Helena Franzén

“In all my dances I like to pay tribute to the intangible – things that is not meant to be explained – but is affecting you – a kind of hypnotic simplicity. I see myself as the body´s messenger and everything it can express. Everything comes together; the Dance, the Art, the Life”

 Helena Franzén is a choreographer with over 35 years of activity as a dancer and choreographic work. She has created close to 100 scenic works that have toured nationally and internationally. Helena Franzén physical practise covers stage performances, workshops, mentoring, exhibitions, and dance films, primarily in Sweden but also internationally. In her work, the keywords are empathy, tolerance, courage, and personal appeal. 

Helena Franzén strives to work and be presented through touring, residencies, and workshops. In recent years, she has sought out new venues through collaborations with art museums, county museums, libraries, and in public spaces, which has allowed her to also reach a new audience in new places.

Helena Franzén has made commissioned works Skånes Dansteater, Göteborgsoperans danskompani, Norrdans, The Edge, Nytt Dansk Dansteater., 59 Nort/ The Royal Ballet in Stockholm Helena Franzén is a mentor and a teacher at various dance educations mainly in the Nordic countries.

In 2019- 2020 Helena Franzén presented her retrospective exhibition, My Dancing Life at the Dancemuseum in Stockholm with photographs, films, costumes, publications, photo books, interviews with experts from the dance community, and excerpts from her stage works from 30 years of artistic work.

Helena Franzén is a choreographer whose work is characterized by her precision of movement quality and expression. She has developed a personal movement vocabulary, charged with intricate, physical challenges and explosiveness. Her work is often described as physically intelligent, movement poetry with nerve and presence. Recurring themes are about memory, how they take up the space and what they do to us, about the influence the environment has on human kind, and about the phenomena of finite time.

Since 2011 Helena Franzén has collaborated with the photographer and filmmaker Håkan Jelk Many of their dance films have been presented in several dance film festivals like Moving Body Film Festival Bulgary, Exeter International Film Festival, England, In Shadow Lisbon Screendance Festival, Thessaloniki Cinedance International, Greece, Multipliè Dancefilm, Trondheim Norway, 11 international Dancefilm festival, Brussels among others.

In recent years, Helena Franzén has created works that have been performed in alternative spaces such as museums, art galleries, and libraries. In spring 2024 her new creation Brytpunkt/Breking Point, will be presented at the Uppsala art gallery- an exhibition with projections and art objects together with a solo she is dancing herself

In 2007 Helena Franzén obtained a 10-year grant from the Swedish Arts Grants Committee. In 2014 she was awarded The Gannevik prize, the Swedish Art Grant Committee “A choreographer who´s artistic work appeared as mature and detailed already from the beginning. She is uncompromisingly and consistently investigating in the eternal possibilities of the movements in her dance. She is a dance artist that together with her dancers create the poetry of the articulated body.


MIRAGE (2023)
MIRAGE is a dance performance that explores humanity’s complex relationship with nature. The background of the work begins with the acknowledgment that we have been depleting and destroying nature’s resources for a long time, without considering the consequences. But now we are facing a new reality where climate change threatens our existence, and the performance examines the individual’s responsibility versus the collective. In MIRAGE, uncertainty, powerlessness, and guilt are depicted when we try to take responsibility for our planet and approach nature in new ways. The performance also explores the feeling of lacking the ability to influence and questions whether our efforts truly make a difference.

– In nature, I feel like I am a biological being. I am a part of these different life forms, their cycles, textures, repetitions, and patterns. I get to be a part of something timeless, something organic. I get to exist out of necessity, says Helena Franzén and continues: – I think about how we humans are depending on all the life that nature provides us in the form of soil, air, water, which allows us to exist.

I also want to be able to give something back to nature, by sharing my dance and showing the poetry and its necessary existence. /Helena Franzén

Franzén’s phenomenal focus on the body’s movement both in the spatial dimension of the room and in microdetail makes Mirage constantly subdued and super-intense at the same moment. Beautiful, sad, awakening both feeling and thought. DN, Maina Arvas

Whether mirage or not – hope arises nonetheless. The choreography shows a care for details, with four excellent dancers and a cellist, choreographer Helena Franzén shapes an associative work about our existence. Here are both frightening images of human incapacity and tight interaction. Jennifer Wallén emits an energy that goes right through the room, her strong flame lighting a wedge of light that spreads. SVD, Anna Ångström

Premiere at Dansens Hus, Elverket, Stockholm Oct 2023.

Choreography: Helena Franzén
Dancers: Janne Marja-aho, Jennifer Wallén, Joseba Yerro Izaguirre, Kaho Yaganisawa
Music: Emma Augustsson
Costume: Anna-Sara Dåvik
Set design, lightdesign: Håkan Jelk
65 minutes.

Two and a Mirror is a dance performance that plays with the idea of how we perceive ourselves and how others see us. Every day we mirror ourselves and compare ourselves to each other. Do I exist if you don’t see me?

Immediately after the performance, a workshop is offered by the dancers.
30 minutes + workshop 25 minutes.

Target audience: The performance is for ages 7- 14 as well as for public viewing. Touring 2023-24 in schools and as a public performance.
Choreography: Helena Franzén
Dance: Jessica Andrenacci & Linn Ragnarsson
Music: Stefan Johansson
Set design & lighting: Håkan Jelk
Costume: Helena Franzén

I see You (2022)
In the dance performance, I See You, we explore the theme of identity by examining how we shape ourselves in relation to others and what creates an Us versus Them. The performance begins with four unique solos where each dancer carves out their own personality. As the performance progresses, a sense of unity emerges, and a collective expression arises without words. The audience sits on either side of the venue, thereby becoming a physical part of the performance, sharing the same space as the dancers. The questions “Who do you see when you see me? Who do I see when I see you?” permeate the performance, which becomes a reflection on the mutual interaction between visibility and identity.

Audience: age 13- 16 and adults
Choreography: Helena Franzén
Dancers: Anna Borràs, Noelle Guinoo Deriada, Ninos Josef, Jimmie Larsson
Music: Stefan Johansson
Lighting: Håkan Jelk
Set design: Håkan Jelk
Costume: Helena Franzén
Photo: Håkan Jelk
40 minutes.

Helena Franzén has created an artistic work in connection with the exhibition of choreographer Noa Eshkol’s “Rules Theory and Passion” at the Norrköping Art Museum. It is the first major retrospective exhibition in the Nordic region featuring works by Noa Eshkol (1924-2007). The exhibition encompasses Noa Eshkol’s entire life and collected production; her research, theory development, studies of language comprehension, textile art, and movement notation.

Helena Franzén connects her own choreographic work with Noa Eshkol, who also dedicated herself to the body as the ultimate expression, as the messenger of movement. In their dance, it is the stripped-down expression, the non-hierarchical, and the passion for movement as language, that connects them.

In every dance, I want to celebrate the intangible, what cannot be explained but is touching – a kind of hypnotic simplicity… I see myself as a messenger of the body and all it can express. It is precisely this, that the body is the ultimate means of expression, that connects me with Noa Eshkol’s choreographic work. It feels meaningful to be a part of the exhibition at the Norrköping Art Museum with this inspiring dance artist. Like Noa Eshkol, I want to assert that everything is interconnected; dance, art, life. Together, we share the passion for movements.

Choreography and dance: Helena Franzén
Music/mix: Håkan Jelk
25 minutes.

TRIA SOLO (2021)
Helena Franzén continues to deepen her collaboration with musician and composer Jukka Rintamäki, who here creates, in his very special way, a rhythmic landscape full of strings. Photographer and filmmaker Håkan Jelk covers the backstage space with flowing projections, filled with dynamic, organic images. An evening dedicated to dance and the experience of the richness of movements.

Choreography & dance: Helena Franzén
Music: Jukka Rintamäki
Light design/ projections: Håkan Jelk
40 minutes.

Once a Whisper (2022)
In the piece Once a Whisper, Helena Franzén returns to her great source of inspiration, nature, through her unmistakable art of movement. Here are the speaking plants, the dancing bodies that find their voices, and the enchantment over nature and its inner life.

Helena’s world of movement consists of and is built upon various physical landscapes. Through set design, costume, and music, she creates experiences of the sensory, the tactile, what the body perceives. In her work on the piece, Helena has been captivated by poet Louise Glück and her collected poems in the book “Wild Iris.” Helena feels a strong connection with Glück’s poems where the plants speak to us. Through the plants, we experience their life experiences, their cold nights – and the joy of growing and experiencing a brief flowering before the earth calls them back into darkness.

This time, she collaborates with musician and composer Joep Beving. His piano music has garnered significant attention internationally. Joep Beving describes his own music as “an experiment in existential communication, a belief in absolute aesthetics, to prove that a universal and metaphysical reality exists.”

Costume designer Helle Carlsson has created costumes inspired by the colors of lichens and moss, and parts of the costume also become sculptural objects. The set design by Jason Southgate transforms the space into a living bed of moss with an organic, handcrafted wool rug flowing over the floor. Filmmaker Håkan Jelk has created projections that add layers of life to the scenic expression, enhanced by lighting designer Joonas Tikkanen’s light images.

Six dancers create something universal and contemplative in free interpretation. A poetic David Attenborough. It is beautiful. But never just aesthetics. It is lovely but raises questions. At least it is to see nature.

“Franzen has been one of the leading figures in modern dance for several decades now, always inquisitive, always curious. Not least, her films breathe magic. This year’s collaboration with Skånes Dansteater shows that she is as interesting as ever before”.  Ystads Allehanda, Henric Tiselius.

Choreography: Helena Franzén.
Dancers: Tomáš Červinka, Samuel Denton, Jure Gostinčar, Kat Nakui, Marion Rastouil, and Emma Välimäki
Music: Joep Beving.
Set design: Jason Southgate.
Costume design: Helle Carlsson.
Lighting design: Joonas Tikkanen.
Projections: Håkan Jelk.
Rehearsal director: Jenia Kasatkina
45 minutes. Commissioned work for Skånes Dansteater.