By Minna Harri
Banner Photo by Pekka Mäkinen
Alpo Aaltokoski will make a rare visit to the Bay Area this May. On Wednesday and Thursday May 15 and 16th at 8pm, Alpo Aaltokoski will perform his work “DEEP” at The Garage – 715 Bryant Street in San Francisco — Punkki Co is producing the evening and is to be thanked for bringing Aaltokoski here with some invaluable help from the Garage’s Joe Landini. Punkki Co will share the evening with Alpo Aaltokoski Company.” (Tickets at http://punkkico.bpt.me/)
There are many reasons I recommend you get thee to his show. This is a mature artist who has honed his considerable craft during three decades. If you ever had a glint of interest toward contemporary dance his solo should be on your to-go-to list. In this by now already ripe art form that might sometimes repeat itself unnecessarily, his choreography looks fresh and keeps my focus. His movement flows precise, while he transforms dancers by changing their dynamics or rhythms.
He is not concerned with pretty, the bane of much proscenium dance. The dancers of Alpo Aaltokoski Company are trained and generally athletic, a common result of daily dancing. Surprising ripples of movement, or free referencing outside the contemporary theater dance form, or any number of skills in his pocket, suggest queer bodies. This is important, this morphing of imprinted-by-training Western Theatrical Dancer- bodies.
Aaltokoski’s medium is dance, and indeed it is movement that conveys his art. In a recent interview he stated that dance belongs to everyone, and it is an important form of communication because it has the capacity to make us feel strange:
“For the kinesthetic communication there is the body, which feels and senses, and that of which is utilized, opened and conversed in the dance art. Breaking into silences of bodies implies that we are evidently making our audiences feel other and foreign feelings, which can be confusing and even scary.” (First Indigo Art Blog – http://firstindigo.blogit.fi)
Alpo Aaltokoski is a Finnish choreographer, born in 1958 in the small village of Pyhäjoki. After growing up gay in the agrarian community he studied dance in Helsinki. Apart from producing a vast body of choreographic work, Alpo Aaltokoski has served as social worker and recently vied for a spot as a representative for the Green Party in Helsinki city council.
He held the position of professor of choreography at Theater Academy Helsinki and spent a few years at the helm of the Full Moon dance festival. This festival takes place each July in the same village in Central Finland where he grew up, drawing international participants and local audiences alike.
Aaltokoski’s service to the Finnish dance community also includes being a founding member of Nomadi Productions that has set one of the most successful models for producing and touring contemporary dance in place in his country.
Alpo Aaltokoski will be visiting San Francisco briefly this May, and will show his solo “Deep” at the Garage on May 15 and 16.
Deep is a collaboration with media artist Milla Moilanen.
“Deep” shows us Aaltokoski on stage both in flesh, and as a projection. The film was shot years ago, showing an earlier incarnation of the dancer/choreographer. I find Aaltokoski’s relationship with his aging body striking. There is something very Finnish in its straight forwardness and in its animal-like self absorption.
Alpo Aaltokoski will be chatting with me later this week. I’ll ask him about his work, the peculiarities of the Finnish contemporary dance scene, and what it means to be gay choreographer in Helsinki. The interview will be published here soon.
Choreography and Dance: Alpo Aaltokoski
Lighting Design: Matti Jykylä
Script and direction: Milla Moilanen
Dancer: Alpo Aaltokoski
Editing: Raimo Uunila
Animation: Milla Moilanen
Photography: Keijo Kivioja, Milla Moilanen
Music: Miikka Kari, Epa Tamminen
Duration: 18 min
Premiere: 2.22.2000 Washington, USA
By Alpo Aaltokoski
Wednesday May 15
and Thursday May 16, 8pm
715 Bryant Street
Alpo Aaltokoski’s “Deep” is a homage for the human body.
“Directed by media artist Milla Moilanen, Deep focuses on Aaltokoski’s pale, grayhound-like body. With his wing-like shoulder blades and skull-like face, he is a gorgeous, iconic human animal. Whether live or on (brilliantly shot and edited) film, Aaltokoski’s every shape and physical articulation captures attention.”
— Donald Hutera, Dance Europe / October 2004