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Den Haag (The Hague), OT (Netherlands)

Nederlands Dans Theater's 'Endlessly Free' a Feel-Good Thing of Beauty

by Helma Klooss
October 28, 2020
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
The first Nederlands Dans Theater performance of the 2020-21 season, Endlessly Free was limited to an audience of only 200 spread over the The Hague's Zuiderstrandtheater space. After months of only livestreams, one could finally enjoy these great dancers again in-person. But fans at home could also because these performances were recorded and streamed every evening. In total some viewers from forty countries enjoyed these ballets.

The program on September 17, 2020 started with an introduction of the new artistic leader Emily Molnar from Ballet BC in Vancouver, Canada who was introduced by Willemijn Maas, director of NDT. Both women were visibly happy to be opening the new season.

Choreographer Medhi Walerski, Molnar's successor at Ballet BC and ex-NDT dancer, presented two ballets beginning with the world premiere of "Silent Tides".

THe ballet opened on dancer Chloé Albaret alone on a darkened stage save a horizontal line of blue light. She moved slowly and elegantly first her legs in different directions then her arms joined in moving faster but all in balance with the swelling and sharp music of composer Adrien Cronet. Dancer Scott Fowler joined her in fluent unison turns using the entire stage space that was alternated with moments of stillness. Caressingly and lovingly they looked at each other, he flirted with her, she evaded him. Their duet was intimate, caused in part by their naked upper torsos, but mostly by their harmony with one another in the soft way he lifted her up or the way she stroked her head along his arm. A violin concerto by Bach then took over and their dancing sped up but stayed romantic until the ballet abruptly ended.

What a joy it was to watch these two beautiful dancers, especially in this pandemic time where intimacy is rarely possible.

"The present situation has emphasized a reflection on the human connection," wrote Walerski in the program notes. "This reflects the relationship to one another and to ourselves - 'the infinite gates where our bodies receive the nourishment and otherness’ vibration and energy."

The intermission-less program continued with choreographer Crystal Pite's "The Other You" created for her own company Kid Pivot in 2010. NDT dancers Jon Bond and Cesar Faria Fernandes dance this rather dark duet in an excellent way. It was a portrait of a man in dialogue with his other self. Tension between contrasting states - puppet and puppeteer, dominance and submission, human and animal, were performed in a very precise and intense way. The dissonant soundscape of Owen Belton with traffic noise, barking dogs, and rainfall combined with Beethoven’s piano sonata propelled the two dancers on. They stayed close to each other, mirrored one another and became aggressive during the piece in which their roles were reversed and more. The duet started with small gestures close to one another but they opened up and used the whole space finally.

Walerski’s second work on the program, 2017's "Soon" was a feel good ballet for two men, Paxton Ricketts and Kyle Clarke, and two women, Madoka Ariya and Tess Voelker. Their dance was propelled by a huge revolving mobile of a gold-colored shell on a black arm floating above the dance floor and lit by a large spotlight. It was a beautiful sculpture designed by Walerski himself.

About the work's music, four sensitive songs by Benjamin Sainte-Clementine, Walerski in the program notes wrote: "The sheer uniqueness of his voice and the raw, profound poetry of his lyrics kindled a spark that I wanted to express through this piece; four songs, four dancers, echoing Clementine’s vision of life.
The tenor sings ‘if you’d stay with me / your tomorrow will be endlessly free."

The two couples danced with energy in circular moves complimentary to the slow turning sculpture above them. Dancing to the beat of the songs they expressed the melancholic nature of each song's lyrics. "Soon" was a piece of classical beauty!
Silent Tides

Silent Tides

Photo © & courtesy of Rahi Rezvani

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