Finnish choreographer Johanna Nuutinen filmed in Fremantle Prison for WA Ballet at the Quarry work X-It

Johanna Nuutinen filming at Fremantle Prison with WA Ballet dancers.
Johanna Nuutinen filming at Fremantle Prison with WA Ballet dancers.

FINNISH choreographer Johanna Nuutinen has filmed underwater, in a snowstorm and on a frozen lake so she was used to working in testing environments when it came to filming WA Ballet dancers at Fremantle Prison in October.

“Of course, it’s a rough concrete floor, it’s cold and a challenging space to dance in for several hours but I enjoyed it,” Nuutinen said.

However, the main difficulty actually came in finding an old enough space in Perth, with enough character and right type of energy for the three-day shoot.

“It was something that wasn’t so much a surprise but that needed to be taken in to account,” she said.

“Fremantle Prison had character and we could shoot all the scenes there.

“I’m really happy with what the crew did and I’m really thankful for the Fremantle staff as well that they allowed us to be there.”

The footage will be a major component in Helsinki-based Nuutinen’s 25-minute work X-It, which is part of WA Ballet’s four piece program In-Synch: Ballet at the Quarry at Quarry Amphitheatre in February.

She originally choreographed the piece for Finnish National Ballet in 2011 while a dancer at the company.

WA Ballet artistic director Aurelien Scannella saw the performance and invited Nuutinen to remount the work in Perth following her departure from Finnish National Ballet in 2017; she is now a freelance choreographer and performer.

“For X-It, first came the concept of the whole visual world I wanted to build on stage and after that came the theme,” she said.

“It was very obvious back then (2011) that I had a strong sense of how we are constantly under surveillance in our lives; whether we walk on the streets, go to the shops or at your workplace.

“That theme suited this multidimensional world… looking at what kinds of emotions this seemingly unending and inescapable stage of being watched stirs in a person.”

Nuutinen said the dancers at WA Ballet had responded enthusiastically to X-It and she had relied on technology to make working from the other side of the world possible.

“I thank the internet and the ability to make Skype calls wherever I am and still keep on working with these projects,” she said.

“Australia is far, and there’s the time difference but I haven’t experienced any challenges with the distance.

X-It requires an extensive amount of preliminary work and that is something I’m really grateful for with the company (WA Ballet), that they had the willpower and courage to make this happen.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: WA Ballet at the Quarry, Perth Festival

Where: Quarry Amphitheatre, City Beach

When: February 8 to March 2

Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com.au