitled Auditores, Spectatores, Communitas: “caring” for people in the dance world Lugano Dance Project thanks to the important collaboration with RESO - Rete della Danza Svizzera, intends to sow an initial seed, taking care that it will blossom and grow in the seasons to come, moved by the need to identify ever more spaces, or rather, other margins: of error, of utopia, of collaboration, that ability to accomplish something with others, to act together for a common purpose and for the common good, and which after the pandemic emergency seems to be the only way left for us to act, as we continue to reimagine our structures and models in a more empathetic, open and collaborative way.



Who we are

Curated by
Michel Gagnon, General Direction
Carmelo Rifici, Artistic Direction
Lorenzo Conti, Dance Advisor

LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura

LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura expresses Lugano’s identity as a cultural hub between northern and southern Europe. Overlooking the lake, this atmospheric, architectural marvel plays host to a rich calendar of exhibitions and events, musical seasons and theatre and dance festivals, together with a variety of cultural initiatives and a packed programme of activities for youngsters and families alike. LAC’s cross-genre appeal and the quality of its offerings make it the ideal place to enjoy art in every shape and form.

The artistic direction of the LAC is responsible for the programming of the performing arts. It offers a programme which runs the gamut from prose theatre to contemporary theatre, from national and international dance spectacles to musical programme and successful musical; it has played host to leading figures from the world of theatre and works closely with local artists. The range of performances on offer is addressed to as vast an audience as possible, combining experimentation and tradition. Since its inauguration in 2015, LAC has distinguished itself as a creative and tireless promoter of artistic expression through dance and theater both at home and abroad.