31.8-13.9 Visiting Jenni Kallo (Kallo Collective) in La Grave, France
The nights have suddenly grown darker, and mornings more chilly. We began the project in May, when the nature was just waking up, and now that it was time for our last residency of the year, you could clearly smell autumn in the air. Looking back it really seems like we have been working very efficiently and well the whole summer, and we have found a lot of things, made so many beautiful photos and a great video (it will be published later when we finish the great editing job with Jouni Ihalainen). I did not really know we would accomplish so many performances and all this work in just a few months.
So there we were, me travelling from Edinburgh by train, Viivi coming from somewhere in France (I guess, I have not completely managed to keep track of all her movements around Europe lately) heading for the last and perhaps most exotic residency of the year in the French Alps! All forest is of course exotic in its own way, but it is still a fact that one does not find mountains of that hight and glaciers in Finland. I had packed my climbing shoes in the hope that we would make some great friends who would teach me how to climb outdoors. It also felt a bit like the last days of school before holidays; most of the work is done, no need to stress before going on holiday. It was a nice feeling.
Jenni Kallo, the director of the physical theatre company Kallo Collective, is a great Finnish performer who we knew from before. She is living in the small alpine village of La Grave, located just on the bottom of La Meije, a glacier-covered mountain top located in a beautiful natural reserve area. She invited us to La Grave, helped us with accommodation and introduced us to a great person called Antoine, who was helping us with the rigging, giving us a workshop and becoming our great friend during the residency.
The residency was also quite different from the last one in Saaren Kartano, where we were just the two of us going cottage-crazy (a finnish saying for a person who is spending too much time alone in a small space) with each other. This time the French boyfriends Julien and Antoine joined us, and we also had a Danish guest, Mikkel, who came to work on a project with Julien. The guys were luckily being all great and providing us with warm food made for us when we return from our work in the forest, and Mikkel was baking fresh bread every morning. Quite some great people to have in residency with you!
The forest we worked in was beautiful! Antoine brought us to a special place he had been working in earlier, and the energy there was just beautiful. The trees were big “lehtikuusi” and the hearding cows came every day to observe what the fuck we were doing in their trees. Some of them were tasting our ropes also to see if they would make good food. Antoine gave us a great workshop on how to climb trees with just some ropes and descenders, so finally we don’t need to carry the heavy ladders (that keep on getting stolen) at all for our project. I think this is a great success!
We also did a presentation for the smallest audience ever for us, now there were 5 people watching us. We got a lot of very good feedback, and after this it feels like the form of the performance is pretty much there for next year. I was doing some acrobatics in a very inspiring environment, climbing a huge boulder and disappearing behind it, climbing some trees and running around this small area framed by the vegetation. It was a magical place.
We got all excited with Viivi on training some hand to hand with each other, so at some points we joined the men to train some perch, handstands, headstands and acrobatics all together. It was nice to share and learn together.
My wishes concerning outdoor vertical sports were also heard. Jenni and her mountain guide boyfriend Thomas had organized so many things for us to do! We visited the top of the mountain and had a walk on the ice, went climbing outdoors to some very exciting rocks, did a very long via ferrata, swam in the freezing mountain stream, visited the best restaurants and the beautiful lake up the mountain. It was quite a full schedule we had for the whole time there! We also made some great plans with Jenni for a French premiere next year in La Grave. All in all, the two weeks in the fresh mountain air were probably the best way to end a summer of work with The Forest Project.