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Helsingin Kaupunginteatteri

Arvio: XPSD

Evelyn Beyer – Neue Presse – 03.09.2010

Metrosexual minuet


Tanztheater International took off last evening on a grandiose scale with Kenneth Kvarnström


Opened and how: Kenneth Kvarnström wows the Orangerie with a dance transcending the times.



HANOVER. A magical form in black releases a silver ring. It spins in a spotlight, even as the form appears in another. A whiff of magic wafts through the Orangerie; the electronic sounds rise almost ceremoniously. The dancers are wearing Baroque-esque feather collars high up on the necks, and metrosexual tricot skins below it. Their steps could’ve been inspired by the minuets; these bows, the splayed fingers. They are but radically consumed here and now, in nearly mechanically-precise twists, lifts, and turnarounds, all driven by the pulsating beat of the music.


It is actually “Tanztheater in the fast lane”, as the festival manager Christiane Winter quoted in an online journal in her introductory speech on the anniversary festival. In 25 years, she and her team have made Tanztheater International a countrywide favourite, in which international companies allow, as she put it, “their dance expressions of time to speak for themselves”. Mayor Stephan Weil also appreciated the brilliance of the group. Without it, viewing a first-class dance theatre performance such as XPSD by Kenneth Kvarnström in association with the Helsinki Dance Company would have been impossible in Hanover.


Kvarnström tells of the incessant goings-on between times on a barren white plane like a blank sheet. He tells of finding and drifting away, of confrontations. The precise dance lines interweave, break away, and bounce against each other. The choreographer builds conflicts between the dancers repeatedly; one with the other five, two with four. They form patterns with each other with a singularly neutral, lost-looking expression.


Kvarnström explained in a press meeting on the eve of the show that he did not want to use any old steps except the “classical” ones in “XPSD”. It became only too clear. The roles he has assigned to the dancers are no less fascinating. Often enough, the two female dancers even become the ones lifting the four male ones. A game of equals it is, which finds its high point in a serried, poetic double pas de deux of two pairs.


However, as the evening progresses, the strain becomes more palpable. Kvarnström showcases real exhaustion. The melancholy and mystique that lies almost threateningly over the production lends the piece a rather touching authenticity. This piece appears so nippy in black and white that it is bound to have an impact on everyone. Superb opening.