Susanna Leinonen Company pushes the boundaries of contemporary dance with unique movement styles and striking visual aesthetics. Led by the visionary executive and artistic director Susanna Leinonen, the company’s acclaimed works – seamlessly blending ballet with contemporary techniques – have captivated audiences worldwide for over two decades.

Founded in 2001 by Susanna Leinonen, the company embodies her vision of long-term collaboration with a dedicated and familiar group of dancers. Renowned for its distinctive, intricate, and physically demanding movement language, Susanna Leinonen Company’s visually striking and mesmerising performances have earned accolades from audiences and critics alike in nearly 30 countries.

Leinonen’s background in classical ballet, combined with her innovative approach in integrating techniques from various dance styles, allows her to break conventional barriers and cross borders. “I always want to challenge the body’s limits – but in a sustainable and ergonomic way. The key is to find the sweet spot where the body’s movements are at their full capacity, but with minimum strain to it,” explains Leinonen.

Susanna Leinonen Company: Breaking boundaries and redefining contemporary dance

Nasty sold out four shows in January at Dance House Helsinki in 2024. Photo: Dirk Sevenants

Gravity-defying movements and breathtaking visuals

Susanna Leinonen Company’s works are celebrated for their unwavering artistic integrity, stunning visual aesthetics, and original music compositions. Exceptional lighting design and costumes crafted by leading artists further enhance the visual experience. The collaborative processes underpinning the company’s acclaimed productions result in works of pure art, where visual elements, sounds, and movement work in perfect harmony.

“The creative process begins in the rehearsal studio, where I’m looking for the movement characteristic of the work. The body is at the core of all my work, and it’s my biggest source of inspiration,” she adds. Leinonen draws inspiration from sports and athletes, particularly in how their bodies move during physical challenges, how far they push themselves, and how they maintain stamina throughout exercises. “The human body is amazing. And the development of the body is continuous.”

Leinonen’s renowned trilogy, Nasty (2018), Toxic (2020), and Body (2021), delved into themes of women’s equality, their bodies, and their place in society. “Since childhood, my body has been wrapped around dance, and over the years it has given and taken a lot. As a woman, my body has also been subjected to harsh outside scrutiny,” Leinonen explains. “Every change in my body has inevitably affected the way my mind moves – and vice versa. That connection can never be broken, although sometimes it may get lost – but only momentarily.”

Susanna Leinonen Company: Breaking boundaries and redefining contemporary dance

Breaking the Fury was commissioned work for Skånes Dance Theatre and Malmö Opera in 2012. Photo: Mats Bäcker

Anticipating the next masterpiece, BIRTH

Leinonen’s next work, titled BIRTH, will premiere 2-5 October at Dance House Helsinki’s Erkko Hall. BIRTH will be shaped by Leinonen’s emotions, thoughts, and movements, both conscious and unconscious. “The starting point of the work is that everything starts at birth,” she says. “Even if the world is destroyed, I believe that there will still be a small nugget of human DNA and everything will start all over again. Where, how, and in what form is an interesting thought.”

The performance has already sold over 2,000 tickets, not surprising as Susanna Leinonen Company was the venue’s big audience success of 2023. “We’re excited to get the magnificent Erkko Hall at Dance House in Helsinki, which has capacity for 700 spectators at a time. We’re looking forward to autumn and full stands for the new work.”

Susanna Leinonen Company: Breaking boundaries and redefining contemporary dance

Body premiered in 2021. Photo: Anastasia Pajanen

Imaginative costume design and soundscape

Leinonen began collaborating with costume designer Sari Nuttunen in 2018 with Nasty. She feels lucky to find someone so bold and imaginative. The pair also collaborate in visual design, which starts early in the stages of their creative process. “Our discussions and her drawings always put my thoughts on new tracks, keeping ideas moving, and once I see the costumes, they will serve as visual inspiration for the physical movements of the performance,” Leinonen continues. The soundscape of the work is by Kasperi Laine, a recipient of the Finland Award in 2016. Kasperi is known for his significant contributions to music and sound design, and their collaboration has lasted 20 years.

Leinonen is always on the lookout for non-verbal expression through the body’s movements. To her, dance is a universal language attached to something primal. “One of the many beauties of dance is that the audiences interpret each movement and each story in their own way,” says Leinonen. She is particularly fond of dance as a form of expression because there are no rules – or rather: if there are rules, they can all be broken. In her opinion, bodily inspiration is never-ending. It may change shape along the way, but the journey continues.

“I don’t offer any solutions, despite making bold statements at times,” she concludes. “I hope that the physical, bodily experiences expressed during our performances also transfer into the audience. I also hope that my works are thought-provoking. Although dance is a non-verbal art, body language can be so strong that its message remains haunted. And change begins.”

Susanna Leinonen Company: Breaking boundaries and redefining contemporary dance

Finland’s former President Tarja Halonen and her spouse Dr. Pentti Arajärvi with Susanna Leinonen at Dance House Helsinki 2023. Photo: Juho Kantinkoski

Facebook: Susanna Leinonen Company
Instagram: @susanna_leinonen_company
Vimeo: susannaleinonen

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Receive our monthly newsletter by email

    I accept the Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy