Ritualistic worlds of movement
For audience members familiar with the work of choreographer Kenneth Kvarnström, Xpsd (the combination of letters stands for the performance’s conceptual themes of exposed and divided) has relatively little new to offer. The distinctly polished and well-poised final shape, or design, makes a simultaneously vital and crystallised impression in its entirety as well as its details. Once again, the set design is sharply contrasted in black and white with atmospheric sound engineering and lighting helping to create deeper meaning and structure. It is peopled by an intensely passionate and in sync group of dancers who do not hold back in any scene.
These familiar premises give birth to an intensive, expressive, and continuous tapestry of movement, which grows increasingly suggestive. The entirety appears to be bursting with material, while at the same time managing to make an austere and minimalist impression. I found the contrasts and suggestiveness captivating and I started to enjoy the rhythm more and more, as well as the movements themselves, with their fine details and impact.
Jukka Rintamäki’s specially-composed music follows the structural and dramaturgical principles of the choreography: intimate, symbiotic, and often underscoring. Vesa Ellilä’s lighting design is along the same lines, in complete accordance with the total-work-of-art concept of parts reinforcing each other’s effects.
The performance is divided into two parts that are a commentary on each other and share many similarities. The austerity, harmony, and formality of the group scenes are apparently inspired by court dancing. Erika Turunen’s baroque-influenced, yet modern, costumes enhance this impression. The ritualistic but ecstatic movement style wells up in cascades that seem unable to reach any resolution but are rather caught instead in a continuous loop of new beginnings. The effect is mysterious and intriguing.
This mysteriousness is fairly typical of Kvarnström’s work. Dramatic significance is loaded in the equilibrium between the abstract and the narrative, and it is impossible to find any unequivocally interpretive access points. That, of course, is the whole idea.
The interpretation and rendition of the six dancers is the crowning glory of the performance for me. Sofia Karlsson, Mikko Lampinen, Heidi Naakka, Kai Lähdesmäki, Valtteri Raekallio, and Inka Tiitinen, individually and collectively, have the ability to make each separate scene fresh and real, despite the fact that they are often balancing on the edge of exhaustion and circling in repetitive orbits. They have made the movements – in all their exquisite details and nuances – their own; while their personalities and charisma greatly enrich the actual interpretation.