Two weeks ago we did the biggest show of this year, when we performed with three custom-ordered acts at the launch of Sofi Oksanen's new novel Norma. (It's weird as it feels like just the other day; but there has been so much happening since and no days off in between so everything just melts together into one fast blur. Perhaps that's a Yey! asit means it will be summer again soon. Trying to see things from the positive side...)
Anyone who has ever made any acts where there needs to be choreography, functional costumes and a working storyline/idea knows how much work it then is to do three. Three group acts. That involves rehearsals that fit five persons schedules together. And whole lot of multitasking (like sewing meters of braids together on an airportt while waiting for the flight home..) Most often you just work on one act at a time. I can honestly say that few things I do ever really pay enough, considering the amount of work one has to put in, and neither did this. But it was an interesting project to work on nevertheless and of course also an honour to be selected to do.
(..yes it really bugs me I did not notice the old tag on the brush and that it was not photoshopped away...)
The biggest challenge however was coming up with the idea of what to actually do; coming up with an idea for a number yourself is different than from when the subject is handed to you, and that is what took the most time, just planning. Because you can't just go ahead and do an act without an actual idea that has a point even if you have a theme. Or, you can do that if the aim of the number is purely for aesthetic purposes (like say, a dance act with a colour theme, for example having everything in red) or just for the sake of entertainment (although then too I prefer there to be something of a "thing", like in the previous example, the layers of the costume to be in different colours or the all-red costume ending up being blue at the end or so...). Those of you who know Oksanens books know that the themes are seldom very light. Neither so in Norma. The main theme is hair, and it focuses on such things as hair trade and human trafficking, and, among other things also somewhat the beauty industry. Different from the earlier books this story has what one could perhaps describe as supernatural elements, like that of a modern fairy tale. Such elements are easier to put into a performance but the hard part was, of course, being able to use the main themes in a show that would be "easy" to watch, entertaining, still being classified as burlesque (as, that is what we do, although the end result was closer to what one would perhaps just label as performance art), without the risk of being interpreted as something of a too light comment on very heavy subjects. Politician Pekka Haavisto was interviewing Sofi on the themes of the book in between the acts and it's not like one wants to come in with jazz hands and shake butt right after hair theft and baby farms have been the subject.
Shot from our final number, where I am shooting my confetti gun with dedication.More things in life should end in a confetti rain. (Iltasanomat/Helttunen)
And we got good feedback. Phew!
Photo from @sofioksanen by Toni Härkönen.