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Magnificent, thoroughly polished movement

Susanna Leinonen is known for her carefully measured, extremely polished and physically challenging movement language. There’s nothing wasteful in her works. They’re premeditated bodies of art where soundscapes, lights and costumes combined with the choreography and the uncompromising and assimilated movement are providing the audience with a fantastic arts experience.

All of the above can also be found in Leinonen’s newest choreography Dreams of Replay. As the name suggests, the piece is based on her previous works, but is in no way a remake of them. If one has seen any previous choreographies by Leinonen, there are some passing moments where past movement materials can be detected almost as an inkling.

Movement has always been at the core of Leinonen’s work as its most important element. If possible, it has now become even more central. The only visual elements on the bare stage are Kalle Ropponen’s back and side lit lighting design and Erika Turunen’s costumes that are minimal in colour but rich in detail.

All the focus is on the dancers and they absolutely live up to the challenge. Every movement from the details of the positions to the tips of their fingers is premeditated and delivered to perfection. The five dancers are almost virtuoso ensemble, both standing out as individuals and giving space for each other. Leinonen’s signature ballet-based contemporary style lives and breathes in their dance, both controlled and energetic.

Added challenge for the dancers is provided by Leinonen’s long-term collaborator Kasperi Laine and his soundscape, fascinating in its absurdity. The sound has a life of its own whilst remaining as an essential part of the piece. It’s not music, if by music one means a stand-out melody and a repetitive rhythm. It’s reminiscing and fragmented, fading away and changing just when one thinks they’ve pinned it down.

Usually there hasn’t been much humour in Leinonen’s work. This time there is a hilariously clever duel between two music boxes.

The scenes which at first seem separate, come together in the end to form a logical body of work with a deeper meaning for everyone to find for themselves. References to multiple sources can be detected, starting from the emancipation of Finland.

On the other hand, Dreams of Replay can just be enjoyed as a spectacular dance performance focusing on movement. It can be seen next time this November.

Annikki Alku / Demokraatti, 11/09/2017