Калевала 1999-2001

Viola Malmi's "Kalevala"

Remember, what the small village Kindasovo has become famous for in all Karelia (and beyond it bounds)? It has got its own the folklore holiday. Viola Malmi, the initiator of the Kindasovo tradition, the specialist in folklore, the author of books about Karelian dances, the head of national collective "Karelskaya gornitsa" has presented the world with this original phenomenon. For over thirty years that Malmi goes to the Karelian villages with the ethnographic mission, and perhaps she had had a lot of discoveries of this kind there. But for herself for a long time and for ever she, the daughter of well-known choreographer Helmi Malmi, has made the only one: the real not depreciated culture, is born not in megacities, but in the sticks, in such small places.

Now imagine a tiny commune in the north of Finland, designated with hardly appreciable point even on detailed maps. There are five and a half thousand inhabitants. Quite close to the Polar circle. One of the basic points of interest is the most northern zoo in the world. This is Ranua that has become rather popular all over the country a few years ago. Then Viola Malmi has conceived and carried out here the grandiose on local scales project - a series of annual folklore performances (the genre of this action is hard to define, therefore to we would give it code name) on motives of epic folk poems of "Kalevala". The scope of the conceived performance was so great that the first performance "Battle for Sampo" has been awarded with the Finnish national premium. One of the following ones - "Aino" - is brought in the calendar devoted to the 80th anniversary of Finland where it is marked in a number of other significant cultural events of the past decades. At the end of present February the next premiere - "Wedding in Pohjola" has resounded.

For the inhabitants of Ranua each representation turns to annual festival, in which all inhabitants of the commune, from is small up to greater participante.

It has began as follows. More than ten years ago Malmi has been invited in Ranua to prepare teachers on dance.

- Since the theme of Kalevala has constantly presented in my work, we have started with "Kalevala". We have simply opened the book and began to dream, create the libretto, and images... Once I noticed that my wards pull whence out tremendous suits. It has appeared, that they had been sewed specially for fantastic statement which the inhabitants of Ranua gave there some time ago right in the street, in the zoo. And they were used - such expensive and beautiful - only once...

So there has appeared the idea to stage "Kalevala", having connected dance, drama, folklore and costume entertainment performance with the scenery in the open-air. According to this plan the place in the majestic park with a huge boulder in the middle, and a ladder was chosen. The actors from "Karelskaya gornitsa" has both rehearsed, and prepared the "stage" clearing away the platform, cleaning snow.

Viola Malmi, the director, the scriptwriter, the choreographer and the ideological inspirer of the future performances, had to work with two collectives at once - her own and Finnish, spontaneously amateur and besides uneven-aged as the performance assumed participation of a plenty of children. Rehearsals were conducted in Finland and in Karelia separately, and right before the performance collectives in which hundreds people were involved, got together.

The first performance, recollects Malmi, spectators had watched standing knee-deep in snow. Then the local engineer Erkki Kuusela has come to her with the following offer: "Good work deserves good framing". Due to his technical genius the other performances passed within the walls of the annually erected remarkable snow scenery. It represents a huge fortress with the set of entrances and exits, with the box, the stage and even with all sorts of elegant decorations like ice windows with real flowers frozen in them and the snow figures representing different animals. The head of the Ranua centre of leisure Inkeri Peuna, the constant "mistress of Pohjola" and the organizer of the holiday, and the owner of the drugstore Volle Vasilek, who voluntary and disinterestedly (as well as the others) accepted responsibility for light, sound and so forth, have joined the project the same natural way.

- I was completely subdued with that pleasure with which the inhabitants of Ranua undertake any work. They have nothing in burden, they do not consider, if they do something special. And the most important is that they quiveringly concern to another's work... - Malmi admitted.

The fact, that the studio where metal ornaments on ancient samples for the suits which are developed by specially invited designer are forged now is created in Ranua speaks about gravity with which the inhabitants of the commune consider the arisen tradition. There's one more detail: together with the ordinary inhabitants of Ranua in representation participate, for example, the director of the dairy plant, the head of local administration of culture. "We have an amateur level of good professionalism", - Malmi defines the quality of the performance.

The citizens of Petrozavodsk could see "Aino" twice on the summer city holidays. The one who had the luck, for certain has estimated also the charm of the music (Alexander Sultanshin, Vladimir Oskolkov), and the magnificence of suits (from "speaking" details: the bees' wings are made of the most thin mica), and the scale of the plan as a whole is worth of "Kalevala". The last performance, actually its fragments, had been shown during the days of Karelia in Moscow, and our spectator could see it at the Day of the City '99. But...

- It is necessary to stage and listen to "Kalevala" in Finnish, - Malmi is convinced. - The fair part of poetics is inevitably lost at any translation, the same as it happens with any epos - whether it is "Iliada" or the Irish sagas.

Viola Malmi already lives with the next performance. She is concerned with the story of Kullervo, the bogatyr-turncoat of Kalevala, one of the shrillest plots of the epos. Probably, the next winter it will be told in the small commune of Ranua.

"Petrozavodsk" newspaper, #13 (456) March, 26, 1999