May 30, 2011


I love this time of the year. Here in Finland the days are getting longer, and there is still light late in the evening. Today, the sun will begin to set at 22:27 and rise again in less than six hours! All this surplus of light brings with new life and joy, and the many delights of summer: swimming in natural waters, eating fresh sun-ripened strawberries, living outdoors, basking in the warmth.. But it´s those endless days that really revitalize both body and mind! 

Summer night in Helsinki. Photo:here

This past Saturday, when I came home late from our spring recital and was still feeling the stage-buzz, it hit me, right in the face. The daylight at 10 p.m., the soft breeze on my skin, the scent of newly blossoming lilacs, the birch trees swaying and wooshing in the wind, the songbirds chirping.. Oh, how alive I felt at that very moment! I really, truly, could have danced all nightless day!

Dear reader, I can already hear you: What about the recital? Well, it was fun. Not the most clean dancing I have ever done, in fact far from it, but I remembered to exercise another important muscle: my smile! You can cover up a multitude of sins, just by showing the audience that you are having a good time on stage! Of course, someone will pay attention to your technical performance - and I´m my own toughest critic - but a recital is not an audition, nor a competition. The world will not end if you miss a step here, or stumble off a balance there. 

Alexander Theatre, view from the stage.
Having said that, I will take care to be better prepared next time. For this recital I came in at the last minute, after having decided 2 months ago not to perform at all. Too many breaks, too little actual dancing. But when the teacher asked if I wanted to join them anyway, I thought what the hey, life is short.. Fortunately the choreography was not the most demanding, as it was done for the advanced beginner level, but I still had difficulties in remembering the transitions. "What, here 4 steps around, then effac√©, and here 7 you said, and 8 counts arms down and what how many steps??? Show me again, please!" Oh dear goddess of dance Terpsichore, help me so I won´t crash into anyone..

Considering all, it was not too bad. I did not bump into the other dancers and I smiled my way through the rest. A dear dancer friend commented on my good stage presence and "beautiful épaulement", so I must have done something right at least. And you know that moment, when you are standing on the dark stage, just before the lights go on? I have no words to describe it, other than: Intense. Excitement. Fear. Bliss..


  1. Wow, those are amazing photos, of the city and especially of the gorgeous theater. Is that where you danced?!? I am green with envy :)

    But really, I'm so glad to hear that you decided to perform and enjoyed it so much. Those moments are what give you the boosts of enthusiasm and inspiration that are so necessary to get through the hard slog of day-to-day work and improvement.

    Your post also reminded me of my Finnish grandfather's stories about the long days of light in the summer, and especially of Midsummer/Johannes Day parties in him youth (is that your name day?)...bonfires and dancing till dawn, high spirits and endless energy! :)

  2. Neat, I've yet to travel to the high latitudes and experience the very long hours of daylight. One of these days!

    Good for you! It's been ages since I've done performing of any kind (I used to act in musicals in high school and college), and I'm itchin' to be on stage again!

  3. Oh that stage is absolutely gorgeous! I think it's so grand that even just the setting would add extra nerves! I think it's excellent that you did go on stage even with less practise - it takes courage and I think you're right to take every opportunity to perform because they are so rare. You learn things in a completely different way. Well done!

    And about the's magical, I love it! Long days give the illusion of endless time and unhurriedness. Kaija - we still celebrate Juhannus over here, just like your grandfather did! People go totally crazy! In the winter people tend to become more introverted - but in the summer it's like a different population stepped in and Juhannus is the symbol for the start of summer..

  4. Hi Kaija!

    I thought you would enjoy that picture of Helsinki :) And yes, I danced on that stage - it´s the old Opera building, where the Finnish National Ballet used to perform (until the new bldg was completed). It´s a marvellous old house, with dance studios on every floor. Great atmosphere too!

  5. Hi Jeff :)

    Well you guys know who to tweet up if you ever find the trail to our Northern summer paradise :) Tervetuloa! (that´s welcome in Finnish).

    I saw that documentary.. your school has performing opportunities for adult rec dancers as well, does it not? You should go for it! :)

    I have had very little experience, but I do love the rush and push you get from performing :)

  6. Thank you, Iina :)

    I should have been better prepared, but don´t regret doing it. Like you said, you learn something new and valuable every chance you take! And it was fun :) Next year I hope to see you on stage as well!


To That Special Ballet Teacher

To that special ballet teacher, who not only teaches you about technique, but helps build your confidence, nurtures your inner artist, ...