Nederlands Dans Theater 2 (NDT2)
February 25 2022 (and on tour to Plymouth, Canterbury, Inverness and Newcastle in February/March; Dublin and Edinburgh in May. See website ndt.nl)
Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
Review: William Ruff
Astonishing young dancers at the cutting-edge of contemporary dance
Just when you think you know what dance is, what story-telling is and, for that matter, what the human body is, along comes NDT2 (Nederlands Dans Theater) and takes you back to square one.
One of the most exciting things about NDT2’s take on contemporary dance is that you have no idea what to expect before the curtain goes up. They mine a rich seam of today’s choreographers who take nothing for granted and who fearlessly push back the boundaries of what the art deems possible. They are currently touring with three utterly different works, a sandwich consisting of two premieres of astounding physical energy with an earlier (and much more tranquil) dance in the middle.
The Big Crying (by Marco Goecke) is the sort of experience which turns an audience inside out , making you wonder if your eyes have been shut all your life. The programme note talks of bodies like broken engines and costumes that resemble the curtains of a hearse. Not sure about that – but you see human bodies transmuted into automata: limbs seem longer and joined together in alien ways. Movements and gestures are jerky, twitchy, puppet-like. Bodies interact in ways that suggest the familiar but which are utterly alien.
If this doesn’t make you feel as if you’ve been abducted by aliens, then the accompanying soundscape might: mournful singing by Tori Amos, the rumble of trains and highly unsettling screams from the dancers themselves. If this sounds just a bit too weird, let me stress that the dancing is never less than breath-taking, the young dancers defying their bodies’ physical limits, always precisely coordinated, dancing either solo or in combination with others. It’s all compelling, even when you can’t put your finger anywhere near what it all means.
Those who prefer a more traditional approach to dance will particularly like the central work: Simple Things (by Hans Van Manen). Set to music including a Haydn Piano Trio, the dance is for two pairs, opening and closing with a duet for two men, where one watches as the other dances. At the centre they dance with two women. Movements are fluid, lyrical, more classical in style; shapes are full of symmetry, grace and simplicity.
The final work is Impasse (by Johan Inger), a disturbing – but also surprisingly witty – piece about a world in which young people give up their freedom in order to conform with the expectations of others. The dominant stage image is of a personal space which shrinks as more people crowd into it. Much of the movement looks improvised, chaotic even, with fighting, screaming, bodies rolling down the stage. The fact, however, that solo dancers transform into a precision-tuned ensemble in a micro-second proves how attentive the choreography is to the minutest detail: nothing is left to chance; the art is in the spontaneity.
There were many young people in the audience. They (and more seasoned dance-lovers too) were clearly hooked from the outset and it’s not hard to see why. This is the cutting-edge of contemporary dance and the NDT2 company use their bodies to enthral and astonish throughout their ground-breaking show.
The Big Crying (Marco Goecke)
Emmitt Cawley, Kenedy Kallas, Barry Gans, Demi Bawon, Annika Verplancke, Samuel van der Veer, Ivo Matteus, Auguste Palayer, Nick Daniels, Nova Valkenhoff, Omani Ormskirk, Ricardo Hartley, Úrsula Urgeles, Sophie Whittome, Rui-Ting Yu, Kele Roberson
Simple Things (Hans Van Manen)
Demi Bawon, Ivo Mateus, Sophie Whittome, Barry Gans
Impasse (Johan Inger)
Emmitt Cawley, Kenedy Kallas, Barry Gans, Demi Bawon, Annika Verplancke, Samuel van der Veer, Ivo Matteus, Auguste Palayer, Nick Daniels, Nova Valkenhoff, Omani Ormskirk, Sophie Whittome, Rui-Ting Yu, Kele Roberson
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Emily Molnar
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Willemijn Maas
ARTISTIC ADVISOR: Francesca Caroti
REHEARSAL DIRECTORS: Lydia Bustinduy / Ander Zabala / Spence Dickhaus
MANAGER PLANNING & TOURING: Linda de Boer
COMPANY MANAGER NDT 2: Bastian Manders
TOUR LEADER: Lara Meeuwissen
TECHNICAL SUPERVISOR: Koos Planken
STAGE: Ole Schaaff
SOUND: Daan de Boer
LIGHT: Lisette van der Linden
PHYSIOTHERAPIST: Menno de Vries
WARDROBE: Sabine Moojen
PIANIST: Erwin Weerstra