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Susanna Leinonen’s perfect exhibition of style

Susanna Leinonen’s And the Line Begins to Blur is a breathtakingly beautiful and harmonious piece. All of its elements holistically complement the same themes, atmosphere and visions. This kind of perfection can easily become soulless and stale, but that doesn’t happen here, where themes of strangeness and belonging that are familiar from previous works have found space around them. This means that the concrete elements of the work are not so condensed as they were in previous works.

Leinonen’s works have always dealt with strangeness and oddness, recently with more angst involved. Even wild surrealistic visions have not always afforded any relief. Leinonen created her own world from the very beginning, with no assumptions that the spectator would understand it without an effort. She offers us completely controlled dream and fantasy images from a world unlike our own. For that reason it is also unpredictable and scary. Leinonen’s work includes some of the atmosphere of science‐fiction and horror films.

And the line begins to blur is brighter and clearer than its predecessors. Matti Jykylä’s lighting constructs impressive, subdued, 2‐dimensional images, which become hazy and misty and which the dancers step into or disappear in from time to time. The spectator experiences a real moment of terror at the beginning of the piece when a lamp falls from the ceiling and nearly hits a dancer on the head. A pale wedge of light remains, shining on the stage like a lamp in a prison cell.

Kasperi Laine’s sound and music supports both the visual aspect and the choreography with a light but purposeful grip, and Erika Turunen’s costumes, which bring Asian war films to mind, strengthen the choreography’s references to an army‐like disciplined group: if you don’t conform, you are inescapably an outsider. Being an outsider is, however, simply depicted. There is no fight against that – and this gives rise to the work’s more mellow, adult flavour.

Leinonen’s demanding movement, in which the hands and torso bend dramatically into ornaments, has been developed in a softer and more spacious direction. The choreographer has also found new wonderful dancers for the piece apart from the familiar virtuosos: Patrick Bragdell, Eric Ernerstedt, Laura Lohi and Elina Häyrynen put their own mark on the precisely controlled movement without fragmenting the whole. Heidi Lehtoranta and Kaisu Hölttä, as well as Leinonen herself, are the sovereigns of this movement.

And the line begins to blur only lasts half an hour; the choreographer has successfully shown restraint. The work doesn’t peter out towards the end, rather the spectator is in the middle of an intense event from start to finish. Quality is most definitely not a synonym of quantity.

Minna Tawast
Dance magazine 5.10.2009