one of the Scandinavia´s most successful
solo dancers, studied classical music and figure skating before
concentrating on dance. As a teenager growing up in Jyväskylä in
central Finland, she practised figure skating on a nearby lake.
”When the lake was free
of snow I could dance at night alone under the full moon… The
lake was black and shiny. It was freezing cold but magical, like
one was at home in the universe,” Pahkinen said over a
cup of coffee in a Stockholm café.
Virpi Pahkinen still
seems in harmony with the world. This Stockholm-based dancer
and choreographer is not concerned with whether people think
Finnish, or whether her work is interpreted in one way or another.
danced outside in Barcelona a few years ago and one old lady who saw it told
me it was holy,
while a young man thought I was inspired by science fiction
comic strips. Everybody comes at it from different reference points.”
year, Pahkinen plans to perform at Dansens Hus (Stockholm´s main
dance venue) and take her show on the road to China, Ecuador, Vietnam and
In November 2003, I caught a noon
performance of Pahkinen at a dance museum located just across
the street from Sweden´s Royal Opera.
Moving gracefully to ritual funeral music from Indonesia, the dancer´s
slender limbs unfolded like the petals of an exotic orchid stretching
to the sun.
Her ”Kalagnica” show was totally
sold-out, as had been all nine previous performances.
dance seemed to me like a visual prayer or meditation. What is the source
the obvious Asian references?
”The Far East was an influence in my choreography long before I went to
Asia. Part of the reason is that my grandfather went to India, and some
of the Sanskrit remained within him, and I am now translating his genetic information
Pahkinen collaborates in several
of her works with Roger Ludvigsen, a Sami composer from Northern
Norway who makes electronic minimalistic
and who plays in
the band of Norwegian –Sami vocalist Mari Boine.
”He has a contemporary shamanistic approach. If you mix all of these things
together, you could say it is a shamanistic Asian clubbing music, while
I am making archeological diggings and trying to reach new planets.”
punctuates this spacey comment with a glint in her eye and a gentle laugh.
This is a dancer who seems to put her soul into her
to connect heaven and earth, life and death.
But that doesn´t mean that she has to take herself too seriously.
Asked about her hairstyle – a monk-like shaved head, bare expect
for a few long braids,
Virpi tells a story about how
a young hip-hopper came walking towards her after a performance
in Houston, Texas and
asked: ”Are you from
By David Partal/ NORDIC REACH