Your new work is thought of and presented as a triptych situated in different sites. What was your motivation to structure your new performance like this?
For the new creation, I decided to work on recycling materials, concepts and choreographic principles from my three previous works created between 2016-2021. Eventually, I came to recycle also the performance environments or sites. During these pieces, my choreographic practice was clearly shifting towards ecological problems and their relations to corporeality, performance and stage. For me, the places and environments from which the dance emerges and to which it connects matter a lot. I like to think that dance and choreography can make the places we inhabit with many other kinds of beings matter more fully and perhaps more equally; to quote Chrysa Parkinson.
I see dance as a relational art practice, which has a specific capacity to connect through performing bodies with different kinds of spaces and environments. Dance is an act of belonging, crafting perception and movement with the actual environment. For this reason the site matters for the kind of dances I write. Dances that create spaces with, rather than take place in. Choreography has the potential to question Euclidian conceptions of space and time and to suggest altered ways of perceiving and experiencing these fundamental concepts.
You sign the work together with visual artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila and sound designer Jani Hietanen. How did you work together? And how do you experience the connection between the choreography, Eija-Liisa’s visuals and Jani’s sound work in Nature Untitled?
At this point in the process, I’d like to sign the work with everyone on the artistic team. I feel deeply touched by the honesty, commitment, and creative power of each member of our group. It is true that I have initiated and led the creative process. It is also true that Eija-Liisa’s and Jani’s artistry in sound and scenography play a major role in the work. Yet it is equally true that the work of the performers stands at the heart of this creation. Anni, Elias, Erik, Inga, Kevin, Matilda, and Sofia each have their specificity as artists and unique ways of crafting the dance. Likewise, Luc, Pia, and Heide have theirs in crafting lights and costumes for this creation. Conventions of signing an artwork are not often transparent or convenient in telling about the actual working process, its roles, and hierarchies.
Preparing this creation I was thinking of the possibility of creating a company, something more stable and continuous than a project-based working group. That initial thought has made me pay even more attention to the ethos of working together. How to make space for diverse voices together, what it means to listen to and respect each other, and where does the safe space begin? In precarious circumstances, it is hard at times to not make decisions and establish relations based on fear. Trust is a strange plant, takes practice to garden.
With Eija-Liisa, I find we have an ongoing conversation, we talk relatively often. That is the ground from which the ideas emerge and decisions grow. Working with Jani is for me about listening, in many registers. Listening to the sounds and the dance. Connections between choreography, visuals, and sound vary in each movement of the triptych, and I do not dare yet to say more.
In a talk we had, you spoke about the diverse meanings of the word “energy” in different contexts. Especially about how the word is used within a dance context versus when referring to fossil fuels. Could you elaborate on your thoughts about this?
I got particularly interested in the concept and experience of energy in 2018 while working on a performance titled Katkelma 468. The question was and still is, how to connect theoretical conceptualizations of energy with the sensuous corporeal and kinaesthetic experience. I find dance and choreographic practice an appropriate context to investigate this relation.
The first movement of the new work is inviting the audience to a vast and empty oil silo at the end of October to experience collectively a dance in the lack of warmth. Once a solid container of fossil fuel now transforms into a porous vibrating entity reminding us of many forms and notions of energies that exceed the modern industrialized ethos of measure, control, and burn. Rhythm is a key notion here, accompanied by frequency and intensity. These apply to the performing bodies including the steely body of the oil silo, which is not only containing the performance but performing itself. Sound will be the connecting element creating resonances and ruptures, reaching over the distances.