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By Culturekiosque Staff

AMSTERDAM, 19 JUNE 2012 — It sounds like an urban myth, but wrestling and the accordion really do go back a long time. That is, in Finland they do. Between the 1920’s and the 1960’s wrestling matches were accompanied by the accordion. The accordion players were actual celebrities, named on the billboards next to the wrestlers. The reason for this was that the wrestling matches were followed by dance hall events. To attract the girls to come to such an event, one needed a proper accordion player. Kimmo Pohjonen and the wrestlers of Helsinki Nelson revive the tradition and bring it up to date in a production of physical musical theatre, featuring live music and choreographed wrestling on an electronically amplified mat.

Kimmo Pohjonen & Helsinki Nelson
Photo: Jussi Virkumaa

The current show at this year's Holland Festival in Amsterdam (through 19 June) consists of Kimmo Pohjonen, described as "the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion," playing his experimental pieces while 10 Finnish Greco-Roman wrestlers engage in choreographed combat.

Pohjonen has described himself as an ‘accordion adventurer’ who wants to raise the scope and the experience of the accordion to a higher level. He produces dramatic performances in which the sound of the accordion is combined with vocals and dramatic audio and lighting effects. That said, it is important to note that this particular multi-media dance theater piece was created by Kimmo Pohjonen and Helsinki Nelson, a group of ten Finnish, Olympic-style wrestlers, with choreography by Ari Numminen. Numminen, one of Finland’s younger choreographers, emerged in the 1980s. He has created numerous works for Finnish dance companies including Mobita/Dansco and Dance Tsuumi and for theater and site-specific projects including the 2011 Battle, a spectacle of theater, dance and sport. 

Kimmo Pohjonen & Helsinki Nelson
Photo: Jussi Virkumaa

After the 2012 edition of the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, Kimmo Pohjonen and Helsinki Nelson will travel to the United States for the U.S. premiere of Accordion Wrestling on 3- 4 August 2012 at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival in New York City.

Visitors to this and other out-of-doors events during the summer months in New York should be aware that these events takes place in the often intolerable tropical humidity that is the defining feature of summer in New York. Very light clothing and water bottles are essential. 

Holland Festival
18 - 19 June 2012
Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam / Grote Zaal
Leidseplein 26
1017 PT Amsterdam
Tel: (31) 020 624 23 11 

Kimmo Pohjonen & Helsinki Nelson - Accordion Wrestling (U.S. premiere)
3 August 2012 at 8:30 pm
4 August 2012 at 8:30 pm

Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival
Damrosch Park Bandshell
at the southwest corner of the Lincoln Center Plaza
62nd Street (between Columbus & Amsterdam Avenues)
New York

Kimmo Pohjonen & Helsinki Nelson Website

Headline photo: Kimmo Pohjonen & Helsinki Nelson
Photo: Jussi Virkumaa

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