Last evening, November 1st, I had an opportunity to sit down and concentrate on watching your award winning solo production: “Withering”. For me, it is a very intensive, even hypnotic, existential and ontological journey. Ontological on several dimensions: ontological in terms of the ontology of mind and mental state of the character performed, the ontology of artist, you, creating such a representation, the ontology of modern dance as self-expression, as a mean to interact with the world, with oneself, as well as interact and communicate with audience,with me.
Watching and experiencing “Withering” raised several questions concerning my personal ontology, the story of my life and myself, which I continuously construct, iterate and reconstruct for myself and communicate to and with others. During the past summer and especially this autumn, I´ve made some major revisions with my own life. This was partly the reason I decided to come and see your production in Alminsali that Friday in a first place. And was so impressed and touched and totally surprised how can any kind of art, the way of interaction and communication touch me with such intensity.
Well, of course I was lucky to see yours and Ballet Finland´s work, not just any dance performances. It was surely one of the major art experiences in my life this autumn. Furthermore, I´m planning to go to some dance school and start taking lessons beginning from next January. I´ve never took any dance lessons, ever. Yet, you made me so interested in it, so I want to go and try, and familiarize myself with this marvellous form of art, self-expression, communication and way of interacting. So, I´m also myself, trying to find my own embodied mind, which I´ve already found through yoga a bit.
As “Withering” is solo production, it took me into a different mode than my first two experiences on modern dance in Alminsali a week before. By this, I refer, when discussing “Withering”, to four dimensions of narrative defined by social scientists Margaret Somers and Gloria Gibson in their marvellous article, Reclaiming the Epistemological “Other”: Narrative and the Social Constitution of Identity’. As they say: “social life is itself storied and that narrative is an ontological condition of social life.” Their definition of these four dimensions is: 1) ontological narratives, that is personal biographies, one person stories, 2) whereas the second one concern public, collective stories above personal, such as dance production, a news article, a novel, an animation, a political speech. 3) The third one concerns conceptual narratives (including ideas and texts by academia). 4) The fourth one concerns metanarratives, master stories with global currency, such as Capitalism vs Communism, the Individual vs Society, Industrialization, Modernization, Nationalism, Enlightenment.
For me, the way in which, during the main part of “Withering”, the character´s head, brains, mind, mental and cognitive state was moving the body, shaking it, rolling it, twisting it, was raising lots of questions, ontological ones. But then, during the last minutes, something else happened. The eyes and mind of the character turned upwards, toward something that was coming from outside. And it changed the way he was present, and the way in which he moved around. It wasn´t, any more, the head moving the body. It was like the cognitive shift from oneself into something outside oneself. Something from the world around the character. For me, it was like a shift from the ontological mode into an epistemological one. It was a shift from the focus aiming inwards to oneself into the focus directing outwards, percepting and learning something about the outer world. I liked this final twist in the overall storytelling a lot. The sound and music had a narrative arch, beginning from something more minimal, and eventually growing into something with quite melodic elements. For me it built a solid overall storyworld.
I hope I wasn´t too cryptic with this text; my second “First Timer´s Experiences in the World of Modern Dance and Contemporary Ballet” (I´m thinking of beginning to write a collection of small essays on classical ballet and modern dance productions, and frame them also with my personal self and my life as well as well as the framework of my own research on narrative.
Thank you very much Fernando for this experience.
Somers, Margaret R. and Gloria D. Gibson 1994. ‘Reclaiming the Epistemological “Other”: Narrative and the Social Constitution of Identity’, in Craig Calhoun (ed) Social Theory and the Politics of Identity, Oxford UK & Cambridge USA: Blackwell, 37-99.
Image by Yrjö Tuunanen
About ‘Uncertain Distance’
Dear Ballet Finland Company members, Ville Valkonen and Fernando Troya,
I am Yrjö Tuunanen, doctoral candidate, from Aalto University (ARTS/Media Lab) and had my very first experience ever with modern dance and contemporary ballet in Alminsali last Friday 21st October. That evening in Alminasali, those impressing and touching two dance productions of yours, were just as ground breaking for me as my quite recent discovery of yoga has been for me in my life during this year, fundamentally. They took me along with them, surrounded me magically. I could never have imagined how impressive this first touch then eventually was. I want to thank you, each and every one of you, for introducing me this new fascinating, inspirational and beautiful world.
During that exceptional evening, after the experience shared with a great companion, and back at home, I wanted to share my thoughts with my friends and posted my thoughts and feelings on FB. I spent two hours thinking and writing about what was it that touched me so fundamentally.
You really made a really very fundamental impact on me through your work. Before sharing my thoughts about that evening, a few words about myself (and apologies for not being able to put this in short in just a few words).
My forthcoming dissertation focuses on audiovisual, multimodal news narratives; the ways in which audiovisual components create meanings, tell stories, how they narrate and what kinds of stories they end up in narrating in web-based news stories. In other words, I´m interested (news as) stories and the ways they are narrated through text, sound, movement, images, and the overall narrative structure. I´m also interested in meta narratives, stories with global currency written, inserted intentionally or unintentionally in the (news) stories around us.
This has led me interested in all kinds of ways of communicating and different situations where people interact and experience and convey emotions. Perceptions of and interplay in the world. And what kinds of stories, or emotions or impressions, vibrations, these communicational modes and situations end up to mediate, or tell, or narrate. Different modes, such as opera, a yoga lesson, an audiovisual news story, a jazz concert, or a meeting with one´s unique and true, and only real love one after five weeks and 437 km away from each other – or a modern dance or contemporary ballet productio
So, below here, is my FB- post from last Friday 21st October 2016, slightly edited. Thank you all, once more! (the title of the FB-post refers to two first times ever experiences: modern dance and contemporary ballet experience, and the first time ever ever wearing my new neat, smart, and perfectly tailored new suit, I got past summer, from a certain young gentleman, my partner´s son, I´m myself in my fifties, 52 to be exact).
FB-post (slightly edited) 21st October 2016 / Yrjö Tuunanen Some Thoughts After My First Times Ever
This evening, I saw two modern dance productions by Ballet Finland in the Finnish National Opera Ballet, “Uncertain Distance” and “Red Light Drowning”, the latter with a nice and touching twist of classical ballet in the last two parts.
Fernando Troya´s choreography in “Uncertain Distance”, my very first modern dance production experienced ever, led me into the mode of, and even compelled (most probably because I´m a researcher in the field of stories and narration), to verbalize and narrativize each episode and an attempt to build an overall arch from beginning, through middle part and leading to the end, the first one consisting of multilayer passerbys, guided by the main question of the production: “What is the distance that separates you from others?” The first episode, with the multilayer scenes, and to me, cartoon like characters, reminded me quite a lot of those animation films, and mute characters by Priit Pärn illustrating life in former Estonia under the Soviet rule.
The second episode presented an interaction, almost a confrontation between two individuals, transforming into an insect like creatures (my companion and myself both saw two dragonflies sensing and fingering each other) observing and imitating each other. The third episode, to me, looked like an underwater scene with all kinds of living creatures, fish (two of them swimming in harmonic formation) and confused crabs slightly like avoiding a strong spotlight aimed toward them. Eventually, as I saw it, these creatures seemed to crawl into to the solid ground away from the underwater world, giving me a kind of a hint of an evolutionary step somehow. Emotional evolution or a possibility of an existence of that concept and idea. The fourth episode somehow got fuzzy and blurry in my mind, I think there were to male dancers interacting slowly in a dim light. Or maybe the lights in my mind just got dim and I lost the clear sight of the performance. First timer´s symptom maybe. I was so thrilled and surrounded by the performance, like hypnotized a bit. But felt good.
Ville Valkonen´s choreography in “Red Light Drowning” was quite different experience for me, since it left me free from need to verbalize and narrativize what I experienced; movements, sound, music and delicate and nicely inserted postures and gestures from, what I assume from classical ballet. I more like concentrated and enjoyed intuitively the beauty and strength and devotion of the dancers´ performance, thinking maybe more about the idea on inspiration and creativity, and the beautiful dancers and their physical appearance and proficiency. Maybe this freedom from need to verbalize and narrativize grew partly from what we discussed during the intermission, “…is it possible for one not to verbalize and narrativize everything I see and sense and hear…”.
The rear production, for me, was something maybe too much for me, slightly not so compulsory add-on element, but I liked the idea of the red colour in it. Maybe my bit complex relation with that element was caused because of me myself as a first timer experiencing something like this. And for the past few years, I´ve seen rear productions so quite many times in all kinds of theatre and concert productions. Modern dance and contemporary ballet touched my mind, emotions, my thoughts thoroughly, and made me want to wait for my yoga teacher´s dance lessons next February. And first and foremost, I want to experience more this kind of interacting with the dancers on the scene, with my mind, somehow my body, and with the world. I hope you will perform in Finland soon!
The next productions on my list, are the most likely some of the classical ballets. I´ve already ordered tickets to Snow Queen, and next: the Nutcracker and Swan Lake Ballet.
To wrap it up, modern dance is so intriguing and fascinating way of conveying emotions, ideas perceptions, narrating stories, and conveying something also beyond verbalisation and narration, ideally experienced in a responsive, smart and open minded companion. But I also allow myself to verbalize and build narration from dance production, if such a process is launched in my mind when sitting in the audience. Thank you Ballet Finland and Fernando Troya!
https://fernandotroya.nl/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Withering.jpg16983813Ffernandohttp://fernandotroya.nl/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/transparent.pngFfernando2016-10-15 12:20:522017-05-24 08:06:16Thoughts by Yrjö Tuunanen