An Interview with Annika Tudeer
by Jay Mar Albaos
Witnessing her performance “Annika Does the Swan Lake” the night before, I was able to fill my notes with questions and observations I want to share to Annika in the interview which I was anticipating so much. We sat on one of the benches in the middle of the Observatory Park, amidst colorful trees and gentle autumn breeze. Her smile was contagious as she reminisced her childhood running around the same park in Turku and hurting herself because she cared less back then. After laughing over the memory, I readied my voice recorder and gently tossed my questions at Annika.
Please give us a glimpse on who is Annika Tudeer.
I always wanted to be an actress but I was never accepted at the Theater Academy; I always failed on the first round. I always had this feeling that I wanted to work with physical theater. I found my own way to the arts and performance world with no training from any institution; I gained access to the artist’s realm through dance and later doing critiques and performing small solo stints.
Why did you decide to study Literature?
In the time of dancing I had really missed language because I have always loved to read and write and think a lot. And that part of my life I have locked out for the seven years (because) I was dancing. I was really into physical movement and training. So it was a relief to stop training. I just loved these post-structuralist theories. And I started to write dance critiques and became quite well-known here in Finland.
In 2000, I got the opportunity to make four site-specific pieces. And then I decided to found this company, Oblivia, and one day I decided to stop writing, stop teaching, stop everything else and just focus on Oblivia and that was a good decision.
What is the reason behind founding Oblivia?
I decided to create a company where people are very friendly but still make very special work; very much about investigation. It was really a laboratory of collaboration and how could it be. Oblivia’s main objective today, where we are working for almost fifteen years, is to do new scenes.
How do you see failures?
It always happens. It’s very unpleasant, terrible. Failures are the things which take things further. That is why humor is very important in everything we do. It connects to everyone. Humor has to be in the performance; it’s humane. What would the world be without humor?
What is your attitude as an artist?
I have a strong ideology but I don’t know what it is. But I believed in freedom, in intuition. But at the moment I think its concentration. Being an artist is a concentration.
Question: What do you think would be your legacy in the future?
I hope that I can leave something with humanistic value.
The cold was crisp and bites the skin but the warmth of the conversation kept us going for almost an hour. Annika brimmed as she told me a story of her younger years growing in the beautiful and serene Turku. She broke her leg after hitting a tree; she was sliding freely down the hills. That led us to the question on failures which she responded with ease.
When asked about Oblivia, Annika never failed to beam as she shared that she is privileged to form a group of people working together and bringing ideas on the table for everyone to work on; people who respects each others’ perspectives, voices and capacities as artists. She believed that above everything else, freedom.
As we ended the interview, I was drawn to the determination and passion of Annika. Her experience is a true testament that our enthusiasm to do what we are passionate about will bring us to where we are destined to be. To her, it was her potential and love for art and self-expression that paved way towards reaching her goals. No, she is not and is definitely beyond any image of a swan.