Performed online as part of this year’s From Start to Finnish programme, Kvartetto focuses around four individuals who meet onstage to express love, desire and need in a quietly disruptive disabled-led dance work. We speak to choreographer Kati Raatikainen about what to expect from the show:
Can you tell us a bit about the show and what audiences can expect?
Kvartetto is a contemporary choreography with a twist of day dreaming and longing to be touched and loved. More than once a spectator has left the performance with a teardrop in her eye. The stage presence of all three dancers is extraordinary in its natural quality.
And can you tell us about the rehearsal process for this show?
We worked with Kvartetto for 6 months in 2018-2019 in Kokkola, Finland. We gathered together for short periods and practiced dancing together. We tried out how to build instant choreographies through different tasks that I suggested and danced on our favorite songs. What we see in the show is a collection of what was born in our process. An important part of the piece is the theme of longing and loving that came out during the process in our conversations in the lunch brakes. Some scenes of the performance were initiated by the dancers and some by me as the choreographer.
You talk about wanting to ‘choreograph empathy’. How did you go about choreographing empathy in this work and other works?
Choreographing empathy is the title of a great book on history of body, choreography and kinesthetic empathy by Dr. Susan Leigh Foster. In my work I am interested in body politics of the stage (as a historical and contextualized place). Questions like who is seen on the stage, what kind of lived bodies and histories are shown on the stage and in the public sphere of influence, who has the power to create performances are in the center of my artistic thinking. In all dance the experience of kinesthetic empathy is present – it is the way dance operates as an art form. I feel that my work as a choreographer is to give space and focus attention to the already existing choreographies of our societies and ecological processes and also to work in collaboration with others that can’t take the making of performances for granted. By opening space and time to different bodily histories, I hope to wake up empathy in the audience as among the working group.
What’s one thing you hope audiences take from the show?
Joy for being, moving and existing in the same time as same and different with all the others.
What’s next for the company?
We start to plan, find possibilities and funding for a new project where we will invite a few more professional dancers to join us. The project will take place in Kokkola again and the main idea is that the dancers of Kvartetto collaborate even more as choreographers and designers so that their artistic thinking has more visibility.
Kvartetto is available online until 29th August summerhall.co.uk