Credit: Isabella Boylston photographed by Karolina Kuras for Fjord Review

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.


Last January, our blog turned towards the sweeping topic of identity. Who we are, how we relate to others, how others relate to us and how we inhabit the world both as individuals and communities, these are inquiries still unfolding in this digital space. With guidance from our beloved guest writers this season, we are discovering a treasure chest of ideas, possibilities and insight.

The stunning dance publication, Fjord Review, creates space for the world of dance to collectively practice such existential contemplation. In Fjord’s first print edition, editor Penelope Ford calls on poet Paul Valery, “But what then is dance, and what can steps say?” The spirit of this inquiry weaves throughout the exquisite pages of Fjord; the magazine’s phenomenal contributors illuminate a world of possibility in response. This publication invites us to deeply appreciate, critique and expand the identity of dance together. You can pick up your own print edition of the beautiful Fjord Review #1 here.

So many thanks to editor Penelope Ford for sharing the story of Fjord Review with our readers.

With heart,

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What’s in a name

Penelope Ford, editor of Fjord Review

“Fjord Review—fjord, like in Norway?” is sometimes the response I get when introducing the publication. Fair enough, too. Fjord doesn’t have an obvious connection to ballet and dance, our subject, but in part that was by design; when I dreamt up Fjord Review, it was to have an expansive take on dance as an art, and not necessarily subscribe to the tropes of how dance has been represented in the media up until now. The word fjord, which bears some connection to my name, is besides a strong structure in nature. I personally feel the connection between dance and our natural world is worth emphasizing, especially at this fragile time for our planet.

The Spark

Fjord Review was inspired in part by a particular moment, rather than a love of dance in general (although, this obviously I have). I think many balletomanes and dance fans can trace their obsession back to a single performance—a kind of dance epiphany. For me, it was seeing Tanja Liedtke’s “Slight,” a contemporary update on Romantic ballet, “La Sylphide” with a rebellious streak. Performed by perhaps a dozen dancers, it was mischievous, kinaesthetic and buzzing with ideas. It opened a new dimension in dance for me; and it was so powerful, I thought, it ought to be written about.

The tragic epilogue to this story is that Liedtke, on the eve of taking up one of Australia’s highest positions in dance as artistic director of Sydney Dance Company, was struck by a vehicle and killed. Dance is the ephemeral art, this we know. I think, what we hope to achieve with writing about dance is not to define, but rather to capture the human experience of seeing dance, the meaning and truth of it.

The Craft

In 2009, I left my native Australia for Toronto, Canada. I spent my time reading ‘the dance shelves’ at the library and seeing as much dance as possible. Simultaneously, traditional print media started to feel the pinch with the rise of online (free) news sources. The global financial crisis contributed to an ill economic climate. Newspapers started to lay off writers, and specialist dance critics were, alas, among the first to be cut. The writing was on the wall for dance criticism as we knew it. I reached out to a few critics, wondering if they would like to write for a new dance journal called Fjord Review, for a fee I could afford. These writers formed the basis for our online dance archive. I’m pleased to continue to have their vast knowledge and brilliant writing across our pages.

The first online iteration of Fjord was around 2012. We have since gone through a number of redesigns, mostly as my own digital skills came of age (as an independent publisher, I have had and continue to do a lot of ‘upskilling.’) At present we publish about twenty regular dance critics writing from London, Paris, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, Melbourne, Sydney, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto. Writing about dance is a demanding task, requiring not only talent and an understanding of the field, but an uncommon amount of sacrifice. It is a joy for me to publish the dance criticism I receive because frequently, it astounds me. The best criticism, I find, occupies the curious space between subjectivity and objectivity, it resonates, and it also must have something to say, meaning that it is civic as well as poetic in many instances.

The Evolution

Recently we published Fjord Review #1, a limited-edition print magazine, a collection of dance criticism, feature articles, and interviews, as well as creative photoshoots with some major names in dance. Dance photographer Karolina Kuras has been instrumental in the production of the print magazine. Not only a gifted artist, she’s dedicated and intrepid, as well as generous and kind. The dancers love working with her. The other key to producing the print edition was finding the right editorial designer. Enter Lorenzo Spatocco, who translates ideas across pages in spite of working an ocean and a language apart. Lorenzo, who works in Rome, Italy, also designed our logo. I am so grateful to all our supporters, and thanks especially to Jai-Dee Dancewear for inviting me to contribute to this blog and who is a lead sponsor of the print edition.

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