Sanna Kekäläinen


As a human being on earth I’m taking a stand on the world. It is shocking to see the current division into east and west, north and south, rich and poor, A- and B-class citizens.

I have investigated how very private things experienced in the body can be linked to broader contexts. For instance, I think that the importance of intimacy as a physical experience concerns individuals as well as states. The opposite of intimacy is then violence: abusive terror, ethnic cleansing or a state of war. I want to stress the possibility of discovering shared opportunities as opposed to division and isolation.

As a form of art, contemporary dance has potential and is evolving. It combines several things to make a fascinating whole. My great passion is to find out how to instil as much information and thought as possible into movement. I am convinced that movement can be as accurate a tool for communication and expressing the mind as any other form of communication.

A performance brings people together, whether it’s theatre, dance or some other art form. That is in itself significant and seems to be an archaic need for people. I have contemplated the use of the word and the meaning of a performance, that if the aim of a performance is to deconstruct its content and meanings and observe the situation as interactively as possible, is it a performance rather than a western ritual?

I dislike the vocabulary of market economy, which is appearing more and more in the areas of culture and art. I don’t consider myself a provider of services, perhaps more like a servant.

I work because of the fear of the increasing lack of values and the growth of the meaning of money in the world: the commercialism in art, the disappearance of humanism and the increasing of inequality and exploitation.

I see my role as an artist as a role of an observer, provocateur, problem-setter, poet and promoter.



For works 1982-1995
see ARCHIVE and 1996-> see WORKS

Studied as professional student in Helsinki 1978 – 80.
Studied at the London School of Contemporary Dance 1980-83
Studied at the Theatre School of Amsterdam, Dance department 1983 and 1985

Worked widely as a choreographer and/or dancer in many theatres and dance-companies in Finland.
Worked innovatively in co-operation with several visual artists, writers, composers, performance groups and musicians.
Founded Zodiak, a center for new dance and dancers in 1986. Worked extensively as choreographer-dancer in Zodiak until 1997.
Artistic lead and choreographer of Physical Art Theatre, from 2001 on Kekäläinen & Company (K&C), founded in Helsinki 1996.
Numerous performances in different festivals and theatres in Europe and USA.
As artist in residence to WUK in Vienna, Austria (TransEuropeHalles) in Summer 1998.
A Reconstruction -series of four of Sanna Kekäläinen’s earlier choreographies commissioned by Kiasma-Theatre as an opening programme, 1998
As Goethe Institute’s expert guest in the Global Dance Festival in Düsseldorf, Germany in Summer 2002
As artist in residence in Dansens Hus, Stockholm, in Spring 2011

Received a four-year scholarship from the Ministery of Culture and Education 1989.
Received a State Dance Award as founding member of Zodiak 1990.
Received an important “Finland” -state award for arts for her work as a dancer and choreographer 1995.
Received a three-year scholarship from the Ministery of Culture and Education 1996.
Received a five-year scholarship from the Ministery of Culture and Education 1999.
Received a one-year scholarship from the Ministery of Culture and Education 2004.
Received a five-year state grant from the National Council of Dance 2005.
Received a five-year state grant from the National Council of Dance 2010.
Received a five-year state grant from the National Council for the Performing Arts 2018.

– Riikka Laakso, Oli Ahlroos, Maria Svanström, Teemu Mäki, Anu Laukkanen and Janne Saarakkala: “Sielu, ruumis ja liha – Näkökulmia Sanna Kekäläinen työhön / Body, Meat and Spirit – Perspectives to the Work of Sanna Kekäläinen”, 96 p., BoD 2018
– Riikka Laakso:  “Kysyvä ruumis”, essee 2019

Own articles:
– “Tanssin opiskelua Lontoossa”. TANSSI. 3/1982.
– “Esiintyminen – arvoitus.” Askelmerkkejä tanssin historiasta, ruumiista ja sukupuolesta. Tanssin tutkimuksen vuosikirja 3/1999. Ed. Päivi K. Pakkanen, Jaana Parviainen, Leena Rouhiainen, Annika Tudeer. Central Arts Council. 1999.
– “Puolalainen nykytanssi nousee.” TANSSI. 3/2001.
– “Nykyinen taidepolitiikka johtaa valmisvaate-tanssiin.” TANSSI. 1/2003
– “Tanssin tekijät – 35 näkökulmaa koreografin työhön”, 2005, Ed. Hannele Jyrkkä
– “Ehdotus sukupuolen esittämiseksi näyttämöllä”, Mustekala 2/2015, Vol. 59

– Virve Sutinen. “Hysteria”. TAIDE. 2/1992.
– Leea Kantonen. “Hurmio”. TAIDE. 6/1994.
– Hanna Brotherus. “Ollako vai eikö olla? Myyttien raskaus”. TANSSI. 4/1995.
– Virve Sutinen. “Ruumiillisen taiteen ‘ambitious bitch’ “. TANSSI. 2/1997.
– Virve Sutinen. “The rise and falls of Physical Art Theatre”. TANSSI 3/1997.
– Minna Tawast. “Sanna Kekäläinen uudistuneen vanhan edess䔝. TANSSI 3/1998.
– “Physical Art Theatre. Faun. Studien über Hysterie”. Finnish Dance in Focus. 1999.
– Johanna Laakkonen. “The Harmony of Chaos: Sanna Kekäläinen”. Finnish Dance in Focus 2001.
– Janne Saarakkala. “Sanna Kekäläinen alastomana” ESITYS 2/2010.
– Aleksis Salusjärvi. “Tanssissa korostuu naisen keho, liike ja vuorovaikutus” Kritiikin Uutiset 4/2012.
– Olli Ahlroos. “Kysymyksiä taiteesta ja taiteilijaksi tulemisesta Sanna Kekäläiseltä”, 2016.
– Olli Ahlroos. “The Courage that Art Demands”. Tanz Im August Magazine, 2017.
– Riikka Laakso. “The naked stage of Sanna Kekäläinen”. Springback Annual 2019.
– Olli Ahlroos. “The Courage that Art Demands”. Hyperion: On the future of Aesthetics, 2019.
– Riikka Laakso. “The Routes of a Nymph: A Shaping Body in the Poetics of Sanna Kekäläinen”. Hyperion: On the future of Aesthetics, 2019.

– Aino Kukkonen: Doctoral thesis “Postmoderni liikkeessä – Tulkintoja 1980-luvun suomalaisesta tanssista”, 2014
– Aino Järvi-Eskola: Master’s thesis “Feministinen autobiografinen esitys tanssinäyttämöllä, esimerkkiteoksena Sanna Kekäläisen Puna-Red-Rouge”, 2015

Crickets, dir. Marikki Hakola, 1987
Santa-Maria Furiosa, dir. Teemu Mäki, 1991
Requiem, dir. Marikki Hakola, 1996
Continuum, dir. Marikki Hakola, 1999

Periodically in different dance-schools and workshops around Finland and internationally: technique and choreography, physical expression.
Conservatory of Music, Helsinki 1983
Academy of Applied Arts, Helsinki 1984
Theatre Academy of Finland, Dance department, -93 onwards periodically.