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Netherlands Dans Theater 1 & 2's Kunstkamer an Unforgettable Evening of Dance

by Helma Klooss
October 21, 2019
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 celebrated its 60th birthday with a full year of exceptional ballets in 2019 including a program of works by choreographer Jiri Kylián who made NDT world famous during his artistic leadership from 1975-1999.

In honor of the 60th anniversary NDT aired on Google Arts & Culture a digital archive of 50 choreographies, digital expo’s and archive pieces: ndt.nl/zestig, as well as made available a book.

Also for this occasion NDT's main choreographers Paul Lightfoot (artistic leader) and Sol Leon plus associate choreographers Crystal Pite and Marco Goecke created for the organization's two companies - NDT 1 & 2 - the world premiere of Kunstkamer performed October 3 to live accompaniment by The Ballet Orchestra.

It was a true feast to watch the two companies merging smoothly together in the program's 18 pieces divided in two parts of one hour.

Inspired by Albertus Seba’s "Cabinet of Curiosities" (1734) the choreographers created their own evening of curiosities, with in mind the dreams and the journey of NDT the last sixty years.

The mobile scenery for the work was a majestic building of three floors, an enlarged cabinet, a tympanum as an entrance as well as windows and doors used as entrances and exits.

Kunstkamer is an ode to NDT's famous choreographic predecessors, for example Benjamin Harkarvy (later director Julliard School), who brought in the sixties modern choreographers from New York to The Hague and introduced the Graham technique. He and Carel Birnie were the founding fathers of NDT.

Through choreographies by Hans van Manen, but most of all Jiri Kylian, the company created its own dance vocabulary, a fusion between classical and modern dance. In all those years NDT has produced a constant flow of high quality dancers.

The program began with soli and duets. The first solo was an tribute to the impressive dancer Jorge Nozal (41, an NDT company member since 2004), who was seen throughout the evening. Also Chloe Albaret, who appeared mysteriously in a black tutu and a red top throughout the piece.

All sections of the work naturally merged into one another. Two quartets stood out. On piano music of Bartok, executed by pianist Jan Schouten on stage, the dancers in a lyrical choreography by Paul Lightfoot, moved in smooth movements, one move taken over by the next, as an ode to contact improvisation and very beautifully executed by Albaret, Rinako Lida, Marne van Opstal and Sebastian Kristensen Haynes.

Another jewel of the evening was the quartet by Pite on a piano sonate by Schubert for four; Lea Ved, Jon Bond, Cesar Faria Fernandes and Roger van der Poel. As domino stones the dancers take along and pass on subtle moves, beautiful in its simplicity. It was immediately followed by an ensemble work by Pite and Lightfoot for all the dancers to the music of Schubert. The dancers were stunning in their line dancing and were wonderfully accompanied by the orchestra.

Goecke chose a song by Janis Joplin, which suited his frantic quick movements, angular arms as wings of a bird, very well. Goecke also chose a song by Henry Purcell for a piece for 6-dancers, who not only danced but heavenly sang the piece. This unknown talent surprised the audience and was admired.

Highlights of the evening were the creations for the 37-dancers of NDT 1&2 moving in the most virtuoso synchronic composites.

The first part of the evening ended with a choreography by Pite and Lightfoot on music by Beethoven, with a breathtaking speedy sequence of rows of dancers in circles, small and large, moving in different rhythms and directions.

The second part ended with all dancers in a line-up group choreography of Lightfoot, moving their arms as bird-wings that was light and peaceful on the thin sounds of Purcell. The ballet orchestra easily changed from Beethoven to Part to Purcell in a grandiose way. The dancers and musicians earned long-lasting bursts of applause at work's end.

At the very end of the evening the dancers re-entered the stage and spread out to imitate the original photo of the company 60 years ago, which was projected behind them (and here under). The past and the present came together to make the evening unforgettable.
Netherlands Dans Theater 1 & 2 in 'Kunstkamer'.

Netherlands Dans Theater 1 & 2 in "Kunstkamer".

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


Netherlands Dans Theater 1 & 2 in 'Kunstkamer'.

Netherlands Dans Theater 1 & 2 in "Kunstkamer".

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


Netherlands Dans Theater 1 & 2 in 'Kunstkamer'.

Netherlands Dans Theater 1 & 2 in "Kunstkamer".

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani


NDT circa 1965

NDT circa 1965

Photo © & courtesy of Photographer Unknown

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