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Nordic Cool 2013

About the festival

February 19-March 17, 2013, the Kennedy Center presents Nordic Cool 2013, a month-long international festival of theater, dance, music, visual arts, literature, design, cuisine, and film to highlight the diverse cultures of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden as well as the territories of Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Áland Islands.

Perhaps more so than any other international festival we've created, Nordic Cool 2013 manifests the intersection of life and nature, art and culture. Appreciation of and respect for the natural environment are reflected throughout the Nordic countries-and they're deeply rooted in the arts there, too.

The impact of the region's long, dark, and cold winters (sometimes brightened by the amazing light of the aurora borealis). The sounds of the surrounding sea. The long horizon. The midnight sun in summer. All of these elements create a unique environment in northern Europe. The purity of the water and air. The lava rocks and evergreens. They all comprise a landscape and natural world that is truly breathtaking.

Along our journey to discover and ultimately create Nordic Cool 2013--and to answer, or at least attempt to answer, the question "What is Nordic?"--I experienced the art, culture, people, land, and values that are honored daily. Among them: nature, sustainability, innovation, design and technology, children's well-being and rights, gender equality, and diversity.

Whether walking down the sloping roof of the Opera House in Oslo all the way to the sea or watching a performance in the brand-new Opera House in Reykjavik... whether dining at globally revered restaurants in Copenhagen or visiting the Louisiana Museum just outside the city...whether boating between icebergs in Nuuk or wandering among 60,000 sheep in the Faroe Islands... whether attending a performance at Sweden's Royal Dramatic Theatre (where Ingmar Bergman once presided), marveling at the exhibitions in the Nobel Prize Museum, or touring the National Design Museum in Helsinki (and being excited and surprised at seeing objects from my personal collection on exhibit there)... I began to form ideas and a picture of the remarkable cultural wealth these countries all possess.

Nordic Cool 2013 brings an unprecedented number of these treasures to the Kennedy Center with performances by more than 750 participating artists in theater, dance, music, and more from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden as well as Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and the Áland Islands. This includes some of the best jazz musicians in the world, as well as one artist who plays on instruments made from ice, including a Norwegian glacier. You'll also be able to enjoy demonstrations and tastings of New Nordic Cuisine; visual art and design exhibitions that will fill the entire building; literary readings and discussions, including one on popular crime novels; and fascinating forums on everything from the meeting of theater and architecture to designs for holistic living. Educational workshops, discussions, and classes will offer contextual information for all of these presentations.

And to complete the journey north, you'll find the beautiful Northern Lights beamed on the Kennedy Center's façade for the duration of the festival. Indeed, Nordic Cool 2013 will offer an extraordinary experience for all who visit. Expect rapture!

Alicia Adams
Vice President, International Programming
Festival Curator