Westward Ho!

Westward Ho! is an absurdly melancholic, quietly humorous portrayal of friendship, selfishness and betrayal. It was the first piece Saarinen created for his own company, known as Company Toothpick until 2002, in 1996. It is considered Saarinen’s international breakthrough choreography, and has been in the company’s repertoire ever since.
“…a jewel from Finland, a real poem danced in a light of aurora borealis.”
– Les saisons de la danse

Creative process

Westward Ho! was influenced by American artist Laurie Anderson’s lyrics:

“There is no pure land now.
No safe place.
And we stand here on the pier,
Watching you drown.”

Westward Ho!

Choreography Tero Saarinen
Music (Gavin Bryars, Jesus blood never failed me yet; Moondog, The Message)
Lighting and set design Mikki Kunttu
Costume design Tero Saarinen

“-- The (Helsinki) festival presents the terrific dancer and hot young choreographer Tero Saarinen and his Company Toothpick -- Every time the men interject a sharp movement, or one breaks away, or two touch, it's a major event. The piece has an almost faultless dance logic.”

– The Village Voice, Deborah Jowitt, September 16, 1997 (Canada)

“…the troupe, with three powerful male dancers, should return soon. -- Like much Finnish design, Westward Ho! was striking in its sense of color and composition, focused on clarity of line. Add the force of controlled energy, channeled into repeated geometric shapes and occasionally erupting into whiplash twists and turns.---“

– The New York Times, Anna Kisselgoff, February 24, 1998 (USA)

“-- Westward Ho! by Tero Saarinen is a jewel from Finland, a real poem danced in a light of aurora borealis. -- Tero Saarinen is both great and modest at the same time. He nourishes an intense inner life. In this second part of the festival in Cannes, the light comes from the north.”

– Les Saisons de la Danse, Bernard Raffalli, February, 1998 (France)