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Maria Saivosalmi: Inner landscapes and possible paths to enter

How to facilitate a space for practicing performing when you want to support multiple voices and directions, work through questions and still to stay with specificity in self-set frames?

My main interest as a performer, maker, choreographer and pedagogue through the years has been to focus on performing. All the possible layers of it.

Performers craft.  Dancers craft. Collecting the tool box. Filling your back pockets.

Let’s imagine a moment, maybe a class, maybe in a space that is meant for dance. Where the facilitator, maybe a teacher, wants to give a frame to research your own performing. Let’s imagine that there are sixteen participants, maybe students to whom this means different things and who have different needs and desires to explore.

Let’s imagine that the given frame is a practice which has a somatic starting point, maybe skin, maybe bones, maybe…

For example, sensation / feeling of the skin as an initiative for the movement to appear. Sensualise the skin towards the space, air surfaces, others, to the outer gaze/gazes, following all the layers of emotions, affects, needs, wants – what is evoked.

With the first somatic perception we enter already to the field of performing, we commit, we follow the transformation.

We are there, in making art. With the first somatic perception. Morning class as an artistic proposal. Clear frames that we can lean on.

                  How to support multiple voices in space?

First of all you follow your own process and then the space, the others, energies, emerging composition etc.

Maybe trying to root all the time, to understand the registers and layers of what you are giving out. To follow what affects and emotions you want to bring up to be seen and which of them will be in minor layers today. Rooting, exaggerating, hiding, revealing, connecting. Maybe everyday you work under the gaze / gazes. Maybe one to one, maybe half of the group, maybe to an invited spectator. Maybe everyday you frame your own interest and try to verbalize it and define what you need from the “spectators”.

–   “Today I’m trying to work with not hiding from the gaze”

–   “Today I’m working with not bypassing the transformation of affects”

And then naming what you want the feedback from.

And you maybe do this every morning. Maybe with a different playlist.

As praxis of pedagogy happens in dialogue. I felt the need to ask our previous bachelor courses about their experiences. We stayed with this above-mentioned set up for 1,5 years during my teaching blocks.

In this set up to – what kind of landscapes have you entered?

What kind of tools of performing you have been able to practice?


It seems essential that the frames and tasks are pulses, impulses, perhaps because I am not so keen on exploration and examination myself. I still haven’t learned to feel the surfaces of the body or the internal organs, because it feels intrusive and honestly to myself, I don’t think it’s possible. Nerve endings and hormones. However, my intimate and intensely alive skin has sweated, throbbed, got wet, aroused, stroked, squeezed, raised hairs from excitement and cold, irritated with erupting rashes or hostility, been touched by different intentions and tissues. The anatomical location and physiological function of the brown, heavy hepatic mass is vaguely recalled, but it’s pretty cool that my girl-grown body has something so unashamedly disgusting and necessary. 

The inner world as a motif for the performer’s body is emotional, outward-looking and political. In place and in the world! at the interface of presence and fantasy, something becomes momentarily real that is not (at least not yet) possible to make visible in everyday life and reality. The logic of association and transformation moves towards concrete change.


I have entered landscapes formed by affects that would turn me into a creature of my own performing. What has stuck with me the most from practicing performing, has been the encouragement to follow what’s within, what’s going on in that specific moment and allowing yourself to follow that creature deeper into the landscape that’s being created. Insisting to stay with what’s going on in order to find clarity for what is happening.


In these exercises, I walked on subconscious pathways, making performative translations of my body’s potential. My body’s experiential emotional nests – bone heads and cavities: vagina, mouth, heart – opened up from esoteric hiding places into meadows where my body had the potential to unravel into ever new performances of itself without emptying into my body’s socialized reading. I found myself working on hiding and revealing as performative skills in an environment where virtuosity does not only mean a particular mode of expression or embodiment. For me, as a queer performer, this brought a lot of self-esteem and enjoyment.


My landscapes, with their twisting hills, are drawn under gentle gazes. It has taken me a while to realize that the performance is already happening, I can do it from here, I can be myself and open up.

 To make visible what goes on there.

Velvet, honey and bitter pain. A dark mist spreads coolly behind my head and my fingers stretch through the walls. My spine is tactile, childhood spreads beneath my skin. I am whole between worlds, our landscapes dissolving into each other’s folds.

I use my body to write what is hidden into view. Shadows move towards me as I patiently tempt. Beneath my breastbone I find a boiling burbling, roots traversing the grey concrete.

Thank you for the texts Tuulia, Vellamo, Heini and Kaarne

World­mak­ing and Con­tem­po­rane­ity – 40 years of higher ed­u­ca­tion in Dance and Chore­og­ra­phy

This bilingual publication (Finnish/English) collects and extends traces of a seminar that took place October 23rd at the Theatre Academy (Teak) University of the Arts Helsinki. The seminar was held on the occasion of Teak´s 40th anniversary of higher art education in dance and choreography. Seminar focus was on worldmaking and contemporaneity in dance and choreography in higher art education.

The publication aims at opening the potential for dialogue and conversation about dance and choreography pedagogy in higher art education with a local and international body of readers. Hence the publication may be seen as an opportunity for conversation about dance and choreography training in higher art education beyond the day of the festivity of the 40th anniversary.

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