Jarkko is Artistic Director of the JoJo – Oulu Dance Centre based in Northern Finland (map). This month he blogs on the OuDance Festival and taking dance out and across the whole city. Good stuff and much learned…
Head in the sky.
Hands in the mud.
It has been a long time, again, since the last entry. No news there, then. Plenty of water has passed in the Great Yellow River. Plenty of art has happened. Plenty of art has been facilitated.
The 2015 OuDance festival took over life like only the tsunami of a festival can. I tested a few new ideas to make the festival more visible in the city. To make it a true city festival rather than a small happening for a closed group of art connoisseurs. The roots of the festival have been in happenings by local artists taking place all around the public spaces of the city. That needs to be made possible again for the sake of the visibility of the festival and the local artists. At the other end of the scale is producing larger international collaborations and bringing in more guest artists from abroad. My vision is that the entire event will grow to change the face of Oulu as a city for the duration of the festival week. For the festival to become an event that all the citizens of Oulu will be proud to host and be amazed at in equal measures. An event that the good people of Oulu will wait for to happen every year. To eagerly anticipate. To love! In my mind I see dancing footprints that gather pace, size and force steaming towards the far horizon. This year we already had a great buzz around the city. The buzz needs to become a hum and eventually a song that the entire city sings joyously together. That is years of work right there. For a small organisation like ours that work can only be done through drive, passion and collaboration with other organisations. All hands on deck. More hands on deck. Paid hands and free hands. All willing, loving and loved hands. For what is the point of working in the strange field of the arts if we don’t truly love it?
The theme of the festival this year was Physical Emotion. That certainly was experienced in the programme and behind the scenes. Joy, anger, excitement, apprehension, relief, amazement, grief, befuddlement and, ultimately, love for it all! The artists and the entire festival team did wonderful things. The Hysteria people, TaikaBox team, Cecilia Moisio’s crew, Jarkko Mandelin’s Kinetic Orchestra, Minna and Martin’s As2Wrists, our Social eMotions team, Ruff Cut Rockers, Johanna Nuutinen, Hanna Korhonen’s team, all the dance Guerrillaz in the Midzt, all the groups that performed at the Rotuaari square, our production and technical people and everyone who took part in the audience discussions, panels and of course the Battle of the Dance Styles! Sterling work to build on. And build on it we must. There is no option, for this is still a small event that has huge possibilities.
Like our organisation and festival the city of Oulu is also small with huge possibilities. Nokia and Microsoft went and left a huge array of fledgling start-ups in their wake. People from the turmoils of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are slowly but surely trekking across Europe to make this northern city a home for themselves. Life in even the remotest parts of Europe is changing at a very rapid pace. Those changes can be seen as threats or as possibilities. It depends entirely on our viewpoint and our capability of anticipating and adapting. Without those abilities there wouldn’t be any people this far up north, so it is only natural that we dust off the cobwebs of our minds and create solutions rather than problems. Life is changing and change is life. Status quo is a stale and deadly limbo. Trying to hold on to any single moment is futile, because that moment has already passed. The only moment is now and the only way is forward. Whatever ‘forward’ might mean and bring.
Right now we are in the middle of the world premiere of RootlessRoot’s rocking Europium. The biggest and the most kick-ass happening on the dance field of Finland this autumn. Sweat, laughs, sharp satire, tenderness, deafening music, flying splinters and full-contact dancing. It moves, grooves, shakes and awakes. This is what theatre is made of and made for. Without love this piece wouldn’t have been possible either. This week has been filled with hours of finding solutions and making art possible. And now we are here. An now it is all good. This is what my work is. This is what my life is. This is what my life is for. And I love it. How about you?