A year after opening its new centre at Suvilahti, a redeveloped gasworks in a deindustrialised part of Helsinki, CIRKO are presenting the second edition of Cirko Festival, a five-day programme of contemporary circus with a particular focus on new Finnish work.
One significant strand of the festival is the presentation of four works-in-progress to have emerged from the Hautomo / Incubator programme. Run by Circo Aereo (who're based at the CIRKO Center), Incubator supports the artistic development of emerging artists through both formal and informal assistance. CIRKO's director Tomi Purovaara explains: 'The form the support takes is different for each project. Circo Aereo may provide artistic mentoring, production support, or help companies to network nationally and internationally with possible co-producers; sometimes all they do is discuss the artistic approach and concepts behind a piece, sometimes it's really more of a co-production with Aereo.'
So at Cirko 2012, coming out of Incubator, Aino Ihanainen's Knit, which promises that 'knitting and handbalancing have never met in such a pleasing way', will be joined by three solos from the members of Race Horse Company: Kalle Lehto will invite (young) audiences to Circles, a surreal animal cabaret; trampolinist Rauli Kosonen will collaborate with his architect brother Sauli on O'dd, an exploration of material and space with an SF aesthetic; and Petri Tuominen will present O'Baltimore, about which nothing is known (nothing!).
Another artist to have been supported by Incubator (and by residencies at CIRKO) is Ilona Jäntti, who will perform Huhu – and Other Works for Space and Air, a collection of four solo aerial pieces: the abstract endurance piece on long trapeze, Footnotes; Jäntti's whimsical collaboration with the animator Tuula Jeker, Muualla, and another piece Huhu (a premiere) also with Jeker; and, finally, Handspun, which was shown recently at the Royal Opera House in London and which sees the artist choreograph across three ropes – one vertical, one horizontal, one describing a slack diagonal from top to opposite bottom corners of the stage.
Outside of the Incubator pieces there's a performance of Circo Aereo's latest show Ro-pu, which premiered last year at Helsinki Festival and which uses projection, dance, manipulation and magic to explore the character and properties of rope, and a new piece, Phågel - the best Cat and Bird show ever, from Chipmunk Forge, which works to adapt the graphic novel Peanutbutter & Jeremy's Best Book Ever.
Sideshow is interested as well by Agit-Cirk's Syvä (Deep). Working with Finnish folklore and an aesthetic of cold bareness, the piece has some conceptual ties to Agit-Cirk's Periphery project, which has the company touring isolated communities in Lapland. As company member Sakari Männistö explains, the piece is working with perceptions of folklore rather than necessarily specific instances: 'There is no precise mythology, or even message, that we're after. Although we started the creation process with Kalevala (the Finnish folklore), or the idea that we have of Kalevala, we then made something from it that's our own. There are some elements that can be read as Finnish folklore, but it’s more like an imaginary vision of the folklore in our minds.'
Cirko Festival takes place 9-13 May 2012 at CIRKO Center and other venues. On 12 May there's a networking event where programmers can meet Finnish artists and companies.