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Beautiful and tender Babolat

It is wonderful that, despite its meagre dance programme, Helsinki Festival managed to find space for promising young choreographer Susanna Leinonen’s newest first premiere Babolat. Leinonen’s first choreography No One, Just Your Friend has already been highly acclaimed and attracted a lot of interest. In her new work she continues her collaboration with composer Tapani Rinne.

The beauty of soft movement

Already during the first moments of Babolat it becomes apparent that Leinonen attaches a great deal of importance to even the smallest details. In a disappearing wedge of light five dancers rose up and disappeared leaving the spectator with glimpses of initial movement and trembling hands. As the light increased and the music began the dancers’ movement progressed from the hand to the whole body. Eastern music is met with soft, flowing movement which is enriched by an abundance of detail. The spectator felt as if he was transported to a mysterious world of miniature objects which need to be looked at carefully. Susanna Leinonen has already demonstrated that she has a personal way of creating movement. She trusts in movement, dance, and the dancer. Babolat was full of beautiful solos, duets and group scenes. Heidi Lehtoranta’s couple of tender solos left room for the dancer’s own presence, while Anne Raudaskoski and Valtteri Raekallio’s duet sought excitement and contact between a man and a woman.

Separate elements

The work dealt abstractly and loosely with personal relationships. Separate scenes followed each other and, while there was no intent to tell a story as such, one was left wishing for scenes that would connect the elements. The soundworld designed by Tapani Rinne complemented Leinonen’s unprejudiced desire to jump unimpinged from one thing to the next. From the midst of India’s plaintive intonations we leaped into swing, which was played unnecessarily loud. A piece of Mozart was a jubilant surprise, during which time the dancers separated from one another. The basic images of the movement remained the same despite the rhythmic changes. With regards to the bold musical choices, the dance could have been bolder too, which would have broken and enriched Babolat’s harmony.

Pirjo Raiskio
Turun Sanomat 3.9.2001