national Arts Festival Banner

Wednesday, November 9, 2022


(Above: Finnish dancer & choreographer Virva Talonen. Photo by Val Adamson)

Sensing and Seeing Solidarity. (Review by Verne Munsamy)

The Finnish Embassy (Pretoria) in partnership with Flatfoot Dance Company recently presented Portable Home at the Courtyard Theatre. Choreography by Virva Talonen together with Flatfoot dancers.

Portable Home is a contemporary global dance art project that explores the concept of ‘'home”‘ in its myriad forms. Home can be defined as many things, people, emotions and created in diverse ways. Theatre is the most important house in the world and this idea is brought to life here.

Finland is the fifth largest country in Europe with a population of only 5.5 million people but dance is an important aspect of its culture. This dance work created a space for the best of the best to compete for this opportunity to represent Finland in this venture to create an international piece that recreates a sense of belonging. Versions of the piece were performed in Japan, Palestine and Finland. In each performance Virva and Nanni worked with local artists on the theme of 'home'.

Structured improvisation is not a common form of dance presented on stage in Durban but the improvised nature of the piece does not distract from the quality of the show. The opening is slow and meticulous with the group moving in synchronicity. The movement is created by impulse and the group seemed to be very much in tune with each other’s intentions with a curious or inquisitive feel and follow-through.

The concept of home is revealed through group cohesion - where someone would leave the group to perform solo pieces and then return to the group that supports them in lifts and suspensions. The people at home support you when you feel lost, plan for the future or when you feel insecure. The interpretive nature of the dance allows for numerous interpretations but it is clear that the sense of community is ever present. Communities create a home that allows one to be explorative, constructive and productive.

The music selection is nostalgic and does not include conventional music but rather had sound like 'white noise', wind chimes and smooth jazz tones. The lighting is effective, suggestive but minimal. The costumes were in neutral tones of black, grey and blue unifying and solidifying the communal experience. The end moment with one solo dancer on stage, representing an empty nest, was quite captivating and reminded me of many homes at someone's later stages of life, even my own. -  Verne Munsamy