Copy of 13 Johanna Nuutinen C Tero Ahonen
Show photographer Picture: Tero Ahonen

Interview with choreographer Johanna Nuutinen


Nuutinen presents this autumn SKIN HUNGER, a dance performance that explores the mysteries of our sense of touch. Headphones, given to the audience, are a unique element of the performance that creates binaural soundscape and connects every viewer to the bodies of the dancers.

Skin Hunger is part of a series of works exploring sensations. Tell us about the series and how Skin Hunger is set in it?

A few years ago, I noticed that the theme ideas for my works revolved strongly around sensory experiences and how we construct our reality with the help of our sensory perceptions. A large part of this building of reality is also unconscious. In the fast cycle of everyday life, we rarely notice sensory experiences and their impacts. How do sensory experiences resonate in our bodies and how do they affect how we encounter our environment?

From these observations arose the need and curiosity to one by one take one of our senses under a magnifying glass. Build an experience on stage that explores and makes visible how we live at the mercy of our senses. In the previous works we have concentrated on vision and the sense of hearing. In SKIN HUNGER we dive into the world of the sense of touch.

How has the design of the work's soundscape and choreography progressed? What has the collaboration been like?

The experience of touch is often intimate. Private. Sound designer Tuomas Norvio made a great point, at the beginning of the process, that for this piece sound could be a way to bring the performer close to the viewer – on their skin, in a large theatre space. I like this bold and innovative take. The dancer's role and agency in this work are strong. The sound is built in close cooperation with them. I am feverishly waiting to get the whole working group together and start the next stage of our creation process in August.

The work is part of the SPARKS project. What significance has the project had on the shape of the work?

The Sparks -project has offered a great rhythm to the whole process. The three rounds of applications have required a critical re-evaluation of the whole on several occasions, which I think is always a good thing. The financial support offered by the project is also extremely valuable for the entire production.

What does the power of dance mean to you?

Dance is a space where, for me, the unspoken becomes visible. In this space I find my own refuge and pleasure, which is strongly linked to the connection of the rhythm, movement and subconscious.

You have worked as both a dancer and a choreographer. How does your view on dancing change depending on your role? What do you exactly feel while dancing and, on the other hand, while building movement into choreography?

As a dancer, I focus on the articulation of movement and deepening its flow. Step by step, rhythm by rhythm, the source of pleasure created by dance begins to open. When I watch dance, I dance. From the inside. At best, I surrender to being carried away by someone else.

As a choreographer, the areas of responsibility are wider. I look at the work from a bird's-eye view as a whole. I guide the rhythm of each scene and the whole working group towards the core of the work that is slowly revealing itself.

In the fast cycle of everyday life, we rarely notice sensory experiences and their impacts."

— Johanna Nuutinen

SKIN HUNGER. Photography: Jussi Ojanen.

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