How to brand a dance festival

Jose Llopis explains how he's updated the lead image for international contemporary dance festival Julidans year by year.

Julidans is the International Festival for Contemporary Dance, held annually in July in seven different theatres in Amsterdam (Netherlands). Because it's contemporary dance, the look and feel has to be contemporary too. So every year, Julidans looks for a different lead image. This has to be attractive and eye-catching, but also has to represent the festival's values and missions. It's a challenge.


The image's theme was 'Julidans is freedom'

This was a breakaway from previous campaigns. The main focus was the concept of 'Julidans is freedom'.

In other words, it is not Swan Lake; there are no rules to be followed in contemporary dance.

The image conveys there are "no rules" when it comes to contemporary dance

I developed a surrealistic scene with a pair of dancers in motion (the flowers) escaping, breaking chains, breaking rules, being free.

I welded the chains myself and attached the flowers with fishing wire

I made the piece on my own, welding the chains and holding the flowers with fishing line. Then it turned from a beautiful sculpture into this photograph.


This year's theme was 'Julidans: you either love it or you hate it'

In 2013 we looked for a new image, different from the previous one, but with the same soul. One sentence to describe the festival is: 'Julidans: you either love it or you hate it'. It was the starting point of the campaign.

The posters grabbed attention on the street

I set out to represent the love and the pain in a powerful and coloured image, something that makes you feel when you look at it.

It was a success on the street because the campaign shone over the others, and it was also easily recognizable and easy to associate with Julidans.

I made the piece from fresh clay and dozens of needles

Again, I made the piece myself. I used fresh clay to shape the heart, and before it was totally dried, I filled it with dozens of needles. It was so hard to resist with the needles, and it quickly got out of hand!


The challenge was to make the body express feelings

A new challenge this time. According with the festival programme for this season, the concept was: 'Expressions with the Body'.

We are used to looking at thousands of images of bodies in motion. The real challenge was to make the body express feelings.

What happens if the body breaks out and starts growing a thorny flower? It was a different way to catch the public's attention.

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Words: Jose Llopis

Jose Llopis is a Spanish designer living in Salzburg, in the Austrian alps.