Interaction Invites Agency: Costume Design Within Contemporary Dance Performance in the 21st Century Finland.
Based on my ongoing doctoral thesis project investigating costume design within contemporary dance performance in 21st century Finland, this presentation draws from my analysis of a series of personal interviews with three distinguished Finnish costume designers. In the interviews about their work within dance, the designers proactively speak of human interrelations. Prominent actions connected to these relations feature listening to the team and its individuals, discussing concepts, negotiating views and practices, as well as scheduling the work according to timelines set by others. Such interchange, I argue, shapes what I define as the ‘agency of costume’ within design for contemporary dance performance. Therefore, first, I delineate ‘agency’ as a capacity or potential to be unleashed within each performative context. Second, I introduce an example of costume design by Karoliina Koiso-Kanttila in collaboration with choreographer Carl Knif that stems from rich and reciprocal interaction. Through this example that makes considered use of ‘everyday’ garments as costume, I further propose a wider acknowledgement of the agency of ‘mundane’ costume in contemporary dance performance. By articulating the contribution of these forces that may remain invisible to the outside eye I aim at their profound examination as part of costume scholarship.
Tua Helve (MA) is a doctoral candidate at Aalto University, Department of Film, Television and Scenography. Related to her ongoing doctoral thesis project, her latest article ”Political by Design: Costume Design Strategies within the Finnish Contemporary Dance Productions AmazinGRace, Noir? and The Earth Song” was published in Nordic Journal of Dance (2018). As a costume designer, Tua specializes in contemporary, process-based working methods and she belongs to the core team of the Helsinki-based international performance group Oblivia. As a visiting lecturer in Finland as well as abroad, she looks into the topic of costume design within dance from various perspectives. At Aalto University, she supervises BA and MA students. Furthermore, Tua is an active member of Costume in Focus research group, based at Aalto University, and a board member of Theatre Research Society in Finland.
Carl Knif Company (2016): The emotional life of a dog/What my father said.
Costume design Karoliina Koiso-Kanttila. Choreography Carl Knif, performers Carl Knif (on the left) and Eero Vesterinen. Photographer Yoshi Omori. Photo Carl Knif Company.