Sara Nyberg – Skenet – 20110314

YOUMAKEME In Kenneth Kvarnström’s latest dance performance, the audience makes the choreographer and the choreographer makes the dancer.

The dance performance gains complete form right in front of the audience in YOUMAKEME, the magnificent new performance by Helsinki City Theatre’s dance group. The dance performance builds up from rich, emotional scenes, between which the dancers get closer to the audience with friendly chatting, almost as if during a rehearsal. If the performance was a book, it could be a collection of short stories that successfully take different perspectives to the same topics.

The evening starts with a prologue presented by faceless men. Blue coveralls mask their faces and hands, rendering the dancers anonymous. Soon, their hoods are thrown off, and it does not take long for the snickering group to reveal themselves to be performing dance artists. The performance comes together fragment by fragment. Various scenes with various atmospheres conclude with an epilogue danced by the Norwegian Kenneth Bruun Carlson. In his sparkling blue jump suit, the dancer receives a face and a persona.

The incredible lightness of being on stage

The dancers are familiar with Kvarnström’s choreography and manage to execute it seemingly effortlessly, with perfect concentration. Soon, the movement pauses, as if the dancers were taking a breather during any given training session. The dancers fiddle with their clothes and throw jokes at each other. One takes a sip of water or energy drink off-stage while others are already anxious to start the next scene. It is as if the audience got the opportunity to see the process leading up to the public premiere.

In the programme, Kvarnström poses a question: how quickly is the dancer able to get in the mood for the performance? As a member of the audience, you quite naturally expect the performer to be psyched up to the performance before you take your seat. However, Kvarnström skilfully turns the scene starts into interludes where everyone stands still, waiting. This borderline moment is familiar from band performances, where the musicians nonchalantly chit-chat to the audience between songs. And soon, the performance takes off in full force again.

Music guides the movement

This time around, Kvarnström draws much of his inspiration from music. He applies different dance scenes to the same songs by different singers. The songs Feeling Good and Gloomy Sunday are heard over and over again. Singers change between different versions and the atmosphere on stage keeps changing and going off the scale. There is no question that the dancers have truly experienced the names of the songs during the rehearsals of the performance. The version of Feeling Good where the dancers are dressed in grey school uniforms and black wigs is utterly hilarious, carrying visual horror imagery resembling English boarding schools where schoolmates torment each other. However, the choreographer leaves the final responsibility of forming the entire story to the audience. Draft-like scenes take the mood of the performance and the audience continuously to new situations and encounters.

Magnificent dancers

Five dancers enact Kvarnström’s precise choreography flawlessly. Kai Lähdesmäki, Valtteri Raekallio, Kenneth Bruun Carlson, Sofia Karlsson, and Janne Marja-aho utilise the entire stage in their movement, introduce new stimuli, lift each other, carry each other and glide with grace. The group speaks well for itself; the dancers stand a strong group that dances together like a single living organism. In addition to being great dancers, all group members are also skilled actors and even singers.

(Translation: Multiprint Oy / Multidoc)