Charged Effort that Gives Goose Bumps
Finally! XPSD has landed in Stockholm after a tour with Riksteatern. Ever since the public got a sample of the piece during Parkteatern’s dance month, the moment has been much anticipated. And expectations are met – XPSD, created for Helsinki Dance Company and KKVarnström & Co., is just as good as the August trailer suggested it would be.
Once again, Kvarnström, who had a strong comeback after his chief position at Dansens hus with the song Destruction in 2008, shows that he has a profound understanding of choreographic composition. Something that is no longer certain in a dance environment dominated by more experimental forms and performances.
The room is carried away through the dancers and Vesa Ellilä’s light, which lets the bodies appear and disappear. Jukka Rintamäki’s music also contributes to an existential base tone; a raw pulse that dramatically increases with the tempo and layers of rings that create a complex web, before finally reducing to just an echo. Although the tinny base sound towards the end should probably be attributed to the speakers.
The title’s play on letters is pronounced “Exposed”. The dancers are exposed to feelings, each other and to us in their transparent tops with high collars and hints of glitter. Erika Turunen designed a type of glam baroque that melts together with the choreography’s many intricate, mirroring variants of ensemble dances, trios and duets.
XPSD has two defined parts. First, the collectiveness it highlights. The six dancers form shifting patterns with synchronized movements, floor chain reactions with accents in their arms and hands. The gesture of their rib cage, as if they want to open themselves to the world, is recurring. As a contrast, they lift each other in elegant flows, a sensual interaction where genders are extinguished.
The piece is full of chiseled “Kvarnströmania”, a distinctive and graceful power that, here, is mildly reminiscences of ballet and square dance. The form is repeated with increased intensity close to exhaustion. You can feel the burn, see the sweat fly in a surprisingly crazy drawn out crescendo.
After this repetitive exhaustion, individuals and relations appear and the senses are focused. The duets twist and turn on tenderness, trust and weakness. Laura Vesterinen and Kai Lähdesmäki are incredibly present in a close death dance of dependency and submission, in which her strength finally leaves behind pain. There is an extreme charge in the nuances’ and dances’ relations to each other. Sofia Karlsson flies into the arms of the cavaliers, yet is suddenly left alone amongst turned heads.
XPSD ends with a reverence that makes you want to bow back. It is dance of excellent quality, so characteristic of its creator and so fused by its interpreters that it gives you goose bumps.