The intimacy of James Crabb and Geir Draugvoll’s arrangement of Igor Stravinsky’s Petrushka for two classical accordions inspired Tero Saarinen to create his own interpretation of this classic. The duo ended up playing an essential part in the piece, performing it live on stage with the dancers.

``The work is not only good, it is brilliant -- the music is geniously arranged for two accordions. Dancers' excellent work gives this story new colours and facets.``
- Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), 2001
32 minutes
30 June, 2001, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, U.K.
Tero Saarinen Company

Choreographer's note

Hearing their version was a simply stunning experience! Crabb and Draugsvoll had used Stravinsky’s piano score in their arrangement and, although the end result was wonderfully innovative, at the same time, it was astonishingly faithful to the original. The universality and, conversely, the intimacy of the accordion sound also felt like the right building material for the triangle drama that I wanted to create.

The central figure in Petrushka is an intriguing character, clearly a relative of many of the loser archetypes that appear in the history of film and literature. I suppose that many of us can occasionally identify with the figures of Petrushka, Punch, Pulcinella, Gelsomina, or even Buster Keaton, who in all their naivety and ingenuousness still come out on top, even when they lose.

My own work concentrates solely on Petrushka, the Ballerina and the Moor. For example, I didn’t want to make a Fokin-style literal depiction of the market hubbub of the opening scene. I preferred to discover the inner joy and carnival spirit that the doll figures feel when they finally break free of the grip of their manipulator, and hence to participate in human feelings and in – apparent – freedom.”

– Tero Saarinen


Choreography Tero Saarinen
Music Igor Stravinsky, Petrushka
Sound design Mikki Kunttu
Costume design Erika Turunen
Music arranged and played by James Crabb, Geir Draugsvoll
Sound design Jukka Kavén

”Saarinen’s ‘Petrushka’ is one of the highlights of my dance year so far. (In Petrushka) dance, music, acting and design come together to create a whole. Stravinsky’s scintillating score was performed by James Crabb and Geir Draugsvoll on classical accordions and we all sat there with our mouths open at the astonishing virtuosity of this pair.”

- Critical Dance Forum (USA/UK), 2001

``The movement has a puppet-like quality which is perfect for the story -- I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that Tero Saarinen has, but perhaps that is why it leaves one wanting more.”

- Dance Europe (UK), 2001

“Just to hear this version of the score is extraordinary... In choreography we are kept in a fascinating suspension between the familiar and the strange, the classic and the new.”

- The Guardian (UK), 2001

“The most exciting premiere of the season 2000/2001.”

- Dance Europe (UK), 2001

”This virtuosic and versatile rendition (of the music) -- was fascinating in itself. Also fairground was to setting: a stage outlined by light bulbs, with moiré-effect half-moon background and a floor that became a chessboard of black and white squares.”

- The Sunday Times (UK), 2001