Dance evaluation The work of high-level street dance professionals was danced in the middle of Helsinki – X-over feels like a special gift, writes critic Maria Spaa

The URB festival performance X-over spread to the square in front of Stoa.

Street dance

X-over. URB festival performance in Stoa Square, producers Kiasma Theater & Eastern Helsinki Cultural Center Stoa. Directed by Ben Fury, choreographed by Ben Fury & Team, Assistant Sara Hirn. Performers Andrii “Pluto” Gregul, Jeffrey Kam, Selma Kauppinen, Siiri Korkeamäki, Hozan Omar. Music Hxive. Costume Joona Huotari.

Liekö the reason for not being able to watch dance forever, or the fact that big works that strive for street dance are seldom included in the main program of the festival and given a big setting, but equally X -over feels from the beginning to a work that, in its infinity, feels like a special gift.

The square has life, dance and music flow into people’s daily lives. Although they require attention, they do not exclude the environment.

Five dancers the performance utilizes the stairs of the Stoa Cultural Center, the asphalt area, the Stoa sculpture of columns and a brick wall.

Ben Fury

Ben Fury is a Moroccan-born dancer-choreographer whose roots go back to the combination of breakdance culture and contemporary dance in Brussels. X-overis a new version of a work he directed to Tunisia in 2019, drawing on Sufi and other rituals.

To my knowledge, the ritual, which emphasizes a personal relationship with God, seeks an ecstatic state, resulting in spontaneous movement. X-over-there is just such spontaneity in the work, from which street dance takes on a new manifestation.

For each dancer is one mantra-like dominant movement.

X-overin of the dancers makes the first solo Selma Kauppinen, which utilizes hip hop in particular bounce, i.e. the movement up and down produced by elasticity of the knees. One of the dancers is preparing for the 2024 Olympics Andrii “Pluto” Gregul, with an emphasis on floor movement and acrobatics, the third of the performances is the group dance most inspired by footwork.

After that Siiri Korkeamäki at the same time creates, in its surprise, sharp and soft, powerful and sensitive jumps, Hozan Omar utilizes popping, i.e., movements that are tense and released by the muscles, and finally Jeffrey Kam does like slow motion parkour.

Spontaneity seems to arise for every dancer from the mental compression initially manifested by a very tightly controlled body. The movement then continues to be quite sensitive, flickering and fluttering far away.

The dancers seem to be more attached to their own inner world than to contact with the audience and the environment, but that too is just a confusing first impression. A deep connection with the world around us is created, but only through another.

The duo Hxive creates a few ritual-like repetitive beats by utilizing spaces where the sounds always seem to resonate in a slightly different type of place. The simplicity of the ritual brings a microcosm of tones.

The costumes connect the performers more to nature than to the urban pulse.

URB Festival are the only festivals where street dance and a clearly new generation are brought to the forefront – not just a little hint at the movement material of a performance.

A free work by high-level professionals from different parts of street dance was danced in the middle of the liveliest and most diverse Helsinki. The ability of the performance to overlap the sacred everyday life and the street dance ritual has an openness that would do us all good for all the citizens who enjoy themselves in our own bubbles.

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