About movement.

 Me, in school at Rotterdam Dance Academy, 2010. Photocredit: Mo Moare

Me, in school at Rotterdam Dance Academy, 2010. Photocredit: Mo Moare

I stepped into the dance-studio for the first time when I was 17 years old. At age 17, you’re considered “old” to be starting out as a dancer. I didn’t think I was starting a new career though - I just wanted to dance.

I still remember my first impressions from walking in to the dance studio: the faint smell of sweat, the loud, pumping music, joyful cheery tones from the dancers coming out from class. I was sick, running a high fever, so I couldn’t actually join the class I had signed up for. I sat down in the corner to watch in high anticipation. When the teacher walked in and started the warmup I got goosebumps all over my body, and I don’t think it was the fever. I felt like I had found home. There started a love so intense that I can’t compare it to anything else. 

After that first semester of lessons I had already decided that this was the thing I was meant to do. I studied at a part time dance school, then Stockholm Ballet Academy and then I got in to Rotterdam Dance Academy(Codarts) - one of the highest ranked contemporary dance schools in the world. It wasn’t easy, I will not pretend it was. Especially in Rotterdam, my classmates had most of them started classical training at age 10 or earlier. But I have always had excellent coordination and I worked my ass off to catch up. 

 One of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken. Dancers Sarah Cernaux, Nassim Feddal & Ali Brainais from “ Compagnie La Baraka ”, with whom I toured with from 2013-2015. Shot in Tunisia while leading them in improvisation.

One of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken. Dancers Sarah Cernaux, Nassim Feddal & Ali Brainais from “Compagnie La Baraka”, with whom I toured with from 2013-2015. Shot in Tunisia while leading them in improvisation.

In my last semester at Codarts I was introduced to Instant Composition, a technique that focuses on performative improvisation. You learn to work with everything around you as inspiration and guidance to create an improvised piece that can be performed infront of an audience. Using light, sound, environment, props and your fellow dance partner(s), you have to peel off all layers of pretending and be true to the moment if you want to create something that makes sense. When you succeed - it’s nothing short of magic. 

Tanne Willow and Marie Klawitter in a Instant Composition Demo during the workshop dance festival "Metamorphosis", Sweden, 2015.

Having a technical training as a base was of great help but this meant a whole new sort of training. I had to train myself to not be afraid to take physical initiative but at the same time be agile enough to be ready to alter my impulses if a new one was introduced. I had to train my mind to let go and learn how to listen with my whole body. I had to listen with my ears, skin, eyes and, most importantly, with my intuition. 

This practice ultimately taught me the most important life lessons I’ve ever learned. Unfortunately I cannot teach them to you, dear reader, for they are lessons of the unspoken and unwritten. They are lessons of a language that cannot be expressed by any literal meaning. That’s the lesson itself.

As I understand the world, I know there’s so much I don’t understand. There are languages that we don’t speak with our voice - but that we all speak. I can best describe it as feelings and intuition - but I believe it is so much more complex than that. I believe there’s a way of connecting with everything around us that is very much real, on a physical level, but that we haven’t been able to really wrap our heads around yet. Some may call it belief or spirituality, some may call it quantum physics. All I know is that I feel it, I can connect on a (so far still small) level with the world around me and even more so since I was introduced to Instant Composition. 

This is why I still today, after giving up my dance career for a career in Photography, always leave space for improvisation. What I want, in any photographic quest, is to reach a real connection to my subject. Whatever my subject may be, I am always a part of it/them and they in turn become a part of myself. What’s portrayed in the end is a communication between me, my subject and the viewer. My goal is that each of those parties will feel a connection to each other that feels genuine, to the core. Just like those moments of magic I’ve experienced on the dance floor.

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 Dancers: Carisa Carroll, Kozue Kasahara and Elise Matthews from  Palm Dance Collective .

Dancers: Carisa Carroll, Kozue Kasahara and Elise Matthews from Palm Dance Collective.

 From my project “Body - Relation - Space” on how we get affected by our surroundings. Based on Instant Composition exercises. Improvised and shot at Pasadena City Hall, 2017.

From my project “Body - Relation - Space” on how we get affected by our surroundings. Based on Instant Composition exercises. Improvised and shot at Pasadena City Hall, 2017.

Tanne Willow was born...

I grew up in a small suburb of Stockholm, Sweden. Surrounded by nature, I spent most of my time either running around in the forest or cooped up in front of some new creation I was working on. Since as long as I can remember, I have been creating little worlds.

I love working with my hands, using different materials to alter reality. As a child, I created worlds of all kinds. Small cities created with colored dough, made up of animal families in shoebox houses. I would turn my room into a glacier using my mother's sheets to form icebergs where my stuffed animals could rest from swimming on my bedroom floor. Outdoors I would build forts and homey hideouts out of anything I could get my hands on. 


This fascination with the fantastic has been mirrored in my drifting mind. Not that the world isn't beautiful enough as-is, but I've always felt it is often misunderstood, misinterpreted and underestimated by us humans - myself included. The quest for understanding more about this world has made my mind drift to places I find very precious. Whether it's as simple as noticing a streak of light dancing on a wall or as complicated as trying to understand the concept of time, I constantly have the need to return inwards to a place of fantasy and imagination where new ideas can take form. Born from a place of wonder and child play - I like to think my approach is a humble and curious one, filled with intuition and improvisation.

As a photographer, my work is driven by the same lust for evolving my view of the world (as well as other's). I still create my little worlds - sometimes by using props, sometimes just by shifting camera-angle. In order to convey messages at the same time as I get the chance to explore the new and unknown for myself. Every time I go on a new creative quest I find myself as much a student of the unknown as I'm a leader of creation. Photography constantly opens up new worlds of possibilities for my mind. It is like learning a new language - one that cannot be translated in words and therefore doesn't have the limitations of speech. A language that let's my mind flow freely.