A Man Among Women – Kenneth Greve, Director of the Finnish National Ballet

Kenneth Greve is no sissy. He’s first and foremost a husband and father of three but he’s also the Director of the Finnish Ballet.

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Kenneth Greve

Photographer © 2012 Heikki Tuuli

“Finns love dancing. I have yet to come across a society that indulges in couples dancing as much as the Finns do. There are ‘stages’ all over Finland where people go with the express intention of doing the waltz, foxtrot, jive, you name it. Why is it that boys are conspicuous in their absence at the ballet school?”

Kenneth:

“Exactly. The Finns love dancing, I watch them from my office window doing the lindy-hop and whatever else in the amphitheatre down below. It’s the age group from about 10 to 16 that would rather be seen dead than doing a pirouette.”

“Does it have something to do with being perceived as gay?”

Kenneth:

“Definitely. But that is based on a complete fallacy since I have never seen anyone become gay because of ballet. On the contrary, you have to be twice as masculine to be the only guy amongst twenty half-naked gorgeous women moving in the most fluid, beautiful way possible.”

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Tero Saarinen’s Kullervo

Featuring Tuukka Piitulainen, photographer Perttu Saksa ©2014

“How are you trying to change this?”

Kenneth:

“My children are adept at using mobile phones, iPads and computers. Getting them away from these immobile activities is a challenge. We are embarking on a new project called So You Think You Can Move? which we’re taking to the schools. We show the whole school a performance and then we invite the 6th graders to participate in the dance clinic. The others are excluded. Of course, it’s entirely voluntary whether they want to dance, they can just watch if they like. We teach them some moves, we film it and they can upload it from the website. In this way we marry dance with technology. The best performers win tickets to the ballet and some gear which they can use for dance practice thereby encouraging them to continue.”

“What kind of dance will you be promoting?”

Kenneth:

“Both classical ballet and street dance since the latter is so popular in Finland. We’re doing something similar in another project called Dare to Dance for the slightly older people.”

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R & M – Francis Guardia, Kare Länsivuori

Photographer © Sakari Viika

It’s clear that in amongst all the premieres and returning ballets for this season as well as projects like Finnish National Ballet Youth Company’s R&J (Romeo and Juliet) and Dancing with Dancers, a club-like atmosphere that starts at 10 pm and finishes at 4 am, Kenneth Greve is going to be a busy man. But as I said, he’s no sissy, he’s a leader able to grab the challenge and lift the FNB to new heights.

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Horečná-Godani-Robbins: Sara Saviola, Antti Keinänen

Photographer © 2014 Jonas Lundqvist