Synonyms in English for kiihko: Frenzy, zeal, ardor, intensity, passion, vehemence, impetuosity, fury, rant, heat
Synonyms in Finnish for kiihko: into, intohimo, vimma, innostus, innokkuus, lämpö, tunteen palo, hartaus, hehku, polte, palo, intensiteetti
The company is founded by two dancers, Marja Koponen and Geneva Rosett-Hafter. They studied at Laban and worked together on different projects. The two of them are very different from each other, Marja with a more analytical and mathematical mindset, she is interested in philosophy and looks for logic in a dance piece, filling in the gaps and making connections; while Geneva is impulsive drawing big lines and in a sense going for it. They both challenge and help each other to find new ways of approaching dance.
Marja was born in Helsinki, Finland where she started dancing at the age of five. Her studies at Helsinki Dance Institute included contemporary dance, jazz, ballet, contemporary African dance and improvisation. She has undertaken numerous performances in all these styles. During secondary school, she was involved in many larger productions that often combined live music and singing with dance. Marja was 19 when she moved to London to study contemporary dance at Laban, and graduated with BA Honors degree in July 2008. She is currently working as London-based freelance dance artist performing in various productions, and choreographing and teaching contemporary dance and improvisation to children.
Geneva grew up in California, dancing from the age of three in order to curb her boundless energy. It turned into a passion which she has pursued, along with her other talents of art and massage.
She came over to Europe to visit family as well as dance throughout her childhood influencing her decision to move to England, which happened in 2005 to go to Laban. Whilst studying the three years for her BA she went on many dance adventures with Impact Dance Company, one of which took her to the Peacock Theatre in a piece called Underworld.
After graduating Laban in 2008 she founded Kiihko Dance with Marja Koponen in 2009. Within the company Geneva has found a freedom to create and dream about dance only restrained by her own creativity and tenacity. She had plans for the company, hoping some day to produce her own show.
Dance is a way of experiencing life. It is not all my life, but it has become a big part of it through how much time I spend with it. Most of all, I value the tools it has given me to physically experience. It brings together the mental and the physical personality, my body and my mind together are who I am, they cannot be separate.
Dancing feels warm. It fills your whole body with energy. Sometimes it is the feeling of being in total control, sometimes it is letting go. It would be amazing to be able to do anything with your body! “You are the only one that can do it. You control your body, not the other way round.” (Lawrence De Maeyer) Sometimes I do enjoy just letting the body lead though, and just enjoy and experience the ride. And when getting into “the state” you never want to stop! I have only had a few experiences like that, when it feels like you are dancing no matter what you do. You couldn’t go wrong. It is the aspect of performative that dance has that, when coming together with mastering something physically and experiencing it, creates this very special feeling of self confidence, enjoyment and determination that cannot be missed by the audience. That is what “kiihko” means to me: the passion, heat and intensity of movement.
Of course dance can also tell stories or have more literal themes or even messages. Sometimes every movement is relevant and thought out. There is more thought that letting go, but for me the whole point is to physically experience the dance and share that experience with the audience. Face is very important! That is where the emotion, experience and “kiihko” can be read by an audience member. What is the point of performance if you are not being honest? If something is hidden. I want to show everything I feel when dancing. How great would it be if an audience member could wake up feeling sore the next day?
Dance to me is the ability to express emotion with one’s body. To have the freedom to move how the impulses inside the self push or pull you.
I started dancing as a child mainly to get out of my parents hair. I think I was slightly hyperactive so, after a few dance classes, running around, being creative I would come home and resume to be a normal child. My grandma played a very big role in my dancing as a child. She would drive me there or pick me up, and after every class I would relate to her what I had learned. Usually that consisted of me showing her the entire class or at least a combination we were working on. When older I was amused at how small her living room seemed, despite how I used to do handstands and entire dance pieces there, using it as a stage while she sat in her armchair. During my childhood I tried gymnastics and many different techniques and the need to move has never left me.
Dance has changed into my movement, my freedom, my ability to express myself. I also find an affiliation of my art and dance. If I do art when I am upset, I end up “throwing up on paper”. My body is engaged whilst my pen or pencil is attached to paper. My art is physically attached to my need for movement.
It is through this need that I want to create my own pieces of art in movement; a joining of the two to make audiences think about their own creative incentives. I want to teach and perform to provoke this same creative need, providing shows within the community, for the community.
Photo by William Campbell