Pirjo Yli-Maunula: Artistic Director 2003-2006 & 2014-2016

Pirjo Yli-Maunula: Artistic Director 2003-2006 & 2014-2016

I had the honour of being the artistic director of The Full Moon Dance – festival for two terms. Planning the repertoire of terms 2003 to 2006 and 2014 to 2016. Between those two terms something definitely changed in the dancing scene.


My first term was at a time when the Full Moon Dance- festival was one of a few, if not the only, Finnish contemporary dance festivals. This could be seen in the commitment of artists and workers in the field. Everyone gathered to Pyhäjärvi to participate in the festival as performers, audience, and course students. Commitment could also be seen in broad media publicity and international participants coming specifically to Pyhäjärvi to learn about Finnish contemporary dance.


In my second term the festival was still important, but now only one of many contemporary dance festivals. The festival in July was no longer the rally of contemporary dance – this could be seen for instance in that dancers needed to be encouraged to attend courses. There was an increase in competition for local, national, and international audience. Even today there is a battle for resources.


When looking through the festival brochures from my director times I find that I have forgotten many parts of the program, and on the other hand have very clear memory of others. I am especially proud of the residential artist concept from my first term. Thanks to the concept a group of Finnish and international artists performed the whole week in different locations bringing dance into everyday surroundings.


Most vivid memories I have of individual dance performances seem to connect to the locations they were performed in. In 2003 we had the first ever performance in Pyhäsalmi mine: “Väärä Sävellaji” by Tommi Kitti felt so much stronger than usual in a 1410-meter mining tunnel. In 2015 “Hiljaiset tunteet” a choreography by Reetta-Kaisa Iles danced so memorably on Pyhäsalmi main stage by Marjo Kuusela, Ervi Sirén, Reijo Kela and Alpo Aaltokoski.


One memory will stay with me for the rest of my life. In my second term a strongly participatory, immersive piece “Pilluralli”, situated on the main street, aroused strong feelings both for and against. This joint production by the festival itself, Routa Company from Kajaani and Minimi from Kuopio, was a carnival that lasted the whole duration of the festival; it was noticed, debated about, and loved.


I congratulate the festival on its 30th anniversary! All the best for the future!


Dance artist, artistic director of Flow Productions Pirjo Yli-Maunula