During her dancer contract of 25 years at the National Ballet, Minna Tervamäki performed in the leading roles of almost all of the most esteemed classical ballet works.
Even in her twenties, the dancer did the challenging double leading role as Odette and Odile in Swan Lake, performing with vibrant expressivity in spite of her young age. Tervamäki has acted in leading roles in several full length ballet works such as The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Onegin, La Bayadére and Raymonda.
In addition, she has danced in central roles in works of top international choreographers such as William Forsythe, Ohad Nahar, Jiří Kyliàn, Mats Ek,
Jorma Elo and Jorma Uotinen.
Tervamäki has also collaborated closely with choreographer Robert Sher-Machherndl and performed in his works in New York, Boulder and Helsinki.
She was the first dancer in the National Ballet to receive the title of Etoile in 2009.
During her dancing career, Tervamäki has received recognition from many directions. The audience and critics have praised her strong, expression-rich and wide-ranging dance as well as her precise movement. When she received an award from the Finnish Musicians’ Union in 2011, she was commended for her brilliance as a dance artist, creativity as choreographer and exemplary supportiveness as colleague.
Minna Tervamäki retired from the National Ballet in Spring 2012, but she continues to work intensively as dancer-choreographer.
• Honourable mention for positivity in 2017
• Knight, First Class, Order of the Lion of Finland in 2011
• Finnish Musicians’ Union recognition award in 2011
• Imatra Ballet Gala recognition award in 2009
• Libris award in 2006
• Edvard Fazer award in 2000
• Tanssin kukka award at the Finnish National Ballet 75th
anniversary gala in 1997
Performance: Lemon Sponge Cake Contemporary Ballet
Choreography: Robert Sher-Machherndl
Venue: The Ailey Citigroup Theatre, New York City
Performance Date: Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
New York Times 30.4.2009, Claudia La Rocco:
“…Ms. Tervamäki, commanding dancer with the chiseled visage, big dark eyes and severe, mysterious presence of a silent movie star.
Better yet, she is a crisp, intelligent mover, with striking épaulement and terrifically alive arms.”
Dance Europe July 2009, Tim Martin:
“As a pair, they simultaneously match and contrast. She: blond, sleeky muscled, a technically solid grasp of the steps. He: cleanly-shaven head, lanky, taking a natural approach to the steps. Both dance cleanly, but it´s not sterile – there´s a lot going on under the surface. In Tervamäki, you see it in her eyes and in how she holds those extensions.”
iDanzCritixCorner, Official Dance Review by Careitha Davis:
“…Minna appears on stage looking as strong as an ox! Her athletic ability as a dancer is obvious as each defined muscle is flexed and coordinated in her movement. She is wearing ballet flats and a two-piece black outfit. The simplicity in her outfit makes the choreography easier to visually understand. She starts her solo showing off such artistic influences as William Forsythe, Ohad Naharin and Glen Tetley. There is an edgy feel to her style of movement that captures Sher- Machherndl’s concept of Liquid Space.
…Both dancers have the extraordinary ability to maintain their different style of movement while finding a medium that creates a bigger subject called Liquid Space. As the piece continues, the music becomes intense and so does Minna. She is able to maintain her technique but also turn in her hips, round in her shoulders and articulate her body in ways that most ballerinas are not capable of doing. Choreography is something that is taught, but I see Minna as an artist when she makes Robert’s movement her own. I see a beautiful woman onstage with a strong presence and a masculine edge that carries the piece to new heights.”
“The Seagull: the Elite of Contemporary Ballet” Minna Tervamäki was also an excellent choice to play Nina. Her solid professionalism, refreshing spirit and outstanding body language turned the role into a strong performance. –Ritva Elo, Taiteen Maailma 2/06 “Dramatic Love and Art in the Finnish National Ballet’s Fabulous Seagull” Minna Tervamäki, in the character of Nina, proves to be not only a superior dancer but also a full-blooded actress, whose expression ranges effortlessly from a young girl’s innocence to a mature woman schooled in the cruel laws of life.”
– Annikki Alku, Uutispäivä Demari, 04.04.2006
“Strong Emotions in Tolstoy’s Drama”
“Minna Tervamäki’s Anna is a carefully studied, well-rounded characterisation, in which the dancer successfully portrays a woman’s bitter development from society’s dazzling darling to an adulteress ostracised by her set. Ratmansky has retained the characters’ unevenness and humanity in his ballet, and none of them is a black-and-white outline. Tervamäki’s Anna is unconditional in her love but when placed in an unfamiliar situation she is an uncertain and anxious young woman who doesn’t know what to do.
Tervamäki’s dance is magnificent, with all movements used entirely to serve expression, as in the case of all first-class dancers.”
Auli Räsänen, Helsingin Sanomat, 18.02.2007
“Anna Karenina’s Difficult Choices”
“The main character performances in the ballet are strong. Minna Tervamäki as Anna Karenina brings out the character’s emotional conflict in a harrowing way. The difficulty of Ratmansky’s choreography is not evident in Tervamäki’s fine performance. Tervamäki fabulously combines technical skill with powerful acting, in which lyrical expression shifts easily into despair.”
Kaisa Kurikka, Turun Sanomat, 18.02.2007
“Classic Novel to Dazzling Dance”
“Minna Tervamäki makes a magnificent interpretation of the character of Anna. Her expression is deeply harrowing; she puts her soul fully into Anna’s fate and articulates every subtlety of the choreography supremely, without holding back!”
Tarja Sara, Keskisuomalainen, 19.02.2007
GISELLE, MARCH 18TH 2000
“…Tervamäki’s interpretation is heart-rending. Her beautiful, fluid technique is self-evident, her charisma and radiance are first class, and her overall performance is of the highest level. Ms. Tervamäki is as natural in the first act as the carefree Giselle of the first act, carried away by the joy of the dance, as she is in the second, fiercely protecting her lover…“
Auli Räsänen, Helsingin Sanomat (Finland’s leading daily newspaper), Helsinki
FINNISH NATIONAL BALLET PERFORMING SYLVIE GUILLEM’S GISELLE IN PARIS, JANUARY 2001
“A moonlit night…The Queen of the Wilis appears…The great Minna Tervamäki…Everything about this ballerina is perfect.”
Dominique Frétard, Le Monde, February 9th, 2001
“Their leader, Myrtha, in the manner of the quintessential maitresse de ballet, rules her little circle with a rod of iron, and the superb MinnaTervamäki knows how to lend her that certain je-ne-sais-quoi of a Madame Claude, who eggs her girls onward to joy and exaltation.”
Marie-Christine Vernay, Libération 15.02.2001
“Minna Tervamäki…a regal Queen of the Wilis.”
David Stevens, International Herald Tribune, January 24th, 2001
“Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, was danced by a glorious Minna Tervamäki, not unlike Darcey Bussell in stature. Beautiful in every respect (line, timing, smoothness), and with an effortless jump, Tervamäki also dances the role of Giselle, something I would love to see her do another time. If she is free to guest then I hope somebody at the Royal Ballet or English National Ballet is having a word (sorry Finnish National Ballet!).”
Bruce Marriott, Ballet magazine, February 1999
“…One cannot help but praise Tervamäki’s stamina, her controlled presence, and her elegance as well as the bright and smiling composure with which she executes her great role.”
Auli Räsänen, Helsingin Sanomat 12.05.2003
SCENE FOR A MAN AND WOMAN
“There was no clear winner in Sami Saikkonen’s sensuous Scene for a Man and a Woman, danced passionately by the handsome Saikkonen and the Finnish National Ballet’s Nordic goddess Minna Tervamaki.”
Molly Glentzer, Houston: Dance Salad,
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle
“As the multifaceted female figure–girl, mother, whore–of Columbine,Minna Tervamäki finally gets to really let herself go within the framework ofmodern dance, and she does it with true dedication.The master of great ballet roles displays her mastery of modern dancestyle, too…and her enjoyment of it.”
Annikki Alku, Uutispäivä Demari, 04.04.2003
“Outstanding dancer: Minna Tervamaki in Tetley´s Pierrot Lunaire”
Jochen Schidt, Ballet-tanz annual 2003
“During the drama the unworldly but deeply sensitive ‘book worm’ Tatyana develops from youthful innocence, through love and heartbreak, to self-confidence and marriage, and here we have yet another convincing and profound yet refreshing interpretation from Minna Tervamäki. It is, infact, a sterling character portrait. Her intense commitment and heartfelt dedication to the task in hand, avoiding all mannerisms, is enthralling to watch. She is even able to shoulder the deeply moving and tragic finale as the curtain falls without so much as a shade of the pathetic. As ever, her dancing is irreproachably pure, airy and stylishly elegant down to the smallest detail…”
Jan-Peter Kaiku, Hufvudstadsbladet, 15.04.2000
“Minna Tervamaki’s performance speaks of intelligence and leadership.Minna Tervamaki has danced in the “Swan Lake” of Vladimir Bourmeister; hersculpture-like Odette already attracted attention then. Now she executesher double role handsomely, with understanding and experience.She is a true Swan Queen, whose authority in the role is solid.”
Auli Räsänen; Helsingin Sanomat 17.5.2004
“Minna Tervamäki has found a new eternal fan in me. Her White Swan is ethereal, dignified and calmly despairing (yes, it is possible). Her Black Swan is nothing short of frighteningly wicked and triumphant. The polished, stylish, expressive and sensitive performance bowled me over to such a degree that had the Prince not done so first, I would have stormed the stage and proposed to marry Ms. Tervamäki myself.”
Melinda Backlund, Like News, Helsinki, Finland
“…on this occasion, too, Minna Tervamäki and Juha Kirjonen dance with their distinctive quality and precision, but with added depth and maturity. Minna Tervamäki’s cool elegance and academically perfect dancetechnique are featured to best advantage in the double role as Odette/Odile, where she shows both lyrical and dramatic qualities. In fact, this is a role which grows and finds new directions as dancers gain in maturity and experience. In Minna Tervamäki’s present interpretation the viewer is treated not just to perfect technique, but to expressive dramatic interpretation and characterization.”
Jan-Peter Kaiku, Hufvudstadsbladet, 1998