Liisa’s Statement

“Dancing and creating / writing choreography is, above all else, a movement in-between, in a process between the same and another without which there is no life, and the study of this process, the abolition of the work of death...”
Hélène Cixous

I ask myself why one would engage in the art of dance at a time when the world is burning ever closer, when different ideologies face off in many kinds of battles; the war in Ukraine a most concrete manifestation. At the same time, the whole world is united through a climate change-derived, inevitably proceeding shrinkage in the living space of the plant and animal realms. So, why? What place does art hold in this turbulence of the world and realignment of worldviews?

I consider my choreographies as musical compositions that are formed throughmovement, sound, music, and light as an affective surface of resonance. I feel myself as a kinesthetic and sound-based individual, so finding the final visual form
of works is often the most difficult part. The starting points of my work are often in the unnamed, in the night and in dreams. That which the everyday does not reach, in worlds inside the head and the body. To call them forward resembles a quietritual that demands resolute faith and the laying of wrongdoings to rest. Unrestrained questioning and infuriating determination, even when tiredness and long periods of sleeplessness cause hallucination-like states and summon thoughts of the inevitability of death. That is when dance becomes the other, the one I share a life with, and with which I experience unity. Dance as an artform exists in this very moment and it is a body-mind experience shared in different  manners, through which the spectator can find something special in themselves, something that travels past the normative and known models of thinking.

In this time marked by shattered information, pandemic, and war, when shared experiences of bodies and emotions have been forgotten in the everyday, it feels important to make art that brings us to each other and makes us conscious of our
role in the existence of the animate and the inanimate, and of our coupling with the world. Already the time before the coronavirus was distinguished by a strong undercurrent of persistent and strong economic liberalism, and the growing power of authoritarian leaders. Totalised desires and worldviews loomed behind both. There is no reason to suspect that these tendencies will disappear. This line of
development has made it more and more clear to a female artist having grown up in a western democracy just how fragile the democratic structures in the world truly are.

Making dance and choreography means an endless reconsideration, a rebirth – of works, thoughts, and materials. Corporeal presence and the sharing of shared spaces in a performative moment are what my faith in the art of dance is based on. It cannot be pinpointed from a sociological perspective, but rather follows its own laws, outside predictability. Art is an opportunity to uphold the freedom of
imagination, and thoughts and feelings that detach from hierarchies. Dance proposes something new and special that hosts something more than just a single predefined value. It opens up multiplicities and distinctnesses. In the words of Hélène Cixous, “it means, above all, the desire of two and of both, an entity formed by one and the other and by both, in which the parties are not preserved in constant struggle, in the exclusion or killing of the other, but are driven forward by constant interaction between one and the other, two different subjects”.

Liisa Pentti, June 2022

Liisa Pentti

Liisa Pentti is a trailblazer of Finnish dance. She graduated as a dance artist at the Amsterdam Academy of Theatre and Dance’s Modern Dance department (SNDO) in 1986, and was one of the postmodern dance artists shaking the Finnish dance and cultural scenes in the 80’s. In addition to her own artistic work, she was one of the central figures of Zodiak Presents Assoc. and Zodiak – Center for New Dance from 1987 to 2011, and tirelessly paved the way for new kinds of dance and art. Liisa Pentti was one of the founding members of Sivuaskel festival and worked in the event’s artistic department from 1996 to 2009. She was the Artistic Director of Täydenkuun tanssit in 2013, with “After Contemporary?” as the festival’s theme. The festival included a symposium centred on the topic. Pentti was in charge of the Theatre Academy’s Swedish-language actor training department’s physical education classes between 1990 and 2019.

Pentti has taught a group consisting of youths on the autism spectrum since 2015. The group has put on two performances, shown at the Zodiak Stage in 2018 and 2021.

Liisa Pentti continuously works as a teacher, dancer and choreographer both in Finland and internationally. She has written many articles and other texts on dance, its subject matter and its place in the world.

As a choreographer, Pentti received the Stina Krook Foundation’s award in 2015, and in 2019  was awarded the National Prize for the Performing Arts.

Liisa Pentti +Co

Liisa Pentti +Co is a Helsinki-based dance group whose central values are artistic relentlessness and ingenuity. Founded in 2000, the group’s artistic profile is situated in a field between dance, performance art and contemporary theatre. Experimentation and searching for new forms of expression are emblematic of Liisa Pentti +Co’s work.

Imagination, communality and an awareness about the dialogue between art and societal relations are the points of departure for the dance group’s artistic subject matter. At the core, there is Liisa Pentti’s unique and captivating intellectual work. The works have received acclaim from both experts and critics as well as the broader audience.

Teaching, residencies, various kinds of dance events and seminars as well as articles are an important aspect of the group’s operation.

Among other things, Liisa Pentti +Co has organized an international Per Forma festival in Suvilahti in 2011, Muistijäljet – Les Traces Mnésiques: Tanssi ja sen dokumentaatio (“dance and its documentation”) together with Kiasma Theatre in 2012, and the seminar Tanssin kirjoittamaton historia (“the unwritten history of dance”) at the Centre for Performing Arts in 2014. A two-part event called Postmoderni tanssi Suomessa? (“postmodern dance in Finland”) was organized in cooperation with Cultural Center Stoa in 2016. Based on the event, a book of the same name edited by Niko Hallikainen and Liisa Pentti was published by Kinesis in 2018. The group was an initiator and active party in the Nordic-Russian project After Contemporary from 2011 to 2017. In 2018, a discussion Tanssi ja arkkitehtuuri tilassa (“dance and architecture in space”) was organized with Kiasma Theatre. In February 2021, the group realized an international seminar Creating Spaces for Creativity together with Zodiak – Center for New Dance that included a workshop hosted by Trude Cone. Fall 2021 saw the group organizing a series of events Together in the Universe of Sound with performance group Oblivia in Maunula-talo.

The association behind Liisa Pentti +Co is Tanssiryhmä +Co:n kannatusyhdistys ry. Currently, the board consists of: Isabel González (chair), Dick Idman, Soili Hämäläinen, Esa Laaksonen, Soile Lahdenperä, Liisa Pentti and Mika Väyrynen.