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A journey deep into the mind and dreams

Choreographer-dancer Susanna Leinonen and her group are one of the new millennium’s most appreciated and internationally known representatives of Finnish contemporary dance. Since her first work No One, Just Your Friend (2000), Leinonen has created original and personal movement language in her works and also a visual world which is at once enchanting and mysteriously strange. She has also gathered around her a team whose long-term members include composer Kasperi Laine and costume designer Erika Turunen.

Both of these trusted team members have been part of Leinonen’s newest work Grain, which received its first premiere last week in Stoa. The other people involved are Marianne Nyberg (lighting and video) and Kaisu Hölttä (make-up). Grain is not only a food, but is also used in the sense of going with or against the grain.

Leinonen’s solo is like an escaping dream which borders on being a nightmare. The empty and ruined rooms, endless corridors and stopped clock in the video are hints to the spectator. The music is a screeching noise playing back and forth, and it occasionally sounds like an echo of the past with soft parts of old crackly songs.

Leinonen’s figure brings to mind a fighter from a sci-fi television series or an image of a fantasy female warrior from the past. Leinonen moves among scenography and costumes in shades of black, white and dull grey, and the red ribbon wrapped around her chest is like an open wound.

The lighting is merciless despite the soft shades and shows every movement of the dancers’ muscles. Movement series cut by halts are sharp and angular, but the hands are much softer and more elastic.

At the end of the work the dancer steps through a curtain of water that is pouring from the ceiling. Is it cleansing or nourishing? That’s something for the spectator to decide. At any rate it’s not destructive.

Grain is polished and carefully planned like a shiny kernel. It is at once captivating and secretive, a work that is not intended to be interpreted simply.

Annikki Alku
Uutispäivä Demari 3.6.2008