Pneuma is a luminous, poetic and symbolic work layered with dreamlike imagery. The dancers wear black and white and their movements are as clear and natural as breathing. The performance is about the duality of the human condition, the way it comprises of the body and the soul, the material and the mental. Pneuma is an ode to humanity, simultaneously poetic and passionate.
The French have described choreographer Carolyn Carlson as ‘un monument de la danse contemporaine’ – a monument of contemporary dance. With a career spanning over 50 years, during which she has created over 100 choreographies, this is a very apt description of the contemporary dance legend, even if it contradicts with her vivacious and lively personality.
Carlson’s works are inspired by her own lyrical vision of dance being closely connected to philosophy and spirituality. Pneuma is based on an essay by philosopher Gaston Bachelard in praise of the human nature, L’Air et les Songes (Air and dreams) from 1943. The beautiful music is by Gavin Bryars, a composer who started his career as a jazz musician. His work includes, for instance, four operas, string quartets and several concertos.
The choreographer, who has been awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, has had her work in the repertoire of the Finnish National Ballet before. Most recently, in 2016, If Leave is to Remember touched both the audience and the critics.
Photo from piece If Leave is to Remember.