Investing in a
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WHERE IS YOUR HOUSE? Interview with Harri Kuorelahti from Zodiak (Helsinquia)


Zodiak was founded in the end of the Eighties. It was formed as a collective  of artists/choreographers and it was for some years an “umbrella” to produce these artists work. Then, after 1996-7, it started to work in the form it has today. But nowadays it is still directed to artists and directed by artists.
Artistic matters is the most important thing to us, what we can offer to artists and to their work.We do 12 to 20 coproductions per year, plus guest performances and a residency program. We also do some international coproductions. This year, for exemple, we supported Thomas Lehmenn and Deborah Hay  And we also do our own festival every February, were we receive national and international venues.


 I started as a dancer in 1990. I was working 16 years in Helsinki Dance Company. I also worked as a freelancer artist, with improvisation companies and doing my own choreographies as I still do today. In 2006 I started to work as artistic director of the Full Moon Dance Festival, a contemporary dance festival in the middle of the forest, very well known in Europe. After that I begun to work with Zodiak and recently I am a full time artistic director of this structure.


Where do you place Zodiak, taking in account it’s geographical location?

HARRI HUORELAHTI: I think that for dance artists is not so easy to be based in Finland, we all know it’s easier to go Brussels, Paris, Berlin because it is a shorter distance to travel, whenever you want to do a workshop or to start a project.  Of course, I know we have peripherical base. But, on the other hand,  I feel also that Zodiak is quite strong and that it had good structure. And this structure is organized by ourselves  every year.   There is a lot of good elements in the way we act. Zodiak has a good profile because  we try to have a good eye for the new. We try to support young, upcoming artists, avant-gardist artists, besides the more mature ones.  And we also organize other type of activities, like seminars, senior activities, etc. For exemple, we just presented a performance created by seniors that were experimenting contemporary dance.


 We know there is a big “umbrella“ for dance in Europe, that covers Brussels, Germany, France.... As a Finish cultural agent , do you see it a negative way or do you see it in a positive way? Do you feel you need to fight against this or, on the contrary, do you feel you need to compromise?  Or do you take your work in Finland a totally different story?  And, having this in mind, do you think Départs’ network is serving your strategy, politically speaking?

HARRI HUORELAHTI: In a way I hope that people can meet Finnish dance because I feel there is a lot of things going on. And I know that is much more hard to get in touch with it, and that’s why my work is mainly about  making connections, to make possibilities happen.  And that’s why I thought : what about if  Départs can be a network for the dancers?

This is part of Zodiak’s interests: to create conditions for the artists. And in that sense, for us, Départs is a very good base. It was very natural for us to get inside the network,  because we didn’t have to change structurally, it was a continuation of what we already do. We could fit within the aims of the network very easily, because we were working already with coproductions, organizing the anual festival, residency programs for young artists, seminars and mentoring programs,. And we also help on production, marketing, and promotion of the works we support. We have open applications in February March every year. This year we received more that 120 applications!


What is your Finnish Dance history?

In Finnish dance there was a lot of influence by Carolyn Carlson in beginning of the nineties, end of eighties.  I think we a lot of good dancers, capable of many things,  In fact, there is a certain crazyness. a strange energy in Finland. I mean, I don’t know you have seen Aki Karismaki films! (laughes).  Or, maybe it’s because of the weather. We have Winter time, with a lot of snow, dark and cold all the time,. But we also also have a green Summer, with light all the time, warm, with lots of lakes. So people change dramatically during the year! There are a lot of opposites in Finland. And I see this in ou contemporary dance.


Can you tell us more about Finnish young upcoming artists? Apart form the work of Veli Lehtovaara, the house choreographer of Zodiak, that we recently interviewed for our website as well

HARRI HUORELAHTI  selected four artists to present us. You can see  some vídeo excerts above:

Eeva Muilu  (she is now performing with a finish theater director and she will be in Impulse Tanz this year. She was nominated for Prix Jardin d’Europe)


Maija  Hirvanen

Joona Halonen