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Välkommen till danstidningen.se. Allt om dans i Norden. Söndag 03 december 2023

A presentation of everyday life – after a fashion


Danstidningens June Horton White kommer här med ett tips för alla som bor i eller kanske har lust att åka till Helsingfors för en fin cirkusföreställning, för i december finns det chans att se enastående Vintercirkus, eller rättare sagt Winter Circus Super på Helsingfors nya vackra Dansens Hus, eller Tanssin Talo som det också heter.

Award-winning director Sanna Silvennoinen and choreographer Jussi Väänänen have returned to Dance Theatre Hurjaruuth’s Winter Circus with their entrusted creative team. The show features a marvelous sampling of circus artists from around the world, and the sound designer has been snatched from the sphere of installation art.
Super is Silvennoinen’s fourth direction work for Winter Circus, but this is the first time she’ll be creating it to the Erkko hall of the newly built Dance House. The huge, modern performance space provides a very different setting for the stage work than the old factory halls of previous years. The auditorium is a fixed frontal grandstand, thus the audience cannot be seated around the stage and close to the performers as is often the custom in circus. This means that the artists must be exceptionally radiant to affect those sitting in the back row of the 700-seat stand.
As I enter the rehearsal hall on a grey November afternoon and am greeted by the sunny team, I am immediately confident of their success. I have arranged to meet with the director, but other team members don’t mind exchanging a word or two either when they are not flying off (figuratively or literally) to their next task.
Sound designer Atte Olsonen introduces me to Solenoids, tiny metal boxes that he has hung around the space. With this remote-controlled metal box one can create a variety of clicks and hisses. The modest-looking device does not sound miraculous on its own, but when there are hundreds of them all over the stands, they can be used to immerse the audience in a heavy rainfall or to bring an invisible character to sneak among the audience. With Solenoids Olsonen evades the problem of sound positioning that regular speakers would present. Naturally the performance also features live music, and the soundscape of the performance is formed in collaboration with the sound designer and the three-person Ninja Beat orchestra.
The rehearsal of a crowd scene ends and I am joined on the bench by an martial artist and actor Gabriele Goria. He tells me that the movement of his character was created in collaboration with Silvennoinen and Väänänen. ”I introduced numerous kung fu techniques and movements to them and we developed the choreography based on the ones they found most inspiring.” Goria, who has previously worked with theatre, is excited about the approach the team has for creating a performance: ”There is immense respect and admiration towards the work of others among the whole group. I’ve learned so much during this project.”
Choreographer Väänänen says that the starting point with other characters too has been the artist’s own strengths and the discipline that is utilized in each scene. ”The process is different from that of a dance piece. In our case, assigning pre-planned dance steps does not serve the performance,” he says. The show is called Winter Circus Super and it features characters with different superpowers. ”We’ve been pondering about what super heroism could be,” Väänänen continues and says that the theme gave freedom to create characters based on circus disciplines.
I inquire about the narrative of the show, and expect that the heroes will be fighting the villains. I am mistaken; Silvennoinen tells me that the aim is to capture moments of everyday life (of superheroes, that is). The spectator is invited to Superverse, a world where superpowers are commonplace and anything is possible by default. Obviously, as the target group of the show is families, the point isn’t to dwell upon a deep existential reflection on an individual’s limitlessness. The idea has been planted however, and it offers an interesting perspective to the show.
As I close the rehearsal room door behind me, I can’t help smiling. How fitting that it is circus folk that create a show about what it would be like if the extraordinary and the fantastic was ”all in a day’s work”!

Winter Circus Super in Dance House Helsinki (Tanssin Talo/Danses Hus) 1.12.2023-28.1.2024

Director: Sanna Silvennoinen
Script: Sanna Silvennoinen & Johanna Keinänen
Choreography: Jussi Väänänen
Light design: Juho Rahijärvi
Costume design: Mirkka Nyrhinen
Set design: Nyrhinen & Rahijärvi
Sound design: Atte Olsonen
Music: Ninja Beat (Niko Votkin, Einari Stylman, Tapani Varis)
Magic tricks & illusions: Joni Pakanen
Jaimee Allen (South-Africa): trio trapeze, cloudswing
Yuridia Ortega Fragoso (Mexico): dance, hair hang
Gabriele Goria (Italy): kungfu
Florian Grobéty (Switzerland): trampoline acrobatics
Nathan Jones (Australia): cloudswing, Chinese hoop diving
Valpuri Kaarninen (Finland): trio trapeze
Gaby Muñoz (Mexico): clowning
Maria Peltola (Finland): trio trapeze
Raphaël Perrenoud (Switzerland): trampoline acrobatics
Eetu Ranta (Finland): diabolo, whips
Guzalnur Uqkun (Uyghur/Sweden): contortion
Vanamo Alatalo (Finland): karate – in evening and weekend shows only, alternating with Antonia Ortiz Myllylahti
Antonia Ortiz Myllylahti (Finland): karate – in evening and weekend shows only, alternating with Vanamo Alatalo


June Horton White

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