Step by step

Step by step

July 3, 2023


Director Taito Kawata dissects a key scene from Netflix’s first original Finnish drama, in which two brothers struggle to make a living as professional dancers and decide to open their own club – only to find their artistic drives threaten the business and their relationship.

Taito Kawata

Dance Brothers centres on siblings Roni (Roderick Kabanga) and Sakari (Samuel Kujala), who are struggling to make a living as professional dancers. To help finance their dance dreams, they decide to start their own club, which provides income, housing and a training space. Their unique club and impressive dance routines quickly bring them fame.

But soon, artistic ambitions and personal relationships collide with commercial demands: it’s business versus passion. The loyalty and love the brothers have for each other will be tested by the one thing that always united them – dance.

This young-adult drama series, a coproduction between Netflix and Finland’s YLE, was created and produced by Max Malka at Banijay’s Endemol Shine Finland. It is available now on Netflix and will air on YLE at a later date.

Here, director Taito Kawata outlines a pivotal scene from the show’s final episode.

The season finale of Dance Brothers culminates in a mesmerising dance performance at the renowned Helsinki International Dance Festival. I have a background in directing music videos, so I know how important it is that the dance has a purpose in the overall narrative and delves further into the characters.

This grand event serves as the pinnacle of achievement for our main protagonists, the gifted and determined brothers Roni and Sakari, and I wanted it to be perfect. The fact it was filmed at the iconic Temppeliaukio Church, one of Finland’s most revered architectural marvels, also added pressure.

The scene in question was filmed in Finland’s stunning Temppeliaukio Church

The brothers encounter numerous obstacles on their journey, but securing a place in the festival programme proves to be their biggest challenge. The episodes preceding this scene really build tension, so the audience slowly sees Sakari, the younger brother, succumbing to the overwhelming pressure, weighed down by recent events.

The initial choreography showcases modern dance at its best, with its flawless execution captivating the audience. However, it becomes apparent that something is amiss with Sakari. As the dance unfolds, he suddenly loses control and engages in a fierce altercation with his brother. The performance undergoes a transformative shift, blending dance and an aggressive confrontation, leaving the bewildered audience uncertain of the true nature of the spectacle before them. It becomes a performance that is surprising, physically intense and emotionally charged — a fusion of contrasting elements never witnessed by the festival audience before.

We worked closely on this with respected choreographer Ima Iduozee to seamlessly integrate authentic modern dance with coordinated fight sequences. It becomes a crucial turning point where the bonds of brotherhood are on the verge of rupture. The intensity of Sakari’s actions deeply infuriates Roni, who has been grappling with his own mental health from the outset. In the heat of their battle, Roni finally reaches breaking point, delivering a decisive blow to Sakari that momentarily transports us into his psyche – a murky swamp where he finds solace and concentration, and creates his art.

Dance Brothers’ central siblings are played by Roderick Kabanga (left) and Samuel Kujala

Within this profound moment, Roni experiences a revelation that shatters his previous perspective. He realises the need to release his grip on his brother and allow him the freedom to pursue his own desires and aspirations. We wanted the scene to convey the emotional underpinnings of the dance and for this internal revelation to be apparent. So in the final part of the choreography, Sakari takes the lead. We saw them stumble, confront one another and reconcile – but instead of dialogue, we chose dance as the medium. The audience, caught between astonishment and confusion, witnesses this cathartic transformation with a mix of awe and intrigue.

To bring this complex scene to life, the rehearsal process spanned several weeks, meticulously dissecting each segment in collaboration with Iduozee. And as it was filmed in such an iconic and beloved venue, we also had to consider the precise stage management within the Temppeliaukio Church.

Filming required careful planning and execution. The crew dedicated two entire days, using two cameras, to capture all the small details and ensure the scene looked as visually stunning and powerful as it felt emotionally.

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