The Art of Quitting

Tommi Kitti and life in movement

A film by Thomas Freundlich & Valtteri Raekallio

Documentary, 58 min
In production, release date 2024
Produced by Lumikinos Production Oy & Raekallio Corp.

The Art of Quitting is a film about the possibility of a complete turnaround in life, irrespective of age or status. Choreographer Valtteri Raekallio travels to the frozen wilderness of Lapland to meet his mentor, the retired master choreographer Tommi Kitti, to persuade him to revive one of his old works for the stage.The film is a sympathetically epic road trip towards the key choices that we all face in life.What motivates a person to stop at the pinnacle of their career and to reject everything they had built with decades of work? In life or art, when is the right time to quit – or to start something completely new?

Choreographer, dancer Tommi Kitti (b. 1955) is one of the foremost Finnish dance artists of recent decades. His artistic heritage and way of working have had a significant influence on many of today’s top dance practitioners in Finland. In 2012,Tommi Kitti abruptly concluded his career as choreographer and dancer, and completely left the dance scene in which he was one of the most respected artists of his time. For the last decade, Kitti has lived in northern Lapland, raising sled dogs in a log cabin that he built himself and which has no running water, electricity or access road.

In addition to his own unique, virtuosic quality as a dancer as well as his highly esteemed contemporary dance choreography,Tommi Kitti was known as an inspiring team leader whose compassionate and humane way of directing artistic processes still inspires the dancers who worked with him. Choreographer Valtteri Raekallio (b. 1982) danced in 14 of Kitti’s pieces between the years 2001 and 2010.The relationship of master and student has evolved into a dialogue of two mature artists of different generations, but Kitti’s artistic approach and way of working still influence the way Raekallio directs his own dance company.

The film The Art of Quitting follows Tommi Kitti as he rehearses, for the first time in nearly 20 years, his piece In the Wrong Key (2003) for a reprise premiere in Helsinki.The work is performed by an ensemble of Finland’s best contemporary dancers, some of which danced in the original cast and some of which are now learning the piece for the first time.The warm-spirited 1,000-kilometer journey from the wilderness to the theatre stage and back brings the viewer into connection with an extraordinary life story and unique personal and artistic encounters.