Court dances in a contemporary language
K. Kvarnström & Co/Helsinki Dance Company: XPSD. Choreography by Kenneth Kvarnström, music by Jukka Rintamäki, lighting design by Vesa Ellilä, costumes by Erika Turunen, hair and make-up by Jaana Nykänen. Premiere 20 March Studio Elsa, Helsinki City Theatre.
Choreographer Kenneth Kvarnström has a certain artistic signature that seals the quality guarantee of his performances. Even the tiniest details are finished, the audiovisuals are conscious, the overall vision is austere, and the movement is a rhythmically accented and dissected continuity.
All of this can be admired in the new work where movement series continue and are repeated, grouped and re-rhythmed. The dancers must give a great deal, and then even more.
XPSD, a co-production of Helsinki Dance Company and Kenneth Kvarnström & Co, involves three male and three female dancers who repeat patterns that this time sound echoes of 17th century court dances.
In Kvarnström hands minuets and the like have transformed into a contemporary dance in which others are supported and lifted again and again, softly and with an occasional intensity.
Kvarnström has skilfully preserved memories of the hand movements as well as dancer grouping in old dances, while nevertheless generating new movement. Certain repeated layered movements are very impressive.
The name of the work refers to the English word exposed. Its meaning is especially illustrated by Erika Turunen’s magnificent costumes, which reveal or expose parts of the dancers’ bodies. The black costumes have a few feathers, a little glitter and see-through gauze, while the high neck pieces are reminiscent of court attire.
Jukka Rintamäki, who is also known for his work as a rock musician, is responsible for the music. The soundscape has long, sliding avalanches of sound and precisely timed beats, but still enfolds the entire audience with its minimalism.
XPSD contains all of the powerful elements that are characteristic of Kvarnström. Its challenging concept does not, however, remain equally intensive throughout the work.
The performance seems too long, even though it only lasts an hour, especially as the two-part work brings out its most intense arsenal in the first half. Finally, there is insufficient tension or alternation between the two parts.