It’s All About Love

So, Osama bin Laden is dead and the western world is celebrating. Does this mean the end of terrorism? Certainly not. The Islamic terrorist organizations will continue their war against the western culture just like the western countries will continue to bomb the Islamic countries. I’m not surprised if the war against the western people will be more passionate than ever. After all, the Americans just made their leader a martyr.

Revenge and all the endless wars are a result of one thing. They’re the result of misunderstandings and prejudices that cause hate, and all this is caused by lack of love. All negativity in this world is caused by lack of love. So why can’t we change the way we think and instead of hating a culture we don’t even understand anything about just embrace all differences we have and simply love each other?

A Christian might say that we cannot love someone who treats women like slaves and dresses them in robes. Or that we cannot love people who abduct an airplane and fly it to a tower full of people. A Muslim might say that we cannot love someone who treats women as sex objects and openly admires them more the skinnier they are. Or that we cannot love someone who starts bombing a poor country killing thousands of people. The simple fact is that if every single one of us knew the power of love and forgiveness, this world could live in peace. We would not have to take revenge on someone because they have killed one person more or dropped one bomb more than we have. We would simply forgive them. Because let’s face it, peace cannot come until someone learns to forgive.

Love isn’t just some funny feeling that tickles in your stomach when you meet someone you’re drawn to. Love is an overall view of life. It is complete acceptance. Now it surely seems weird to love everyone when you know that they will not yet understand what love actually is. They will answer your smiles with weird looks. They will not understand to thank you when you do something kind for them. But this is simply because they don’t know, and you should not judge them for that, because judging someone is not love. If you know what love is, you know not to expect anything back from them. And let’s hope that one day they all will know.

You might wonder that if we love others and they don’t love us, aren’t we just surrendering ourselves to all the miseries of life? If you do wonder this, you have forgotten that loving everyone also means loving yourself. You cannot expect anyone else to love you if you do not love yourself. Loving yourself does not mean placing yourself and your benefits ahead of those of others. It means acting out of love in whatever you do, because believe it or not, it always comes back to you. Punching someone who punched you is not acting out of love. After all, what does it in the end give you? Satisfaction? Punching back just brings you to the same level of ignorance the other person dwells in.

If you really think about it, love is, or at least should be, the force that moves you. People should not do anything that they don’t love. Of course you might have to make a few sacrifices on the way and write an essay instead of sitting in the sun when the ultimate goal is to be able to do a job that you love more than anything. But in the end, everything you do in life should be based on love. What else should it be based on? What else actually even makes any sense?

But shouldn’t we then defend what we love from others’ hatred? Of course we should, but not by showing hatred back at them, but by loving! Why would fundamental Islamic organizations bomb us if the only thing they got from us would be love? Why would they bomb us if we only respected their way of living? If we think their way of treating women is contemptuous then we should not judge them, but help them understand what love really is about. This does not mean marching to their countries and telling them that they’re wrong, look how far that has gotten us. Besides, I’m quite sure they think our way of treating women is contemptuous.

Teaching people to love does not happen within a day, but it has to start from somewhere. It has to start from those who know. And learning to love everyone unconditionally without expecting anything in return is not easy; it will probably be one of the most difficult things you will ever try to learn. So many times a day you will slip into being annoyed by something your friend said to you. But the day you first learn to forgive yourself for being annoyed, and then forgive yourself for reacting to what he said, and then finally understand that there’s even nothing to forgive because you weren’t insulted in the first place, you will forever live in peace.

So why did we even become the way we are? Even though the Islamic fundamentalists might base all their violent acts on religion, Muhammad also spelled the words “He is not strong and powerful who throweth people down; but he is strong who witholdeth himself from anger”. And all Christians should know that Jesus told the people of his time to love others like they love themselves. So what is wrong with the people who dare to call themselves the followers of these two wise men who wanted love in this world we live in?

After all, the only thing that should matter is that love is the best feeling in the world. That cannot be denied by anyone, and basing any contradicting actions on anger, superiority, or something someone might have said 2000 years ago is nothing but pathetic.

Tina Jukarainen

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Ballet Is for Everyone

Bursts of laughter fill the steaming hot dance studio where beautiful ladies of different age, size and background are practicing their pliés and jetés. Once a week these women gather in one of the studios of Jyväskylän Tanssiopisto (Jyväskylä Dance Institute) to be carried away by the enchanting world of adult ballet. Spring performance is getting closer but these ladies keep smiling, although half of the steps of the choreography still seem more or less confusing. Doesn’t match your image of a serious ballet class, does it?

Ballet with Kat Wildish © Kyle Froman

According to Raisa Pylkkö, one of the teachers in Jyväskylän Tanssiopisto, adults taking ballet classes can be divided to three groups: young people who are intensively training another form of dance and are seeking for technical support from ballet, adults and youngsters who start their childhood hobby again and those for whom ballet is a whole new world. At the moment Jyväskylän Tanssiopisto offers classes in adult ballet on beginner levels, basic levels and advanced level. Most of the dancers on the beginner levels are adults who have just started this new hobby, whereas the dancers on the advanced level have been dancing ballet most of their lives.

The gracefulness of ballet is the reason for many adults to start this new hobby © Ted Thai

Pylkkö tells that already for a few years the amount of adults starting ballet, or any other form of dance has been steadily growing. The reasons for choosing ballet are its estheticism and fairy-like images, but also the fact that ballet improves above all the dancer’s physical strength and balance as well as flexibility. The gracefulness of a ballet dancer’s movements is the result of immensely strong muscles and a tight control over them. Bearing this in mind, adult ballet is suitable for basically everyone: The classes are designed to suit adults with any kind of bodies and body features, and instead of pushing the dancers to their limits, adult ballet concentrates on creating basis for a healthy and strong body. And although it may not look like that at first, ballet even in its most basic forms is physically very challenging and therefore a great way to stay in shape, even for men!

Grishko’s ballet shoes are great also for adult ballet classes

The dance studios of Jyväskylän Tanssiopisto are located in two places: Vapaudenkatu 48-50 in the very centre of Jyväskylä, and Kalervonkatu 8, which is also close to the city center. The classes are paid twice a year, and the price depends on how many lessons a week the dancer wishes to attend. Adult ballet doesn’t require large amounts of money to be invested on specific outfits: the dancer only needs clothes in which she can move freely. In Jyväskylän Tanssiopisto, pointe shoes are not used on the basic levels of adult ballet, so ballet slippers or even socks are enough. Also contrary to the common misunderstanding, tutus do not belong to ballet classes: they are only used on stage, except for small children.

Internet provides a lot of information about this intriguing form of dance, and this video gives a nice, although rather serious picture on what ballet for adults really is!

For more information about the possibilities that Jyväskylän Tanssiopisto offers, please check their website! And don’t forget that you can see also the adult dancers of Jyväskylän Tanssiopisto on the institute’s spring performance in Monitoimitalo on 21-22.5.

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Tuomas Saukkonen – The Man Behind It All

© Mike Sirén

When looking at Tuomas Saukkonen, the front man of Before the Dawn and several other bands, one could find it hard to believe that behind the tattoos and piercings gleams a smile that is the brightest and most charming ever seen. The tour of Before the Dawn and RoutaSielu, another one of Saukkonen’s bands, has started from Lutakko, Jyväskylä a week earlier. Saukkonen sits down with a coffee in the backstage of Finlandia-klubi in Lahti, facing the stage where the crew is already setting up the equipment for this night’s gig.

Before the Dawn has just released their sixth full-length album, Deathstar Rising, which went to the 8th position in the official Finnish chart. But let’s go back to the moment their first album My Darkness was released in 2003. Unlike many young musicians who dream of becoming world famous rock stars, Saukkonen says he didn’t have any specific aims for the band’s future: “That’s why those were such nice times, you didn’t really think about things since everything was so new and exiting, unlike now.” Luckily, there are still things that make him excited, like the upcoming tour in Turkey, but touring in general is no more something fun. That happens when you do 50-70 gigs in a year.

After six albums he still doesn’t have specific aims for the band’s future: “The music business changes so fast, and no matter what you plan there’s always some dude in a suit who has an aim that has nothing to do with music. After some extent you have no more power to influence things.” It seems rational that he has one aim after the release of every record: to go forward, especially abroad. And you have to be happy with that. Sounds like every musician’s dream, doesn’t it?

When you’ve chosen music as your profession, money is always an issue, unless you’re the evil dude in a suit or a four-chord hit composer. Saukkonen has also worked as a producer, but he doesn’t see it as a potential job: “I have to like the band that I’m producing, and if the band is not good you just waste your own time, and theirs. I want to be in the production process from the very beginning so it takes a lot of time, I could get more money from any other job than that.” He also says no to just composing songs for other artists: “I have such a detailed image on what the song should sound like, if I could be there through the whole process and tell the artist how to sing the song then yes, but that’s not how it goes.” The idea of him giving a good song to the hands of a producer who then with his ideas makes it bad gives him shivers. It seems obvious that for him it really is all about the music and never about the fame and money.

Saukkonen admits that just with making music, he cannot earn his living. He does also other jobs related to music such as working as a stage manager. Through his own company he has concretely seen the effect that declining record sales have, not necessarily on royalties the musicians get but on studio budgets. When bands have to record parts of their album at their home studios, it affects the quality of the recordings. “In a negative way it’s interesting to see what will happen with making and distributing music in the future,” Saukkonen ponders.

Considering how harsh the music industry can be, the road of Saukkonen and his bands has been rather easy. Despite some problems with the first record label, he is grateful for the proper budget they had for recording the first album, as well as for the European tours they arranged. “I don’t think any bigger label would have been able to offer us such a nice start,” he continues. However, things didn’t go that well with his other band, Dawn of Solace, which was forced to quit because of contract issues. Saukkonen is happy that every record label has been better and every album has sold more than the previous one.

Since 2003 Saukkonen has released eleven studio albums with five different bands. He is a multi-talent who writes all the songs and plays most of the instruments in the studio. On stage, he can be seen behind the microphone with a guitar or bass, or behind the drums. How is he able to compose so many songs that he needs to have several bands to be able to do something with the music? “I just take a guitar and start playing”, he says. Saukkonen tries to practice with every instrument as much as possible, but the problem is that as he takes the guitar or bass or sits behind the drums or keyboards, when he hits the first note he immediately gets an idea of how to continue from it, and again a new song is born. Whereas some bands work on the same songs for a year, the biggest Before the Dawn hit “Deadsong” was born in one minute.

© Andrea Friedrich

All Saukkonen wants to do is music, but since he is not that into producing and also touring seems like an everyday job, where does he see himself in twenty years? “I don’t know. It’s so much about the feeling for me, is it fun to be on stage or not. It’s really so much work and it’s not as exiting as it used to be,” Saukkonen says. He could give up touring but not making music. That’s something he will definitely still be doing in twenty years. “I could see myself playing drums still in my fifties but to be honest, it’s not really my thing to be in the front on stage”, he continues. Funnily enough, a few hours later when he stands in the front behind the microphone, his band mate who is standing with me in the audience wonders how anyone can look so cool on stage.

For Saukkonen, there is no life outside music. All friends play in a band or work in a music club or events: “And if I’m not working with my own band, I’m probably working with someone else’s band,” Saukkonen says and continues: “Except for movies, I watch all movies, also the crappy ones.” Although his life is all about music, he doesn’t really listen to music. He doesn’t have a CD player and he doesn’t have any music on his computer, except for his own.

Although Saukkonen seems like an amazingly nice and kind person, there surely are things in life that piss him off. That’s probably the reason why there is so much to say in music. “All the everyday things that piss off everyone, I just don’t complain about them to others, doesn’t make me feel any better,” he says, lists a few things from broken exhaust pipes to insurances and continues: “Basically everything that comes in the way of being a free artist.” We are once again talking about money. In spite of constantly having to think about budgets and doing some temporary jobs he implements even the craziest ideas he has, like the double album of his band Black Sun Aeon. And to be honest, doing exactly what one wants despite all worries, like Tuomas Saukkonen does, is unbelievably admirable.

Tina Jukarainen

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Avalanche Music Marketing implements campaigns for Spinefarm Records

Yearly online marketing project Avalanche Music Marketing has agreed on co-operation with Finnish metal label Spinefarm Records. Avalanche will be designing and implementing personalized online marketing campaigns for two of Spinefarm’s bands: female-fronted folk-metal band Crimfall and epic metal band Brymir.

According to Avalanche Team Leader Mia Hartikainen the campaign with Crimfall starts on February 21st, following the campaign with Brymir on week 10. During the campaigns that last until the end of April the artists are promoted on different social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, as well as on music-related discussion forums. The aim is to increase the general awareness on the artists as well as their fan base. Hartikainen also states that both of the campaigns are planned in co-operation with the bands, so their contents might slightly differ.

Avalanche is part of Campus Entertainment, which is a learning environment for the Music and Media Management students of JAMK University of Applied Sciences.  According to Hartikainen the Avalanche team was very excited to get Spinefarm as their client: “After all it is one of the most well-known record companies focusing solely on metal music”, she continues. She respects the opportunity to get to work with a high-profile company in the music industry. Avalanche’s other clients are individual artists; therefore working with Spinefarm gives a different perspective on planning and implementing the campaigns.

This is the second year Avalanche is co-operating with Spinefarm. Last year Avalanche implemented a campaign for two of the label’s artists, Kiuas and Celesty.

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