Svenska Dagbladet 1 November 2008
Malin Hellkvist Sellén’s choreographical investigations are like a physical commentary on the debate on whether it is at all valid to divide forms of cultural expression into higher and lower, popular and high-class.
She bores her way beyond the surface of those paintings sold on the streets depicting crying children, disco dance, nonconformist hymns and other popular phenomena that fall outside the umbrella of “serious” culture but nevertheless build on their own powerful norms.
Now she has shone a spotlight on dance band culture – at precisely the same point that it has come to the attention of Swedish television. And from this mocked cultural form, that is still so alive, she creates a concentrated performance that both challenges (gender) stereotypes and makes us listen to the lyrics. There is a lot of heart and pain in the words of Lasse Stefanz, Wahlströms, Mona G and Thorleifs.
But here the clichéd becomes a kind of truth. “Pink promises” is not coloured by simple irony, as you might initially think on seeing the pale pink ceiling above the stage at Kilen, but more by Nordic melancholy and an eternal longing for love – and also of the power of music and dance.
Creating a solo might appear strange as dance band music is associated with dancing couples. But it reinforces the sense of loneliness that can be felt at any dance night under the sun, and also clarifies the theme of body, identity and sexuality.
Dancer Marianne Kjærsund owns the stage with her expressive plasticity. She is man and woman, singing band member and God on the dance floor. The moustache, the sideburns and a slightly stooping back are retained from the disco show “Better people” (2006), but now the role figure is androgynously attired in pink – a classy top, trousers, nail varnish and lipstick, touched up in the coffee breaks. Hair undulates in a glittering style for dance band professionals of both sexes.
This is a dance night that more than anything is about feelings while simultaneously deconstructing the simple 4/4 of jive and foxtrot. The choreography is based on a limited range of basic steps affected by the music. Cheerful songs spread the dance throughout the space while melancholy encases the body in a waiting appeal.
The rolling hips recur from “Better people” but do not have the same challenging sexual charge. If disco dance released a big ego, the dance band version is more of a listener.
The light is a congenial partner in the switch between hope and doubt, euphoria and resignation. Sometimes the music stops and in the vacuum the dance continues as if a force of its own. Finally Kjaersund seeks our gaze, rose in hand, to the sound of Thorleifs’ En dag i juni, a song about flowers dying.
Who decides how we should feel and what is good taste, what is male or female? “Pink promises” gives rise to questions and cheerful smiles. Hellkvist Sellén keeps her promises on body politics although it is a sweet from which she is sucking in as much as she can.