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Zuiderstrandtheater
Netherlands
Den Haag (The Hague), OT (Netherlands)
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Netherlands Dance Theater 1 Brilliant in Season-Opening Production

by Helma Klooss
October 28, 2018
Zuiderstrandtheater
Houtrustweg 505
Den Haag (The Hague), OT (Netherlands) 2583 WB
+31(0)70 88 00 333
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 opened their new dance season September 27 at Zuiderstrandtheater with three ballets, all accompanied by live music performed by the Ballet Orchestra.

Highlighting the evening was the ballet "Vladimir" by the Israeli guest choreographer Hofesh Shechter. After his education and after dancing with Ohad Naharin in Israel, Shechter studied music in Paris. Now a celebrated choreographer based in London, Shechter has his own dance company.

For "Vladimir," Shechter not only choreographed the work but composed its music as well, which was performed by the Ballet Orchestra and a percussion group called Slagwerk The Hague. His composition caused an overwhelming sound that rushed you away.

In the beginning of the ballet, NDT's dancers laid quietly on the stage floor in between four rust-colored walls which were placed crisscross on the stage.

We heard a heartbeat through the swelling violins as the work's fifteen dancers costumed differently in everyday clothing rose and ran about the stage and started to fight with each other until some were pinned against the walls. Full of energy they continued to move in different groupings, slowly forming a heaving mass.

With the atmosphere being set by this opening scene we are rushed along at a furious pace as associations arise in our minds. Is this about war? About the refugee drama?

A trio begins to clap loudly while dancing, others join in, it becomes a rhythmic dance between clans. In addition to the shredding sounds of the violins, there was always a clear beat of the percussionists stirring up the dancers.
The group of dancers always comes from different angles and it never looks the same. Sometimes they all squat and delay their movement and leave a beautiful suggestive image of an Asian dance on our retina. A flow of group movements followed the swelling music almost literally and the dancing got faster and faster following the music that became more and more varied, cheered on by the percussionists. When the music was at its peak, all the dancers jumped high in the air and the ballet was over leaving you wishing they could have danced forever.

Next, choreographer Marco Goecke took a new path with his ballet "Walk the Demon." The original ballet which consisted of solos and duets was expanded in this new version for six or eight dancers with a plethora of rhythmical group dances.

In it, NDT's dancers moved with nervous vibrations of their arms above their heads and along their bodies. The rapid spreading of legs and and dancers with with bleak grimaces on their faces a Goecke trademark. The dancers looked expressive and cartoon like.

Then in a series of sporadic duets the dancers mirrored, imitated or tried to seduce one another in a sensually physical way.

The ballet had a dark side as well, when the dancers used their voices and roared, screeched, cursed, and whispered: "All life and love is a Thank you, hello and goodbye." At the end a dancer in a gorilla costume walked over the stage. Was he the demon Goecke suggested in the ballet's title?

The ballet's scenery was built up of projections of a threatening Dutch sky with heavy clouds. Adding to that atmosphere, Goecke chose for the ballet the orchestral works by the Czech composer Pavel Haas and Finnish composer Pehr Hendrik Nordgren along with ballads by Antony & the Johnsons stating in the program book: "I think it [Antony & the Johnsons music for the ballet] is dramatic and big, but at the same time also contemplative and intimate. In her [Anohni's] voice lies a torment that points inwards. For me, the dance says absolutely nothing if it doesn’t constantly refer to the inside."

The very successful ballet "Singuliere Odyssee" by NDT artistic director Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon from a former season on a composition by Max Richter opened this great evening of dance. Read my review of this work by clicking here.
NDT1 in 'Vladimir,' choreography Hofesh Shechter.

NDT1 in "Vladimir," choreography Hofesh Shechter.

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


NDT1 in 'Vladimir,' choreography Hofesh Shechter.

NDT1 in "Vladimir," choreography Hofesh Shechter.

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


NDT1 in 'Walk the Demon,' choreography by Marco Goecke.

NDT1 in "Walk the Demon," choreography by Marco Goecke.

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


NDT1 in 'Walk the Demon,' choreography by Marco Goecke.

NDT1 in "Walk the Demon," choreography by Marco Goecke.

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani

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