"Thar Be Dragons", a Helsinki-based dance company, was created by two artists and collaborators, Annamari Keskinen and Ryan Mason, in 2018. The company functions as a platform for both choreographers to create and present their collaborative and personal works. Thar Be Dragons has crafted an array of productions, spanning from site-specific performances to black box and large stage works. Ryan holds a Master's degree in Choreography from the Theatre Academy of Helsinki (2023). Annamari, a graduate of the Finnish National Opera Ballet School (2004), has 19 years of international experience in the field of contemporary dance, as both a performer and choreographer. Ryan’s and Annamari’s collaborative synergy forms the heart of their work.
Thar Be Dragons' work has generally adhered to stage traditions, with content that places considerable emphasis on what is visually presented. It has frequently relied on symbolism and theatrical logic, dictated by the relationships between various images that emerge during a performance and the auditory landscapes that accompany them.
To some, their prior endeavors might be deemed nearly cinematic, often incorporating dramatic lighting, text elements, voice manipulations, and intricate soundscapes to add rich emotional layers. Thar Be Dragons has aimed to generate holistic environments where the poetics of dance and drama harmoniously interweave and amplify one another. Their aesthetic is heavily influenced by the uncanny, the mystical, science fiction, and absurdity. This inspiration manifests in our use of the dancer's body, veering from the traditional idealized choreography. Instead, the artists investigate the peculiar, the clumsy, the discordant, and shape them into their unique poetic potential.
Historically, Thar Be Dragons been entrenched in a culture of performance that sees a research body culminate in a final product, one intended to best encapsulate the thematic content developed during the creation process. Yet, the artists have reached a crucial juncture in their artistic direction that calls for a deeper interrogation of our motives behind creating art. In place of their earlier focus on producing a polished product, Annamari and Ryan now shifted their perspective to consider it as a process-centric practice—to appreciate its transitional state and the inherent worth of every phase. As Ryan's and Annamari's collaborative dynamics have evolved, they have ventured into personally untapped conceptual and logistical domains, while consistently upholding their technical prowess.
The artist's current work places premium on the value of process, the unfinished work, and seeks a platform where the essence driving the final product can be appreciated irrespective of its stage of completion.
Annamari and Ryan have received choreographic commissions from Staatstheater Kassel, Staatstheater Braunschweig, Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance, Sozo Visions in Motion, Springboard Danse Montreal, SUB.LAB PRO, Trak Dance ensemble, Anton Bruckner Pivatuniversität, Hubbard Street Pro, Iwanson International School of Contemporary Dance, Shawbrook Dance, California Institute of the Arts, and Seiko Dance Company (2024).
Thar Be Dragons has been facilitating workshops in Europe and North America since 2016.