Kenneth Kvarnström & Co


by Andre Yew

November 12, 2003 -- Campbell Hall, UC Santa Barbara

Toba Singer [for her review, click here -- ed.] did a good job describing K. Kvarnstrom's sensual, fluid movement style. I liked his use of articulated hands, which suprisingly projected well to the audience, unlike other modern works I've seen in which the hands just end up being mumbled and blurred. Cilla Olsen's hands were especially beautiful and clear even in the fastest parts --- somewhat like those ballet dancers whose petite allegro is very fast, but somehow all of the positions of the feet and legs are still very clear instead of blurred.

I also liked the exaggerated physics with seemingly small bumps and pushes being magnified into bigger and more complicated movements. There were also a series of movements of coming up from the floor where the dancers looked like they were filmed in reverse, with a surreal anti-gravity kind of movement.

Maybe I've been watching too much ballet recently, but the self-interactive movement was fascinating to me. Dancers would run their hands down their limbs until they reached a joint, which would bend, and start a motivation for some kind of movement. Their partnering also had elements of this --- sometimes I got visual impressions of strumming a stringed instrument.

I really like how they smiled! It's nice to see happy modern dancers.

My take on the Polaroid sequence (which as it turns out is completely not what the choreographer intended) was that these were friends taking a vacation or trip somewhere. The lighting transitioned from bright (day) with its happy moments and dancing to dark (night) with its more introspective and darker movements --- sort of like people discovering who they are through this trip. The Polaroids capture each person before their meeting, and what the bring to the trip. The pictures taken during the trip reveal important moments or relationships between the various people.

The hanging sculpture reminded me of a mobile, but Kvarnström says that his designer was inspired to create it after she saw a full-out rehearsal, and specifically was inspired by the flowering hands movement (where the arms are straight pointing to the audience, and both hands open together like a flower). Kvarnström joked obliquely about the adult connotations of the sculpture .

Unfortunately, some sad news: the company is disbanding on December 5, as Kvarnstrom will take a leave of 2 years or more to run a dance theatre in Sweden (I think), where he wants to help budding choreographers present their work. So if K. Kvarnström comes to your town, this will probably be the last chance you'll get to see his work. It's worth it for the beautiful movement, and the choreographer's unique voice.

Edited by Jeff.

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