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Interview: Liisa Pentti and Full Moon Dance Festival

Finnish dancer Liisa Pentti discusses some aspects of contemporary dance, her own work as a dancer and choreographer, as well as her recent position as the artistic director of Full Moon Dance Festival on 21-25th, 07, 2013 (

Liisa Pentti is one of the key visionaries of the Finnish dance scene. She has worked as a dancer, choreographer and teacher in Finland and abroad since 1986.

Opie Boero Imwinkelried: You are the artistic director of Full Moon Dance Festival on 21-25th, 07, 2013. Could you tell us about the festival?
Liisa Pentti:
The festival is the oldest contemporary dance festival which happens in the small, remote mining town of Pyhäsalmi in the middle of Finland. It started as a summer camp for Finnish dancers and was run by choreographers Marjo Kuusela, Tommi Kitti and Marketta Viitala. Slowly it grew to a more institutionalized festival and it is now the major dance festival presenting Finnish contemporary dance.

Liisa Pentti, Photo by MiaKivinen

Liisa Pentti, Photo by MiaKivinen

OI: The communication material states that you have “steered the festival away from the commercially influenced idea of a ’Finnish platform’ or marketplace for contemporary dance. Instead, the focus is on the development of artistic expression in the field.” Could you please explain?
LP: There is an undefined zone of the commercially influenced idea of a “Finnish platform”. This commercial influence is by no means a Finnish phenomenon but tends to homogenize the dance which gets seen on festivals and bigger venues. This field is under a constant pressure for new products, but in its nature is not to encourage or support the development of the artistic creation in its unpredictable, risk-taking, mostly “difficult to define at the first glance”-form. Also many of the non-commercial works are made for small scale public which is very uneconomical in relation to bigger audiences and venues.
So my belief is that by opening the festival as a possibility for works that challenge this non-risk-taking, more commercialized dance, creates a base for an exchange for artists and surprises for the audience. I like to be surprised.

OI: What can a festival offer to participating artists?
LP: On the practical level, the festival offers a venue and rather large scale publicity and of course a small fee, travels and lodging.
This year I’m organizing After Contemporary- camp during which artists can share thoughts and debate about the contemporariness – camp offers also 2 lectures and in the end an open space for things to pop up during the festival

OI: How do you define contemporary dance?
LP: GEEE- an eternal quest is this question-
Contemporary dance could maybe be defined in two ways in the Western tradition because when you talk, for example, about Russian contemporary dance you are in a different place:
-something that happens now and is contemporary (a relation to the etymology)
-a style that has been influenced by forms like modern dance, tanztheater and neoclasscial ballet and continues to be in favor or clear, outreached line and shapes in the space and a melodramatic story. Something that is built on the past but claims to be the future.


Quest C, Photo by Mika Haaranen

OI: How do you see contemporary dance in the near future; in five years, let’s say?
LP: I wish it would be something we can not even imagine- dancers can come up with things that are not yet “there” so to say because we work often from the non-verbal and in that sense non-logical place in the brain finding connections that are lurking in the outskirts of the consciousness. I´m hopeful something will pop up.

OI: Could you tell us about your own work?
LP: My own work is just at the moment in a place of transition- I did lots of work with creating landscapes with movement and text but now I started to explore music as the source of the movement and its connections for feelings. I´m interested in the ancient Greek tragedy. I´m looking for ways to arise the movement and participation in the audience while they watch the performance. To awaken an urge to move. At the moment I’m working with a series called Spaceparticles with Terry Rileys piece “In C. I’m also developing singing further as part of my solo work.

OI: How is your work engaging for the public?
LP: See above! I’m the last version of the Spaceparticles audience was with us in the first part of the piece.

OI: Do you produce site-specific performances? How does space influence your performances?
LP: Space has an enormous influence on everything I do- I think my work is super- space- sensitive. I usually pay a lot of attention to the vibes and the architecture of the space, also when I create a work.

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Opie Boero Imwinkelried’s work explores language and technology with a focus on the ancient Roman and Greek worlds in connection with contemporary society. Imwinkelried organizes Dimanche Rouge, an experimental performance art event taking place monthly in Paris, France, and abroad. Imwinkelried has shown video works at several international venues including the European Media Art Festival (EMAF), Clermont-Ferrand Videoformes, British Film Institute’s London LGBT Film Festival, and NewFest 2008: The New York LGBT Film Festival. Opie’s work is distributed by Frameline. In the realm of video performance, Imwinkelried has performed at venues including Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Nuit Blanche Paris, and La Gaite Lyrique. In addition to the art practice, Opie Boero Imwinkelried is currently teaching at the largest school of architecture in France, the Ecole National Superieur d’Architecture de Paris La Villette (ENSAPLV), and has taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo and other institutions. Imwinkelried holds a Master’s from the renown Media Study Department at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and pursued studies in different fields including law, philosophy, and a doctorate in classical Latin literature as well as a Master’s in classical archaeology. Imwinkelried spoke at Harvard at the ICAC International Classical Archaeology Congress. Imwinkelried was also involved in several research projects including directing the digital data production and publication project at the Old Fort Niagara excavations, researching for the virtual “reconstruction” of the palace of Ashurnasirpal project using ImmersaDesk™/CAVE™, and coding for the digitalization of Dyonisos inscriptions from the Greek corpus. Facebook: Twitter: Vimeo: Livestream: YouTube: SoundCloud: Flickr:

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