October 19, 2020
The neighbouring park to Minna’s home is called “Alppipuisto”, the Alp park. With its rocky hills and beautiful old trees it has offered the daily playground for Minna during spring. A run up and down the rocks, a walk or a spontaneous parkour, whatever the park invites her to do, to play with. Her daily visits also offered silent moments for observations: seeing the little spots of snow slowly fading away and leaves starting to sprout in the trees. Or making the most out of the only social interaction that was appropriate during the spring corona peek: sitting on the hill two meters apart from each other, drinking lukewarm beer with a friend. With only plus four degrees, enjoying the first warm sun rays thinking “how wonderful a terrace we have here”.
“Carnivalizing heavy things helps to get over them”, Minna writes on her facebook page. For me this hints at Minna’s approach to life which is filled with humor, a certain rebellious attitude and always seeking for alternative solutions. With the carnivalesque view many unspoken or otherwise difficult subjects turn paradoxical and humour liberates new aspects and views on them. Carnivalesque style has been often used by artists and writers to unveil the brutality and ridiculousness of the ruling power, which is not allowed to be openly disagreed or criticized.
Minna’s carnivalesque attitude makes it very liberating to talk to her. Connected by the internet between Alppila (also named after the Alps) and Schöneberg (also named after a more modest hill), we catch up with what has happened in our lives. With her humorous approach, though, it feels as if all difficulties and uncertainties are somehow turned upside down.
We talk: About the end of humanity, the climate emergency, deserted cities during the first corona peak in spring, and our challenges of running our own companies. These horrible and difficult things turn into narrations of Helsinki’s newly golden sun and warm autumn nights, how the wonderfully beautiful things are rooted in such difficult topics. This combination of such seemingly impossible opposites creates not only a special humour but also new levels of meaning for the topics. It is not twisting the climate emergency into something positive, but rather demonstrating the dark side of the overly warm autumn nights.
Minna started taking dance lessons when she was 12 years old. First in Finland, then in Switzerland, France, Burkina Faso, Guinea and many more places of the world. In the early 90’s the new scene of “etnodances” ( as all the non western dances were called) started to make their way to Helsinki slowly turning to a big boom. Minna was one of the first to fall into the West-African dance traditions. Together with a few other dancers she explored and taught herself their rhythms and movements. And still today, the lessons are not over. She describes herself as a lifelong learner, teaching and learning with people who share the interest. Her work now as a dance- and pilates teacher is the interaction of continuous teaching and learning.
This spring, Minna missed her dance classes a lot. Not being able to spend time with her students or any people, felt like she was missing the driving force and one of the most essential things that keeps her going.
With the corona-times the physical connection to people has been restricted, making it even more important than ever to find new ways of expression for the missing communication. The core of Minna’s work as a dance and pilates teacher, but also our work as fashion designers is to make or create for people with the very physical and bodily aspect to it. Both our works are focused on people's different bodily beings, features and ways of moving. There is a lot of communication that is happening with bodies that can not be transmitted online, or verbally.
I always remember how during one of her summer courses that I attended, Minna spotted me wearing the TAUKO Leijat capri pants. Sparkled by the peculiar design of the capris, the conversation jumped to the bodily feature called “persjalkaisuus”. It is a Finnish word describing people who think they have shorter legs than one should. Minna and also myself, are thinking (with a lot of love) our legs are shorter than average. The conversation we had, started her journey with TAUKO, and our journey with her. Sharing the same kind of rebellious spirit and humor is always there when Minna visits our stores in Helsinki.
Be it the subject of climate change or our own bodily features, there is luckily a laugh in the end.
Suvi, Minna’s spouse, and their relationship is something that Minna is very grateful for at the moment. It is simply the best thing right now. Especially during the time of corona, she has been very happy to have someone around her, who is supportive and who shares the same kind of interests. They go together for walks in Alppipuisto, occasionally taking their own paths to eventually meet again at their home. Or having a lukewarm beer enjoying one the warmest autumn nights Helsinki ever experienced.
Text: Mila Moisio
Photos: Laura Oja