Back in June, I had an opportunity to be a model for the beautiful jewelry designed by a talented artist Irene Sema. (Please visit her stunning website: https://www.irene-sema.com/ ) One was a set of titanium earrings and the other one was a two-sided pendant with titanium and diamond. Her elegant design evoked a calm, simple, deep feeling in me.
I’d never modeled for jewelry before. So, the shooting session was exciting but nerve-wracking. Irene was very patient to get good shots. She kept talking to me to make me feel relaxed and reveal a part of me that is not easily seen. We tried many different postures and situations.
At some point, she asked me to hold a ceramic tea cup as if I was drinking tea. Feeling a little self-conscious, I told her that I’d never imagined that I would be modeling for jewelry.
“Why?” she asked.
“… well, because I’ve never thought that I was feminine enough to do this kind of thing,” I replied.
Irene laughed amusingly and said, “You are one of the most feminine people I’ve ever met!”
I looked at her incredulously. She continued, “Believe me, I’ve photographed many people. You seriously need to change how you think about yourself.” She smiled and continued taking pictures. Her remark about my femininity threw me off guard but made me ponder on the nature of femininity.
Maybe it has nothing to do with putting makeup on or wearing skirts and high heels. ‘Cause I hardly do those things in daily life. Maybe Irene was talking about the inner qualities of a person: gentleness, receptiveness, sensitiveness, etc.. I do appreciate those qualities in a person…
When Irene showed me some of her best shots, it finally dawned on me what she meant by being feminine. Hard to describe in words. So, I’ll just let you see the photos:
I had two great opportunities to collaborate with two distinguished musicians in July and August.
In July, I worked with accordionist Timo Kinnunen and saxophonist and flutist Biggi Vinkeloe. They invited me to join in their opening concert for their tour titled Ave, Mare Boreale! as a guest performer.
It happened in a beautiful wooden house in Pikisaari, Oulu in the warm evening of July 8. Timo and Biggie played composed and improvised numbers. I recited Japanese and English poems about the sea and moved along with Timo and Biggi’s playing most of the time. I even had a few solos where I sang a traditional Japanese song and a tongue twister text, while Timo and Biggie supported me musically in the background.
Nerve-wracking it was because I didn’t know their music well and what I would do with it exactly before the concert. But improvising with musicians who knew what they were doing was liberating and fun. They listened to me and my movement so well that they could go with whatever I did or said. In return I got inspired by their playing on the spot and started to do something totally unplanned, but still suited the flow of the music.
Also, I need to mention the beautiful bottle installation by visual artists Helena Kaikkonen, Leena Kangas & Päivi Pussila at the concert place. I performed with it in many moments during the concert. With powerful music, it felt natural for me to include the installation as part of the whole show. Yet another delightful inspiration!
Thank you, Timo, Biggie, Helena, Leena and Päivi for an unforgettable evening!
Here are some pictures from the concert:
And my collaboration with musicians continued. In the beginning of August, I traveled to Kalajoki, Finland to perform with four musicians: accordionist Timo Kinnunen, harpist Anne-Marie O’Farrell, cellist Adrian Mantu, conductor, recorder and Baroque flute player Janos Bali. Timo organized a 3-day monimusic festival titled Camus Calla 2018 where different genres and forms of art and music are mixed to create new music. I participated in two performances: one concert at the Kalajoki church and an experimental concert at Santa’s Resort & Spa Hotel Sani.
The first concert was mostly about classical music with some improvisational, experimental twists. The concert at the hotel incorporated films into musical improvisation. For both concerts, I had to jump in as an actor without any substantial rehearsal time with the musicians beforehand. So, what I did was almost completely improvised on the spot. But somehow it worked, thanks to the skilled musicians. And I had a lot of fun performing with them.
Here are a few photos from the concerts:
I learned tremendously from how the musicians worked together and improvised with others. I was used to working in theatre projects, where we take a lot of time to build and create a story together. But my collaboration with musicians was very different from that. They trust each other’s ability to improvise as a given and play their instruments based in feeling, backed by solid skills. They often bypass logic and work instinctively, so the speed of working is quite fast. So, I also had to trust my ability to improvise with them and tried my best to feel “the flow” they were feeling.
I hope this post finds you enjoying the season. The following is the first of several creative projects I’m taking on for the summer.
Timo Kinnunen, a skillful, adventurous accordionist, has invited me to Oulu, Finland to join him in the opening concert for his concert tour around the Bothnian Bay (the sea between Finland and Sweden). I’m planning on performing some of the old Japanese poetry in collaboration with Timo and Biggi Vinkeloe, a saxophonist and flutist from Sweden.
The details are below:
Avajaiskonsertti – Opening Concert | Ave, Mare Boreale!
Date and time: July 8, 2018 (Su), 16:00-17:45
Place: Pikisaarentie 13, Oulu, Keltainen talo (Yellow house) Map
Ticket price: 10€. Ticket sale begins one hour before the show opening time at the door. Cash only. Tickets can be booked in advance by sending a text message to 0400 908735.
Liput 10 €. Lipunmyynti alkaa tuntia ennen ovelta, käteismaksu. Ennakkovaraus on mahdollista tekstiviestillä numerosta 0400 908735.
I’m giving three different workshops in the autumn of 2018. All of them are on a first-come, first-served basis. So, mark your calendar now and don’t miss out on the opportunities! Here are the details:
1. “The Body That Speaks” at Open University (Taideyliopisto, Avoin kampus)
Dates and Times: Sat-Sun 15.-16.9., 22.-23.9., 29.-30.9., 6.-7.10. and 13.-14.10. From 10:00 – 15:00.
Place: Theatre Academy, Haapaniemenkatu 6, Helsinki
In this course, the student will learn the basics of a few physical methods (Suzuki Method, Viewpoints and Hino Method, a method based in classic Japanese martial arts) to build the corporeal scaffolding for greater expressivity and connectivity on stage. The key words in learning are Listening, Focus, Stillness, Sensitivity, Drive and Attitude. Through careful, diligent practice, the student will gain an invaluable asset as a performing artist, the body that speaks. Short texts in the student’s native language will also be used for exercises in the course.
2. “Expressive Body- introduction to Suzuki Method of Actor Training” at Teatteri metamorfoosi
Dates and Times:Fri 16.11 at 18-21:00, Sat-Sun 17.–18.11 at 10-17:00 (including 1h lunch break)
Place: Teatteri metamorfoosi/ Point Fixe, Suvilahdenkatu 10 A 408
How could we be more expressive and powerful in our presence on the stage? In the workshop the question is posed as the drive to build the foundation of embodied knowledge in Suzuki Method of Actor Training. The participants will learn and practice the basics of the method and find ways to apply it in a performative situation. No previous experience in the method required. Wear movable clothing and bring a water bottle and a pair of socks (no wool socks). Suzuki Method was founded and has been developed by a Japanese theatre director Tadashi Suzuki and his company SCOT (Suzuki Company of Toga). This rigorous method brings better concentration, breath control, and energy production to those who practice it. Its ultimate purpose is to restore the innate expressivity in the performer’s body.
3. “Extraordinary Time & Space – introduction to Viewpoints” at Teatteri metamorfoosi
Dates and Times:Fri 30.11 at 18-21:00, Sat-Sun 23.–25.11 at 10-17:00 (including 1h lunch break)
Place: Teatteri metamorfoosi/ Point Fixe, Suvilahdenkatu 10 A 408
How could we listen to time and space and how does that relate to the bodies on the stage? In the workshop the questions are posed as the drive to build the foundation of embodied knowledge in Viewpoints. The participants will learn and practice the basics of the technique as an ensemble and explore ways to collaboratively create theatrical language to tell stories on the stage. No previous experience in the technique required. Wear movable clothing.
Viewpoints is an improvisational technique of movement originated by an American choreographer Mary Overlie and later adapted to theatre by Anne Bogart, Tina Landau, and SITI Company. The technique provides inspiring and yet practical vocabulary to investigate and explore time and space in a performative setting and allows ensemble performing to happen quickly and organically.