Wild Card residency for Meri Pajunpää

Wild Card residency for Meri Pajunpää

Nominated by the network partner Cullberg Ballet, Ultima Vez hosted the artist Meri Pajunpää from November 27 till December 10, 2017.


Meri Pajunpää is a Finnish dancer and choreographer who graduated in 2008 at the Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten. She is active as a dancer, choreographer and teacher in the UK, Finland, Belgium and other European countries.

Meri started working on a solo project “There will probably be some music, but we'll manage to find a quiet corner

where we can talk (Erik Satie)” in 2014, during a residency at the Zodiak Canter for New Dance in Helsinki and another one at the P.A.R.T.S. Summer Studios in Brussels. After that she took a 2 years break from it, concentrating on her work as a dancer. She then started working on the project again in the summer of 2016, first at Kutomo in Turku and next at the Summer Studios in Brussels. The residency at the Ultima Vez Studios in December 2017 is a next step.  She will continue and finish the project during the spring/summer 2018.


A short description of the project by Meri:

What if I ask you 32 questions?

This is a project about composing with words, movement and meaning. I want to create a sense of conversation with the audience by asking questions. To trigger thoughts rather than serving answers.

Can I get closer to you by asking questions? Can a movement be a question? What do we need for a conversation to take place between us?

As a source of inspiration, I have used the writings and recordings of John Cage. A dead poet, a colourful character, whose childlike curiosity invited a whole generation (and resonated through the following ones) to look at sounds and the world around us, in which they take place, in a new way. His thoughts and compositions serve as a playground for my creative process. Borrowing his words and his physicality, chopping and editing, transforming them into the present moment, into a storyboard of questions left resonating in the air, into an intimate moment shared with an audience.

In 2005, when I first heard Cages recorded excerpt from Lecture on Nothing I decided to use it in a short performance. I came across with this recording rather coincidentally, but I was immediately attracted by the playful relation between structure and meaning this text proposes, which inspired me to work further with it back then.

This time I am working with a text called “On Communication” from the book Silence by Cage as well as with some of his early compositions and voice recordings such as “The Water Walk”.

In previous research periods I have worked with the following elements:

-phrasing of the text, translated into movement

-relation between movement and meaning; how do they communicate, match/not match

-Cages physicality as a source for movement material

-intonation, sound of the words in my own speaking

-silences as a way to create musicality

I want to search for a way to treat movement as Cage treats the text; as a game of rhythm, structure, meaning and resonance. Spoken words have a meaning, sound and rhythm to them. Using them in a performance directly implies multi layered communication. How can I respond to and play with text in all its dimensions with my moving body?

A recording from the past, words that someone once spoke, opens a gateway between two moments in time. The physical body that connects us with the present, finds there an access to shared associations and memories through this dimension. The possibility to travel through time serves as a frame for this dance work. Layering time in a 30 minutes dance work by combining materials from different moments in personal/shared history. Choosing our entrances free from the linearity in

which we are used to perceive time.

I will be driving towards an extremely articulated movement language, through which the words and the nuances of their sounds can resonate. At the same time allowing the human desire of wanting to connect with the past to manifest through myself, giving space for the experience of imperfection that follows when the contradiction between the desire and the reality is reviled.



Choreography and performance Meri Pajunpää

Sound design Michael Picknett

Light design Anttoni Halonen

Outside eye Anne Pajunen



Feedback Meri Pajunpää:

These 2 weeks were an important shifting/clarifying moment in my process. I took time to reconsider my use of the materials from John Cage. I was trying to find a way to keep the inspiration that I got from working with Cages materials while letting go of some of the materials that directly refer to him. It was a period of kind of stripping down the work into the essence and from there opening into new ways of approaching it. This felt very much needed, since I questioned the form I had come to in the previous residency. The conversation between text and movement remains the central theme of the work (together with time travel). During this residency I've opened up to the element of photography to create the visual context for the work and a link to past. I collaborated with a Belgian visual artist, Simon Verheylesonne by experimenting on how past and present could be mingled and blurred through photography. Through this experimentation I was able to get closer to actualizing the theme of time travel within the piece.

27.11.17 - 10.12.17

Brussels (BE)

supported/organized by Ultima Vez