Odyssey Dance Theatre's upcoming 8th Biennial Xposition 'O' Contemporary Dance Fiesta can hold its own in a local scene packed with dance events because it focuses on the long-term development of the local dance scene, says its artistic director Danny Tan.
Having a multi-dimensional festival line-up is a priority for Tan, who is in his early 40s and critical of festivals that have "just one show". "The arts is not about only one project - it's not simply a 'bang'. We're conscientious about that," he says.
Xposition, a 10-day festival held from Thursday to Sept 12, will feature five main performances from a cast that includes 21 foreign dancers from companies such as Seop Dance Company (South Korea), Motus (Italy) and Sine Qua Non Art (France) as well as artist residencies, masterclass workshops and outreach events.
The festival comes after the recently concluded Samarpana dance festival last month and precedes the National Arts Council's inaugural Got To Move and the Esplanade's da:ns festival next month.
Tan's firm belief that art is not a money-making venture is reflected in the non-profit dance company's festival programming, which aims to make long-term contributions to the local dance scene by developing audiences, training young artists and commissioning new Singaporean works.
Youth Expression Platform, for example, showcases scholars from Odyssey's Talent Excellence Programme, while outreach events, such as an exhibition and video screening of the company's past works, are free to attend.
He says finding artistic partners who share the same vision of long-term development is not easy.
"When I select the dance companies, I need to see that they prioritise the future. They must see the need to develop a generation of artists. It's a unique structure," says the director-choreographer, who founded Odyssey in 1999.
Nevertheless, his partnerships have been successful so far, with a three-year memorandum of understanding with the Italian dance company Motussigned in 2012 and being renewed earlier this year.
The collaboration has seen Odyssey stage five performances in Italy and three Motus performances here.
He feels that formal agreements are necessary to counter misconceptions about artistic collaborations. "A lot of times, people think artists are friends - 'Hi, hi, okay, let's collaborate' - as if it were that easy. But it's not like that."