Writing Movement – Turku: Verbalizing dance

The Writing Movement panel discussion series in Finland was closed by a last panel November 30th in Turku. The discussion was titled Verbalizing dance and held as a part of XS Vol.5 Festival for New Dance and Performance at Kutomo art space.

The discussion started with a presentation by dance pedagogue, researcher, university lecturer and PhD at The Performing Arts Research Centre in Theatre Academy in Helsinki, Kai Lehikoinen. Other panelists were critic Kaisa Kurikka, regional artist of performance art Leena Kela and dance artists Satu Tuittila and Heli Meklin.

In his presentation Lehikoinen mapped the possibilities of dance analysis and opened the role of a critic wider than just in the dance field, to a societal mission. He spoke based on his new coming book: Tanssi sanoiksi: Tanssianalyysin perusteita (freely translated Verbalizing dance: The basics of dance analysis) which was published in December as a part of the Theatre Academy’s publishing series Kinesis.

He stressed the communicative meaning of dance writing and everybody’s right to write about dance. The freedom of speech is a fundamental right. Dance writing is a societal and political thing. Dance has its right to be written.

Pondering around criticism took a lot of the time, as usual. Lehikoinen presented a model by american researcher in esthetics Jerome Stolnitz according to which criticism can be divided into five categories. Criticism can be based on rules, or can be contextual, impressionistic, intentional or new criticism of which the latest refers to the russian formalist tradition.

Photo: Jenni Sainio.

Photo: Jenni Sainio.

When the discussion was opened up the artists told that writing about dance is usually most present when they write applications. Dance texts and books have also been impulse material for artistic work.

Kaisa Kurikka who writes to Turun Sanomat newspaper and to Teatteri&Tanssi magazine told that she has been thinking that dance does not anymore give in to the demands of criticism, because the ways of making dance are so diverse. That’s why she thinks that the discussion about how to find new forms of writing about dance is important.

In the future they would like to read dance texts about art and culture politics and etnographic dance writing. And, from dance research analytic writing about individual performances is wished. They also want more writings about phenomena in the dance and culture field, versatile news and writing from different working positions in the field. Satu Tuittila said that the critiques written in professional theatre and dance publications could be sharper than they’re now, that this could forward the scene.

Jenni Sainio

The writer is Writing Movement coordinator in Finland together with Liikekieli.com’s editor in chief Veera Lamberg.

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