From Iceland — "It’s Actually All About Friction Everywhere": RISA On Their Sensory Fringe Experience

“It’s Actually All About Friction Everywhere”: RISA On Their Sensory Fringe Experience

Published July 6, 2021

“It’s Actually All About Friction Everywhere”: RISA On Their Sensory Fringe Experience
Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Petra Tiihonen

RISA is the collaboration between dance and circus artists Riia Kivimäki and Saku Mäkelä. This year, the duo has travelled all the way from Finland to bring some experimental acrobatics to the Reykjavík Fringe Festival stage as part of their new show ‘RISA-Friction’. In anticipation of the performance, which will be on July 9th and 11th at Tjarnarbíó, the two sat down to give a little more info. 

Thanks so much for talking to us, Riia and Saku. So let’s talk about RISA-Friction. What can a viewer expect to see at the performance?

RISA-Friction is our debut Contemporary Circus/Dance performance, fluent dance and skillful acrobatics weaved together into a poetic study on Friction.

It’s about a new kind of movement language we have created together to tell our stories. We take the audience with us to examine the chemical reaction of friction, which takes us to a dream-like dimension where you can see and feel the wiring happening from different interactions. We present the tension between humans and the friction we experienced on our own journey through life. The performance is an audiovisual experience—with music and lights thoughtfully combined with choreography—in it the excitement of circus and comprehensive research of contemporary dance.

So what’s the story behind RISA? How did both of you begin collaborating together?

We met while working in a musical production and we almost immediately found out that our bodies are a perfect match.

We then started researching further into our movements and really sought out how extreme we could go by pushing our physical limits.

We discovered a strong mutual desire to create something of our own, something new, built from our own desires and physical yearnings. Something that awakens us and other people and makes you wonder.

We created RISA as a platform for our artistic work and our journey has just begun.

What is it about the concept of friction that is so interesting to you? Was there a moment that sparked your fascination with it?

We started by exploring our own movement and found the friction in it’s different forms. We continued by studying the chemical reaction of friction further: sliding, rolling, fluid, static and soon we realised it’s actually all about friction everywhere—especially in the time being. There is a lot of friction in one’s mind and between people, you can almost feel the electric tension of the world. Here we got the spark to use friction as a theme for our performance.

How would you describe the ethos behind RISA? What is it that you guys strive to do?

Our dream for RISA is to really dig deep and find and create something new. We wish to discover new ways of making performances that aren’t afraid of challenging the viewer, really going for extreme movement with feeling. We want to present our work to everyone and we hope it takes our little circus family around the world to discover even more!

Check out ‘RISA – Friction’ at Tjarnarbíó on July 9th and 11th at 20:00. Tickets are 2,000 ISK and can be bought here. 

Reykjavík Fringe Festival will last from July 3th-11th, 2021. Check out the schedule at their website. Buy your wristband for 1,000 ISK at

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