Jarkko Lehmus Blog: Today, Jeremy, I would like to smack myself with a gauntlet.

<I>Re-Touch</I> in rehearsal, Feb 2013.<br />© Jarkko Lehmus.
Re-Touch in rehearsal, Feb 2013.
© Jarkko Lehmus.

So what’s new under the sun? It’s only been a couple of weeks since the least posting, so you’d think there’s not much to report. A bit of this a bit of that. To start with I spent five days in Luxembourg working for Anu Sistonen with a performance down in Grenoble at the end of the week. Wham-bam, thank you ma’am. It was plenty of fun working with Anu, Jonna Aaltonen and Gregory Beaumont. Lovely people. It was an easy gig, really. They knew the piece already, so I just had to follow their lead and give it all I got. Just another joyous week in the office. A few days of proper sweaty dancing went on and the French audience seemed to like what we had to offer. Most of the other pieces seemed to be of the usual flavour of the month: pretty highly intellectualised conceptual art pieces. All fine and well, but when you see too much of the same for hours on end even the most intelligent of the concepts starts to look ever so slightly boring. Let me make this clear once and for all: if a piece would work better as an essay it should be an essay rather than a performance piece. I guess even the arty Frenchies agreed this time since our dance piece won the Audience Favourite prize. Funny that. Good times for all anyway.

After returning to Helsinki we started creating a new piece with Tero Saarinen. A big bunch of men and a stack of chunky moves. More good times! We have another good few weeks of rehearsals in May and the premiere will be in August, so there’s plenty of time to write about it later. Watch this space…

Tero Saarinen Company: NEW CREATION – a work in progress from Tero Saarinen Company on Vimeo.

What else is new under the sun? A funny thing happened while we were in a car headed for the centre of Grenoble: I got a phone call telling me that I’d been chosen to be the next artistic director of JoJo – Oulu Centre of Dance in the north of Finland. Since you most likely won’t be able to decipher the Finnish content of the website (I know that under the nice branding the actual content of the site is pretty inconclusive at the moment. That’ll be one of the first things I’ll sink my teeth into.), let me enlighten you…

© Jarkko Lehmus.
© Jarkko Lehmus.
JoJo is a regional dance production house with pretty well established international contacts, a very nice little black box theatre at its disposal, a little performance platform in May and an annual dance festival in September. So… From the 1st of January 2014 I’ll be curating the artistic content of the OuDance Festival, planning the co-productions and residencies and hatching some long-term plans for national and international co-operations. It just so happens that it’s almost time for the applications for OuDance 2014, so bring them on! There’ll be more info about the application process and the deadlines on the JoJo website, link to which I included above, so check in and check out the latest.

Since I’m inviting applications, you might wonder what kind of stuff I am looking for. I’m a simple man, so my view of our beloved art form stays the same regardless of my job title. I believe that what is special in dance compared to any other form of art is physicality. No shit, Sherlock. I like physical work. I like sweat. I like emotions. I like imagination. I like the magic of the invisible technique of a performer. I like ideas that are explored and cultivated physically because I believe that our bodies can come up with solutions, questions and possibilities that we couldn’t possibly have thought of purely intellectually. So roll up and show me what you’ve got!

For real, though. I’ve been bitching about how I think things should be done for donkey’s years. Now I’m in a position where I’ll get to find out if my ass can cash the cheques my mouth has written over all those years. I’ve talked a good game. Now let’s see what I’ve got to offer. I do feel like I lack knowledge and skills, but I’ve grown to realise that the more I learn the more I also begin to see the vast magnitude of things that I have no idea about. On occasion I have also come to realise that I’ve got something to give and that my opinions and viewpoints are just as valid as anybody else’s. I work with what I’ve got and acquire new tools through studying and learning on the job. It’s a challenge and I relish it!

About the author

Jarkko Lehmus

Jarkko Lehmus trained at the Finnish National Ballet School and at Millennium Performing Arts in London eventually becoming an award winning soloist at Scottish Ballet. He was also well known for blogging on Balletco.

Now freelance and based in Finland he has worked with Tero Saarinen Company, Susanna Leinonen Company, Finnish National Ballet, David Hughes Dance Company, Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre, Arc Dance Company among others. In his own artistic work Jarkko concentrates on spatial imagination, the physicality of emotions and kinesthetic empathy. He is on Twitter @LehmusWorks and his home on the web is: www.lehmus.works.

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