Arvio: (play)

Annika Burholm – Västerbottens Folkbladet – 20111203

Man is also a human

KENNETH KVARNSTRÖM mixes high and low and plays beautifully, totally wild and silly with the man’s role in his new dance ballet (play), which had its Swedish premier to a full-house at NorrlandsOperan last Friday evening.

Instead of recorded electronic music, Kvarnström is working this time with live musicians on the stage: Violinists Karin Eriksson, Pontus Björk and Pär Lindqvist, Pelle Hansen, cello, Asuka Nakamura, piano and Jonas Nordberg, theorbo, a lute with a 1.5 m long neck, who play Mozart, Chopin, Bach, Vivaldi, Glass, Shostakovich and more.

To splinter the public’s vision further (as K says in the programme sheet) the dancers, Kenneth Bruun Carlsson, Sofia Karlsson, Kai Lähdesmäki, Janne Marja-aho, Cilla Olsen, Valtteri Raekallio and Terhi Vaimala, are dressed in designer clothes and masks.

EVERYTHING STARTS so quietly, with music played on the long lute and the performers coming and going on the neutrally illuminated stage. Overall, the role of the lighting is subdued in this performance, which is fortunate, as there are so many impressions even so.
With Mozart, the promenade transforms unnoticeably into dance. Suddenly, they lift each other, oh, so lovingly. Gently the movements swell round in their shared dance body; I would have liked to be part and be caressed by the notes’ affection.

After this warm up in tracksuits and colourful T-shirts, the contrast arrives. Chopin’s funeral march, danced by a woman in a black corset lying on a black Rya mat. Like an animal, she twists in anguish and sorrow. Like a striptease queen, she caresses herself. A physical music balancing between furtive vulgarity and the art of dancing, where the classical turns of the feet and legs cancel out the banality of the music hall. Both honest and melodramatic and finally rather funny, as she becomes entangled in the mat.

A play with a female stereotype? A attraction to the low and to mix it with the high? These thoughts swirl round in my head. Moreover, they gather speed as three male underpantsless dancers in kilts dance a macho-feminine caress and war dance with smacking of naked buttocks, waving their naked tackle, but in the wrong (?) direction, caressing, stamping and bellowing, while the music calmly and elegantly picks out its classical sonata – and the remarkable happens, the music blunts the shock of the powerful freaky spectacle. The ear is stronger than the eye (which K also says in the programme sheet).

Most of the sections, ten in total, are more simple, beautiful and gentle. Many movements recur, such as the lift, the twirls and the arm swings above the head, the first few times as dear friends, then slightly monotonously, but then one could take a peep at the musicians who played until their strings smoked. Or take pleasure in the sweeping costumes and the colours of the awesome masks.

At the end, a male dancer in a jacket and underpants stands alone on stage. He has just taken off the sad panda mask. He looks nakedly out at the audience. As if he wants to say that even a man is a human. Ecce homo.

”PLAY” WAS the second act of NorrlandsOperan’s Kvarnström visit. Act I consisted of the symphony orchestra’s performance of Marcus Fjellström’s Degenerator and Mats Larsson Gothe’s Symphony no 2, conducted by Shi-Yeon Sung. Tempestuous, painful and bewildering works that moved with precision between the elephantine steps of armies and a mosquito swarm’s vanishing.

(Translation: Multiprint Oy / Multidoc)