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Netherlands Dance Theater 1 & 2 Shine at 2016 Holland Dance Festival

by Helma Klooss
February 28, 2016
Amsterdam, OT (Netherlands)
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
Netherlands Dance Theater 1 and second company NDT 2, presented the two most outstanding evenings of the 2016 Holland Dance Festival (Jan 28-Feb 20, 2016) and attention must be paid to them.

The Holland Dance Festival is held in The Hague bi-annually and this year featured eight international companies, from Canada to New Zealand.

In Netherlands Dance Theater 1’s new program Somos, February 4, 2016, two new pieces premiered by Crystal Pite and Marco Goecke. In addition, the ballets "Same Difference" (2007) and "Shoot the Moon"(2006), choreographed by NDT artistic director Paul Lightfoot and his companion Sol Leon were featured. Both were set to the music of Philip Glass and performed live by the Ballet orchestra. "Shoot the Moon" became an instant classic. Three rooms on amoving apparatus constantly circled on stage, while dancers moved in and out of them. Couples expressed their more difficult than happy relationships, some left through a door in despair, some were longing for each other by peeping through a window, some stayed in amazement. They turned, pushed, rolled, lifted each other, towed another over the ground or between the legs, did jumps, arabesques and pirouettes to the magnificent sounds of Glass' piano and violin music.

Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite's "The Statement" is her fifth ballet for NDT 1 since she became associate choreographer in 2008. The award-winning Pite made a career in Europe while still working with her own company, Vancouver-based Kidd Pivot. For NDT she made an ever-surprising work.

Set on a satirical text by Jonathon Young with sound bites created by her longtime composer Owen Belton, the work was about an office dispute between a senior couple from "upstairs," dressed in official black suits, and two junior colleagues, dressed in simple colored blouses and black pants.

In the text the seniors hid behind arguments to convince their subordinates. We hear talk of "secret orders" and "on and off the record." Everyone who works in an organization recognizes such Kafka-esque situations.

The dispute about power was perfectly danced with speedy, fluent movements around a shiny oval table. Lots of funny moments in the text were mirrored in the dance. In some moments the seniors moved above the table, while the juniors moved under it. The dance created laughs and recognition in the audience. The convincing ballet's format was also reminiscent of Kurt Jooss' "The Green Table."

For his second piece for NDT 1, "Woke up Blind," choreographer Marco Goecke chose the hectic love songs of singer/songwriter Jeff Buckley.

The work's seven dancers entered the stage one by one in Goecke’s frantic movement. Held alongside their bodies or making angular shapes, the dancers moved their arms with vibrancy and pace. They interacted with one another all the while keeping their distance. Up to the task, NDT 1's dancers performed Goecke’s up tempo choreography admirably.

For Netherlands Dance Theater 2's performance of Straight Around, February 18, 2016, the troupe performed works by Hans van Manen, Edward Clug and Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar.

NDT 2's dancers, around twenty, only stay in the company for two years. As dancers they are extraordinarily gifted and beautiful, as performers they still lack the stage presense that comes with experience.

Choreographer Hans van Manen has had a long relationship with NDT. In his eight minute love duet on Busoni entitled "Two" (1990), dancers Madoka Kariya and Alexander Andersonan performed the the work with grace. 1997's ‘Solo’, a seven minute piece on Bach was performed with high vitality by three male dancers, Helias Tur-Dorvault, Miguel Duarte and Gregory Lau. All three extraordinary but but Lau wowed with his blazing speed.

Israeli choreographers Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar created their ballet "Feelings" together with musician Ori Lichtik and lighting designer Tom Visser.

For Eyal and Behar (who also designed the costumes), the music, lighting and movement all played a similar role in "Feelings." It is the fourth work Eyal, a longtime Batsheva Dance Company collaborator, has made for NDT.

Like the title indicated, the dance was clearly about feelings and had a special leading lady, the scarlet-haired Alice Godfrey.

Alone on stage Godfrey moved her upper body slowly backwards and sideways while her head moved hesitatingly in different directions and her feet cautiously touched the floor. As an animal might, she explored her surroundings, mostly around center stage, all the while her eyes keeping track of her limbs. In her weird postures she was utterly fragile. Her mysterious being kept our full attention as well as the work's jazzy soundtrack.

As if portraying followers of Godfrey's character, the other nine dancers entered the stage mimicking her movments. Like a hallucination, they flowed after Godfrey.
The alienation of this choreography kept on going after a half minute break with applause as two male dancers turned around each other in exactly the same way. It was not clear what the connection was with the previous part. Nevertheless it was intriguing and danced well.

Edward Clug, the artistic leader of the Slovenian Maribor Ballet, was asked to create as a guest choreographer a new piece for NDT 2. The resulting work, "Handman," on a new composition for piano and drums by Milko Lazar involved the dancers in the choreographic process. Video images by Clug also accompanied the group dance.

Short encounters between males, females and the group of nine dancers alternated on the tasty rhythmical piano tunes. The dancers took moves from each other on and developed them to something else. A female dancer ended upside down relying on the back of a male dancer to hold her up. Her feet along his head created a posture one didn’t expect.

Clug's choreography was original and often funny. One moment a dancer was swimming the breaststroke on the floor from one side to the other, another, all nine dancers formed a circle moving on the floor as if they were paratroopers in the air.

With these two original new pieces NDT 2 proved how high their standard was technically and in their expression of these outstanding works.
NDT 1. Shoot the Moon of Lightfoot/Sol. Dancer: Parvaneh Scharafali.

NDT 1. Shoot the Moon of Lightfoot/Sol. Dancer: Parvaneh Scharafali.

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


NDT1. The Statement by Crystal Pite. Dancers: Jon Bond, Rena Narumi, Fernando Hernando Magadan, Imre van Opstal.

NDT1. The Statement by Crystal Pite. Dancers: Jon Bond, Rena Narumi, Fernando Hernando Magadan, Imre van Opstal.

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


NDT1. Woke up Blind by Marco Goecke. Dancers: Anne Jung and Olivier Coeffard.

NDT1. Woke up Blind by Marco Goecke. Dancers: Anne Jung and Olivier Coeffard.

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


NDT2. Two of Hans van Manen. Dancers: Madoka Kariya and Alexander Anderson .

NDT2. Two of Hans van Manen. Dancers: Madoka Kariya and Alexander Anderson .

Photo © & courtesy of Joris Jan Bos


NDT2. Feelings of Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar. Dancers: Alice Godfrey and others.

NDT2. Feelings of Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar. Dancers: Alice Godfrey and others.

Photo © & courtesy of Joris Jan Bos


NDT2. Handman by Edward Clug. Dancers: Aya Misaki , Benjamin Behrends, Graham Kaplan, Guido Dutilh.

NDT2. Handman by Edward Clug. Dancers: Aya Misaki , Benjamin Behrends, Graham Kaplan, Guido Dutilh.

Photo © & courtesy of Joris Jan Bos

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