Last Updated on February 18, 2022
A Triumphant Evening of Contemporary Dance with NDT 2
It’s a busy time for Dance Consortium, a group of 18 large-scale UK and Irish venues that come together to promote dance. With Acosta Danza’s 100% Cuban (see our review of this fabulous show) now out on tour. Tonight saw the Nederlands Dans Theater 2 (NDT 2) return to the UK and Ireland for the first time since 2016. The company’s eighteen young dancers presented a triple bill of works set to music ranging from Tori Amos hits to French-Lebanese jazz trumpet Ibrahim Maalouf and a Haydn piano trio. NDT 2 is now under the directorship of Emily Molnar, formerly artistic director of Ballet British Columbia from 2009 to 2020 and dancer with Frankfurt Ballet under director William Forsythe, and the three choreographers on this bill – Marco Goecke, Hans van Manen and Johan Inger – all have strong links to the company.
Marco Goecke’s The Big Crying, is receiving its UK and Ireland premiere on this tour. The piece is an extraordinarily visually arresting meditation on the death of his father set to three songs by Tori Amos interlinked by a throbbing noise soundtrack. The stage is framed by black curtains and backdrop with a single raised flame offering a sense of hope in an otherwise bleak landscape. The dancers are dressed in baggy black trousers and muddy purple ruched tops apparently symbolising the curtains of a hearse.
It opens with a solo dancer engaging in a cartoon-like series of high-speed sexual couplings encompassing all genders. Goecke has created a highly original language, a sped-up hyper-dance that creates a new framework for the precise physical articulation of ballet and the result is extraordinary. To the sound of Amos’ Death Lullaby: Blood Roses, the tightly synchronised ensemble work their bodies with marionette-style hanging arms, little teapot moves and twitches and jerks. As the soundtrack moves to the percussive beat of a flanged tom-tom beat, there is Michael Jackson style crotch-grabbing, scrabbling across the floor, laughing and screaming. Amos sings “Can’t stop what’s coming” and we understand that our existence is full of finite and futile movement that subsides as Amos covers the R.E.M. song Losing My Religion. It has to be seen!
Dutch maestro Hans van Manen has been involved with NDT since it was founded in 1959, first as a dancer, then choreographer, then artistic director from 1961 until 1970. Simple Things, created for NDT 2 in 2001, celebrates the beauty of conceptual simplicity and a delight in pure dance foregrounding the passion, grace and line of the movement. It features four dancers who appear in different partnerships. Characterful Emmitt Cawley and the extraordinary elongated Auguste Palayer both take balletic solos as the other looks on with the dance responding to the steady pulse and rococo flourishes of a contemporary work for accordion.
Then the two women, Cassandra Martin and Kenedy Kallas enter with moves that are decidedly slinky, mapping out the sensual circularity of tango as the two couples embrace. Haydn’s Piano Trio No 28 in E major acts as an elegant counterweight to the opening with dancers responding in kind and the work draws to its conclusion with a playful reprise of the accordion music. It’s a seductively enjoyable piece of dance that acts as an effective transition to the final piece.
IMPASSE, choreographed by Johan Inger, is the programme’s second UK and Ireland premiere. Inger is a former dancer with the Swedish Royal Ballet and NDT, with his 2020 piece for NDT 2, set to the music of French-Lebanese jazz trumpeter and composer, Ibrahim Maalouf. Inger notes that much of our behaviour is rooted in peer pressure and IMPASSE explores that conception. The curtain lifts revealing a barn door with its frame outlined by a strip of light. A young woman creeps out to be joined by the two other soloists. The dancing is youthful, unfettered, carefree and open allowing them to explore the boundaries of the stage. The three principals are joined by the rest of the company dressed in black as Ibrahim Maalouf’s rumba rhythms crank into gear. The larger group are much more unified in their movement with the trio gradually being sucked into the ensemble and reemerging in black dress.
With the ensemble dominating in a synchronised salsa party the barn frame is gradually replaced by yet smaller iterations, limiting the scope for movement and individual expression; and, in a neat comic touch, there is some actual leg-pulling. The ensemble reemerges dressed in pimped-up party gear creating a fake sense of individuation. At the end, the trio just escapes being shut off by the descending front curtain, but something has been lost. The piece is a powerful critique of mass culture and the peer pressure that arises out of social media use.
This was a triumphant evening of contemporary dance encompassing three distinct dance languages with the company receiving a deserved series of ovations. Catch it while you can! Listings for NDT2 are below with the tour kicking off Wednesday 16 – Saturday 19 February at 7.30 pm, Sadler’s Wells Theatre.
Listings Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT)
NDT 2 Wednesday 16 – Saturday 19 February at 7.30 pm Sadler’s Wells Theatre, LONDON Rosebery Ave, London EC1R 4TN Tickets: 020 7863 8000 / www.sadlerswells.com Wednesday 16 February: post-show Q&A with members of the company
Tuesday 22 & Wednesday 23 February at 7.30 pm NORWICH Theatre Royal Theatre St, Norwich NR2 1RL Tickets: 01603 630000 / www.norwichtheatre.org Tuesday 22 February: post-show Q&A with members of the company
Friday 25 & Saturday 26 February at 7.30 pm Royal Concert Hall NOTTINGHAM Theatre Square, Nottingham NG1 5ND Tickets: 0115 989 5555 / www.trch.co.uk Friday 25 February: post-show Q&A with members of the company
Tuesday 1 & Wednesday 2 March at 7.30 pm Theatre Royal PLYMOUTH Royal Parade, Plymouth PL1 2TR Tickets: 01752 267222 / www.theatreroyal.com Tuesday 1 March: post-show Q&A with members of the company
Friday 4 & Saturday 5 March at 7.30 pm The Marlowe Theatre CANTERBURY The Friars, Canterbury CT1 2AS Tickets: 01227 787787 / www.marlowetheatre.com Friday 4 March: post-show Q&A with members of the company
Friday 11 & Saturday 12 March at 7.30 pm Eden Court, INVERNESS Bishops Rd, Inverness IV3 5SA Tickets: 01463 234234 / www.eden-court.co.uk Friday 11 March: post-show Q&A with members of the company
Tuesday 15 & Wednesday 16 March at 7.30 pm NEWCASTLE Theatre Royal 100 Grey St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6BR Tickets: 0844 811 2121 / www.theatreroyal.co.uk Tuesday 15 March: post-show Q&A with members of the company
Monday 2 & Tuesday 3 May at 7.30 pm Bord Gais Energy Theatre DUBLIN Grand Canal Square, Docklands, Dublin, Ireland Tickets: +353 1 677 7999 / www.bordgaisenergytheatre.ie Monday 2 May: post-show Q&A with members of the company
Friday 6 & Saturday 7 May at 7.30 pm EDINBURGH Festival Theatre 13-29 Nicolson St, Edinburgh EH8 9FT Tickets: 0131 529 6000 / www.capitaltheatres.com Friday 6 May: post-show Q&A with members of the company