Born in 1993 under the name Danças na Cidade as a platform of Portuguese dance, the festival quickly became an essential stimulant to the development of the generation of talented artists of the New Portuguese Dance movement, as well as place to meet international artists. In 1997, Ballet International/Tanz Aktuell called it “one of the most important festivals of contemporary dance in Europe.”
An active co-producer of Portuguese and international work, the Alkantara Festival continues to be an important stop in the international festival circuit and a highlight in the cultural calendar, 23 years on.
Inspired by the abolition of borders between disciplines in contemporary artistic work and its contexts, both local – the city of Lisbon and its artistic community – and international, in 2004 the festival changed its name to Alkantara, a word of Arabic origin meaning ‘the bridge’, and took on the slogan, ‘Worlds on Stage’. The Alkantara Festival is a bridge between artists of all continents. It connects Lisbon to the world through an extensive network of international partnerships, taking advantage of Lisbon’s strategic position between Europe and continents with historical connections to Portugal.
The local and the international come together at the Alkantara Festival, a biennial event with a strong identity and a contemporary program of quality work that brings international programmers and audiences to Lisbon.
But Alkantara is much more than its festival. The association, headquartered at Espaço Alkantara, a historic building in the neighborhood of Santos-o-Velho ceded by the Lisbon Municipality, develops a program of artistic residencies and presentations, as well as training, research and international exchange projects, through which it carries out its mission to support, stimulate, and promote Portuguese and international artistic creation.
Alkantara is recognized by the Presidency of the Portuguese Council of Ministers as a Public Service Entity and is considered a project of Cultural Interest by the Portuguese Secretary of State of Culture.