Finnish dancer performs the rites of self-pity

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Finnish dancer performs the rites of self-pity

In his native Finland, he is famous. He has performed across Europe. But when he strode into the press conference on Monday, the young blond dance soloist looked stunned by the small number of reporters: three.
His name is Tero Saarinen, a choreographer and dance soloist. Mr. Saarinen has come to Korea at the invitation of the Seoul International Dance Festival, known as SIDance, to perform two solo dance numbers, “Man in a Room” and “Hunt,” at the Seoul Arts Center today and tomorrow.
“Hunt,” which Mr. Saarinen choreographed, re-interprets Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” which was originally made for ballet.
“I had tried to avoid [The Rite of Spring] because I thought it’s too big for a solo,” he said. But the theme of the piece made it too important to drop, he decided.
“I decided to name the piece ‘Hunt,’ because I think everyone is hunted by the mass media these days,” Mr. Saarinen told the three-person press conference. “I wanted to express the feeling of being a victim or sacrifice to the media.”
He said the media gives people tremendous new information, but people don’t know how to use it.
“The media asks us to sacrifice our own human nature. People spend more time with computers or digital gadgets instead of staying with people,” the solo dancer said.
For that reason, he incorporates multimedia art into the performance. During the dance, a mixture of media scenes is projected onto his body, symbolizing the media theme.
“[My production company] didn’t originally plan to show the mixture of media scenes, but we found the program by accident, due to a computer bug,” he said.
He had no one to give him feedback, only a video camcorder. He repeatedly taped himself dancing and watched it over and over. It took him a year to create a finished dance routine he was satisfied with.
That might explain the theme of his other work, “Man in a Room,” which tries to convey the suffering of artists. Although the piece, which was created by the American choreographer Carolyn Carlson, was inspired by the life of the Russia-born American abstract painter Mark Rothko, the dance is not only limited to Rothko’s life, Mr. Saarinen said.
“I tried to express the endless suffering that all artists have to go through in general,” he said, referencing his own career in Finnish dance.
Mr. Saarinen started as a soloist in the Finnish National Ballet in 1986, but got tired of playing only clowns, monsters or princes. He left to form the Tero Saarinen Company in 1996.

by Park Sung-ha

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