Mirjami Pullinen – – 09.03.2011

Nightmares and comic relief

The YOUMAKEME dance performance causes a rush of emotions from nightmares to comedy.

Helsinki City Theatre’s Studio Elsa has been taken over by the Youmakeme performance by K. Kvarnström & Co and the Helsinki Dance Company.

The full attention of the audience was grabbed from the very beginning as two dancers dressed in spiked pants entered the stage. A blue sock was tied around the dancers’ upper torso and an ominous music backed their powerful dance. The dancers’ unemotional appearance bore resemblance to Hugo Simberg’s painting Halla, oozing out foulness and evil.

Fortunately, the atmosphere soon became lighter, especially with the dancers’ own spoken intros. One of the key ideas behind the performance was to use repetition to test the audience’s ability to interpret the performance; by presenting different choreographies to the same songs. The three different choreographies for the song Feeling Good were quite impressive. The original recording by Nina Simone was interpreted by two male dancers who delivered an amazingly delicate, touching performance. In the second version of the song, the stage was overrun by an overly gloomy, even tragic-comic band of growling teenage metal heads full of angst. As the final version, the group performed a choreography for Muse’s take on Feeling Good, a version that overwhelmingly embraces the entire universe.

The audience was also put to a test in one particular section where the dancers moved in complete silence, with only the dancers’ heavy breathing causing any kind of sound. At first, the scene felt very uncomfortable, as it was very hard to interpret the dancers’ movement. But once you figured out how to let go of all unnecessary attempts to understand or analyse, following the elegant silent movement became a pleasure in itself.

Watching the brilliant dancers perform was a treat per se, as they all had their own nuances in their movement. One dancer first and foremost expressed strength, one was rich in nuances and the third blended all details seamlessly together. Special applause is due to the skilled lighting design by William Iles and the ingenious costumes by Erika Turunen. All in all, Kvarnström and his company succeeded in creating magical and powerful images that were both taxing and yet immensely wonderful to take in.

Youmakeme runs at Helsinki City Theatre until 23 March. In April, the performance will go on a tour to Germany and Sweden. In May, the performance will visit the Cultural Centre Valve in Oulu, Finland.

(Translation: Multiprint Oy / Multidoc)