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Finnish Cultural Foundation Residency Alumni
Heli Keskikallio and working group, Shawbrook, 2019
Flesh Thing by Heli Keskikallio and working group
Flesh Thing by Heli Keskikallio and working group
Experiences of working in the Shawbrook Dance Residency

In June 2019, we spent two weeks in the Shawbrook Dance Residency in Ireland working on a piece called Flesh Thing, an intertwinement of a performance piece and a fleshy painting.

Our working group consisted of four dancers and a choreographer. The aims of the residency period were to delve into the question of intertwining the sensuousness of a painting and a performance and to develop the corporeality and the bodily practice of the work. We immersed ourselves e.g. into questions of carnal being-in-the-world: How does our flesh resonate with each other and with the world? How can we practice carnal thinking? We already had two short working periods in Helsinki, so we were able to sink into the work and sketch different possible scores/compositions for the piece easily.

Flesh Thing by Heli Keskikallio and working group
Flesh Thing by Heli Keskikallio and working group

When we arrived at the residency, we were genuinely amazed by the beauty of the place which was surrounded by green fields and forests. We were provided with two studio spaces plus an outdoor forest studio. Our work consists of materials that are slow and difficult to clean and move. Having our own working space where we could leave everything at the end of the working day and then pick back up in the morning was a really nice experience that also gave us more time for creative pursuits.The environment was inspirational to us and working outside in the midst of the forest also affected us because of all the different colours and textures we encountered. We were left wondering how many different shades of green there can be.

Our days consisted of developing the bodily practices in the mornings, working on painting-performance and different scores/compositions in the afternoons and reading related philosophical and theoretical texts together in the evenings after dinner. It was wonderful to be able to live and work in the same place. It gave us the opportunity to immerse ourselves into our work with time and calmness. Additionally, the time spent together outside of the studio gave us the opportunity to get to know each other better which in turn, allowed us to discuss the evolving work more deeply.

The atmosphere was open and supportive. We were free to arrange our working time and spaces in a way that suited us best. Everything needed was at hand and the hosts of the residency were warm and helpful. They also organized dinners and get-togethers for us. On the last day of the residency, we held a performance of our work for the hosts. This was a very rewarding experience for our process as it provided valuable information about how the work could be in dialogue with its audience.

We are very thankful to the Finnish Cultural Foundation for giving us the possibility and support to attend this residency. We would also like to give a warm thank you to the residency hosts; Anica and Philip.

The working group in the residency: Heli Keskikallio, Krista-Julia Arppo, Johanna Karlberg, Karoliina Kauhanen and Elisa Tuovila
Other working group: Miki Brunou, Kristian Palmu, Bea Tornberg and Laura Valkama