Cross-cultural cliches

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 July, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 July, 1995, 12:00am

IT was billed as a cross-cultural shock, but the only thing surprising about Aurinkobaletti's programme at the Arts Centre was how pedestrian and torpid Raija Lehmussaari's choreography was.

A cross-cultural dialogue between Hong Kong and Finland, the performance of Lehmussaari's VSOT - Very Special Old Touch was slow, odd and tiresome. Purporting, according to the programme notes, to deal with profound feminine issues, the crux of the problem was the lack of a distinctive dance vocabulary and syntax.

The piece opens with dancers sitting in chairs. The musicians on stage, looking antique in velvet outfits, tread the line somewhere between neo-classical and contemporary. The anticipation is there of something about to happen. Nothing does.

As she liberatingly flails a banner about, a dancer is mauled by a pair of testosterone driven goons. This pair at another point split into types: one fey, read gay; the other pumping biceps, read macho. These are cliches, stereotypes, and Lehmussarri never cuts through them to expose or reveal anything more.

After this Medina Lau's choreography for Always Elsehwere was a breath of fresh air. While programme notes alluded to the 'roles of being men and women in a contemporary context', the abstracted duets between a man and woman mirrored them as simply human beings, devoid of political rhetoric. But towards the end, as it became more literal, the dance became diminished.

The posturing was not as effective as the earlier core movement. Still, Always Elsewhere was always memorable.

Aurinkobaletti, Shouson Theatre, Arts Centre, June 30