Our Story

Artistic vision

“Dance has an exceptional amount of potential in this time, that is so strongly marked by alienation from the body.

To me, the greatest meaning of dance is within the primal wellsprings of movement and the body. The ritualistic essence of dance, a person’s need and ability to express themselves through movement and the body are universal and timeless phenomena. I have sought to familiarise myself with age-old dance cultures since the beginning of my career to enrich my knowledge gained from the heritage of ballet, modern techniques and contemporary dance.
I also believe in multidisciplinary collaboration: a union of dance, live music and visual design. Creating works that feed various senses and outlast time, as well as building and maintaining a repertoire, are at the foundations of my Company’s activities and continuity. Humanity, internationality, a daringness to go beyond a comfort zone, and as a continuous strive to develop are some of the main principles in my artistic work, training as well as in all of the activities of our community.
Dance is my attempt to understand human nature and its multiple manifestations – friendship, love and strength of spirit. With my dance I want to reach the unspoken, the inexplicable, the unnamed. I believe in dance that touches, in dance that speaks for itself.”

– Tero Saarinen


After a successful international career as a dancer, Tero Saarinen founds his own dance group. On top of Saarinen, the founding members are Yuval Pick and Henrikki Heikkilä. Company Toothpick’s debut creation Westward Ho! premieres at Stockholm’s Dansens Hus as part of the Bagnolet Choreography Competition. The work features lighting by Mikki Kunttu, a designer whom Saarinen met in 1993 when the pair worked on Dance Theatre MD’s commissioned creation Hurmaa 1.
Westward Ho! is chosen for the first-ever Aerowaves programme in London. This results in invitations to perform around Europe.

Premiere of Overdosed Mood.

Batsheva Dance Company, led by Ohad Naharin, commissions its second work from Saarinen. Un/Do is also later seen in Ballet Gulbenkian’s repertoire.

The Company performs Westward Ho! at Florence Gould Hall in New York.

Could you take some of my weight…? premieres in France. This creation, performed by Saarinen and Yuval Pick, later forms part of the repertoires of Ballet de Lorraine in France and Norrdans in Sweden.
Wavelengths premieres at the Finnish National Ballet, performed by Nina Hyvärinen and Kimmo Sandell. The duet becomes known for its interpretation by Sini Länsivuori and Henrikki Heikkilä.
Two key works premiere within a week: Kaze at the Venice Biennale and Petrushka at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.

Producer-Manager Iiris Autio joins the Company as its first full-time employee.

Tero Saarinen is awarded the Finland Prize.

Commissioned by the Venice Biennale, Saarinen’s solo creation HUNT receives its world premiere.

The ensemble piece Transfigured Night, set to music by Arnold Schönberg, premieres in the repertoire of Gothenburg Ballet in Sweden. It is later added to the Finnish National Ballet’s repertoire.

Now known as Tero Saarinen Company, the group performs its Stravinsky Evening (Petrushka / HUNT) in St. Petersburg and Kaze in Moscow.

The Company starts producing its own seasons at the Finnish National Opera’s Almi Hall with evenings of Westward Ho!, Gaspard and HUNT.

Borrowed Light receives its world premiere at the Octobre en Normandie Festival in France. The creation, supported by EU funding, goes on to be performed around the world.

Saarinen is awarded the prestigious Movimentos Dance Prize in Germany, and France honours him with the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Tero Saarinen Company is granted an annual Finnish government subsidy as one of the organizations that comes under the Theatre and Orchestra Act.

Tero Saarinen Company leases the Main Stage at the Finnish National Opera to perform Kaze for audiences in its home city of Helsinki.

Tero Saarinen is awarded the Pro Finlandia medal.

Tero Saarinen Company’s first North American tour. Six performances at The Joyce Theater in New York end the Triple Bill’s USA-Canada tour.

Both Borrowed Light and Triple Bill are picked as highlights of the year in various reviews.

The now 10-year-old group has six full-time employees and a network of 77 staff over the year.

Borrowed Light opens the 25th anniversary celebrations at BAM’s Next Wave Festival. The creation is seen by more than 10,000 people, and The Village Voice picks it as one of the “decade’s best in dance”.

The Company also visits Mexico City, where Teatro de la Ciudad almost bursts at the seams due to double booking by the organizers.

In Finland, the group presents 12 performances of the Stravinsky Evening at the Alexander Theatre in Helsinki.

Sini Länsivuori is awarded the Finland Prize.

Borrowed Light tours Australia and New Zealand.

Next of Kin premieres in Vilnius, Lithuania. This multidisciplinary production receives mixed reviews in London, where The Guardian calls it: “One of [the] most comprehensively weird productions I have ever seen.”

Tero Saarinen Company opens the 100% Finlandia cultural year at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. The programme includes HUNT and Saarinen’s large-scale ensemble work for Opéra National de Lorraine and Ballet de Lorraine, Mariage.

Carolyn Carlson gives her legendary solo Blue Lady to Tero Saarinen for reinterpretation. Over the next few years, Saarinen tours with the work in Europe and Asia.

The Finnish Cultural Foundation gives Saarinen an award for his achievements as an artist.

Saarinen’s second choreography for NDT1 premieres in The Netherlands. On top of tours in Central and Western Europe, Tero Saarinen Company also performs Norway and Argentina.

Tero Saarinen Company produces a season of dance in Helsinki, presenting Blue Lady [Revisited] performed by Saarinen, plus productions by Carolyn Carlson’s group and Pori Dance Company’s interpretations of Jorma Uotinen’s choreographies.

Tero Saarinen performs his solo Man in a Room on two nights at New York City Center.

The group performs Triple Bill in the Ibero-American Theater Festival in Bogotá.

Invited by choreographer Jin Xing, the Stravinsky Evening visits China as a part of the World Exhibition.

Borrowed Light returns to Europe. The creation is seen in multiple cities in Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Germany and Finland. It is also performed on five nights on the Main Stage at the Finnish National Theatre in Helsinki.

Vox Balaenae, a collaboration with Ensemble Intercontemporain, receives its world premiere in France. In Finland the work is performed together with the Avanti! chamber orchestra.

Tero Saarinen Company’s first tour of Finland takes in the Jyväskylä, Oulu and Kuopio City Theatres.

By popular demand, Borrowed Light returns to Jacob’s Pillow as part of the festival’s 80th anniversary programme.

The Finnish National Opera and Ballet adds Saarinen’s Mariage to its repertoire.

Tero Saarinen Company presents the Tanssin juhlaa! evening celebrations of dance in Helsinki to promote the Dance House Helsinki project.

The Company’s first major community-outreach project begins in Malminkartano, Helsinki.

During their tour of the United States, the group performs at the Kennedy Center, Washington DC, and at The Joyce Theater, New York City. Tero Saarinen is invited to teach at Steps on Broadway in New York.

Tero Saarinen Company’s first development cooperation project in Kenya.

In The Rite of Spring’s celebratory year, Saarinen performs his solo creation HUNT for the last time, in Nairobi, after touring with the work to 82 cities in 32 countries. The last performance of HUNT, on the Main Stage of the Finnish National Theatre in Helsinki, is filmed.

The National Dance Company of Korea invites Tero Saarinen to be its first-ever guest choreographer. The large-scale creation VORTEX premieres at the Korean National Theatre.

Season of Borrowed Light at Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris. The performance is filmed for French television.

The Company’s first film project, the documentary A Chair Fit for an Angel, premieres in Canada. It receives awards at various film festivals.

Morphed, a choreography set to the music of Esa-Pekka Salonen, premieres at the Helsinki Festival, on the Main Stage of the Finnish National Opera. The composer himself conducts the orchestra of the Finnish National Opera.

The Finnish National Broadcasting Company YLE celebrates Tero Saarinen’s 50th birthday with a television theme evening that includes a biographical documentary, the film A Chair Fit for an Angel, and a film of Saarinen’s solo creation HUNT.

Kullervo, a collaboration between the Finnish National Opera and Tero Saarinen Company, with almost a hundred performers on stage, receives its premiere.

Tero Saarinen Company runs a large-scale development cooperation project in Kenya. TRAIL, choreographed for twelve Kenyan dancers, premieres in Nairobi on Kenya’s National Day.

The Company appears in a total of 13 countries. The group’s performances in Helsinki attract nearly 20,000 spectators. The Company’s total income is EUR 1.24m, 40% of which comes from public subsidies.

Tero Saarinen Company’s 20th anniversary year focuses on Finland, with performances at the country’s biggest dance festivals, in Kuopio, Pyhäjärvi and Jyväskylä. Saarinen’s early work Could you take some of my weight…? returns to the repertoire, together with the ensemble piece MESH. The Company produces a season at the Finnish National Opera’s Almi Hall.

Presentation of international guest performances in Helsinki continues, with the Company producing three separate evenings.

The year is a busy for educational activities: new courses are developed; Tero Saarinen is invited to teach at the Juilliard School in New York; and an ongoing collaboration with the Finnish National Ballet School begins.

The Company now has 11 employees on monthly salaries.

Morphed continues to mesmerize audiences around the world. The creation is seen in seven countries, with the highlights being TSC’s first-ever performance at London’s Royal Festival Hall and a month-long tour of North America. TSC also performs in India for the first time.

In Helsinki, Kullervo makes its return to the Finnish National Opera and Ballet’s programme and TSC produces performances of Cie Accrorap’s The Roots to the Finnish National Theatre.

Co-productions Loopit with Dance Theatre MD and to be with Hanna Brotherus Company premiere. The Los Angeles Philharmonic commissions Zimmermann Trio from Saarinen, set to premiere in 2018. The rehearsals of Saarinen and Kimmo Pohjonen‘s duet Breath also begin.


Commissioned by the LA Phil, Zimmermann Trio receives its world premiere at the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. TSC makes history by performing at leading venues on both sides of the Atlantic at the same time as Morphed simultaneously has a season at Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris.

Tero Saarinen and Kimmo Pohjonen’s duet Breath premieres in Canada. The creation continues to tour in Asia and Finland. The Finnish premiere of Zimmermann Trio takes place at The Helsinki Music Centre. The performances with Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra are part of Helsinki Festival.

All in all, TSC has activities in 7 countries on 3 continents. In addition to its 21 000 live spectators, TSC works are broadcast to 28 milions subscribers of Mezzo TV in 60 countries.

Third Practice by Tero Saarinen Company and Helsinki Baroque Orchestra has its world premiere at Festival Monteverdi in Cremona. The work’s Finnish premiere takes place at Kuopio Dance Festival. Performances of Zimmermann Trio with Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in Brussels and Bruges are part of the Cultural Programme for Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. Breath and Morphed tour in Europe and Asia. Tero Saarinen’s Vortex is performed by the National Dance Company of Korea, this time at the LG Arts Centre in Seoul and KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theater in Yokohama, Japan.

All in all, TSC has activities in 9 countries on 2 continents. Saarinen’s works are seen by 17 000+ live spectators and broadcast globally to millions via Mezzo TV. The Tero Saarinen documentary Rooted with Wings (2018) is shown by SVT in Sweden and YLE channels in Finland as well as at festivals in Germany, Hong Kong, Italy and Portugal.

TSC moves to new facilities at the Cable Factory in Helsinki.


The official opening of TSC Studio takes place in March, only a week before Covid-19 restrictions begin in Finland. Losses are extensive, but thanks to financial support from the Finnish government, TSC’s agile network organization and strong partnerships, the company is able to manage through the crisis. All tours are cancelled and the Helsinki premiere season for Third Practice (2019) is postponed until 2021.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, Transit, the large-scale co-production produced together with Skånes Dansteater, premieres in October at Malmö Opera in Sweden. The fall season also includes the premiere of two new duets, Voice and Rebond, in collaboration with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition, TSC creates a TERO Technique based movement identity for the actors of a new rock musical rendition of Hamlet, produced by Tampereen Työväen Teatteri. TSC also launches its residency programme in the new studio, equipped with an immersive sound system by Genelec.

TSC’s works, both livestreams and older recordings, are shown online during the year on multiple platforms, receiving tens of thousands of viewers around the world. The company launches online classes of TERO Technique.

The Helsinki premiere season of Third Practice (2019), already once postponed, is set to take place in March. The pandemic situation declines only two weeks before, and all live-events in Helsinki are canceled. Together with Thomas Freundlich (Lumikinos Production), TSC produces a praised multi-camera recording of the work at the Finnish National Opera. Through the year the recording is available globally to millions.

Despite the continuing uncertainty and strict restrictions placed on culture, the sold out Finnish premiere season of Transit (2020) takes place with a limited audience capacity at the Helsinki Festival on 19 August. Saarinen’s new duet Splice is seen at the Full Moon Dance Festival in Pyhäjärvi and at Dance Health Finland’s 20th anniversary gala. Loopit (2017) returns to Dance Theatre MD’s repertoire as an updated coproduction. Rock-musical Hamlet continues in Tampereen Työväen Teatteri’s repertoire through the fall.

The residency programme continues successfully.  Sanni Giordani (Kinetic Orchestra), Valtteri Raekallio (Raekallio Corp.) and Hägglund Viipuri Collective are chosen for the residencies throug TSC’s first open calls.

Rehearsals of Hz (2022), Wedge (2022) and HUNT (2002) begin.

Dance House Helsinki opens in February. Tero Saarinen Company presents two highly successful runs at the venue. The spring double bill combines Hz by TSC’s first-ever visiting choreographer Johanna Nuutinen with a new rendition of Tero Saarinen’s classic solo HUNT. In fall, TSC hosts a visit from The National Dance Company of Korea. Both seasons receive high praise from audiences and critics alike and sell out the 700-seat Erkko Hall several times. The Finnish National Ballet also premieres a new creation, Wedge, by Tero Saarinen with music from Esa-Pekka Salonen. All in all TSC reaches an audience of more than 11,000 in its home town of Helsinki.

Tero Saarinen Company’s international operations include TSC’s first post pandemic tour performances, the re-premiere of Saarinen’s VORTEX in Seoul and the world premiere of a new commissioned creation, Heart Drive by Imre and Marne van Opstalcoproduced with Ballet BC in Canada.

Manyfold activities in TSC Studio continue. Alongside rehearsals, TERO technique morning classes and rentals, the company offers TSC residencies for five independent working groups plus one in collaboration with the annual street art and culture festival URB.

Rooted with Wings – a documentary film of Tero Saarinen's work