Together

Production info

Beloved duet reflects a multilateral relationship

Once you have stepped into a deep stream together, it leaves its mark on you. No matter how you might try to rip it up and cast it away, the connection will not be broken. There are two, both in tandem and apart. Side by side, at the same time somewhere else. Each is caught in the other, even if one travels alone to the other side of the planet.

Alpo Aaltokoski’s beloved choreography Together is making a return to the stage, this time with a new generation of dancers reinterpreting the work that first premiered in 2010. Along with the most important Finnish dance festivals, Together has visited Mexico, Nicaragua and Italy. The piece has been characterized as a classic Finnish art dance duet.

”Aaltokoski builds a tense bridge between two male dancers. This dialogue reaches an immediate psychophysical level and inflates the movement of the performance with a full spectrum of emotions.”

Petri Kauppinen, Kaleva magazine 2010

“I consider Together as one of Aaltokoski’s best works.”

Annikki Alku, Savon Sanomat 2014

Team:

Choreography: Alpo Aaltokoski
Dance: Jere Jääskeläinen, Jussi Suomalainen (2023) / Ahto Koskitalo, Jouni Majaniemi (2010)
Light design: Kalle Paasonen
Composition and sound design: Aake Otsala
Costume design: Taina Relander
Graphic design: Atte Karttunen (2023), Kirsti Maula (2010)
Photography: Mikko Rasila and Tanja Ahola (2023), Pekka Mäkinen (2010)

Premiere: 10 November 2010 at Valvesali, Oulu, Finland;
Second premiere: 6 September 2023 at Stoa, Helsinki, Finland

Press reviews

A powerful interpretation of Alpo Aaltokoski’s wonderful Together
Demokraatti 11.9.2023 Annikki Alku

Alpo Aaltokoski’s choreography Together had its first premiere in 2010, and this intense duet by dancers Ahto Koskitalo and Jouni Majaniemi has since virtually become a classic piece that has toured extensively, both in Finland and abroad.

This piece about an intense and conflicted relationship between two people has now been re-premièred by a younger generation of dancers.

I can’t say if Jere Jääskeläinen and Jussi Suomalainen’s interpretation differs from the original, but it certainly carries the same tones because the rehearsal directors for this production were the original performers. In any case, the performance is physically strong and extremely present, but at the same time it is also sensitive and has space to breathe. The stress points and complexity of being together and apart are wonderfully teased out, but also manage to avoid cliché – Aaltokoski’s choreography and movement language take very good care of that.

And the best thing is that time has had no affect on either: the movement language, which uses the whole body, contains a lot of detail, and moves from soft sensuality to sharp angularity like a wave, sparkles in the light of Jääskeläinen and Suomalainen’s energetic and sensitive interpretation.

In addition to the dance, Kalle Paasonen’s lighting is an essential part of the piece. The dense, distinct squares formed by light wedges shining from above are a strong visual symbol that both isolate and sometimes create the smallest common space possible for the dancers to inhabit. A line of light across the floor also acts as a border between two worlds that is far from easy to cross.

Aake Otsala’s versatile, slightly jazz-tinged music creates a framework for the performance that emphasizes the whole without bringing itself to the fore.

Stoa’s premiere proved that Together has earned its reputation as a classic and that it is still very relevant today.

Portraits of men in Stoa
teatteritanssi.fi 12.9.2023 Minna Tawast

Two fine performances of powerful and deeply expressive dance movement were recently on offer in Stoa in Itäkeskus; Alpo Aaltokoski’s duet Together, which premiered in 2010 and has since been performed in several locations, was this time interpreted by Jussi Suomalainen and Jere Jääskeläinen; while Jussi Väänänen, who has also performed in the duo when one of the pair has been sick, premiered his own solo, Pasos

Aaltokoski’s choreography is characterized by movement that flows powerfully through the body, and the dancers also use their smaller muscles in a precise, controlled manner. Limbs, heads, necks and backs manifest a cat-like expression, with the elasticity turning on occasion into accentuated geometric lines as curves become more linear. The movement vortices are also familiar: thirteen years have taken nothing at all from the meaning or expression of this work.

Kalle Paasonen’s conical spots and the lights that form the lines and square fields that separate the dancers enhance the drama of the piece, while Aake Otsala’s delicate jingles, nods to folk music and sometimes pounding rhythms transport the viewer from one mood to another.

Together describes a relationship between two people; how it can change in an instant, how dynamic states and power positions are always in flux, and how trust, suspicion and loneliness alternate along with being together and apart. Together’s relationship is not a symbiosis, but rather an attempt by the two strong people who came into it from different starting points to find common ground while holding their own. The work does not directly reveal if the men are involved in a love affair, but their encounters sometimes display powerful aggression and erotic undertones.

The dancers mostly move separately and side by side, but there are also beautiful connective moments such as a gentle ballroom dance where the performers’ hands are joined as they twirl beneath them. Suomalainen and Jääskeläinen are interestingly versatile and diverse dancers.

Powerful study on human relations
Savon Sanomat 14.6.2014, Annikki Alku

I consider Aaltokoski’s Together as one of Aaltokoski’s best works. Together deals with relationship between two people, balancing between being apart and being together, hanging on and letting go, being alone and being together, between need and self-sufficiency. Although the dancers are two men, the movement language and the way this topic is treated are so abstract that the performance does not in any case apply only to the relations between men.

The work is at once harsh and sensual both for its form and motion language. All the emotional expressions are focused on the body. Kalle Paasonen’s lights largely define the ambiance of the presentation. The musical world created by Aake Otsala rolls into the consciousness as inevitably as the lights.

Ahto Koskitalo and Jouni Majaniemi are the original performers of the presentation. That, and the effect of all the performances over the years, shows in confidence and internalization of the movement and deepening of the topic that can never be found in a new presentation.

Together is an excellent and an intense performance, which again proved movement’s capacity to transmit something that words can never reach.

Finnish art at the dance festival of Lila López

Two men, one piece, music, coordination, dance and emotions are combined to create perfection where all elements make a difference on an abstract level. Here, the audience witnessed that art can involve questions and social contradictions and turn them into an amazing contemporary dance performance.

Alpo Aaltokoski, una muestra de arte finlandés en el Festival de Danza Lila López
Código 21.7.2013 (San Luis Potosí, MEXICO)

Dos hombres, una obra, música, coordinación, danza y sentimientos se conjugaron a la perfección ya que cada elemento representaba algo en cierto nivel de abstracción. Aquí, el público fue testigo de cómo esta manifestación artística puede incluir temas de polémica social y convertirlos en un magnífico trabajo de danza contemporánea.

Alpo Aaltokoski’s Together touchingly combines two souls on many levels.
Kaleva, 5.11.2010, Petri Kauppinen

It is great that this kind of male energy exists in Finland! [..] Together creates a space for intelligence and elegance. The sharp sword of virtuoso movement swings with dangerous power. [..] In his new work Aaltokoski creates a bridge of vigorous communication between two men. This dialogue takes place on a psycho-physical level and the wide spectrum of movement material is full of emotion. [..] The choreographer’s seemingly endless imagination produces a flow of movement that becomes an episodic whole which is tied together by Kalle Paasonen’s fantastic lighting dramaturgy. The haze, pulse and light shade of romance in Aake Otsala’s music always provokes nuanced emotions. [..] Ahto Koskitalo’s body is condensed power, but not at the slightest expense of his speed. Koskitalo articulates and gives rhythm to every movement extremely precisely and is always in complete control of the situation. Jouni Majaniemi’s supple spine, languorous movement curves and broad register of expression complements the duo’s restrained charisma. The narration is captivating.

Performance history

Premiere: 10.10.2010 Valve-sali, Oulu, Finland

Other performances:
11-13.10.2010 Valvesali, Oulu, Finland (3)
1-5.12.2010 Stoa the Cultural Centre of Eastern Helsinki, Finland (5)

6-7.4.2011 Stoa the Cultural Centre of Eastern Helsinki, Finland (2)

22.4.2012 Hällänäyttämö, Tanssivirtaa, Tampere, Finland (1)
5.10.2012 Alminsali, Finnish National Opera, Helsinki, Finland (1)

20.7.2013 Teatro de la Paz, San Luis Potosí, Mexiko (1)
21.7.2013 Teatro Manuel José Othón, Matehuala, Mexico (1)
28.9.2013 Tanssin Aika Festival, Jyväskylä city, Finland (1)
19.11.2013 Sala Experimental, Teatro Nacional Ruben Dario, Managua, Nicaragua (1)
21.11.2013 Alianza Francesa, Managua, Nicaragua (1)

12 June 2014 Kuopio Dance Festival, Finland (1)
22 July 2014 Full Moon Dance Festival, Pyhäjärvi, Finland (1)
25 July 2014 Teatro a Corte Festival, Torino, Italy (1)

23.3.2016 Tanssikuu, Pori Theatre
12.-13.5.2016 Alexander Theatre, Helsinki

22.-23.11.2018 Aaltokoski Dance Marathon, Stoa, Helsinki

Second premiere:
6.9.2023 Stoa, Helsinki, Finland (1)

Other performances:
8., 9. & 10.9.2023 Stoa, Helsinki (3)

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