Arvio: (play)

Kaisa Kurikka – Turun Sanomat – 27.11.2011

Steady, unvarying dance

Kenneth Kvarnström’s works usually incorporate electronic music, which means that movement in his new work (play) is set against a completely new soundscape for him. The music is a selection of classical compositions ranging from the 1500s and Mozart to Philip Glass. Norrlands Opera’s string quartet, pianist Asuka Nakamura, and theorbist Jonas Nordberg perform and have a presence on stage.

Even though the compositions go through a full change of style during the ninety-minute performance, Kvarnström’s movement keeps to an astonishingly similar expression. The movement material is repeated, and the choreographer’s trademark flowing movement, as well as beautifully softened lifts inspired by geometric lines are a pleasure to watch.

The movement does, however, lack energy, a more explosive counter force to the music. A sense of homogeny penetrates the work.

(play) is constructed in scenes with the music, and the episodes are bound together by humoristic words. The name of the work does indeed refer to both playing instruments and playfulness. The playfulness is taken to an extreme in a childish scene, where three male dancers smack their bare bottoms and shake their hips in a kind of The Full Monty parody in tune to Vivaldi.

Costumes are the work of three fantastic costume designers, Helena Hörstedt, Martin Bergström, and Erika Turunen. Bergström’s black and red print skirts in Bach’s Goldberg Variations are very imaginative.

Turunen’s costumes and Kvarnström’s movement to Glass’ String quartet No. 5 are among the highlights of the work. Instead, the solo to Chopin’s Funeral March ofguest performer Cilla Olsen , dressed in Hörstedt’s black costume, remains perhaps too distant in this company.

Kvarnström has not illustrated the compositions, other than the humoristic finale of Shostakovitsh’s Pianotrio, where the complete equivalence between music and movement reaches ironic heights. There the dancers trot around clad in masks and hairy-backed suit jackets like a flock of crows.

Perceiving the interaction between the musicians and the dancers is difficult. The musicians are impressive, as are the two female and four male dancers from Helsinki Dance Company. Jens Sethzman’s white, sculptural background relief and light benches emanating white light are a beautiful sight.

(Translation: Multiprint Oy / Multidoc)