Jarkko Mandelin from Kinetic Orchestra: “The martial arts concept of transforming into water inspired I’m Liquid”

Jarkko Mandelin from Kinetic Orchestra: “The martial arts concept of transforming into water inspired I’m Liquid”

The Helsinki-based contemporary dance company Kinetic Orchestra is coming to London in February to perform I’m Liquid. Jarkko Mandelin, the company’s artistic director and choreographer shares his views on the creative process behind the piece.

How would you describe I’m Liquid?
I’m Liquid is special because of the way we combine diverse choreographic characteristics. We draw elements from the movement styles of martial arts and acrobatics. This production progresses like an avalanche, it doesn’t stop until it’s over. The atmosphere is very intense. Many professionals in the field have said that they haven’t come across a show like this before. There is so much technique, skill, and vision in this piece that it startles. The core idea of I’m Liquid is clear, but it still manages to surprise.

What kind of an audience did you have in mind when making the piece?
This piece works for both dance professionals and people who know nothing about contemporary dance. I’m Liquid is quite immersive. The music is powerful, the moods are clear, and the piece progresses efficiently. I’m Liquid is an accessible piece also because it isn’t one of those minimalistic and postmodern productions that have been mainstream recently. The way this piece is performed is not classical or blank. It is not a production that you need to ‘understand’ in order to be able to follow it.

What inspired you to combine martial arts and acrobatics?
I was inspired to explore the concept of a fighter transforming into water, which is a familiar theme in martial arts. It is kind of a metamorphosis, in which the ability to turn into water or another basic element symbolises the ultimate level of mastering a new skill. I attempted to mix movement ideas and make them work as a dance. It is important to mention that when it comes to concepts like this, it is sometimes difficult to identify those elements that are Western entertainment and those that are essential features of martial arts.  Even though I draw influences from different things, I don’t claim to be a master of either jujitsu or acrobatics. Cultural loans are things that we perhaps understand properly, or we don’t. In art, all elements are borrowed, altered, twisted and turned so there is almost no point in talking about pure concepts.

What is your creative process like?
I usually come up with an idea and as a team we start building on it. It’s important to have long enough creative processes in order to come up with good quality performances and to be able to notice when something isn’t working and then let it go. With I’m Liquid we rehearsed with big gym balls, but we decided to leave them out of the final production. We simply didn’t manage to find a way to work with them in a way where we would have been able to control them in the way we wanted to. After the framework for the choreography was finished, there was no need for me to intervene in the small details because the dancers understood the inner logic of the piece.

Have you performed I’m Liquid abroad? Do you have any expectations for yout London visit?
We haven’t actually performed this piece abroad yet! We are really happy to come to London but I don’t think that performing a dance piece changes into something different just because you do it abroad. Kinetic Orchestra has evolved in such a way that we are now in a very good position to head abroad. In Finland we have reached a stage where there simply isn’t any space left to grow anymore. Somehow I also feel like we have been stingy about going abroad. There is no point in using too much effort into being pushy about our work. Good PR can raise interest, but it won’t lead anywhere if your productions just aren’t good enough. My vision has been that when we actually head abroad, our work needs to be of such high quality that it will carry us.


I’m Liquid,
Jacksons Lane, 269a Archway Road, London N6 5AA
8th February, 7:30pm, 45 mins
Tickets £12

Text: Eeva Lehtonen Photo: Jussi Ulkuniemi

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