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Ali & Alpo

Choreographer Aaltokoski, Alpo
First Performance 15.3.2017
Place of First Performance Caisa, Helsinki
Finnish premiere 15.3.2017
Place of Premiere Caisa, Helsinki
Style Contemporary Dance
Duration (min) 35
Costume designer Marja Uusitalo
Lighting Designer Kari Gratseff
Sound designer Johanna Storm
Description Arabic traditional music and Finnish contemporary dance meet in a wordless dialogue

“There is a man, dance and music. That’s all it takes, they are enough to say a great deal, and straight from the heart. It brings a lump to your throat. […] It is hard to hold back the tears, at the very latest, when both dancer and musician come on stage for the final bows.” – Helsingin Sanomat 17.3.2017

The original aim of Ali & Alpo – a joint work by Iraqi oud lute virtuoso Ali Alawad and choreographer and dance artist Alpo Aaltokoski – was to expand the dialogue between music and dance into a co-existence, and ultimately a dialogue, between two mutually alien cultures; to contemplate the similarities and differences between Arabic and Western art and culture. But things turned out differently. The rejection of Alawad’s asylum applications dramatically affected the genesis of the work, and its final form. In order to avoid forced repatriation, Alawad fled Finland in March 2017 – two weeks before the premiere. Nevertheless, Ali & Alpo was staged according to Alawad’s wishes, since he still took part in the performance via a video projection. The piece touchingly brings out the human experience of and a human viewpoint on the consequences of an increasingly restrictive asylum policy.

Other Information Other performers: Ali Alawad (in video)

Alawad and Aaltokoski began collaborating in spring 2016, when Alawad took part in the celebration of Aaltokoski’s 30 years as an artist at the Alexander Theatre in Helsinki. Ali Alawad had arrived in Finland as an asylum seeker in September 2015. In the past few years, he had been forced to keep his profession secret in his home country of Iraq. “Working as a musician in Iraq can be risky, since some extremist groups see being a professional musician as contrary to Islam,” Alawad says.
Companies Alpo Aaltokoski Company
Dancers Aaltokoski, Alpo (2017)