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Theater Aan Het Spui
Netherlands
Den Haag (The Hague), OT (Netherlands)
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Netherlands Dans Theater 2 - 25 Years Leon & Lightfoot

by Helma Klooss
November 4, 2014
Theater Aan Het Spui
Spui 187, 2511 BN
Den Haag (The Hague), OT (Netherlands)
+31 70 346 5272
Helma Klooss is a Netherlands-based dance writer and festival organizer. More about her dance festivals can be found at www.danskaravaan.nl, www.danskaravaan-educatief.nl and www.stranddans.nl
In 1989 the dancers Sol Léon and Paul Lightfoot created their first work for Netherlands Dans Theater 2. It was in the eighties that NDT artistic director and choreographer Jiri Kylian started NDT 2 for dancers around twenty, who are staying for three years in the company. Only a few are chosen for the main company. Their skills up to this moment have been at the highest level, which makes NDT2 as popular as the main company, NDT1.

Mr. Kylian stimulated his dancers to make their own work yearly, thus giving the inseparable duo Léon & Lightfoot the chance to develop themselves and create almost fifty ballets for the company, resulting this week in their celebration of 25 years choreography.

Meanwhile Mr. Kylian has withdrawn fully from the company, taking his ballets with him. Paul Lightfoot (1966), born in North England became in 2011 the artistic director of NDT with Sol Léon (1965), born in Spanish Cordoba as his most important advisor. For both a huge responsibility because of the company's worldwide reputation.

For their silver celebration Léon & Lightfoot created two new choreographies. The six minute opening duet "Schubert" on the String Quartet in C of this composer, reveals the choreographers' skill to portray sensuality between a man and woman with a strong feeling for the music. Ingenious turns around each other, lifting the other around one's waist, over the back, above heads, entangle, angular arms and knees. A short poem, tenderly danced by Yukino Takaura in a white dress and Olivier Coeffard in a black suit.

In the second, longer choreography "Some other Time" on music of Max Richter, two couples interweave in a serious mode closely surrounded by eight dancers. The first couple in black, Imre van Opstal with a long dress and braid and Clement Haenen, dance with stretched arms and legs in slow movements. He draws her towards him, again and again. Theirs mouths sometimes open or they hold a hand before it. It is an intimate duet, emotionally conducted. A second woman dancer, Xanthe van Opstal (yes, Imre's sister), in a short black dress, embroidered collar, invades between the couple, forming a serene trio. Dancer Gregory Lau jumps in with quicksilver movements, he claims Xanthe. Their duet is much lighter, they move as individuals and keep their distance. A profound and interesting piece, mirroring youthfulness versus adulthood.

In between these new ballets the older "Sad Case" (1998) was programmed. Made on Caribbean music this ballet is funny with grim moments. Buttocks turn rapidly, heads are isolated and vibrate, bodies wave on mambo's. Exuberant and jolly, but never with an erotic layer, which you would expect of Caribbean dance and music.

These three ballets before the intermission tell many short stories, not yet making a book. The choice to finalize the evening with the ballet "Subject to change" (2003) on Schubert's 'Death and the Maiden' and Mahler's 'Andante con moto' was therefore excellent.
Yukino Takaura and Olivier Coeffard dance on a red carpet, that by help of four male dancers turns and waves under them and even becomes a hiding place.

Takaura dances her solo with a mysterious delight on her face, followed by her partner's solo, moving with extensive gestures. He lifts her close to him, they cuddle, their legs entangle. They perform their lyrical love duet with tenderness and sensuality. When Coeffard disappears under the carpet for a moment, Takaura is surrounded by four men dancing wildly around her. The carpet shakes and her duet with Coeffard continues till the story is completed and leaves us with an enduring experience.

It is fascinating to see these young dancers move in these difficult ballets with such an ease and perfection. They are in the good hands of Léon & Lightfoot, who once started out in NDT2.

Of course Mr. Kylian's influence is visible in these choreographies, one sees similarities in the virtuosity of arm and leg movements, the complexity of their turns and embracements. But compared to Mr. Kylian, Léon & Lightfoot's choreographies involve more humor, more theater, there is a choice for emotional content above esthetics.

In December their evening long choreography Sehnsucht/Schmetterling, which was a success in New York, London and St. Petersburg, will be performed by NDT1 in The Hague.
'Schubert' by Leon/Lightfoot. NDT2. dancers Yukino Takaura & Olivier Coeffard.

'Schubert' by Leon/Lightfoot. NDT2. dancers Yukino Takaura & Olivier Coeffard.

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


'Schubert' by Leon/Lightfoot. NDT2. dancers Yukino Takaura & Olivier Coeffard.

'Schubert' by Leon/Lightfoot. NDT2. dancers Yukino Takaura & Olivier Coeffard.

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


'Sad Case' by Leon/Lightfoot. NDT2. Dancer Gregory Lau.

'Sad Case' by Leon/Lightfoot. NDT2. Dancer Gregory Lau.

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


'Some other time' by Leon/Lightfoot. NDT2. Dancers Xanthe van Opstal and Clement Haenen.

'Some other time' by Leon/Lightfoot. NDT2. Dancers Xanthe van Opstal and Clement Haenen.

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


'Some other time' by Leon/Lightfoot. NDT2. Dancers Xanthe van Opstal and Imre van Opstal.

'Some other time' by Leon/Lightfoot. NDT2. Dancers Xanthe van Opstal and Imre van Opstal.

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


'Subject to Change' by Leon/Lightfoot. NDT2. Dancers Yukino Takaura & Olivier Coeffard.

'Subject to Change' by Leon/Lightfoot. NDT2. Dancers Yukino Takaura & Olivier Coeffard.

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


'Subject to Change' by Leon/Lightfoot. NDT2. Dancers Yukino Takaura & Olivier Coeffard.

'Subject to Change' by Leon/Lightfoot. NDT2. Dancers Yukino Takaura & Olivier Coeffard.

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani

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