The Full Moon Dance Festival was organized for the first time in 1992. The festival was created to answer a need that had long existed in the world of dance: to provide performance opportunities particularly for young choreographers and dancers. Modern dance flourished in the 1990s, and it needed a festival that took into account the opinions of the artists and whose development was dictated by the terms of dance itself. There was also demand for a forum which would allow space for experimentation and create opportunities for feedback and discussion between performers and audiences. The festival was hosted by the town of Pyhäjärvi (previously called Pyhäsalmi), which had been a lively location for dance for over twenty years. The unusual enthusiasm for dance in this municipality of only seven and a half thousand inhabitants is known as the “Pyhäsalmi Miracle”. Almost all the major figures in modern dance in Finland have come here to perform and teach. In 1998 the festival was accepted as a member of Finland Festivals, which includes the country´s leading cultural festivals. In 1999, Finland Festivals nominated the Full Moon Dance Festival the Festival of the Year.
The Full Moon Dance Festivat (Täydenkuun Tanssit) is organized by the Pyhäsalmi Dance Association (Pyhäsalmen Tanssi ry) and the Artistic Director of the festival is Alpo Aaltokoski. The association also upholds the New Moon Dance School for children and youth (Tanssiopisto Uusikuu) and is one of the four operators in Regional Center for Dance in Northern Finland (Pohjoinen tanssin aluekeskus).
The main aim of the Full Moon Dance Festival is to keep abreast of the time and to respond to the challenges presented by the changes taking place in the dance world by offering choreographers and dancers an opportunity to work and present their work, providing them with feedback from experts and audiences in post-performance discussion sessions and by arranging courses in various areas of dance. Today the greatest problem for freelance producers of dance is the short life span of the productions. Works are performed only three to five times on average. The Full Moon Dance Festival as created a system where six to eight works get an extra eight performances a year. People responsible for arranging and booking dance productions both in Finland and abroad are invited to the festival every year. Hopefully these foreign contacts will facilitate bringing the high quality of Finnish contemporary. The topic for the following three years is “the good life”. The festival welcomes dance performances to other countries as well. Different angles and thus opens multifaceted views for the participants. All in all, the festival is characterised by performances with “heart and soul”.