Tero Saarinen takes the right steps

Tero Saarinen Company’s unique choreography is transporting audiences with performances in Europe, Asia and North America (article includes video clip).

Dancer and choreographer Tero Saarinen’s unique work combines movement and images to take audiences to another dimension.

Saarinen joined the Finnish National Opera Ballet School at the age of 18 and became a member of the adjacent professional company in 1985. Despite his rapid success he soon felt he wanted to explore other possibilities of expressing himself as a dancer.

In 1988 he won the gold medal at the Paris International Dance Competition with B12, a solo that renowned dancer and choreographer Jorma Uotinen created especially for him. This became Saarinen’s breakthrough and realisation that he was finding his own way and taking the right steps. “With my dance I want to reach the unspoken, the inexplicable, the unnamed,” Saarinen explains. “I believe in dance that touches, in dance that speaks for itself.”

But he still needed to explore further. In 1992 he took off for Japan and Nepal to study dance through cultural heritage. In his own choreography, Saarinen feels he can come up with something “very poignant, essential and cohesive about us humans” by studying archetypes and typical situations.

Human psyche

Saarinen’s interest in the human psyche is strongly reflected in his work. He says he gets his ideas from living and observing life. He values “seemingly mundane acts and emotions” above all and pinpoints them in his work.

He refers to human beings’ ancestral knowledge: “We should not neglect being aware of the lives lived before us –and for us. Our minds and bodies have been given a rich inheritance by our ancestors that we should be aware of and nourish.”

Saarinen’s choreographies are a wonderful blend of contemporary and classical dance, martial arts and influences from Japanese butoh dance and spiritual rituals, often combined with live music and always accompanied by strong visuals.

Watching Tero Saarinen Company is like taking a journey into the subconscious of the human mind. Saarinen explains that dancers and choreographers have “a privilege and possibility to connect with the ritual essence of dance – man’s eternal desire to connect with oneself,” a connection he considers essential for his work.

By Carina Chela, May 2011, updated October 2012