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Several Notable Productions Highlighted 2018 Holland Dance Festival

by Helma Klooss
April 6, 2018
Den Haag (The Hague), 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
The Holland Dance Festival is held biennially and the latest was held January 25 - February 11, 2018 in different theaters in The Hague.

At the festival's opening night "The Source of Inspiration Gala," previews of the international dance companies and Dutch productions in the festival were presented.

The gala was also the evening where the "Kylian Ring," a service award begun in 2006 and named after Jiri Kylian was awarded to Dutch National Ballet dancers Alexandra Radius and Han Ebbelaar whose dancer's fund and yearly dance prizes, aid in the development of young dancers.

While their were many great productions and performances at this year's festival, here are three that proved outstanding:

Holland Dance Festival
The Source of Inspiration
Blue Technology
January 25, 2018
Zuiderstrandtheater
The Hague


Dutch choreographer David Middendorp presented at the gala his ballet "Flyland 2 in a Room" from his series Blue Technology. His ideas are innovative and his performances give dance a new direction and attract a young audience. The audience loved it, as well as the international dance juries.

Middendorp started out as a dancer performing nationally and internationally. He reached the final on the "America’s Got Talent" television show. He founded the dance company, Another kind of Blue where he created over the last few years, several productions that stood out because of their ingenious mix of dance and technology; most notably by using drones, film and animation in a beautiful symbiosis with his dancers.

In "Flyland 2 in a Room," Middendorp tells a love story of a couple at the end of their relationship. Their memories are full of emotions and the line between reality and fantasy is thin. The ballet is set to Cinematic Orchestra's song "To build a home."

Violet Broersma and Antonino Milazzo as the couple in the ballet begin with a sweet duet that took place in front of a video-projected fireplace surrounded by a bookcase. In it, Milazzo turned elegantly around Broersma lifting her as he walked her to the bookcase. We then see them climb up the virtual bookcase to the blue sky above it. They continue dancing on the clouds, jumping from one cloud to another. This follow up of their live dancing we see on film.

The reality is that all the dance movements by Broersma and Milazzo are danced at the very same time by them moving on the floor and being filmed from the ceiling. The tender duet's emotional impact comes from the couple’s reminiscing. They touch, embrace, shed each other in this dreamlike landscape which is as if we are looking inside their thoughts.

With the ballet, Middendorp explored the boundaries between fantasy and reality and added another level of the human psyche. Besides film, he added animated elements in the scenery such as the two dancers flying with seagulls by holding onto their wings and one where Broersma falls through the sky and Milazzo pulls her back onto a cloud. Could these images symbolize how it feels at the point of a romantic breakup? To feel you have no grip on your relationship?

See for more: www.anotherkindofblue.nl/bue-technology-nl

Holland Dance Festival
About Miss Julie
Stephen Shropshire & Danish Dance Theater
February 7, 2018
Korzo Theater
The Hague


Another of the festival's very successful productions was Stephen Shropshire's About Miss Julie. An American choreographer living in the Netherlands, Shropshire created the ballet for Danish Dance Theater in a co-production with the Holland Dance festival.

About Miss Julie is based on the tragedy by August Strindberg (1888) which tells of a love affair between a bored daughter of a rich Earl and her father’s cook. The story, with a tragic end, is told by the fiancée of the cook and happens during a summer feast.

In the ballet the role of the fiancée is danced by Merete Hersvik who was costumed in a proper Victorian dress. She watched over her love portrayed by dancer Stefanos Bizas. The ballet begins with the fiancée tenderly dancing with her when an intruder enters the stage portrayed by Australian dancer Jessica Lyall. Lyall walked on her toes on a balance beam, costumed in a small leotard and haughtily looking down on the dancing couple. She then flirted with the man challenging the couple's relationship. They flirtatious dance is fast and sensual. Finally, Hersvik comes between the pair and the three of them move together in a close-knit trio.

In the background we hear Irish folk songs, a bagpipe and soft voices as if a party is going on. The new couple in love are elegantly turning and hugging, while there is despair in the moves of Hersvik after being rejected by Bizas.

The elegant dancing then suddenly becomes mean as Bizas drops Lyall on the ground and Hersvik picks her up to throw her out as well. The music by composers Birkland, Gudmundson, Ingels and Berg swells. Lyall’s last moves are on the balance beam she repeatedly collapses, falls off the beam, and rises again and again.

Holland Dance Festival
Netherlands Dance Theater 1
The Hole
February 10
Lucent Dans Theater
The Hague


Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin created The Hole for his own troupe Batsheva Dance Company and told his dancers that this ballet will never tour, will never leave the studio, because it is too complicated a production. Recently he changed his mind. He stated: "NDT proved me wrong. I see the piece in a new light, in a different space and with these hugely talented creative and generous dancers. I can create a meaningful process that allows the work to grow."

The stage design for the work was grand and had three levels. Surrounding the audience were eight walls with large ceiling grids grids above. In the center was an octagon-shaped wooden stage.

The Hole is about combat and is extremely powerful, but it is also about human nature and what happens to people in such situations; their discipline and friendship. In it, NDT's dancers were divided into three groups, all men, all women and a mix of both, that danced in rotating groups.

For months the dancers practiced Naharin’s dance technique, known as Gaga, which strengthens the mind and spirit as well as the body.

The 60-minute work not only holds our attention, but leaves us with a tremendous admiration and amazement for these dancers who persevere in these heavy movements of combat - dancing an arm’s length from the audience, for which they need the utmost concentration.

The intimate ballet leaves little space for sentiment or any feelings in-between. The choreography is performed to a compulsive rhythm most of the time, although there are moments of consolation. The soundtrack is a combination of different songs, a.o. Badalamenti and Morricone, edited by Maxim Waratt,

The eight dancers accompany these rhythms using their hands and feet. They move rapidly as a fluent group from side to side, trembling, jumping, moving hesitatingly and muzzling each other. Their duets reminded me of the battles in Capoeira. Sensuality arises when the dancers behind the audience rub their bodies against the wall and bare their torsos.

At work's end the dancers all slow down while we hear jazz music sounds. Suddenly an attack comes from the ceiling. As snipers, some dancers throw crackling luminous material. It is frightening and sounds like shelling. Then swings roll out from the ceiling as the dancers above our heads quickly begin to swing to a sweet tune, leaving the audience flabbergasted.
Another kind of Blue in David Middendorp's 'Flyland 2 in a Room.'

Another kind of Blue in David Middendorp's "Flyland 2 in a Room."

Photo © & courtesy of Rebecca Hobday


Another kind of Blue in David Middendorp's 'Flyland 2 in a Room.'

Another kind of Blue in David Middendorp's "Flyland 2 in a Room."

Photo © & courtesy of Rebecca Hobday


Dansk Danseteater in Stephen Shropshire's 'About Miss Julie.'

Dansk Danseteater in Stephen Shropshire's "About Miss Julie."

Photo © & courtesy of Soren Meisner


Netherlands Dance Theater 1 in Ohad Naharin's 'The Hole.'

Netherlands Dance Theater 1 in Ohad Naharin's "The Hole."

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


Netherlands Dance Theater 1 in Ohad Naharin's 'The Hole.'

Netherlands Dance Theater 1 in Ohad Naharin's "The Hole."

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


Netherlands Dance Theater 1 in Ohad Naharin's 'The Hole.'

Netherlands Dance Theater 1 in Ohad Naharin's "The Hole."

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani

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