Kvarnström’s magnificent, dark XPSD
Kenneth Kvarnström’s latest work XPSD for the Helsinki Dance Company redeems all expectations. It is just the kind of uplifting performance that we have grown used to seeing from him. This dance work is finely crafted down to the tiniest detail and rehearsed as second nature, containing plenty of movement in which the various parts of the whole are both artistically independent but held in mutual equilibrium.
The stage is as simplified as possible, with only an oblong of white on an otherwise black stage. An emptiness that is occupied by light and shadows, definition and shapes brought in by Vesa Ellilä’s white and yellowish lights.
The same minimalism continues in Erika Turunen’s costumes that are completely black except for the white sleeves of Valtteri Raekallio’s mythical female character. This black is not dull by any means. The embroidery on the costumes and especially the bird-like neck pieces of the dancers seem to allude to the baroque.
The same 17th century court dance decorativeness and lushness is also present in Kvarnström’s language of movement. There is an abundance of motion, at times flooding in. It is simultaneously both strongly physical, yet smoothed over with a soft sensuality. This combination evokes a sense of mysticism and threat. It is as if there is constantly something under the surface that is not shown on the outside.
A hypnotic atmosphere
An endless, but highly controlled flow of motion, where certain gestures and motor phrases repeat from time to time, creates a hypnotic atmosphere; a suction that captivates the viewer. This hypnotic atmosphere is accentuated by Jukka Rintamäki’s dark blanket of sound encompassing the entire space, moving onwards with a great, uncontrollable force.
Even though XPSD (eXPoSeD), exposed and shared, has no plot and is a work purely based on motion, its scenes have strong content. One of the most beautiful is Inka Tiitinen and Kai Lähdesmäki’s ruggedly sensitive duet that depicts release and closure.
All of the dancers excel, for that matter. This dense performance lasts just over an hour and is physically strenuous and technically demanding.
Sofia Karlsson, Heidi Naakka, Mikko Lampinen share the magnificent presence and fully finished movement of Tiitinen, Lähdesmäki, and Raekallio. Their dance has a power and darkness fit for the work, but also a clarity of movement and confidence of an entity internalized to the core. They are effortlessly at one with the work and the performance.