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Uncompromising and spectacular dance

Touch of Gravity by Susanna Leinonen Company was the closing act of Kuopio Dance Festival and without a doubt one of the highlights of this year’s festival. For those who are familiar with Leinonen’s previous work, this comes as no surprise.

The darkly hued piece was in every way a polished performance that spoke to the audience with its uncompromising and abstract beauty. Though both Jouka Valkama’s video art and Joonas Tikkanen’s lighting design were an essential part of the ambitious visuality of the piece, movement remained central. It was sharp and physically challenging movement, that the dancers had internalised to perfection.

The six female dancers of the piece moved like a dream. In a manner that was strictly disciplined, yet soft. The movement was present in their bodies and erupted effortlessly without extra tension. It’s no wonder, as some of the dancers have already been part of several works by Leinonen.

Often Leinonen’s work has led the spectator towards an unknown future, with an undefined threat constantly present. This time too. The darkness in both Eerika Turunen’s costume design with its surprising details, as well as the performance space sharply split from multiple angles by Tikkanen’s spotlights, highlighted the ambiguous time and space of the piece. The thoughtful dialogue between light and dark created magnificent and confusing illusions whilst focusing audience’s attention.

The explosive lighting showers of Valkama’s video art combined with the slowed down movement made the bodies in air or water seem like celestial beings floating in space.

Having worked as Leinonen’s trusted composer for quite some time, Kasperi Laine’s contemporary music with its gongs and clicks gave the performance its unique pulse that associated it with the infinity of space.

The original theme of the piece, gravity and its effects, could be identified especially in Valkama’s videos and in the scenes where the lighting or the costumes were tricking the eye.  The relationship between individuals and groups emerged as very subtle secondary theme in what was in general a very abstract body of work.

Since its opening night last autumn, The Touch of Gravity was now even more polished, an eloquent performance that reinforces Leinonen’s status as one of our most significant contemporary choreographers.

Annikki Alku / Savon Sanomat 16/06/2015