The connection between the body and nature vibrates through Tero Saarinen’s new piece

Sanna Kangasluoma, 2.6.2021

Tero Saarinen's new large scale creation Transit will have its Finnish Premiere at the Helsinki Festival 2021 opening weekend in August. Finnish Dance in Focus magazine interviewed Saarinen just before the world premiere in Sweden last October.

Tero Saarinen's Transit contemporary dance

Transit. Choreography: Tero Saarinen. Photo: Carl Thorborg. Production: Skånes Dansteater with Tero Saarinen Company

The theme of Tero Saarinen‘s piece Transit is the rapid disappearance of nature’s diversity and human responsibility for this change. Although his subject is the climate crisis and its consequences, the choreographer doesn’t see any reason to divide the political from the poetic in his art.

“I don’t consciously set out to create dance that takes a political stance, but my works do always have a strong social conscience,” Saarinen stresses.

“Nature, for me, is a great source of inspiration. There are frequencies, forms and volumes in nature that have a strong influence on me, that feed my thinking and my bodily expression,” he says.

“Nature and the body are the same thing,” the choreographer notes.

We dancers and choreographers still have a chance to be more fully present by understanding this connection with nature and its cycles.

“There is a great deal of information layered in the body. But are we ignoring it, letting it waste away? We are destroying nature as a result of our actions, and at the same time, with our contemporary way of life, constantly distancing ourselves from our own bodies. We don’t listen to the messages the body is sending us.

We dancers and choreographers still have a chance to be more fully present by understanding this connection with nature and its cycles. We still have the sensitivity to perceive that those same vibrational frequencies live within us. We are part of the flora and fauna.”

Saarinen, together with the visual art duo IC98, has set the world of Transit to a trilogy by composer Sebastian Fagerlund which also takes its inspiration from nature. Lighting designer Minna Tiikkainen, sound designer Tuomas Norvio, and costume designer Teemu Muurimäki also had important roles in the creation of the piece.

“Live music, rich, drawing-based video animation about the powers of nature and the universe, and the choreography of bodies at the center of it all – these elements all come at the same theme from different perspectives. I’m happy that I’ve brought these particular creators together, and it feels as if what we’re creating is the kind of crystallization that will hopefully make the viewer think about these important matters.”

“Right now, during the time of corona, it’s even more important to emphasize that our own existence, our relationship to each other and to nature needs to be recalibrated in some way,” Saarinen says with a sigh.

“Although Transit comes out of the erosion and destruction of nature, it also has a strong sense of new possibility rising from the ashes.” Saarinen would like to hope, and believe, that corrective action is still possible.

Tero Saarinen Company’s 25th anniversary season will take place at the Cable Factory in Helsinki on 19–21 August, 2021.

Transit was created as a Nordic co-production. The world premiere by Skånes Dansteater took place at Malmö Opera in Sweden last October.