Cover story Misc

The Helsinki Festival starts today

The Helsinki Festival is this year expanding its
programme. Arts from the Baltic Sea region will be very much to the fore. The
Festival presents three leading orchestras, several theatre groups and visual
arts from around the Baltic. There are also more free Festival events on the
programme than in former years. The revamped Night of the Arts caters for a
wider range of tastes than ever. The sculpture exhibition in Esplanadi Park and
the open-air movies in the Lasipalatsi square will all be free. The summer
season at the Huvila Festival Tent ends with a six-hour open-house day
masterminded by Pekka Kuusisto.

he Helsinki Festival begins with Kaija Saariaho’s dramatised Passion de
directed by Peter Sellars (US) at Finlandia Hall. The orchestra will be
conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. New works by Magnus Lindberg, another
contemporary Finnish composer of international repute, will receive their
Finnish premieres in a two-concert cavalcade of chamber and orchestral music
also starring Lindberg as a pianist and conductor.

The visiting orchestras include the Oslo Philharmonic and the Swedish Radio
Symphony; the St. Petersburg Philharmonic will be playing music by Sibelius,
something it rarely does in Helsinki. Appearing at the Festival will be
violinists Lisa Batiashvili, Viktoria Mullova and Christian Tetzlaff, and
pianist András Schiff – all great favourites with Finnish audiences.
Representing the Finnish vocal elite are Monica Groop, Camilla Nylund and Topi
, all of whom enjoy a fine international reputation.

The hundred-strong Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra will be playing familiar
tunes from pirate films at the family concert that is always a Children’s
Festival hit. In addition to music, theatre and film the children’s programme
will include an exhibition on the theme of Giotto with numerous workshops and
tie-in events at the Annantalo Arts Centre.

New circus, Chekhov and contemporary European theatre

International circus, theatre and dance are more in evidence at this year’s
Festival than ever before. One of the Festival’s big attractions is Collectif
AOC, a French new circus group that will be erecting a 600-seat tent in
Meripuisto Park near Kaivopuisto. ‘New circus is conspicuous in this year’s
programme,’ says Festival Director Risto Nieminen. ‘Helsinki will also be
acting host to a number of current names in European theatre and dance, such as
dancer-choreographer Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and the enfant terrible
of Spanish theatre Calixto Bieito.’ The Stage festival to be held for the first
time at the Korjaamo Culture Factory has invited along five European theatre

The four-year Chekhov series culminates this year in three topical interpretations
of works by the Russian master. For the production of The Three Sisters
directed by him Declan Donellan (UK) has formed a cast of leading names in
contemporary Russian theatre. The Von Krahl Theatre from Tallinn is bringing
along a re-reading by Kristian Smeds of The Seagull, while Dmitri Krymov, a hot
name in Russian theatre, will be staging a collage of four Chekhov plays.

New rhythms, nostalgia and mysticism at the Huvila Festival Tent

The packed programme for the Huvila Festival Tent ranges from pop and world
music to poetry and a children’s day. Among the most eagerly-awaited guests
this year are French chanson star Juliette Gréco and blues legend Taj Mahal.

Bringing along a breath of the rich musical tradition of the Middle East will
be the Syrian Ensemble Al-Kindi reinforced with a Sufi singer and a Dervish
dancer, and Turkish Mercan Dede, combining electronic rhythms and Sufi ambience
straight from Istanbul. Ville Leinonen will be inviting dancers to take the
floor at the Huvila Saturday hop. ‘It’s great we were able to get Ayo, an
artist very much on the rise, for the Huvila Festival Tent,’ says Production
Manager Kaarina Gould. ‘In addition to new rising stars and old world music
hands the Huvila profile will take in such hybrid evenings as Lännen Jukka – a
joint gig by J. Karjalainen and one of the leading names in American old time
music, Dirk Powell.

Flow moves to the Suvilahti power station area

The visual arts will be make their presence felt in the city right at the
beginning of May, when the sculpture exhibition Las Meninas by Manolo Valdés of
Spain takes over Esplanadi Park. The series of 21 sculptures can be viewed free
round the clock until the beginning of September. The exhibition of work by
Carnegie award-winning Karin Mamma Andersson from Sweden will be travelling to
the Kunsthalle straight from the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Meanwhile the
Amos Anderson Museum will be putting on an exhibition of oil paintings by Anna

On each of its three weekends the Helsinki Festival will be screening movies
free in the Lasipalatsi square. The Orion Cinema will be showing a unique
retrospective of work by Iranian Abbas Kiarostami. The life and works of Andrei
will be portrayed through documentaries about him.

The revamped Night of the Arts, shifted this year from Thursday to Friday
(August 24), is an urban event providing a feast for arts lovers all through
the night. Culture vultures will thus be able to revel in events numbering well
over a hundred in new and sometimes unexpected settings scattered round the
city. The enlarged Runokuu will be taking lyrics and literature out into clubs,
churches, public transport and nature trails and strengthening the role of
verbal art in the Festival programme.

The popular Flow festival will be focusing on the hottest contemporary rhythm
music from indie rock and folk to various subgenres of electronic music and
swinging jazz. One new urban venue is the area round the former Suvilahti power
station. As the August evenings draw in jazz fans can look forward to Viapori
Jazz on the island of Suomenlinna and the UMO Jazz Fest.

Helsingin Juhlaviikot – Helsinki Festival 17.8-2.9

Cover story Misc

North goes South

It sounds
strange: a Scandinavian festival in Italy. Usually you
can find a lot of Latin festivals or even African one but never
From here the need, felt by a group of people, of trying to organize in
with the help of some important partners and sponsors an event that
could promote the Scandinavian culture in Italy with the aim of
stimulating the exchange between different cultures.


Ragnarock Scandinavian Music and Art Festival opened his first edition on the
7th of July in Milan Magnolia, near the Idroscalo. From 5 pm until late night,
you could find a photographic exhibition of 
the Danish Søren Solkær Starbird, for the first time in Italy, a fashion
show, a Scandinavian buffet and five concerts. Near the stage and the bar you
had also the chance of reading an Iperborea book, the biggest Italian publisher
of Scandinavian literature who has organized a books banquet and a reading
area, or you could also win a flight ticket to Copenhagen or Stockholm.
Everything for only 6 euro.

himself, a great example of music photography, explained the criterion by which
he has selected the pictures underlining the aim of the festival: promoting the
Scandinavian culture:“Related to the
philosophy of the Festival, to the promotion of musical Scandinavian talents, I
decided to choose a selection of photographies that mainly show Scandinavian artists,
especially Danish. The theme of the exhibition is, then, linked with the one of
the Festival, in a continuous dialogue between the artistic and the musical

The result
was a musical trip throughout eighteen shots realized while touring with the
most important bands of nowadays.

But not
only photography, as I said: fashion show of five Scandinavian stylists from
the European Institute of Design (IED) and five different bands who were performing
on the stage (Promise and the Monster, Niepoort, Jonna Lee, The Fashion and
Prins Thomas

One thousand
and five hundred people welcomed this first edition of the Ragnarock
Scandinavian Festival, showing how much is widespread the interest towards the
Nordic culture and stimulating, I hope, the organization of other events like


Cover story Misc

Sail the world


Auli Irjala made her dream come true and sailed
the world for four year with her husband Hannu Aulin. They visited places like Greenland, Tonga,
New Zealand and Alaska, only few to mention. She wrote a
book of their adventures called Meren Selkä Taittuu (The Stories of Sailing on
, Edita 2007). It is a great story about the journey itself, good
description of the nature and life on the 11,2 meters long sailing boat called

{sidebar id=3}How did you become a

It was in
1986 when I inherit some money. Me and my brother bought a 6-meter long
sailing boat as an impulse purchase. I didn’t know anything about sailing at
that time. I had been on sailing boat only once in my life. I just tried to
learn it by myself, but then I gave in and took a course and realised what
sailing was all about. Later I bought my brother’s share, because it didn’t quite
work, owning the boat together. We disagreed on some things about the boat.
Afterwards I let him use it though and it worked very well that way.

How can one learn to sail?

Only way to
learn it is by sailing. When you get more experience you can sail further and
to more challenging places. I remember how great it felt when I sailed from Helsinki to Hanko for the
first time in my life. The great feelings come when you exceed your limits and
challenge yourself.

Did you plan the trip
to be so big before hand?

We were
planning the trip to last for 3 years, but we were aware that those kind plans
can easily change and so we ended up sailing for 4 years. We didn’t even want
to do around the world trip.

When you
are planning this kind of sailing journey, you need to plan the time schedule
and the route very carefully and according to the hurricane seasons and
predominant winds.

How much time did you
spend on planning the trip?

We spent
two years planning the trip, getting information and equipment, fixing the boat
and testing equipment. The hardest part was making the final decision of leaving.
But after the decision had been made, all the problems were practical problems,
which just need to be solved. The better you plan your trip, the less you will
have problems on it.

What were the places
you wanted to go most?

To Greenland. When we got there, we wanted to go to across
the USA
and so we cruised along the rivers of America. We also were dreaming of
sailing to Alaska,
but we weren’t going to do that, because the passage is quite demanding. Then
we met people who had done the journey and we decided to take an extra year and
go for it. And so we sailed from New Zeeland to Alaska.

Do you recommend that
kind of big trip to other sailors?

Yes, if
that is what they want. They should do it rather now than when they are on
retirement pension. You never know what’s going to happen in the future. Our
journey was definitely the right thing for us.

{mosimage}What did the freedom
feel like?

It is
contradictory matter; in the beginning it felt great, like being on big holiday.
But big journey isn’t any holiday, so at some point we felt like having
something to do, some work to do. In the beginning of the trip I felt guilty of
not doing anything useful and that was something I couldn’t have prepared for.
But when the time passed, the feeling faded and I got use to not being very
active. I wrote articles for magazines, but Hannu didn’t have much to do and he
didn’t like being inactive. It may sound weird, but being inactive isn’t good
for most of the people. Sometimes we even missed the everyday life in Finland, but
when we visited Finland
few times during our trip, we were amazed how hectic and stressful life in here
actually is.

We learned
to be more social and learned to rely on the boat and on each other more and
more. We didn’t get bored; our relationship was great and we saw lot of new
things and places on the way. Although there was a bit of numbness: for example
it was breathtaking to see dolphins in the beginning of the trip, but after we
were snorkelling with whales in Tonga we weren’t that impressed when we saw
dolphins. After eating so much fresh lobster we don’t feel like eating lobster
in Finland

I could
have stayed for longer, but Hannu wanted to end the trip and come home, for
work. But it took a year to come back after the decision of coming back, so we
had enough time to settle down with the thought of going home. Now I feel great
about it all and I know that I am very privileged to do that kind of adventure.
I really appreciate the experience I had. Now it is my turn to give time to my
parents. It feels good to be here now.

{mosimage}What was the most
impressive experience?

The whales
in Tonga.
We have always been curious about whales and we have seen lot of them before in
We also were really close to bears in Alaska,
which is very rare. We really enjoy the nature. Also meeting other people,
different kind of people than you meet back home was very interesting. In Finland we
usually meet people, who share the same background and values, but overseas and
especially in Alaska,
we met these crazy and great people, we wouldn’t get to know in here. It really
opened our eyes to many ways people live. After being moving from place to
place for so long and especially after very thrilling passage from New Zealand
to Alaska it
was great feeling to know that we were going to stay in Alaska for a year.

And the most
frightening moment?

On our way
from New Zealand to Tahiti the mast almost
fell down. The bolt inside of the mast broke and the wire cables went all loose.
It was in the middle of the sea, we were one week of sailing away from the
nearest harbor. Luckily we could solve the problem by ourselves. You will feel
good when you can cope with the situation like that by yourself. Other wise
everything went well, we were lucky, but in addition to that we lived very
quiet life and moved slowly.

What kind of sailors
did you meet?

We met lot
of sailors and got along with them well. Sailors, who do big trips like ours,
understand each others quite well, no matter where they come from. We met lot
of sailing families, even with their children aboard and sailors on all kind of
boats; for example in Tonga
we met this old man who was on his journey by a sailing canoe made of veneer

Did you know that you
would be the first Finnish sailors to go to Greenland?

We had
sponsors, because we were going to sail to ashore of Greenland
as the first pleasure sailors under the Finnish flag. I haven’t heard that
anyone else had done the same route; people usually want to go to South.

How was it living in
the boat all the time?

relationship was strong and good before the trip and it was dream of both of
us. Aboard you just don’t want to argue about small stuff. And if something
turns up, you have to solve it right away, because you can’t leave anywhere. Of
course there were moments when we were a bit bored, but there weren’t so big
arguments that we wanted to end the trip. On dry land it is easier to quarrel
about small matters that become bigger issues. And it is so easy to break up
ashore. No one should do that kind of trip to fix a relationship. 

Of course
it was crowded on the boat every now and then, like when we sailed to Greenland and there were 4 of us aboard, wearing winter
clothes. Most of the time it was only two of us and it was nice to have our
family members to come visit us on the journey. We are very different kind of
people, which was only the strength: we always had two different kinds of
solutions to problems and we just picked the better one. Our relationship is
even stronger now, after the experience.

How did you decide
that it is time to go back home?

wanted to get back to work and our parents were expecting us to come back,
especially when the trip was already one year longer than we planned it to be.
Distances are so huge, so if we had wanted to sail for longer, it would had
been at least one year more.

What is the thing with
the sailing for you?

The wind!
Sailing is just one way to move and see the world. The most important thing is
that I have seen the places on the way and disengage myself from routines and
everyday life back home. Sailing makes it possible to make that kind of trip
safely and on cheap. It really wouldn’t be possible with motor boat. That kind
of sailing is a life style.

You sold Kristiina and
bought and a new sailing boat, why?

We bought
bigger boat with the shower inside. In Kristiina the shower was on the deck.
This new boat is a project; we are going to change lot of it. It’s name is

You left your job
before the trip. Was it right thing to do?

Yes it was.
Now I work as a freelance journalist and writer. At the moment I am writing a
book about history of gaff schooner called Joanna Saturna. It is build in 1903.

Where to next?

It takes approximately five years to fix Manta. I would imagine that the next place we are going to sail
is somewhere cold, no matter if it is to South or North. You see so much wild
life in arctic area, which we are seeking. I like to be in tropics, but only
shorter periods. When we leave, we probably will stay for several years on the
trip; we just take our home, Manta, to some cool place, where are lot of whales
and birds. This summer we will sail in beautiful archipelago of Finland.

Cover story Misc

Animal ups and downs

Zoos are controversial: most like to see wild animals from far-away
places close up, some think they exploit innocent creatures for profit in
unnatural surroundings. Here's a look at Helsinki City's operation.

Helsinki Zoo is quite small, but it has
an eclectic collection and is widely known for its successful breeding policy.
Founded in 1889, (when the classic cages were less animal-friendly as you can
see) it is now hoping to embark on a €150m 15-year programme that will make it
"a centre for nature education in Helsinki" states Director Seppo Turunen.

The new plan envisages an expansion of ‘cold-blooded' representation,
as a third of the 6,000 amphibian threatened species are. "There's no way to
save them in the wild because of a fungal disease, which can be controlled in
laboratory conditions," says Turunen, "Zoos will take responsibility for
keeping hundreds from extinction worldwide, Europe has selected 10, mainly from
the Mediterranean and Alps."

That is all in the future, things are
happening now – and in zoos that means day and night, often unseen. 2007 has
seen another impressive crop of newborns enter the world – and some are still
due. Currently 160 species reside though the total is unknown due to insect

Proud mothers are weaning Wolverine triplets, Asian Lion twins, a
Przewalski's Horse foal, Amur Leopard cubs, a Markhor kid, Mashmi Takin calf, a
spindly Goitred Gazelle (all rare), and a Rocky Mountain Goat kid. Keepers are
fingers-crossed for Snow Leopards and Dwarf Mongooses, which are due anytime
and may have made the news when you read this.

But breeding isn't one zoo, like everything else it's coordinated and
organized by computer. Korkeasaari is in many associations
where animal transfers are arranged among members – all of which are vetted by
specialist auditors to keep unworthy menageries out.

One is EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) and Birds and Reptiles Curator Kirsi Pynnönen-Oudman
explains, "I know I don't need to breed Ural owls as there's no need. It's easy
with birds to take the eggs away and replace them with dummies."

Otherwise the female will keep laying. This is not so cruel: many eggs
are unfertilised as with this year's Bearded Vulture egg. Last year's chick
caused a zoological stir as it was Helsinki's first and uncommon generally.
It's now in a central European zoo.

When there's an organised breeding programme for a rare/threatened
animal, an ISIS (International Information Species System) SPARKS (Single Population Analysis and Record Keeping System) studbook is created with a world or European

Helsinki Zoo has the studbook for Snow Leopards, Wolverines, Markhors
and Forest Reindeer. The coordinator arranges placements in zoos where
males/females are needed and when to breed: all to improve gene pools.

"We had a Hyacinth Macaw chick in 2005 and we'd love to send him away,
but the coordinator said there's too many males and could we keep it for
another 6 months. It may then go to the Canary Islands to a large outside
facility there," reveals Kirsi.

There's a problem with over-active ones too  "The King Island Wallabies are doing too
well, I have 9 joeys and I must find new homes for them!" smiles Kirsi.

Sometimes the only way to stop them doing what comes naturally is to
resort to human methods e.g. separation. The Brown Bear cubs are 18-months old
and still need their mother, so the male is separated from his family next

The opposite of course happens. The European Mink, rare in the wild, is
notorious – because the female is so aggressive. In 20 years, Helsinki Zoo has
never bred them, but now a solution is ‘at hand' from Tallinn which has 10
years experience with these furry little fighters.

"She's only receptive to the male for 2-3 days when on heat, otherwise
she can kill him. And this can only be known by taking swabs daily," explains

Their Chilean Flamingos are too few (16) to encourage the mating
display which is central to their breeding. One chick hatched 10 years ago, but
now mirrors in the den are trying to trick them into thinking they are more.

And Mother Nature has a mind of her own. A South American rodent, a
female Aguti, gave birth one day after flying in from Amsterdam. "Naturally she
wouldn't have travelled if it had been known she was pregnant," comments Kirsi.

And a junior snake keeper asked her senior colleague how many Tree
Vipers there were as she saw two in its terrarium. This snake had not seen a
male for 5 years, but snakes can retain sperm for when the conditions for
motherhood are right.

Weather affects them too with some rainforest species breeding when it
pours, thinking the wet season is starting. Hot conditions develop parasites
that attack newborn Northern animals with fatal results sometimes.

Why is Korkeasaari so successful? "It's easier to leave them alone,
maintain them as they are in the wild and not introduce unviable traits," sums
up Seppo.

Hand rearing is frowned on but a new programme for Ruffs will remove
all the chicks this year when they have hatched for 5 days. "They are difficult
zoo breeders and the first few days are critical. This will serve as a model
for all waders so we'll know how to breed the whole group," informs Kirsi.

Korkeasaari also serves as animal rescue centre for southern Finland
and will soon return the last 3 (of 5) seal pups found on beaches. Not to
mention squirrels, hares and lots of birds saved annually. Five Mexican
Axolotls (of 100) caught by a smuggler at Amsterdam Airport are also housed in
the aquarium section.

Helsinki Zoo has problems finding experienced keepers – but not people
wanting to be one: 1600 applied for 7 summer positions. With well over 500,000
visitors annually at €5/adult and €3/child*, it's one of the cheapest
anywhere – as part of Helsinki's policy of equality opportunity for anyone to
be able to see domestic and foreign fauna. 

*London Zoo £14.50, children €11

Melbourne Zoo AUS$22/11

Stockholm Zoo SKr90/40

Photos by Markku Bussman / Helsinki Zoo 

Cover story Misc

Olympics in a Finnish way

{mosimage}Finland is passionate about sports. In 1952, Helsinki hosted the Olympics and the city has organized the World Championships in Athletics twice. The country is also famous for its rally and formula one drivers, and of course, for its proud ice hockey team. But every year, during the summer, some other sports are more important. You might not have heard of them, but as you can imagine, these competitions imply the real Finnish spirit: mobile phones and sauna.


Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships

The mobile phones to throw are provided and you can even choose the best model for you. There is an area where you have to stay and the phone must land within the marked throwing sector. The official jury of the competition will accept or disqualify the throw. The jury’s decisions cannot be protested. Touch call! Good news is that there will be no doping tests, although all the contests have to behave their selves. The categories are Junior, Freestyle, Original and Team Original. For the Original category there is competition on 27th August. Winners from the national championships will be automatically in the finals.

25. August 2007 in Savonlinna.

Sauna World Championship

{mosimage} Sauna was invented in Finland and all the Finns have been sitting in there for all of their lives. In addition to Finns there are lot of thick skin people around the word and they are ready to take the challenge. The entrance fee for competitors is 50 euros and doctor certificate is needed. Even when Finns often drink few beers in or after sauna, alcohol and drugs are absolutely forbidden. Competitor has to sit and posture must be erect the whole time. Temperature is about 110ºC, in every 30 seconds half a litre of water will be thrown on the stove. The last person in the sauna is the winner. The rules are simple; if you can't stand the heat – get out of the sauna!

3. – 4. August 2007 in Heinola

Boot Throwing World Championship

Obviously Finns love throwing things. In boot throwing the brand of the equipment is essential: only four brands are allowed, including the classic Kontio boot from Nokia. The throwing style and the grip of the boot are free, but the leg of the boot must be straight when the boot is in the air. The throw is accepted if the boot falls in the marked area in time (in 30 seconds). This is the sport for everyone: from kids at age 10 to seniors up to 75 years can participate and for those taking this competition seriously, there is 2-day world championship with the finals. At least one thrower from every nation gets to the final.

17. – 19. August.2007, Harjavalta

Swamp Soccer

{mosimage} Swamp soccer has been the most famous summer event in Hyrynsalmi ever since 1998. The competition has been World Championships since 2000 and it is more and more popular each year and have made international headlines and involved thousands of soccer fans.

Some of the rules are obvious, like playing without a uniform top is not allowed. But there are rules differing from regular soccer. Because it is harder to play on a swamp than on a grass playing time is all together 20 minutes. The number of players per team on the field is 1 + 5. Each team must have at least 4 players on the field.

There are recreational, women's, mixed and business series teams. You will not be alone in the swamp: in addition to mosquitoes there are hundreds of Finnish and foreign teams with their supporters. 

12.-15. July 2007, Hyrynsalmi


Air Guitar World Championship

The Air Guitar World Championship was developed half by a joke at music video festival in Oulu in 1996. Ever since the competition has been success! The once so absurd idea has become into an international media event that attracts a wide international league of contestants and audience. This contest really rocks; it is hold in 17 different countries, all the way from New Zealand back to Finland. Air Guitar is all about surrendering to the music without having an actual instrument. Anyone can taste rock stardom by playing the Air Guitar. It is easy to get involved: just go to the website, register, tune your guitar!

Keep on Rockin' in the Free World! 

5. – 7. September 2007 in Oulu 

Wife Carrying Competition

The Wife Carrying Competition is held in Sonkajärvi’s and it has deep roots in the local history. In the late 1800’s there was a strong robber, who use to steal girls and carry them. Back then, it was not unusual to steal women from the neighbouring villages.

Nowadays wife carrying is a good sport and lot of fun. There are several styles and ways to carry the wife, but be careful and don’t drop her or otherwise you will loose points! The Greatness of the prize depends on the fact how great the wife is: the winner will receive the equivalent of the wife’s weight in beer and he also gets a statue with wife carrying motif. That is something to aim at, right? In addition to the strong and quick Finnish couples the competitors come from several other countries even as far away as from Australia and Japan.

7. July 2007, Sonkajärvi


Barbecue competition 

Finns love to barbecue and because the Nordic summer is short, they do it as much as they can. In August there is a barbecue competition held in the centre of Helsinki. There has been at least two months time to practise. Anyone can get involved and the fee is 20 euros. Everything is provided: the grill, food and even the hat. You can bring your own secret barbecue sauces and oils, if you like. The winner will be the one, who has the best style, who is the most creative and fastest. And the prize is brand new grill, fame and glory! This is the most delicious competition of all! Ready, steady, grill!

4. August 2007, Helsinki

More information about these competitions on the book:
Funny Finnish Pursuits
by R. Etelämäki, B. Maximus, A. Kmulainen.

Cover story Misc

Move your peppu!

{mosimage}Helsinki has lived once
more the magic of the Carnival. Brazilian flavour with a touch of Finnish
national identity: Saaaaamba!!! Who said that Finnish are cold? During the weekend
of 8-9 June, Helsinki
citizens turned their minds (and feet) back to faraway Brazil and
everybody went out to enjoy once more the parade of the
Helsinki Samba Carnival.


FREE! Magazine did not want to miss the chance to talk to some members of G.R.E.S.
Império do Papagaio
, the biggest Samba School in Finland, located in the
heart of Helsinki (literally… the dancers rehearse inside an old bomb shelter).

, one of the Passistas (the only girls
who dance in bikini during the parade from every Samba School)
of Papagaio Samba School,
who has even danced some years ago in the Sambódromo of Rio de Janeiro, the temple of Samba dancers, explained more about the
secrets of this passionate dance:

Henna, when did
you start dancing Samba in Papagaio?

It was in 1997,
and then I danced in my first parade one year later, in 1998.

Your Samba school
is the most awarded one in the whole Finland, isn’t it?

Yes, we have won the
Finnish Samba Championship seven times in total. We won once five times in a
row, but then two years ago Tampere
Samba School
won, and we got so much energy out of it that we got top store last year, when
we were the champions again.

That was kind of a
sweet revenge…

Yeah, it was the
first time that any Samba school in Finland got the top points.

{mosimage}Which are the
requisites you have to fulfill to be given the points by the judges?

We have the same
scale as they do have in Rio de
Janeiro. We have several judges, and they are judging
conjunction, the song and the “Enredo”, which is the theme of the song. They
also judge the costumes and the overall performance.

Do you have good
relation with the other Samba schools in Finland?

Well, it is not as
tough as in Rio. We don’t go and shoot other
people from other Samba schools… Sometimes after the carnival, some of them
have had this attitude like “oh…they won again”, but in general we are one big
Samba family in Finland
and we to partying together.

This is going to
be the 17th edition of the carnival in Helsinki. Who started with the idea?

There were only four Samba schools at the beginning in Finland: Helsinki, Tampere, Turku and Lahti.  The first carnival was in Turku. Basically it was started by some crazy
Finnish people went to Rio and fell in love
with Samba.

So has it been a
thing started more by Finnish than by Brazilians living in Finland?

Yes, it has always
been very “Finnish Samba”, because we do not have so many Brazilians living
here, and those who do live here do not necessarily attend the Samba schools.

How is the general
Samba level in Finland?

Well, if you
compare to Brazilian Samba, we are far away from them. If we are thinking from
a global perspective, as far as I know, Finnish Samba carnival and Finnish “Sambistas”
are pretty well known around the world among the Samba fans. It is quite unique
in a country like Finland
that has no carnival culture itself, except for Vappu…that it is not exactly
the same…

This year you are
having a guest Samba group, Maravilha from Sweden. Is it normal that foreign
Samba groups come to dance to Helsinki
for the Carnival?

They were here
also last year. With Sweden,
we have had quite a long relation, going there for their carnival. At the
beginning they had not only carnival, but other parades there, and Finns
normally always won the competition, because we had a better level in Samba
parades. Some years some foreign groups contact us about participating in Helsinki carnival, but
usually we do not have the financial power to bring other groups from other
parts of Europe. From Sweden, is much
cheaper just to take the boat and come here.




"Here is very different from Río, where many men dance Samba apart from playing"


How many members
do you have in Papagaio
Samba School?

Around 250 members.

Do men feel
attracted to come and learn Samba? Is it difficult to get men to dance Samba?

Well, Samba is not
only about dancing. Samba is originated from the music itself that is why
“Bateria” and music is the most important part of Samba school and then dancers
change it into movement. About dancing, it is not very common for Finnish men
(they have only three men who dance samba at the school). It is very different from
Rio, where many men dance apart from playing.

{mosimage}So dancing or
playing, there are also quite many Finnish men who love Samba. We collected the
opinion of one male member of Papagaio
Samba School,
Lauri “Laurido” Tanner, who performs as “Diretor de Tamborines”
(Director of Tambourine section) in Papagaio´s “Ala de Bateria”.

Lauri, how long
have you been playing Samba?

I have been
playing Samba since 2001.

Where did you start

I started it in Tampere, in Uniäo da
Roseira Samba School
, and I also sang there. After that I moved back to Helsinki and here I
started training tambourine. Then I became the official director of the
tambourine section.

Do you dance

I like dancing,
but usually I am in the other side, so I rarely have the chance to dance. But I
do dance. For example if I am in Rio in a good

Have you been

Yeah, I was two
times. I was playing in rehearsals and in a small school. Last year I was focused
on recording the carnival. I recorded a lot of material.

So how many people
are there in the "Ala de Bateria" in Papagaio?

Around 25 this
year. Not too much. In Brazil
you could have 250-300 people. The power is magnificent! In Finland we could go with all the
people from all the Samba Schools to 100 people.

So sometimes you
play all together?

Yes. This is one
of my ambitions. To have this "gatherings" organized again and go up to 100

We came back to
Henna who told us some more details and anecdotes about the incoming
performance around the streets of Helsinki:

What is the theme
for the song of Papagaio
Samba School
this year?

It is "surprisingly" about Eurovision Song Contest. We tell about the history of the
contest from the beginning until nowadays.

Some years ago in Helsinki was raining cats
and dogs during the festival. How do you find motivation to dance with that

It was in 2004. I
remember it very well. Before we went to the parade that year, it was 12
degrees and pouring rain really heavily. We were feeling so down, talking to
other Passistas telling “we are not going there…” but of course we had to go
there. But then when we arrived and the music started playing, then you even
did not notice that it is raining or that it was cold weather, because you do
not feel cold dancing Samba. It is so inspiring music that you get only good
feelings. I was feeling sad for the viewers with the jackets on!


XVII  Helsinki Samba Carnival.  8-9 June, 2007.
More information
about the schedule in
G.R.E.S. Império do Papagaio:

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The monsters are back in town!

{mosimage}And not, this time we are not talking about Lordi…  Lovers of big cars, roaring engines and spectacular open air shows can feel happy, since Monster Mania, Monster Truck Racing European Championships, arrives near the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki the 16 June to offer tones of entertainment for adults and children.


Just only hearing the names of the trucks is enough to imagine the chain of destruction that they will release in the Finnish capital: Bigfoot 17, Lil Devil, Red Dragon, Swamp Thing, Monstrous and Slingshot 2004 are ready to smash all pieces of metal around them. Experienced drivers from United Kingdom will be the ones on charge to keep the “beasts” on four wheels under control inside the stadium.





But Monster Mania show offers much more: for starters, the Free Style MX Czech and Finnish best riders will compete to show who is the most skillful one in a show that includes 22 meters long back flips! Among the participants there are big names as Jussi Seljas, considered as maybe the best practitioner of FMX in Finland. As well, the fans can have the chance to experience almost like in real life how is to drive a real monster truck; the organization has built a special one that looks almost the same like real Monster Truck, but the engine runs on diesel fuel and the seats (10) for the passengers are located on the back of the truck. Resuming, the perfect event to spend a Saturday evening with the whole family.


Monster Mania: Monster Truck Racing European Championships and Freestyle MX shows will take place the 16 June near the Olympic Stadium, at Mäntymäen kenttä, Helsinki.


Monster Mania 2007
16 June, Mäntymäen kenttä, Helsinki
Tickets from 40 to 12 euro.
More information:

Cover story Misc

No pain, no gain

Ink on your skin. Long ago, tattoos stopped being a taboo. They are no longer a sign of a criminal, a tough biker or a sailor. This body art went mainstream and nowadays it is common to see a pop teenage girl on the dance floor with a tribal tattoo in her lower back or a computer geek with the Linux penguin on his shoulder.

In Helsinki there are dozens of tattoo parlours and studios. Many of them are located in the areas of Punavuori, Kamppi and Kallio. The selection is diverse and vast, but so is the demand. It can take some weeks to get an appointment with the most popular tattooists, especially in summer. Anton, of Legacy Tattoo believes that “there are too many tattoo artists in Helsinki and that decreases the overall quality”. In his opinion, “some of the tattooists are world class, but people tend to go to the cheapest places, so there are too much mediocre work done”. However, Rosti and Juho of Vida Loca have a very different opinion. “It’s good to have competition”, they say, “it’s good for the business and it forces you to improve”.

Pin-up girls, skulls, flames, hearts… Many tattoo artists are fond of the traditional and colourful designs. Nevertheless, they will make any custom design: tribal, Chinese characters, the silhouette of your idol, the Finnish lion. Anything is possible. Jykä, of Spider’s Tattoo, says that a popular tattoo nowadays is HIM’s heartagram: “there are many girls visiting Helsinki, especially from Germany and Australia, that want to have it”. A peculiar souvenir, indeed.

It is also interesting to see the areas where people want to have tattoos. They range from the traditional tattoo on the arm to the most intimate areas. But sometimes not every centimetre of skin is suitable: “some people have impossible ideas”, Anton explains, “like a tattoo on the sole of the foot. I have to say no then. It’s a stupid place because it will be very painful and the ink will wear off after some months.” Artists prefer to tattoo the usual places: arms, legs, and back. Rosti reckons that some areas are not very pleasant, like the “ribs and chest, which can be a very painful”.

A tattoo must hurt
Pain is a big part of the tattoo culture. Many will argue that there is no tattoo without pain. In the old days the artists would knock the costumer out if they would here some complaints. But nowadays, with tattoos being so popular, everyone wants to suffer as little as possible. Anaesthetic lotions are sold and accepted, which some artists are not so happy about. “I use to tease my costumers about it”, admits Anton, “I’d say that I don’t tattoo anyone who has used the lotion. However, I must say that when I got my tattoo on the back, after 30 hours, I started using the lotion myself.”

The learning process for a tattoo artist is a long and lasts several years. There is no tattoo school, so the artists are usually self-taught and complete their training as an apprentice with an experience tattooist. “I used to practice with pig’s skin”, Jykä recalls, “but that is a little bit different”. For Anton, however, there was no other guinea pig than himself: “the first tattoo I did it was on myself. It was really bad. Then Kristian took me on as an apprentice here at Legacy. It took three or four years of work until I was happy with my tattoos. Still I can improve some details”.

In spite of the bikes and the rock, the life of a tattoo artist is not as glamorous as it might look. Artists recognize that even though they love it, it can be a very demanding job. “I get very anxious before a big project, like sleeves (a tattoo, or a collection of smaller tattoos, that covers a person's entire arm), I can hardly sleep”, Anton says. “Some days, when I get home, my eyes hurt, my hands hurt and I have to start drawing the next design. Luckily this year I will have a one week holiday”.

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An ecological performance

Relativity is a performance that combines three different art disciplines to create something new, unique, improvised and unexpected. Electronic music, video and dance are the ingredients. But Relativity is not just an art experiment: images, sound and movement reflect the relationship between nature and mankind.

Created and performed by Italians Egle Oddo (installation and video) and Giorgio Convertito (dance and choreography), and German Finnish Marko Timlin (sound and music), this show tries to bring the audience’s attention to environmental problems. “Without any political affiliations or intentions”, explains Egle, “we want to stress that the root of the problem is our attitude towards nature. Mankind wants to dominate nature, eliminate its annoyances, destroy it or save it as it pleases. This is an artificial idea. We are part of nature and with our current attitude we are just contaminating the conditions for life.” It is a dark concept that affirms the power of nature to regenerates itself, even mankind: “Nature recycles us perfectly when we are dead”, Egle reminds us.

{mosimage}This idea is the basis for the narrative of the piece. Each artist evolves into a character: Egle is The Reality, Marko is The Wind, and Giorgio, Nature. However, in Relativity there is no dialogue and improvisation is a big part of the show. The performance is presented as an unexplored path: “We know where we start and where we are going to finish. We throw some stones to guide our way, but we don’t know how we will go from one stone to the next”, states the Italian dancer. For Marko, improvisation is the reason why the performance is so exciting: “When everything is planned, one might achieve perfection, but with improvisation one can achieve magic and that is even better than perfection.”

Each discipline complements the others. The electronic music really adds to the live performance. “Sometimes it can be boring to see a guy on stage with a laptop like he would be writing emails”, admits Marko, “but with the addition of dance and video, the experience can be fascinating”. Some of the images that Egle will display have been shot in the junkyard of Ämmässuo in Espoo and show the power of nature to recycle itself.

The trio has worked on Relativity since January. There will be only four performances and the group hopes that the audience not only becomes aware of environmental problems, but that it also starts to be active, so a solution can be reached in the future.


24.5 – 27.5

Universum, Perämiehenkatu 13, Helsinki


Photos by Ossi Kajas 

Cover story Misc

From the ashes of the lost empire

After following the events concerning a certain bronze Russian soldier, I gave myself the task of developing an observer’s approach to the efforts being made to build a new Estonia, where past and present can live together in peace. With this in mind, I decided to join the MA students of Urban Studies at the Estonian Academic of Arts on a one-day trip to the forgotten city of Paldiski, on the peninsula of Pakri. As a part of their curriculum, the students are doing a project on urban management in Paldiski. The idea is to offer four possible scenarios in which architecture could help in the redevelopment of the area. 

Approximately 50 km from Tallinn, Paldiski is an important Baltic Sea port located in south-western Estonia. Its history goes back 300 years, when the Russian Tsar Peter 1st started construction of a port. Paldiski’s status as a port has since dictated its entire destiny.  

During the 20th century, the Soviets began moving the local population away from the town in order to establish a navel base. 16,000 men of nine different Soviet army units were located in the city and its vicinity. Paldiski’s status as port reached its summit when a training centre for nuclear submarines was opened in 1968. The city then became a no-go area, where the presence of non-soviet military was forbidden. The city remained closed until 30 August 1994, when the last Soviet warship left.  

{mosimage}Welcome to hell
At 9:04 am a small bus left the Estonian Academy of Arts, located in Tallinn’s city centre. Three students, the leader of the project, a bus driver and myself were the participants of the expedition. After one hour of travel, we arrived in Paldiski. On the outskirts of the city some ruins began to appear. Towards the centre, the landscape changed: colourful soviet apartments, which somehow looked out of place for such a small city.

Our first point of call was to the northern point of the peninsula, were the limestone cliffs and the lighthouse are located. There the visitor can find about eight windmills that are part of the state’s efforts to produce renewable energy. When returning back to the centre and seeing the town by foot, I realized that the ruins and empty buildings are everywhere. Images of inhabited homes with a ghost neighbour are common. 

We were then led to a meeting room in the City Council House (Linnavalitsus). There, the City Councillor Jaan Möller and another representative were waiting for us. The idea of the meeting was to find out about the specific plans for the area. Councillor Möller, who has been in office for 13 years, constantly mentioned the appeal of the ports, as the most important factor in the development of Paldiski as a integrated city. His objective is to increase the population from 4,000 to 7,000 by attracting immigrants, offering opportunities for work at the port as well, as in the industry.  

With a huge map of Paldiski and the peninsula on the table, he showed the group the plans for attracting the new residents to the city. The allocated areas, far away from the ruins and abandoned buildings, are a clear attempt at remodelling the city. In order to achieve this, the city must attract private funding. However, he Möller was sceptical about the development of Paldiski as a tourist destination. He claimed that business is the future of Paldiski, even though it is a well-know place for hiking due to the cliffs of limestone.  




Estonians and Russians 

In contrast to the recent events, Mr Möller emphasised that in his 13 years of service he has experienced just one case of friction between the Estonian and the Russian population. Apart from that “we haven’t had any problems”, he added.  

Baring this in mind, we went to visit the local police chief, Madis Melzar. He affirmed that the relations between the Estonian and the Russian population are peaceful. And it was noticeable on the streets too that there was no threat, visible or otherwise. 

After being at the Police Station, we went to the south port in order to have a guided tour. Inside the terminal port building one could notice a different atmosphere that made you doubt if you were really in Paldiski at all. From the inside one can look through a big yellow window, which somehow tries to erase the label of a “grey city”. When walking inside, I noticed that a huge cargo ship was just delivering a great quantity of new cars. 

It is clear that everyone has a common goal: the development of a new, economically and socially prosperous Paldiski that escapes the label it has been given. Now it is up to the students to start their investigation, which will hopefully see the rebirth of Paldiski from its ashes.


Photos by Mauricio Roa 

Cover story Misc

Light and shadows on the silver screen

Regina Linnanheimo (1915-1995) was passionate about movies from the very get-go: as a girl, she spent her every last penny on going to the cinema. She also had her sister to look up to, for Rakel Linnanheimo was an actress as well as the first Finnish professional model. Regina’s own acting career got started at the age of 15, when her sister could not be in two places at once. Rakel was doing a fashion show, so Regina stood in for her as an actress. Soon after, her talent as an actress in her own right was noted and she landed a speaking role in a 1934 Valentin Vaala comedy. It wasn’t long before Regina Linnanheimo became known as the leading lady for many a historical melodrama and screen adaptation.

During the 1930s and 40s Linnanheimo worked for the Finnish studios SF and Suomi-Filmi, and appeared in several box office hits such as Kulkurin valssi (The Vagabond's Waltz, 1941), Kaivopuiston kaunis Regina (The Beautiful Regina of Kaivopuisto, 1941) and Katariina ja Munkkiniemen kreivi (Catherine and the Count of Munkkiniemi, 1943). These are movies that generation after generation of Finns have seen and loved (for their sense of fake nostalgia, if nothing else), and which gained her enormous popularity. With her dimples and great big eyes, Linnanheimo certainly brought to the productions a measure of glamour, romance and beauty. Her acting skills were not inconsiderable either, and she was awarded the Jussi prize, the Finnish equivalent of an Oscar. 

{mosimage}This is how Linnanheimo describes her life in the July 1938 edition of SF News:-Your main hobby, dear Lady? -The cinema, or SF movies, to be exact.-And your other hobbies? This is a very important question, Miss, for its answer gives the readers a true picture of you. -The cinema, dear Mister interviewer, or SF movies, to be exact. My other occupations – hobbies or pastimes, as you will – are books, languages, music and sports of all sorts, the latter including certain walking-tours to the SF studios in Haaga, swimming, cycling, workouts (that is, standing) with seamstresses for hours, etc. One at a time, of course, and taking into account the demands of the seasons, etc. There are times when I do needlework, clean, and sit in cafés. You could be surest of finding me downstairs at Fazer. As you can see, I am a hopelessly ordinary creature, and cannot think of anything to make me interesting to the readers. Except perhaps for the fact that I forget to greet my acquaintances, and run into passers-by, especially if I am turning a part over in my mind…

However in the late 30s Linnanheimo started feeling the limitations of her roles, and as (a graduate of the Helsinki German School) she spoke fluent German, it seemed reasonable enough to look into launching a career in Germany. She visited the UFA studios in Berlin in 1938 and 1942 and chose for herself scenes out of a script called “Nacht ohne Abschied”. The Germans loved her, and the preparations for the making of the movie got well under way: the studio built new sets, and had costumes sewn to her measurements. Linnanheimo returned to Helsinki to wait for the final call, but meanwhile the tide of the Second World War turned against the Nazis, and the movie was left unmade. Even its test reels have never been recovered from the vaults of UFA. 

Teuvo Tulio’s lady and writer
After the war Linnanheimo continued her domestic career as the leading lady in Teuvo Tulio's smouldering melodramas, and later also as the screenwriter of his films. Teuvo Tulio (born Theodor Tugai, 1912-2000) was an independent producer/director who today is recognised as one of few true auteurs of Finnish cinema, and who has a cult status amongst film buffs.

Tulio’s movies typically emphasise melodrama at the expense of more psychological “drama”. More important to Tulio than the authenticity of the material or the internal coherence of the plot was the cinematic flow of emotions. With the use of melodramatic devices, such as light, shadows, and camera angles, he sought to create ever greater emotional charges. From the understanding between Tulio and Linnanheimo emerged great works of art: intense, modern movies, which reach beyond mere symbolism to the very edge of lunacy Together, the two constitute the unsurpassed creative duo of Finnish cinema; their interaction has been compared to that between Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and their friendship lasted throughout the years.

The alcoholic melodrama Olet mennyt minun vereeni (You've Invaded My Blood, 1956) was Linnanheimo’s final movie, after which she retired completely from the screen and public life. She had always been one to keep her private life private (we know that she married a Swedish count during the 40s, yet never really lived with him), but with her retirement, she grew even more reclusive. In the end, it was the popular imagination that transformed this leading lady of so many blockbusters in to a myth and a legend. 


Photos by Finnish Film Archive 

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Pushing the limits of the human body

“The first incarnation of Circus Mundus Absurdus saw the light of day back in 1999, when I met Antti Kervinen and Eero Auvinen in art school in Tampere. It started off as an experimental circus / art project The early performances mostly consisted of traditional fakir stunts, like walking on broken glass, eating light bulbs, contortionism, the bed-of-nails, fire spitting and eating, plus Eero's juggling routines. Lassi and Jussi joined the group later, bringing with them a lot of piercing know-how and encouraging us to develop the shows further. Over the years, the concept of CMA has evolved considerably both theatrically and aesthetically and includes more demanding stunts like suspensions and hook-play in our shows. So we have gradually grown towards a more intense style of adult circus – not that we intentionally try to be “extreme”: that has never been our aim.”

So how many members do you have nowadays and what are the criteria for joining Circus Mundus Absurdus?
We are five people in the group nowadays. There is no definite “criteria” for joining the group, nor are we recruiting new members As a five-piece, it's still realistic to travel with a relatively small budget, and it's always fun to collaborate with other artists and musicians, so it makes sense not to try and expand too much. It's been a process of natural selection, I would say.
Lately we've been working with a fabulous free jazz trio called Black Motor from Tampere, plus a few guest musicians and performers, so the full-scale CMA show nowadays has a crew of 12. It's much better than just the five of us – you can't beat a live soundtrack – but the five of us can still pull off a full-on performance.

What can people expect when watching your performances?
A lot of black humour and twisted clownery, plus an intense physical performance in the form of an absurd theatre play: stretching skin, scorching flames, dripping blood, wide grins… Full-on entertainment, for sure, as our aim is to put on a really good show. Mostly, very diverse audiences seem to enjoy our shows – but on the other hand, people have also been known to faint or throw up, as they’ve not been able to handle the intensity. So be warned: CMA shows are not suitable for children or especially sensitive individuals.

Do you enjoy indulging in painful activities?
The pain is an integral part of what we do, but it is not the part that we enjoy. The pain is there to enable us to keep in control of what we do. There is so much more to the whole experience of planning and carrying out a show like ours that we do not pay that much attention to the pain, as it is something that we already automatically just deal with. The endorphins triggered by intense physical sensation, though – that is something quite enjoyable! And we sure enjoy doing the Circus Mundus Absurdus shows – it’s a shit load of fun.

Have you had any accidents while performing a show?
Well, for one, all fire-eaters get burned. Nowadays it happens very rarely, but fire is still fire (as in: HOT). So far we've done something like 300 shows, so small scale accidents (like minor cuts and bruises) are bound to happen every now and then. What we do is very physical, but we've never had any serious accidents. We know what we're doing – even though our shows can appear chaotic or out of control, that's all theatre. The stunts are all for real, of course, and yeah, I can admit having cut my foot on broken glass a few times over the years, but it's rare. I've also had a nipple ring ripped off once – a freak accident, I think you’d call it.

{mosimage}You just came back from USA a few days ago. How were the shows there? Was it the first time you performed in America?
The US tour was done under the moniker of The Bloody Tourists, since it was just the three of us (Jussi, Wisa & Lassi) rather than the whole group. It was the first time we had performed in USA. We had three shows and the response everywhere was ecstatic. We were quite surprised with the overwhelming audience reactions ourselves, since there's a lot of very powerful and impressive stuff being done around the US. For example, while suspensions are still quite rare in Finland, and not that common in Europe anyway, in the States a lot of people get suspended on a regular basis -they look at it almost as a hobby, or an art form, and think nothing of getting some hooks on their backs (or elbows, or knees, or chests) every now and then. Which is cool!
We performed in Portland, Oregon with Societas Insomnia & Power Circus and in Las Vegas, Nevada and Albuquerque, New Mexico with the Swing Shift Side Show and the Ascension Suspension Team. The US road trip was a great experience; we got to work with some really great people and will definitely try to get the whole crew over the next time.

I know that Lassi has done some porn also. We had a Finnish porn industry story a couple of months ago actually.
Lassi did a number of porn films as an actor a few years back, and has moved on to producing skin flicks. That is got nothing to do with CMA, though, except that he is got no inhibitions about showing his dick onstage. Or suspending heavy weights from it. Or getting it grinded. Or…

Interesting …  Anyway, any other information you would like to share with us?

Well, I should mention that there is a self-released CMA DVD coming out in May, featuring a 73-minute video documentary of our adventures so far, plus a few extras (including Jussi's 150-meter-high suspension!) -so order it through our website and you'll be supporting Finnish freak circus culture!

For more information, check out their website www.

Cover story Misc

The party of the people at Kaisaniemi Park

The promoter of the festival, Johanna Eurakoski, explains more about what the visitor can find during the weekend: “The whole of Kaisaniemi park is filled with a marvellous cultural programme and everybody can, of course, choose the thing that interests them. Many come just to enjoy the music or the programme for kids, others for the marvellous food or just the laid back picnic atmosphere. At the same time, some 250 NGOs, companies and authorities will be there presenting their activities One can look at what they’re offering or not – it is really a personal choice”.

And certainly is, since the list of participants and artists will cater for all kinds of tastes: Ska Cubano (Cuba/Jamaica), il Murran (Kenia), La Sarita (Peru), Dirty Babylon Breaker (France), Ranferí Aguilar (Guatemala) Olavi Uusivirta with Friends (Finland) or Zarkus Poussa (Finland) are some of the highlights that you will be able to enjoy totally free of charge.

For some of these bands, this is the first visit to Finland. As Carlos from Ska Cubano tells us: “No, we haven't played in Finland before and we are very excited about performing in Helsinki. Our style is a concoction of some of the best rhythms and flavours of the Caribbean, so see you all there!”

There was also an unexpected change to the performer’s list, as the French Babylon Circus had to be replaced by Dirty Babylon Breaker. Ben Herbiere explained what happened: “We are sad as Babylon Circus were supposed to play. Unfortunately, following a great show, Babylon Circus lead singer David had a serious accident in Moscow and is still unable to play. Dirty Babylon Breaker is a mix of our Clash influences, a little bit of Beastie Boys and Babylon Circus Music” (Five members of Babylon Circus participate in this side project).

So let’s cross our fingers and hope that the sun will bathe the capital of Finland during the festival days and everybody can have tonnes of fun there. FREE! Magazine will also have a stand at the festival. So if you pass by, stop to salute us!


World Village Festival will be held in Kaisaniemi Park (Helsinki) on the 26 and 27 May. Entrance and concerts are free of charge.

Cover story Misc

Participating youth – A risk or an opportunity?

Annantalo Arts Centre is a member of the European Network of Art Organisations for Children and Young People (EUnetART) and will be hosting the event in Finland, along with EUnetART and Finnish Aladdin’s Lamp network, which enhances children's art education in Finland. This year’s festival will be held in partnership with the City of Helsinki, Passion2 seminar organized by Annantalo Arts Centre with Pedaali Association and various art institutions from the Capital region.

The conference will be preceded by the SpringLab. This is highlighted by the participation of ISH group from Holland, who will work with groups of Finnish children from Vantaa Mikkola School and have presentations for the results of their project on Saturday, 5th May in Tikkurila lukio hosted by the Cultural Services of Vantaa City.

While it might be true to say that the youth culture today lacks a steady footing, particularly in relation to art, listening to the director of Annantalo Arts Centre, Johanna Lindstedt, during an interview last Friday gave a broader overview of the reality of art and creativity even among children and youth in Helsinki region. It also paved way to recognise other creative activities that are taking place in other towns around Finland.

The Aladdin’s Lamp (Taikalamppu in Finnish) was launched six years ago and has managed to touch upon many aspects of children and art in Finland, and also forms a network that offers funding to pilot projects that target children and youth. So far there are many towns that have inaugurated the Aladdin’s Lamp, among which are Helsinki, Vantaa, Pori, and Hämeenlinna. These form a network that shares and implements ideas that strengthen the growth of children and youth art work in Finland.

My interest had been growing over the weeks regarding arts participation of young people in Helsinki region. Living in Helsinki metropolitan and being witness to the idleness of many youth gives one thoughts of what is not being done to occupy these youths, and what can be done to indulge them in something worthwhile, even useful for their future. This year's EUnetART festival offers an opportunity for participants, personnel of culture and education, along with teachers of children and people, to learn the success of others, adapt new ways of involving youth and children in art and cultural activities and also motivate them into new endeavours of their choice.

Cover story Misc

Dance, dance, dance

Since the late-eighties an association of artists have worked for the production of modern dance performances and activities. In 1997 that association was established in a permanent place at Kaapeli (Cable Factory) with the aim of supporting the production of contemporary dance. Now Zodiak is doing better than ever. The second annual Z-In-Motion festival takes places in May and about 15-20 productions are presented every year. How is this done? Let's take a small tour behind the scenes.

Are you a dancer? Do you want to produce a piece? Send your application! Dancer-choreographer Vera Nevanlinna is part of the board of the Zodiak Presents Association. Every year the board decides the performances to be produce from all the received applications. “It is a really hard selection process because every year there is 70 or 80 applicants and we only produce 15 or 20 of them.” Don't give up if your application is not approved, “Production will be harder then and to rent a performance space will be more expensive,” Vera acknowledges, “but I think people should try to do it.”

Vera has danced since she was three. “Someone told my mother that I wasn't walking, but that I was dancing,” she tells. Since 1998 she has been involved with Zodiak and currently she is premiering the solo piece News, a 20-minute piece that she learned from the Deborah Hay performance commissioning project in Scotland last September. I agreed to practice the piece at least for three months before the first public performance,” Vera explains, “and that means that I do the piece in its entirety five times a week during those three months.”




As in any production, someone needs to take care of managing the money. This spring, choreographer Hanna Pajala-Assefa is taking care of that part of the productions. “I don't get the money but I just coordinate the budget. It's quite nice to be able to help the production because as a choreographer I know that when the premiere is getting closer your mind is getting more and more focused with the artist work, so it's hard to get involved with the practical problems.”

Those practical problems can be very diverse, “I was working in a production some weeks ago and in the performance they were using lots of toilet paper,” Hanna explains. “When I saw the rehearsal and I saw that they were using 15 or 20 rolls per show, it was obvious that they should get them free from someone. It that sense, it's nice to help. Fortunately, it didn't happen during the paper workers strike.”

An important aspect of the show is the technical requirements of every performance. Tuukka Törneblom has worked for one year at Zodiak as technical director. “My task here is to make the light and sound design possible. Sometimes people want to have something fancy and I have to say that it's not possible,” he clarifies. “There are lots of tricks to learn here because it's not the typical stage. We miss a backstage, there are windows. Many of those are still new for me.”


Education and workshops

Apart of the performances and the productions, Zodiak is devoted to spread the knowledge about contemporary dance. The center organizes different workshops and lectures. Choreographer Anu Rajala has been in charge of the workshop Dance as an Experience in Body and Mind this spring. This workshop was “open to anyone interested in learning and experiencing more about their own movement” and it was “focus on encountering, sensing and bodily communication within the group”. The workshop results in a public performance.

Katja Kirsi is in charge of Education and Outreach at Zodiak. She plans different ways for artists and audience to communicate. Pre and after performance talks are organized which allow audiences to learn about the artists' work. Zodiak is trying to reach the widest audiences possible, so even if Finnish is not your best language, every now and then workshops in other languages, such as English, French and German, are organized.

In addition, big efforts are done to integrate dance into schools and get the young into modern dance apart from the hip hop artists' MTV choreographies. “Feedback youngsters usually give is that modern dance is odd, but at the same time they say they enjoy it,” Katja points out. “One thing I try to say is that it can be good to challenge your mind. I try to give them hints and tips to understand the performance: Why are they feeling like this? Why are they reacting like that? They have new questions for themselves.”

Don't be afraid if you haven't seen contemporary dance. The dozens of performances during the Z-In-Motion festival are a good opportunity to discover this art, “Come and see many pieces. There are so many variations of modern dance that you need to see several performances to see the whole picture,” suggest Vera Nevanlinna suggests, but the best advice she gives is, “Don't trust what you saw on TV!”