Bröyerism returns – The forgotten art of ‘poetry dance’ returns on stage
This year marks the 125th anniversary of the birth of dance artist Martta Bröyer. To celebrate the occasion, Helsinki City Museum and Runokuu festival have produced a poetry dance performance inspired by Bröyer. The performance will be premiered at the Burgher’s House Museum on Saturday 27 August 2022. On Friday 26 August, Villa Hakasalmi will host an open workshop where participants can try out poetry dance. In addition, the Burgher’s House Museum will arrange special tours dedicated to Bröyer.
The colourful life and diverse career of dance artist Martta Bröyer (1897–1979) has recently been showcased in the museum’s book about the Burgher’s House, the oldest wooden residential building in central Helsinki. Martta Bröyer inherited the house from her mother, renovated and preserved it, and finally sold it to the City for it to be used as a museum. During the book project, Bröyer’s extensive archives were studied in detail for the first time, and plenty of new information was discovered about her life events.
A pioneer of modern dance in Finland, Bröyer created her own controversial style, bröyerism, that combined dance with poetry recitation in the 1920s and 1930s. She drew inspiration from Germany, from the school of world-famous Mary Wigman, and developed her own style in the 1920s and 30s based on Wigman’s ideas. Bröyer started to teach the style in her own institute. A dancer and choreographer, Bröyer herself found that her most important career was that of a dance pedagogue.
The Bröyer style, bröyerism, was based on dance without music, only accompanied by poetry recitation. Reflecting the spirit of her time, Bröyer combined modern dance with national romanticism and created dance performances based on the collection of Finnish folk poems, Kanteletar, among other works. Her contemporaries’ reactions varied: the new style received both praise and harsh, even crushing criticism. Despite this, Bröyer determinedly continued with her style until the 1960s. She received the Pro Finlandia medal for her life’s work in 1956.
The anniversary of Martta Bröyer provides an excellent opportunity to see if the time is ready for bröyerism. In a project produced by Helsinki City Museum and Runokuu festival, the art form that caused controversy in its time inspires today’s creators, dance artist Tiia Hämäläinen and audio artist Marika Hyvärinen. They have created the poetry dance performance Runo – Näky – Huumaus (‘Poem – Vision – Intoxication’) in which poems used by Bröyer meet contemporary poetry and influences from her movement language are integrated into contemporary dance. The creators are also instructors in the poetry dance workshop where participants read poems and try to interpret them through movement. The workshop is open to all and does not require attendees to have any prior dance experience.
Runo liikuttaa (‘Moved by Poetry’) poetry dance workshop
Friday 26 August at 18.00–20.00 at Villa Hakasalmi, Mannerheimintie 13 B
Sign up in advance at: www.hakasalmivilla.fi/events/.
Runo – Näky – Huumaus. Tanssidramaattinen sarja
(‘Poem – Vision – Intoxication. A dance drama series’)
Sat 27 August at 12.00, 14.00 and 16.00
Yard of the Burgher’s House Museum, Kristianinkatu 12
In the event of rain: lobby of Helsinki City Museum, Aleksanterinkatu 16.
Martta Bröyer 125 special guided tour
Burgher’s House Museum, Kristianinkatu 12
Wed 31 August at 14.00
Sat 3 September at 14.00
Wed 7 September at 14.00
Sat 10 September at 14.00
Wed 14 September at 14.00
Sat 17 September at 14.00
Wed 21 September at 14.00
Sat 24 September at 14.00
Wed 28 September at 14.00
Sat 1 October at 14.00
Photo: Dance 01. Young Martta Bröyer dancing on the fields of Pälkäne. / Helsinki City Museum.