Sketches on Class III is the third public showing in the initiative Working Class Background Embodied. The live-streamed performance sketch marks the end of the working group’s residency period at the cultural centre Stoa as part of Side Step Festival 2021.

Working Class Background Embodied sheds light on the effects of class origin on a person’s physicality, experiences, and agency. The working group includes a wide array of artists who share an interest in working with class matters.

The residency taking place during Side Step Festival and the performance sketch at the end of it are stepping stones on the way to the premiere, which will be held in the autumn season at JoJo – Oulu Dance Centre in northern Finland. 

In Sketches on Class III, the working group reveals the working processes that it uses to explore multifaceted questions of class. How does working-class background manifest in the body? How do we separate the experience of class from experiences of, for instance generation, gender and locality? 

Class drills itself into our flesh, gushes out through the sweat on our backs, lingers in our gaze, twists and turns in our insides. Each performer’s relationship to the topic brings out the diversity of class experiences. The attempt is to give space to the lived memories and imprint of class, which is a fundamental part of our identity, both concretely visible and hard to define. Experiences of class and class mobility become visible in the performance sketch through movement and text.      

Working Class Background Embodied initiative 

Working Class Background Embodied is an attempt to nurture different socioeconomic cultural backgrounds, to gain understanding of the effects of class on our choices and opportunities, to open up these themes and, most importantly, to address them in the context of body-based art. Through the initiative, the working group is trying to deconstruct the myth of equality, the assumption that everyone in Finland has the same opportunities to study, find employment, advance in their career, or to participate in discussions in society. 

During the working process, five themes were highlighted as points of examination: shame, excess, not belonging, abundance and class pride. In addition, the initiative aims to advance the participation in art of people from different backgrounds, as well as  to place bodily and conceptual knowledge side by side. 

The initiators of the project wanted to include makers of different ages and of different backgrounds in order to give voice to diverse experiences.  The process has included individuals from both suburban zones and rural areas; descendants of both Red and White Finland; individuals with a long career behind them and those only at the start of their working life; individuals from different family constellations and from different parts of the country.  The working group of 20 people has been running since 2018. However the Side Step performance sketch is executed by a smaller number of artists. Next, the work continues towards the premiere and open workshops.      


Facilitating and concept: Elsa Heikkilä ja Laura Lehtinen
Performers: Riina Hannuksela, Elsa Heikkilä, Soili Huhtakallio, Minna Karttunen, Heli Keskikallio, Laura Lehtinen, Aliina Lindroos, Pinja Poropudas, Anni Puuperä ja Lotta Suomi
Artistic design: Elsa Heikkilä, Minna Karttunen, Heli Keskikallio, Laura Lehtinen sekä Teo Lanerva (lights), Josu Mämmi (sound), Mari Nurmenniemi (costumes)
Additional working group members: Virpi Juntti, Soile Lahdenperä, Sanna Tirkkonen, Virva Talonen, Katriina Tavi ja Ilkka Tolonen
Photos: Soili Huhtakallio
Supported by: Kone Foundation, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Samuel Huber Art Foundation, City of Helsinki
Production: JoJo - Oulu Dance Center, Zodiak - Center for New Dance, Arts Management Helsinki, Nollapiste Collective
In collaboration with: Tanssikoulu DCA, Stoa

Live stream: Lumikinos Production; Thmoas Freundlich, Mikael Kanerva
Director: Teo Lanerva