Aerowaves was established in 1996 as a network to support the activities of younger choreographers. The roots of Aerowaves go back to a system conceived of by John Ashford, who served as theatre director of the comprehensive contemporary dance institution, The Place, by which ten promising artists/groups were selected each year from among the vast number of dance performance videos/DVDs Ashford received and given the opportunity to perform their pieces at The Place. The Aerowaves network members currently consist of theatres, festivals and performing arts professionals in 33 countries across Europe, from which 45 members serve as the selection committee that chooses the twenty young choreographers called the “Aerowaves Twenty” for whom the network will provide support each year. These selected artists receive support under the Creative Europe Platform Grant program (continuing until 2017) to perform their works at affiliated theatres of the network.
In 2011, the network launched the “Spring Forward” festival as a platform for Aerowaves Twenty grant recipients and other artists to perform. The festival is held in a different European city each year; in 2014 its was held in Umeå, Sweden, in 2015 the venue was Barcelona, Spain. In 2016, with the cooperation of Aerowaves associate director and artistic director of the Tanec Praha (Dance Prague) festival, Yvona Kreuzmannová, plans call for the Spring Forward festival to be held in Pilsen, Czech Republic. From 2015, all the performances of the festival can be seen and heard via live streaming.
In addition to the Spring Forward festival, a “Springback Academy” conference is held simultaneously with the festival for young journalists, and critics from around to world to discuss and offer critique, and a “Springback Online Journal” is being published by the conference on an experimental basis.
Among the main Aerowaves partners are, Concertgebouw in Belgium, Tanec Praha in the Czech Republic, Dansehallerne in Denmark, Zodiak in Finland, Maison de la danse de Lyon in France, Mousonturm Frankfurt and Pact Zollverein in Germany, Dublin Dance Festival in Ireland, Dansmakers Amsterdam in the Netherlands and others.