Festival’s programme announced – includes a farewell performance of Riku Lehtopolku

Kuopio Dance Festival’s versatile programme includes dance theater full of thriller, performances inspired by love and unconventional outdoor performances, among others.

The festival week is opened by the award-winning Dorrance Dance tap dance group from New York, whose works combine live music and virtuosic tap.

The group led by Michelle Dorrance, presents two pieces: first Myelination, which is a sparkling ensemble enriched by improvisational solos, where the personality of each performer is allowed to shine. The music composed for the piece forms a rich fabric with the tap dance, which challenges the performers to take risks and reach new technical and musical peaks.

The evening will also feature Basses Loaded, performed by four bassists and four dancers, which exudes the vastness of expertise, precision of footwork and musical diversity that this group is known for.

Soul Chain is a captivating piece, whose powerful coreography challenges the dancers to their limits. Photo: Andreas Etter

This year, the festival will pamper friends of thrillers. Belgian Peeping Tom charmed us in 2021 at Kuopio Dance Festival, and now the group considered as one of the leading stars of European dance theater is coming to the festival with Diptych, an ensemble of two pieces.

The missing door and The lost room dive into the recesses of the mind, where time, memories and wishes mix and turn into nightmarish visions. The group, known for its surrealism, faithfully brings a performance tinged with mystery, dreaminess, thriller and even horror.

Captivating Soul Chain by the German group tanzmainz is a performance about love, longing and the loneliness that resides in each of us. In the choreography created by Sharon Eyal in collaboration with Gai Behar, electronic music meets a powerful physical movement language that challenges the dancers to their limits.

Award-winning dance artist and master of Indian Kathak dance, Aditi Mangaldas, performs her powerful solo piece FORBIDDEN, which delves into the theme of suppressing female desire. In an intense work that preserves beauty and sensitivity, Mangaldas gives her voice to women who have been silenced over the years.

Lehtopolku’s farewell performance

Pori Dance Company brings to the festival a delicate piece Songs, which was choreographed Riku Lehtopolku, the artistic director of Kuopio Dance Festival, together with the performers. Lehtopolku also dances in the piece himself.

The festival this summer is the last for the artistic director, who started in 2019, and with Songs, Kuopio Dance Festival bids a grateful farewell to Lehtopolku’s wonderful five-year season.

“Songs is a love letter to dancing together. The warmth between the performers supports the piece, which observes the world and the dancers with tenderness. In Songs, many generations of dancers meet, who are all important to me. In the music, you can hear life with all its longings, loves and losses. At the same time, the piece is my own thank you to the festival audience for the past years,” he says.

From the French Collectif Petit Travers, a captivating contemporary circus performance will be seen in Kuopio, where juggling meets a drum concert. In S’assure de ses propres murmures, circus artist Julien Clément and drummer Pierre Pollet show how juggling and drums merge seamlessly together, creating a visual and humorous, surprising ensemble.

The magic of ballet is offered this year by the Ballet Academy of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet with its wonderful performance for the whole family. Talented young ballet dancers from all over Finland will be seen on stage.

The program also includes the popular gala, which this summer is called Supervisual Gala. The evening put together by Riku Lehtopolku is an impressive two-hour ensemble, where the spectrum of dance art is presented in a variety of ways, from fast-paced tap to contemporary dance. The gala will feature, among other things, a Taiwanese contemporary dance group B.Dance  with a piece Floating Flowers, which is inspired by Asian traditions and martial arts.

Outdoor performances at Kuopio harbor

The festival week includes two free-admission performances by professional groups, both of which will be seen in the port of Kuopio on the outdoor stage being built in front of the lake tourism center Luoto.

Danish Uppercut Danseteater brings a playful outdoor performance inspired by street dance against a beautiful lake landscape, tha has the main theme of finding one’s own place in life. Award-winning choreographer Stephanie Thomasen’s work BENCHED invites five male dancers to the benches, whose constant change always creates new, inventive settings for the dynamic dialogue between the performers.

Danish Uppercut Danseteater brings a playful outdoor performance to Kuopio harbor. Photo: Raphael Solholm

Another of Luoto’s performances is the Finnish Petri Kekoni Company’s Ei aikaa | Otid | Untime large-scale piece. What makes this open-air performance exceptional, is that the piece made for 12 dancers lasts four hours in total. During that time, viewers can freely choose the time they want to experience the performance.

The festival also includes Dance Schools On Stage – concept, which has already become a tradition. In the concept you can see skillful performances by both domestic and international dance groups.

Lehtopolku describes the program of the dance week as a versatile and even contradictory entity, where different genres engage in an intense dialogue.

“Next summer dance will once again show its diversity. The eloquent works seizes the themes of love, desire and longing, shakes up traditional performance conventions and celebrate with irresistible skill,” he describes.

“The performances convey daring and individuality as inner worlds of experience erupt  infrenzy, jubilant and tender ways. Different traditions and ways of doing boldly meet in the present moment, while dance spreads out of the theaters.