Dancers Ville Oinonen and Maria Nurmela: “We could perform this piece for the rest of our lives!”

Dancers Ville Oinonen and Maria Nurmela: “We could perform this piece for the rest of our lives!”

The Days is a dance performance based on Theo Clinkard’s concept and performed by Ville Oinonen and Maria Nurmela. Here Ville and Maria discuss some of the main themes of the piece and the sometimes challenging journey that led into its creation.

The Days rests fully on your shoulders. How did you end up working together?

Ville: Before this project we knew each other from dance circles but we had never worked together. We then ended up working with the same choreographer but in different projects. It allowed us to start thinking if it would be possible to do something together, and what it could be.

Maria: We both have worked as professional dancers for a long time, but despite this, the desire to learn new things never fades. However, at this stage the things you want to learn become quite specific. That’s why also the people you want to work with need to be quite special. This dimension was present in our collaboration and also led us to want to work with Theo.

Theo Clinkard is an internationally renowned choreographer that hadn’t created duet pieces before The Days. How did he get involved in the project?

: Our main goal was to work with an interesting choreographer. Especially with one whose work hadn’t been seen in Finland and whose vision is something else than what we are used to seeing there. Many professional dancers are familiar with the scenario where most work opportunities stem from choreographers. We thought we would like to turn this way of working on its head and decided to contact him.
Ville: Theo plunged into the project very quickly. When we met him for the first time we only had some feeble ideas about the project. It was brave of Theo to say yes because at that point we didn’t even have funding and we were still trying to collaborate internationally. I guess the project was a bit daring and risky at first!

Being present and finding connections are crucial themes in The Days. How did you end up addressing such topics?

Ville: We didn’t approach the piece through themes, but rather through physical movement. One choreographic experiment started to evolve and Theo began to wonder if this movement could work as the core of the piece. After we found our physical vision, different thematic ideas started to emerge and find their shape.
Maria: Being present in a specific moment and finding connections were also relevant themes when it comes to the way the three of us started to work together. We come from different countries and met more or less by chance. Yet, something meaningful can come into existence if we manage to be present in the moment with each other. I also think that these themes are relevant in the time we are living in. We are often not present in each others company, because we have all sorts of gadgets and devices disrupting the genuine interaction between each other. Through these gadgets we all try to be connected to everyone and everything, but at the end of the day, we are actually not present in any of the interaction we take part in. The simple connection that is at the heart of this dance piece can then turn out to be much more profound experience than what is expected.

Local elderly people form a part of all your performances. What does this add to the piece? 

Maria: When we were in the middle of creating The Days, we talked a lot about the arc of human life, age, relationships and partnerships. Slowly the idea of incorporating two elderly people into the performances emerged and evolved into a key part of the piece. It is very meaningful to get to share The Days with those that have seen more of life than we have. It’s impossible to get tired of having new people take part in the shows, we could perform this piece for the rest of our lives! Each visitor leaves their mark on us.
Ville: Having elderly people take part in the performances without paying any attention to their dance background is also a statement saying that dance and dancing belongs to everybody. Everyone is able to do it and everyone is capable of performing on stage. What is interesting is the individual and their presence, not a challenging choreographic movement.

What kind of reactions has The Days created in its audience?

Maria: We perform so physically close to the audience that it’s hard to feel disconnected from the dance. I believe that this makes the audience’s reaction to the performance stronger because everybody can feel the energy in the space. The Days has made people cry and become visibly moved.
Ville: Each performance has its own nuances depending on the day and situation. Despite this, all performances have a similar emotional charge that invites the audience to marvel at the act of being present in a moment. The arc of the piece, dramaturgy and music direct the audience’s reactions to a specific direction. The most important thing is that each audience member watches the performance with their own energy and through their history.

What plans do you have for the future?

Ville: We want to keep performing The Days. It is such a fascinating piece to perform! The way we get to build connections is magical every time we are on stage. It’s impossible to get sick of! When it comes to performing in different countries, it is really interesting to explore what cultural encounters can add to the piece.
Maria: Creating The Days has been a long project. Somehow it feels like we have now just reached the beginning. After Glasgow, we have more performances lined up in different countries. We will be going to Siberia for example. It will be interesting to see if we end up going even further than that!

The Days at The Finnish Institute’s event Finnish Exposure in Glasgow on February 2nd, 1pm.
CCA Glasgow, 350 Sauchiehall Street, G2 3JD Glasgow

Text: Eeva Lehtonen Photo: Karoliina Korvuo

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