Working Class Background Embodied

2020 – 2022

Costume design for contemporary dance performances made using upcycled clothes and materials.


Sketches on Class III , Side Step Festival, Zodiak 10.2.2021.
Sketches on Class V premiere , Vinttikamari, Oulu Theatre 23.-27.11.2021.
Halkoo performance parade, Helsinki Day 11.6.2022.
Sketches on Class V, Viirus theatre, Helsinki 29.11 – 10.12.2022.

Working Class Background Embodied sheds light on the effects of class origin on a person’s physicality, experiences, and agency. The working group includes a wide array of artists who share an interest in working with class matters.

A worker and an academic intersect in my body. 

Sketches on Class V premiere. Photo: Janne-Pekka Manninen.

The initiative is an attempt to nurture different socioeconomic cultural backgrounds, to gain understanding of the effects of class on our choices and opportunities, to open up these themes and, most importantly, to address them in the context of body-based art. Through the initiative, the working group is trying to deconstruct the myth of equality, the assumption that everyone in Finland has the same opportunities to study, find employment, advance in their career, or to participate in discussions in society.

During the working process, five themes were highlighted as points of examination: shame, excess, not belonging, abundance and class pride. In addition, the initiative aims to advance the participation in art of people from different backgrounds, as well as  to place bodily and conceptual knowledge side by side.

Class drills itself into our flesh, gushes out through the sweat on our backs, lingers in our gaze, twists and turns in our insides.

Sketches on Class V premiere. Photo: Teo Lanerva.

The initiators of the project wanted to include makers of different ages and of different backgrounds in order to give voice to diverse experiences.  The process has included individuals from both suburban zones and rural areas; descendants of both Red and White Finland; individuals with a long career behind them and those only at the start of their working life; individuals from different family constellations and from different parts of the country.  The working group of 20 people has been running since 2018.    

Sketches on Class V premiere. Photo: Teo Lanerva.

For more information about the project visit:

Facilitating and concept: Elsa Heikkilä and Laura Lehtinen

Performers: Riina Hannuksela, Elsa Heikkilä, Soili Huhtakallio, Virpi Juntti, Heli Keskikallio, Soile Lahdenperä, Laura Lehtinen, Minna Karttunen, Aliina Lindroos, Pinja Poropudas, Anni Puuperä, Lotta Suomi, Virva Talonen and Katriina Tavi

Artistic design: The entire working group has been involved in the artistic design of the performances.

Sound design and music: Josu Mämmi and Ilkka Tolonen

Costume design: Mari Nurmenniemi, assistant Mira Järvinen

Light design: Teo Lanerva

Also in the working group:  Sanna Tirkkonen

Production: JoJo – Oulu Dance Center, Zodiak – Center for New Dance, Arts Management Helsinki, Nollapiste Collective

Supporters: Kone Foundation, Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Art Promotion Center, Art Council of Northern Ostrobothnia and Kainuu, Samuel Huber Art Foundation, City of Helsinki, Center for Sustainable Development Oulu | Residence Support: Side Step 2021 Festival / Zodiak – Center for New Dance, Stoa.

Header photo: Janne-Pekka Manninen.