Arvio: (play)

Annikki Alku – Uutispäivä Demari – 20111130

Elegant and playfuplayfull

Seven dancers and six musicians on Helsinki City Theatre ’s large stage. How on earth are they able to fill it? Live, classical music combined with the choreographic language of Kenneth Kvarnström
, a choreographer known to normally use electronic music. How do they work together? Three costume designers in the same production. Is it going to be a complete mess or a visual race between the designers?

These were only a few of the questions going around in my mind before the premiere of the newest production by Kvarnström, (play). However, the answer turned out to be a surprising and fun performance where the refined elegance and sensual, fluent and varied motion language so characteristic to this choreographer were also present. Moreover, all this is done with a more relaxed, more playful feeling than before.

At the same time, the compositions, skilfully performed by the musicians of Norrlandsopera, offered a small journey through time with classical music ranging from Bach
to Philip Glass
. Players were not just a band playing for the dancers, but part of the choreography, moving deliberately across the stage.

For years, Kvarnström has trusted the scenography of his performances to Jens Sethzman
. His both very minimalistic and varied staging and lightning solutions can actually be fully appreciated only within the spacious room provided by a large stage. The pale stage and illuminated background wall together with movable luminous benches, used as seats by the dancers, was itself a beautiful, harmonious art piece. In addition, it brought the dancers beautifully to the fore and highlighted the colours and forms of their costumes.

Costume designers in a big role

Each of the three costume designers had designed their own costume units for the production. The most eye-catching and colourful creations of the production were the black-and-white patterned skirt outfits with strong orange background, designed by Martin Bergström
. They were revealed gradually as Bach’s Goldberg variations were played. Helena Hörstedts
designs, black costumes for Cilla Olsen’s
solo and Kenneth Bruun Carlson
and Olsen’s duet, were elegant, but the details were lost due to the distance between the stage and auditorium.

My personal favourite was Erika Turunen’s
creation for the Philip Glass’ String quartet no. 5: trouser suit with a stunning colour scale of blue-green with a hint of grey.

Even though (play) was composed of clearly separate parts, I could see a structural arch behind it all. It started from the choreography of clear and simple movements designed for Mozart’s
String Quartet in G Major and ended up in Shostakovich’s
Piano Trio No. 2 and to animalistic characters, whose defiance could be interpreted in many ways.

The most surprising, entertaining and raunchiest part of the production was the tongue-in-cheek mock burlesque show by kilt-clad Kai Lähdesmäki, Janne Marja-aho
and Valtteri Raekallio
, performed to the music of Vivaldi’s
Sonnet No. 3.

(play) shows us a new side of Kvarnström. It is a beautifully danced presentation that entertains both the eye and the mind whilst finding new performance dimensions without losing anything of the old.

(Translation: Multiprint Oy / Multidoc)