Production info The work is based on J.S. Bach’s unfinished composition The Art of Fuga. Independent...
Extracts from a relationship: encounters, dreams and fears.
People are living in the network of relationships, beginning with the first touch of one’s mother. Every new meeting starts a relationship, and we carry these relationships with us throughout life; they define what we are like and what we would like to become.
Choreography and concept: Alpo Aaltokoski
Dance: Alpo Aaltokoski & Pirjo Yli-Maunula
Lighting designer: Matti Jykylä
Costume designer: Pasi Räbinä
Costume realisation: Pia Karjalainen
Music: György Kurtág, George Rochberg, Robert Schumann, Music from the Seychelles, Giya Kancheli
Sound designer: Mikko Hynninen
Director: Tapani Launonen
Manuscript: Alpo Aaltokoski, Tapani Launonen, J-P Passi
Video photographer: J-P Passi
Performers: Pirjo Yli-Maunula, Alpo Aaltokoski
Production: Nomadi Productions, JoJo Oulu Dance Center
Premiere: March 15, 2000 JoJo Oulu Dance Center, Finland
The second part Promises is a duo between Aaltokoski and Pirjo Yli-Manula. An alluring dance about the force of attraction and separation of love. A mature, aware and very varied dance in cooperation with video over the floor, beachsound and forests, in which these two: she dressed in a neat dress from about the 19th century and him in ditto dress – moving in precise, cool movents to and from each other. The choice of music, modernistic, folk/walz and classical, gives each sequence its own atmosphere and temperature. Especially the scene where they twist their hips had a sweetness and playfullness which made the gloomy scene also seem light as a feather. Less is more! It contains a lot but is so integrated with the dancers, into details, an economised movement so gliding into each other that we hardly notice it. … .Promises was a pearl from the Finnish woods.
Ascetically slim, with silvery close-cropped hair, forty-something Alpo Aaltokoski is another Finnish dance veteran. His Promises was a technologically invetive and utterly accessible study of the ups-and-downs of a relationship. Familiar territory, maybe, but the performances given by him and Pirjo Yli-Maunula – wearing dapper period costumes in gigantic video settings, like cyber modern dance version of a Strindberg play – were tremendous, complex and physically always clear. […] This meaningful dramatic entertainment was a festival highlight.
If the youngster is really good wine, he’ll age like his fellow Alpo Aaltokoski (1958). Of course, pitting maturity against vivacity is silly. Aaltokoski’s piece, though treating an ancient topic, gives a hint that life gets more intense with experience, that it doesn’t really start until you’ve lived through a few endings: Promises sketches a divorce process.
Aaltokoski and his partner Pirjo Yli-Maunula deliver it as a duet of many shades. They don’t spare us the silence of love gone bad, but they also re-fill that wintry void, struggling from pain to mutual healing. In the meantime fresh wounds are inflicted, old scar tissue exposed. There’s a waltz of reminiscence and a hip-swinging show of spite. Hearts and bones and a number of porcelain plates get broken.
Every mood swing has its own rhythm and music, as they gradually grow apart. The set consists of an elaborate video projected onto the floor, serving as narrative device (sequences from the couple’s past, alternating with icy inner – landscape), mirroring the unspoken. Promises lingers in the head…
Promises reflects the development and various stages of a relationship – with humour and warmth accompanied by past experiences. Moreover, only seldom have I seen such integrity, yet so visually efficient use of a video in a dance performance. The somewhat tragicomical atmosphere of the piece due to the real sincerity of the dancers is rather charming.
The movement language of Aaltokoski is beautiful, and as if flowing by itself. He personally is a virtuoso in moving both himself and his surroundings. Aaltokoski moves almost as automatically and defying gravity, he is sovereign in using weight, various directions and the continuity of a movement. He could move through the stage looking as if he did not move a muscle. However, he masters and perfectly controls all this natural elasticity.
Promises is a complex and intense description of a relationship. It introduces the relationship just as difficult, complicated and rich in nuances as relationships normally are. This surprising choreography shows how a couple wanders with their hips swinging with a symbolic road of life dashing off underneath them. Aaltokoski and Yli-Maunula dance this magnificent and over-turned choreography with the sensitivity it requires – as if balancing on pins and needles.
Ingenious use of film brings joy and humour to this eternal subject. Aaltokoski has also succeeded in his music selections, especially with the whizzing line of string glissando by a contemporary Hungarian composer, György Kurtági. The laconic expression of the couple summarises the heaven and hell of a relationship. The expression of the mature dancers is accurate, they know exactly what they are doing.
Promises is a spectacle and made of complex texture. It is an inspiring joint work, which uses both live performers and video recording in its narration. The key element in the work is a whirl that flows in the movements as well. This very same whirl is also present in nature images. Dancers merge beautifully into the scene. It is not a question of a minor work, but of a human-size duet.