Arvio: no-no

Auli Räsänen – Helsingin Sanomat – 20080404

The great movement ritual by Kenneth Kvarnström

The Islam-indulged work is more up-to-date than ever

Kenneth Kvarnström’s in 1996 premiered choreography no-no has not lost its actuality. The hostile attitude of western far-right circles against the Islamic culture has appeared in for example comic strips which has led the Islamic community to demonstrate and riot.

In this work culture is seen from a different perspective. It presents itself deep and exquisite and provides the audience with sensual pleasure in the sensuality of the dance expression itself. No-no moves on the thin line between religious and erotic experience.

The melismatic chants and prayers of both Christian and Islamic origin praising both God and Allah and the shamanistic rhythms of Northern Africa carry the Islamic theme in this abstract choreography.

The soundscape is exceptionally rich starting from the well-known Gregorian prayer of the Lebanese nun Marie Keyrouz all the way to the thundering verses of the Koran by sheikh Abdessemad.

Sound and movement combine to an exceptionally solid couple also because the music is eiher authentic or extremely well adapted from ethnic material. Theatre’s sound-wizard Jyrki Sandell can be thanked for the compilation.

The greatest satisfaction comes from the choreography where the movement never breaks or slackens. It is the impeccable trademark of Kenneth Kvarnström. I have not seen many choreographers capable of creating as intensive and organically flowing continuity of movement.

No-no starts from darkness and quiet sounds and gradually expands to a great physical ecstasy.

Even though it is an abstract work it goes from one dramatic point to another and breathes even in its wildest turns such as the growing and intensifying African dance at the end.

Movements of African dancing are not mimicked but still the movement of elbows and the continuous beat with the feet remind of the energetic dance culture of the African continent. The bows of the arms give the movement unbelievable vividity.

Kvarnström coordinates the collaboration of arms, legs and torso with skill rarely seen here by us. He pleats a dance movement which descends to floor into a sequence which resembles a camel resting itself in the desert.

The execution of movement by the dancers is clear and precise. The company of 10 dancers dances with both striking and sensual quality. They beautifully carry out the surrendering combinations to each other. Inka Tiitinen’s slow paced solo with nestling moves and floor work leave a strong print in one’s mind.

Jens Sethzman is an interesting light designer who does not light the space but rather its details with thin streaks of light. Thus the beginning of the performance is dark and requires patience from the audience.

The audience gets rewarded when he light rises and the work expands. The light from hatches of the side benches stripes the floor. Bringing it to the space in small elements is an exciting solution and fits the mystical theme.

In 1996 no-no was sold out for its 20 performances. It remains to be seen how it goes this time?