1947 HELSINKI, FINLAND - Small Leo Ahonen was the audience favorite throughout the performance. This bright, high-spirited little boy captured the audience with his dance and spontaneity. His "Sailor Dance," excellent, even technically.

1948 HELSINKI, FINLAND - It was really touching to see Leo Ahonen partner his "lady" in "A Boy and A Bird" ballet.

1953 HELSINKI, FINLAND - Our Opera's 14-year old Leo Ahonen already is a pro for sure, who has real future chances as a star dancer. He is relaxed in his dancing, and well developed in his good, graceful jumps in "The Indian Dance." He also is an excellent character dancer, and has very fast foot work in "The Devil Dance," and also in "The Russian Dance." He is ready to sign a professional contract with the company in order to make sure of his future.

1956 HELSINKI, FINLAND - ... This dancer is Leo Ahonen, the fruit of our Opera's Ballet School and a 17-year old youth, who gave to everyone's astonishment, such a mature demonstration of his great skills and talent that at one stroke he had danced himself into the hearts of the audience. As a dancer he is in his own class, namely as a character dancer, and not only as a dancer, but also as an interpreter. What an unusual strength hides in his limber and light dancer body as he executes his high character jumps, and what dynamics of movements control his dancing. This young Tartar Chief, Nur-Ali, was the star of the evening.

1958 MOSCOW, USSR, PRAVDA- VICTORINA KRIEGER - ...A very talented artist, who brought to this role an exacting interpretation The audience burst into bravos in the middle of his variation.

1959 NEW YORK, USA, NEW YORK TIMES- JOHN MARTIN - Young Leo Ahonen, also very Bolshoi in style tosses off eight pirouettes (and slow ones) without noticing it, jumps, throws his partner over his head and holds her there, and bounces through an endless succession of entrechats. 

1959 ENGLAND, DAILY TELEGRAPH - Leo Ahonen is a rising star on the European scene.

1961 SPAIN - ...The audience especially observed and estimated the skill of young Leo Ahonen, who beautifully controlled his tremendous jumps, and air tours. He is going to receive great honors, not only for his artistic career, but also for his native country. His interpretation in "Millions of Harlequin," as well as "The Polovetsian Dances," were proofs of his becoming one of the greatest dancers.

1962 STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - A striking audience melter, the phenomenal Leo Ahonen, captured the audience, and as he jumped "in Russian" there was a stir, and even the Stockholm audience burst into bravos.

1963 HELSINKI, FINLAND - In our Opera House we have one virtuoso, pure, clean classical dancer Leo Ahonen, who shines as a star. He executed his unbelievably heavy and difficult variation with grace and skill that you very seldom can find

1965 AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - As a teacher he is the first that I have seen that can show exactly what he means and wants... Leo Ahonen speaks little, but all understood precisely what was needed.

1966 STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - Leo Ahonen possesses an unusual sense of humour ... a brilliant jump ... exciting ... Ahonen like Farmanyance ... Ahonen's turns are breathtaking.

1966 COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - One formidable Finnish dancer, Leo Ahonen is very similar to Niels Kehlert but with a touch more form and carriage ... a Russian jump and extremely clean turns ... his combinations were dazzling in their execution ... Ahonen, superb sense of humour and fine style of dancing ... brilliant technique.

1968 BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - I don't know why, but nowadays there are no more Nijinskys, but fortunately this year we can see the Finnish Ballet with great Leo Ahonen ... naturalness in his dancing is captivating, and our bravos in Teatro Colon are sincerely honest.

1969 OAKLAND TRIBUNE, USA- HERTELENDY - Ahonen is the West Coast Nureyev, a brilliantly exciting dancer with great control, beautiful technique and good deal of grace.

1970 SAN FRANCISCO, USA- Leo Ahonen is astonishing. He has haunting resemblance to Nijinsky, not only in looks, but his ability to envelop the stage with exuberant dynamism. His thrust is remarkably met with the grace and verve of Soili Arvola.

1971 OAKLAND TRIBUNE USA - HERTELENDY - ... and her husband, Leo Ahonen, showed off how he could pirouette as smoothly as the earth turns on its axis. He did three double turns in midair, one immediately after the other, and landed perfectly on one knee, all in exact tine to the music (by Donizetti).

1972 TOKYO, JAPAN - MUSIC TIMES - Leo Ahonen is small in size, but he has a body of strong spring, and his appearance is like Nureyev's. In "Le Corsaire" he was at his best. His jumping was energetic and manly powerful. He presented again for us excitement that was given to us only by Baryshnikov with the Kirov Ballet last year on the same stage.

1972 SAN FRANCISCO, USA - HEUWELL TIRCUIT - ... Ahonen remains the one dancer in the company, who never lets down on his standards.

1972 BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - ESPECTACULOS - "Nutcracker" and "La Favorita" were performed by Leo Ahonen, master of an excellent technique, sensational batterie, and musicality that is rarely found.

1973 MIAMI, USA - JACK ZINK - Leo Ahonen was the star of the evening via his popular choreography involving a considerable amount of strenuous activity.

1970 SAN FRANCISCO, USA - From this point on it was Leo Ahonen's night. The Kirov-trained Finnish dancer is small, but is by far the strongest male performer in the company. It takes nerve to perform "Le Corsaire" pas de deux, one of the signature works of Fonteyn and Nureyev, but Ahonen accompanied by his beautiful wife, Soili Arvola, brought it off extremely well. He has Nureyev's fire, but a more pleasant modesty, and possesses as good a technique. Miss Arvola's cool reserve nicely matched Ahonen's more passionate style.


FINNISH COUPLE A SMASH AT BALLET. ...For technical command of the situation and the purity of refined dancing, the Finnish couple of Soili Arvola and Leo Ahonen took top honors. The vehicle was Miss Arvola's balanced, classical setting of the Pas de Deux from Donizetti's opera, "La Favorita." Charmimg piece, especially when done so well!

1972 BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - CESAR MAGRINI (On tour with Dame Margot Fonteyn)

Two young, brilliant and disciplined dancers are Soili Arvola and Leo Ahonen. (he is known to us for he danced with the Finnish National Ballet when they visited Colon). Much is the progress that you will find in Arvola's gracious line, full of plasticity, She has in Ahonen the ideal partner, gifted with great strength, sure and solid technique and extraordinary ability.  They complement each other to perfection. They turn everything they do into a fountain of seduction. There is not one figure regardless of how daring or with little aesthetic at first sight which they turn into delight. Both showed great talent in the creation of their own choreography, as in "La Favorita" and also in "A.C-615" for which Ahonen created brief and short, but young and elastic movements. In both figure and space they were a whole in accordance with music. Those were two more opportunities to bring out their technique, dynamism, discipline and style to the maximum.   

1971 SAN FRANCISCO, USA - JOHN ROCKWELL  - ..The San Francisco Ballet dancers looked quite good, even on Leo Ahonen's day off....

1972 VARNA, BULGARIA - VIOLETTA CONSULOVA -  Soili Arvola and Leo Ahonen - like an illuminated song, like a victory of life was their interpretation of "La Favorita" to Donizetti!


... Ahonen brought the work to a dazzling finale, spinning like a top as the lights faded and the music ended - and long after. This young Finnish dancer is an outstanding personality without over-selling in a company that believes in the hard sell: and he achieves technical heights that none of his colleagues can even approach!


The most anticipated guest of course was Soili Arvola who has not danced in Finland for ten years. We have heard of her achievements all along, but it was different to see her with our own eyes. We are now convinced that she is a real technical virtuoso, who can perform with American effectiveness. And why not, when the offering is full of honest confidence, flexibility, unbelievable balances and technical bravura, with a radiant smile on top of it all!


It was a great joy to see Soili Arvola perform again in her native country after a 10-year absence. Now dancing two Pas de Deux from the ballets "Don Quixote" and "Le Corsaire" she really gave a happy surprise, when everyone could see that she has developed into an absolute international ballerina full of technical sureness, temperament and radiance. She is striking, has charming playfulness, sense of humor and assuring expressiveness!    



The gifted couple of Soili Arvola and her husband Leo Ahonen, presented her new "La Favorita", a Pas de Deux to Donizetti. There were no virtuosic extremes and that was the basic virtue because everything was tasteful, musical and deftly performed. By not pushing athleticism, Miss Arvola polished the lovely qualities in her soft, feminine style, particularly in the delicate play of her hands, as if inspired by Violette Verdy. The Pas de Deux had a gracious continuity, none of the "now watch this" attitudes. The supple, rhythmic springiness of Ahonen's dancing, his smooth partnering and lifting, the steady pulsing of his movements and scintillating solos gave it the requisite spark!


The guests were Soili Arvola and Leo Ahonen who, originally from Finland, have been dancing all over the world. Ahonen, trained in Leningrad ( his room-mate during his school days in the famed academy that graduated Pavlova and Nijinsky, was Rudolf Nureyev) has the flamboyant virtuosity of soviet dance plus the attention to refined details the Kirov schooling instills. Arvola's fluidity is enhanced by remarkable suppleness, and the beautiful line of long slim legs. She has probably the strongest pointes in ballet. For instance, she travelled a circle of leaps landing each time on the tips of her toes. Long artistic association and similar feelings for dance give Arvola-Ahonen partnership a harmonious simultaneousness !

1966 TORONTO, CANADA - N.M. - ... Then a compact boy, with his hair combed in a bang, took centre stage; and I said to myself, in imitation of a certain coffee commercial, "That's the flavor I've been missing!" The boy's name is Leo Ahonen, and he has a joy - perhaps joy in knowing that he is the best dancer on the stage, with the ballon and sauterie of a virtuoso and further, with real understanding of the refinements that separate Bournonville from the Russians!

1974 MIAMI, USA - JAMES ROOS - The best of sturdy professionalism makes you think of so many things. Of ballet as an art. Of the delight of good dancing. Of how Tchaikovsky was set off by reading "Nutcracker", one of Hoffman's tales. Of how Petipa said what he wanted, right down to "sparkling music, 8 bars, soft music, 64 bars," and so on to infinity. Of how delighted Tchaikovsky was to find that new instrument, celesta, just right for his Sugar Plum Fairy, and how afraid he was Rimsky-Korsakov or Glazounov would "smell it out" and use it before him. When Soili Arvola danced the Sugar Plum Fairy's variation, you knew exactly how he felt and what he meant. It's one of those things that turn a name in a program book into a person!

1975 HOUSTON, USA - CARL CUNNINGHAM -  ...the production was greatly strengthened by Soili Arvola's sexy and brassy portrayal of the domineering Siren. The Seduction Pas de Deux between Arvola and Villella in the banquet scene was truly a compelling moment in the ballet. (Prodigal Son by Balanchine)

1978 DALLAS, USA - PATTY MOORE -  "Don Quixote" Pas de Deux showcased Soili Arvola and Ivan Nagy. Arvola, loose rather than compact in her gestures, carried her part with exquisite line and rock-solid balances!

1970 SAN FRANCISCO, USA - SONDRA RAE CLARK - Stealing the show was easy work for Soili Arvola as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Leo Ahonen as her Cavalier. This husband and wife team especially excelled in the Grand Pas de Deux, making every movement a focal point of grace and achieving an exquisite beauty through simultaneous teamwork. Ahonen and Arvola led the curtain-call finale with their blaze of leaps and turns and all too soon the show was over!