Writing Movement – Helsinki : The relationship between writing about contemporary dance, contemporary theatre and performance art

The seventh panel discussion in Finnish Writing Movement was held Noveber 9th as a part of Moving in November festival. The discussion started by presentations by Minna Tawast, editor in chief in Teatter&Tanssi –lehti and critic Maria Säkö. Other panelists were the other artistic director of Moving in November festival Mikael Aaltonen, choreographer-dancer Veli Lehtovaara and the artistic director of Oblivia performance company, performer Annika Tudeer. The discussion was led by Veera Lamberg, editor in chief in Liikekieli.com.

Watching dance and learning about it

Tawast started by talking about dance writing from a journalistic and practical viewpoint in her work for the magazine. She mentioned that the history of writing theatre critiques is longer than writing dance critiques. The problem she sees nowadays in writing about contemporary dance and theatre is that there are not many people who can write about these scenes and genres well with both a historical perspective, knowledge about both theatre and dance and professional journalistic tools.

Photo: Jenni Sainio.

Photo: Jenni Sainio.

Critic Maria Säkö, who mostly writes about contemporary theatre and performance art said that watching dance has made her a more sensitive theatre spectator. She elaborated that by watching dance performances she has started to pay more accurate attention to the quality of the performing: different ways of being authentic, natural, sketchy and centered on stage. It has to do with making perceptions about different qualities of being present.

The scene, conventions and the role of the writer

Annika Tudeer sees the artists, the audience, the producers, critics and readers as one scene, which resonates towards each other and out in the surrounding world. Her background both as dancer and dance critic has its impact on this.

The discussion moved towards talking aboutthe question if there are enough words for speaking about dance. Veli Lehtovaara who has studied in Theatre Academy in Helsinki and in P.A.R.T.S. in Belgium commented – yes, there are enough words but maybe it is a question about conventions, more about how to talk about dance and dance processes.

Mikael Aaltonen who has been working a long time in dance both teaching, producing and curating, works as artistic director for Moving in November festival together with Ari Tenhula. She shared Tawast’s opinion that there is a lack of writers, because both vast and deep knowledge of the field is needed.

A deeply interesting and actual discussion between the panelists and the audience meandered to the function of newspaper reviews and to the power of media and also to thoughts about what the objectivity of a critic is based on.


Jenni Sainio

Writing Movement coordinator together with Veera Lamberg in Liikekieli.com


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