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The Sauna Ballet

In this series the myth about men from Tornedalen is put to test. What are these men capable of and what kind of self-perspective do they have? Are they prepared to put their manhood at stake by participating in something as odd as a ”sauna ballet”?

The common myth about men from Tornedalen is that they are quiet and macho, showing little or no feelings. One thing is certain though - the sauna is holy ground to them. But now the choreographer Justine Kirk wants to stage a ballet in a sauna, featuring five men.

Several local profiles step forward to accept the challenge, hoping they can paint an alternative picture of life in Tornedalen, and of the people living there. But in the process they run the risk of being labelled ”knapsu”, a hard to translate meänkieli word meaning something like ”doing things that are feminine”.

During an intense summer week the men and the choreographer struggle to rehearse and perform the sauna ballet. The men also talk openly about their thoughts and feelings, and what it is like to live in Tornedalen and speak the minority language meänkieli.

A second season has been commissioned, featuring the same men and choreographer, to be aired in early 2017. This time the the stakes are even higher, since the final goal is to perform the whole ballet live, where no retakes are possible.

Once again the men talk candidly about things like unhappy love, fatherhood, and about the difficulty with both giving and accepting praise.

The Sauna Ballet is also available as format.

Tornedalen (sometimes called Torne Valley in English) is the area on both sides of the Swedish-Finnish border. It is named after the Torne River flowing through the valley and into the Gulf of Bothnia. Many people living here speak a local dialect of Finnish, called Meänkieli, which today has been acknowledged as a minority language in Sweden.

Genre: Documentary
Original title: Bastubaletten
Sub-genres: Arts & Culture  Human Interests  
Year: 2016
Duration: 4 x 30'
Director: Sofia Nordin, Joanna Lindqvist
Producer: Sofia Nordin, Joanna Lindqvist, Li Skarin
Produced by: Massa Media, for SVT
Available in HD: Yes
Format: 16:9

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