Eikka Alatalo’s circus show engages audiences with thrills and ‘80s heavy metal

Eikka Alatalo creates ecological circus art against bullying. His Motör Circus show combines circus art and a musical hobby that he started in his childhood.
Henkilö on ilmassa basson kanssa spagaattiasennossa. Taustalla on minibussi ja soittolaitteita.
Photo: Ahti Kannisto

Eikka Alatalo’s Motör Circus show exudes energy, thrills and heavy metal music inspired by the ‘80s combined with acrobatic tricks, balancing on ladders and physical comedy. The show utilises not only the music but also the aesthetics of ‘80s heavy metal, and Alatalo loves to play guitar solos with his legs apart and get his audiences excited.

– Everyone knows that music peaked in the ‘80s and that just about everything after that has just been repetition and vain attempts to reach the same level!

Motör Circus takes place around a classic Volkswagen microbus, which Alatalo also uses to get to the venues.

– The aesthetics of the ‘80s go well with the rusty old VW. The same ethos of doing everything to the max that is so often lacking these days in the over-produced music business can be found under the sleeping bag in the back of the sweat-smelling gig van.

The microbus used in the show actually dates back to the ‘70s, except it now runs on electricity instead of gasoline. Alatalo did the conversion completely by himself.

– With its original gasoline engine, the VW was very thirsty, smelly and noisy. Driving with the electric motor is cheap, quiet and emission-free. Before anyone comments on the minerals that have to be mined for the batteries, I should point out that all the components I used in the conversion were recycled from a wrecked car.

Henkilö makaa maassa. Taustalla on savua, minibussi ja infokyltti.
Photo: Tapio Koskinen

Circus art against bullying

On his tours with the Motör Circus show, Alatalo has performed in schools, kindergartens, festivals, family events, reception centres, service centres and activity centres for people with disabilities, to name just a few.

– In these events, specifically people who are different get to interact with each other and be truly present while enjoying the performing arts. This is something that is really rewarding and beautiful.

The theme of Alatalo’s tour is combating bullying. The theme inspired Alatalo because he himself has experienced bullying.

– Bullying must be brought to people’s awareness. It hasn’t disappeared – it still happens everywhere. It is all too easy to keep quiet about it. In my talks with high school students, they say that they don’t even dare to tell if they see or experience bullying. The fear of shame is so strong.

The tour is part of Alatalo's “Think About Others” campaign, the aim of which is to draw attention to how we treat other people.

– I notice a lot in interactions between people that the feelings of others are not always taken into account. Maybe it’s because we use so many online devices these days, communicating via electronic messages and not talking directly face to face. On the other hand, it could be because children, young people and adults are quite isolated within their own groups. Difference is not accepted. This is what I want to change.

Henkilö hyppää pystyssä olevilla tikkailla. Taustalla on minibussi.
Photo: Isak Stockås

Environmentally friendlier art

Motör Circus is marketed as an ecological circus show based on the fact that Alatalo uses an electric car in the show and on tours in order to minimise emissions. Alatalo believes that art is an effective way of influencing climate attitudes.

– Research results and crunching numbers on paper fail to make environmental actions visible. Art makes the topic easier to comprehend, and emotions other than constant climate anxiety can be used instead. Art can be used to stimulate debate on the topic and get people on the same wavelength.

Alatalo nevertheless believes that, in addition to highlighting issues, artists themselves could also act in a more environmentally friendly way, for example by recycling their tools, materials and props.

– It is contradictory that enormous amounts are spent on new technology, as well as on new productions and procurements. Shows could also be recycled and further refined. The life cycle of shows in Finland is sadly short.

Alatalo also criticises the lack of everyday realism in environmental discussions.

– It feels like some artists go a long way towards spreading paralyzing climate anxiety. You can’t travel to gigs because you have to get there by car or plane. You can’t have children because of the carbon footprint. Does this solve anything? Would it be possible to implement this by other means, without causing harm to nature?

The Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike) awarded Eikka Alatalo and a project grant of 7000 euros in 2022 to help cover the tour expenses of the Motör Circus show.

Read more interviews with funding recipients