In Episode 2 of TaikaTalk we are happy to introduce Marjo Kiukaanniemi – a 38 year old Finnish dance artist known by TaikaBox followers as the core performer in BORN OLD. 

BORN OLD is a dance, digital art and storytelling performance choreographed by Tanja Råman and designed by John Collingswood. Based on Finnish epic poetry Kalevala, it tracks its hero Väinämöinen – a wise ecological magician who uses music to win over the evil powers in his exciting adventures. BORN OLD includes choreography, sound and real time projection as Marjo Kiukaanniemi dances, tells the magical story and sings songs she composed for the piece. 

Here is what Marjo tells about herself:

– I came to the world of dance through music. Since I was three, I have been playing the violin. 

Dance came into my life as something opposite to staying on one place and just playing – I really wanted and needed to move. And so I did by taking ballet classes – yet it didn’t feel like my thing to do. I spent years in search for my type of movement and finally discovered contemporary dance. In teenage years I started dancing contemporary style more seriously, triggered by the spirit of rebel. 

My violin teacher was quite harsh. You are a very talented girl, she said, but you are too lazy to practice enough. When I told her I am going to a dance school instead of practicing the violin, she laughed at my face. She said I was too old for that, I was 15. 

Then I was attending the music high school in Oulu. Lots of people around me could play music and lots of them could sing. That’s when dancing really became my own thing – it was something that not everybody around me could do. 

Oulu is my home city, and it still feels like one – even though I studied in England, then lived, worked and studied in Helsinki for ten years and now live in the countryside next to Helsinki. 

There is something about the spirit of contemporary art – and particularly dance scene – in Oulu. It feels lively and more human than anywhere else. 

I never truly got into contemporary dance scene in Helsinki. A lot of it seems too intellectual for my needs and understanding. It doesn’t connect to my everyday life as I would like to.

We started working on BORN OLD in 2016, and I am still amazed about the technology involved in the performance. This is something I can’t create on my own and in the same time something that I can absolutely trust. The technology in this show gets more out of me – whether it is the movement, singing or the storytelling. It definitely gives me more space to express myself as a singer, storyteller and a dance artist. 

I can totally relate to Väinämöinen – his creativity, self-irony and ecological concerns – except for one thing. Väinämöinen can be quite angry. I am not sure if I can be angry myself. It is interesting and funny to explore that feeling. 

It is also funny how easier this exploration gets when performing for children. With children I feel more like myself, I am truly sincere – whether in BORN OLD or other children’s performances I have taken part in. 

Somehow telling stories makes me happy and alive. And inspired. Words turn into songs, and the melodies make me want to move and dance. I have created most of the songs for BORN OLD, they branch out from the Finnish traditional lullaby used in the show. Words lead to music, music leads to movement.

Corona has changed the contemporary art reality dramatically. The traditional shows are not allowed, and it makes us rethink and remake things that used to be so common. Sometimes it gets really annoying since problems are hard to solve. For example, as an artist I work a lot  with Argentinean tango. But this is a couple dance, it involves people, all in the same room – how can I rethink that now? Could streaming, cameras and recordings help me in this new reality? That’s when you get to think more about the technology.

The good important thing is that because of the Corona I got a lot of time to spend with my daughter. I have been enjoying telling her a lot of stories as I (and her) like. And BORN OLD makes me happy because it lets me tell stories to a lot of kids. 

You can find out more about Marjo’s work here:

Marjo Kiukaanniemi was talking to Lölä Vlasenko

2 Comments

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