Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Dancing in the rain

On Sunday, we were planning to attend an event arranged by the Embassy of Japan at the Main Library. When we arrived the hall reserved for the presentation was completely packed and suddenly we had a chance to attend another of the overlapping afternoon events I had read about.

This was a modern dance show that started on both sides of the downtown riverbank. After a short ‘warm-up period’ the dancers slowly walked to the pedestrian Library Bridge which served as the stage for the rest of the lengthy performance.

It is a pity it was drizzling. Most of the time there was only a handful of spectators on both sides of the bridge, at times when it was raining more heavily even less than that. Most of the passers-by moved on, which was nice for us onlookers as they kind of completed the urban performance.

The fascinating show without music taking the dancers to and fro between the railings, even onto the surface of the wet bridge deck, nailed us to the spot. After half an hour or so we couldn’t resist, however, crossing the bridge to have a look from the other side as well.

We stayed the whole 60 minutes feeling rather chilly at the end but also most pleased we had been lucky to experience this unique event live. I only hope no one of the dancers got a cold as there were several more shows to go.

The act on the Library Bridge was one of a series of five modern dance performances, a dancing manifesto for the common urban space under a title that could be translated ‘City for the people’ (Ihmisten kaupunki). The event took place at five different locations in Turku between Saturday and today and was implemented – in collaboration with three local dancers – by the Tampere-based FREE collective, a group of independent dance artists from there, and co-produced by two regional dance cetres. The choreography was by Anniina Kumpuniemi. The first set of five performances occurred in Tampere a couple of weeks earlier.

Never mind the rain, we loved the show and would welcome more of this kind to the urban space anytime of the year. Such an event would also make a great topic for a local film student. Inspiring, spellbinding, magical! Simply fabulous!

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Star architecture

One of the sights you absolutely have to see when in Oslo is the Opera House. It is an amazing structure of white Carrara marble and white granite that seems to be rising from the bottom of the Oslo fjord with a large cube of glass emerging from the slope of stone.

The Opera House has become a popular public space for both locals and tourists. The most striking feature of the building is the modestly sloping roof on both sides of the glass structure inviting you to climb to the rooftop to admire the views from the huge piazza you will find there. The box revealing itself in the middle of the roof is the stage tower in white aluminium.

Every detail of the interior is equally carefully designed to create a complete work of art. The high lobby with its white stone floor, unobtrusive white-painted pillars supporting the building and large windows with minimal framing feels airy and light but also welcoming thanks to the waving structures of oak bringing warmth to the space. 

The perforated wall panels designed by Olafur Eliasson hide some of the roof supports. The restaurant on the waterfront side of the building stretches out to the pavement.

The stunning sculpture of glass and steel floating on a concrete platform in the fjord in front of the building was commissioned from the Italian artist Monica Bonvicini. It is entitled ‘She Lies’ portraying a slanting sailing ship but also an iceberg as it was inspired by a painting of ice (the one under the link here).

The Opera House was officially opened in 2008 but part of the surrounding area is still under construction. The controversial Barcode Project, a group of high-rise buildings best visible from the Opera rooftop, will be completed soon.

The Oslo Opera House is a truly amazing and high-flying building complex. I am not surprised Snøhetta, the acclaimed architectural company lending its name from one of the highest peaks in Norway, won several international awards with this grand design. I would love to return one day when the whole neighbourhood is completed to see the site lit for an evening performance.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Travelling for a gig

Last weekend was most special, a weekend I will cherish for a very long time. I spent it in Oslo with my son and daughter.

We walked a lot exploring the city.

We visited some sights, naturally.

There were plenty of opportunities to do architecture spotting.

We had our meals at great trendy places my son’s local contacts had tipped him about.

But the cherry on the cake was the fantastic concert we attended on Saturday night. Both my daughter and I had a special anniversary this summer and that is why my son took us to Oslo to see Sufjan Stevens live. What a gig it was! We were thrilled!

I couldn’t have imagined a more splendid, more precious present than those two and a half days.