Harri Kuorelahti: Artistic Director 2007-2009

Harri Kuorelahti: Artistic Director 2007-2009

The inevitability of encounters enabled by small scale
– 30 years of Full Moon Dance miracles-


For me Pyhäjärvi and the Full Moon Dance festival has always been a well-loved place to experience the diversity and richness of dance as well as a festival of awesome and unexpected encounters. This equation – this ambitious festival proudly holding the flag of high culture up high, a place where a high-quality, angular program and encounters between artists and the local public on the village high street all come together – has made The Full Moon Dance festival such a unique and special festival in Finland.


In this respect the village-like feel and size of the town are to its benefit. Each time the discussion with my curator acquaintances turns to the Full Moon Dance festival, they remember to recommend it to their colleagues as a “once in a lifetime” experience. The Pyhäjärvi miracle is worth experiencing at least once in your life. And if you ask me, many times, if not every summer. And we are lucky in that our audience has done so for thirty years now.


The Full Moon Dance festival combines a cosy atmosphere with uncompromising artistic programme. This fact is present all through the festival week. Special settings and artistic equations produce a miracle. I have been touched by the strong presence and participation of the local community as well as the priceless support of all the volunteers to all the program the festival can offer.


When in 1996 I got an invitation from Alpo Aaltokoski to come and produce a subscription piece for The Full Moon Dance festival, I had my first glimpse of the magic inner circle of its settings and people. How local volunteers gave their sincere support and helped us build an ambitious and – considering the young choreographers’ experience – large-scale production ready for the audience. And thanks to them everything worked perfectly on the actual day as well. This is something I am very grateful of and have looked back on many times.


Another memorable moment was when director Pirkko Hautala suddenly popped into our practice session with coffee and home-made bilberry pie for the whole crew. For me, these special encounters are The Full Moon Dance festival. Straightforward and open contact in the midst of producing and experiencing art. These are numerable.


As I am writing this and looking back at my years as the artistic director, I’m surprised at how many memorable pieces and productions we managed to carry out during the three years I directed the festival for. And through that I reflect on the number of fine experiences we have been allowed to live through during the last thirty years. And all this under the summery full moon. Or in the weather conditions of the day.


Every year I have enjoyed and marveled when Keskuskoulu/ The Central School or the Inmet Arena have turned into a professional stage and created the unique settings for productions – the experience of productions at the Full Moon Dance festival venues is something quite different to the larger towns’ professional theatres. It is somehow more powerful. Even when you just bump into them on the high street.


These numerous shared experiences stay to haunt my mind and the collective subconsciousness like dreams. I come back to them often and after long lengths of time both alone and together. I feel that people that have experienced the festival together form a secret society every year. The mutual experience carries and makes the experience and sharing of time special. Valuable.


As one of the still performing legends of contemporary dance, Canadian dancer-choreographer Louise Lecavalier, a well-known performer in metropolis of the world, said in 2008 after visiting for workshops and performances: Every world tour should start here in Pyhäjärvi – here the artist gets immediate, straightforward, and honest feedback from his audience, and a possibility for dialogue about what one just experienced for instance in the middle of Ollintie on a summer night. And what a prospect – Pyhäjärvi has one of the most experienced dance audiences: an audience, that has seen the most topical, wonderous and beautiful dance every summer for thirty years.


I would like to congratulate you and wish you all the best: amazing and wonderful Full Moon Dance Festival!


-Harri Kuorelahti-
(artistic director 2007-2009)