← Back

Resplendent dance in a black dreamworld

Susanna Leinonen once more surpasses all expectations with a new work which is so polished that one could easily believe that it is the work of a highly experienced choreographer.

Leinonen has only made half a dozen dance works. There is nothing superfluous or uncontrolled in the form or content of her works with regards to the dance, movement, soundworld and mise-en-scene, whether considered together or separately. Working uncompromisingly with her material and being committed to the aesthetic of the total art work, she creates harmonious worlds on the stage that open up to the spectator with the brightness and power of an epiphany.

Her new work Disturbed Silence is no exception. It is a concise, darkly hued series that progresses with almost magical excitement. The stark contrast in the mise-en-scene, the collage-like logic and a surreal edge make the spectator read the dream as a stream of consciousness. This is no ordinary dream, however. The painful tone of the scenes refers to situations and images that feed nightmares and the unconscious.

The tension in Disturbed Silence is transmitted through the sound and also gradually through the lights as soon as the stage goes dark. When the wedge of light, which resembles a storm, cuts the stage, it reveals in the darkness a prowling creature with a stooped back. The chalk-white figure in the clown’s costume (Susanna Leinonen) moves slowly and heavily in profile.

The scantly gestured movement is grotesque and has something deliberately aged, puppet-like and mechanical about it. Between a forward-pushing palm and falling, backward-slanting hips a taught, bow-like tension is created. When the figure turns to face the audience the movement speeds up and assumes new and more fluid forms, although the original quality is preserved.

In her first solo Susanna Leinonen reveals her style. She juxtaposes the grand and the fake with the small and concrete, and the primal and grotesque with polished articulation. This creates brutally beautiful, extremely polished and deeply expressive movements and subjects that Kasperi Laine’s soundworld and Mikki Kunttu’s lighting seamlessly accentuate.

Apart from Leinonen the work has four dancers with powerful technique and means of expression. Of these, Heidi Lehtoranta, Kaisu Hölttä and Sara Kovamäki have danced in Leinonen’s works before, while newcomer Maija Kiviluoto slots in seamlessly.

The work’s movement language is very demanding in its precision and nuances. Typically for Leinonen it is contemporary dance that strongly emphasizes classical dance.

The five dancers in the work are resolute, strong and passionate in the solos, duets and group dances. The group dance scene at the end is different from the previous ones with respect to its rhythmic energy.

Leinonen’s new work keeps the spectator captive by refusing to compromise its strong intensity for even a second. It is also a work that sticks in the mind as a pearl among Finnish first premieres this year.

Jan-Peter Kaiku
Dance journal 4/2004