A lovely dwarf from the forests of Finland enters the bright venue. Dressed like a decent man he greets the audience with a friendly smile and tiny headshakes. The lamps are fully switched on and leave no chance for dark corners to be found. For a moment, everything is according to the norm.
But then the light fades until we can barely discern the outline of the man's body. Waves of electronic sound swell while the performer ripples around playing hide and seek with the beams, like a woozy night-moth chasing every glittering spot. The gloomier it gets, the more aspects of the unknown appear, creating a world of shadowy reveries. Indeed, it's not easy for an honest Nordic soul to survive the enduring twilight. Luckily choreographer Taneli Törmä has lighting designer Petri Tuhkanen, with whom to go on this bizarrely charming journey ZOOM.
When Taneli Torma, long beard, casual attitude, witty smile, enters on stage, stares at us and gives a non-verbal, eloquent speech, we already anticipate an unusual experience.
A graphic universe of white ellipses and static sounds electrifies the stage, sparking the dancer into spiral moves. Abruptly a path of circles of light appears before transforming into a vertical shower of cold beams in which the dancer bathes his hands. Astounded, we follow this journey from one cinematographic landscape filled with curious gestures to another. Is this figure subjected to a defiant Deus Ex Machina? Are we zooming into his introspective mind?
Neutral lights stop this infernal machine dead but the dancer covers his eyes with one hand and stumbles, unable to bear this reality. The space, earlier filled with substance, now looks so empty leaving us unsettled: here, reality lies in the eyes of the beholder.
An urban elf? the high priest of a charismatic sect? a hipster geek? Taneli Törmä allows plenty of time for our imaginations to scan him as he slowly crosses the stage, casting a welcoming gaze, and nodding, seemingly at each of us, in turn.
But then something changes: the house lights dim and our new friend disappears in the blackness. When he reemerges he is a fleet-footed, fairytale urchin lost in a forest, seeking out shards of light between the dense trees. When he finds them, he delicately rinses, first his hands, then his whole body in the glow. Later we perceive him melting into a retracting circle of light on the floor: again he dissolves into nothingness. New-age folklore, or tongue in cheek sci-fi satire? no idea. But there seemed to be a benevolent madness in this intriguing game of mystical peek-a-boo that felt both outlandish and likeable.