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Subject: "Netherlands Dance Theatre 1, Sadlers Wells, 18 June 2002" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Lynette H

19-06-02, 03:52 PM (GMT)
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"Netherlands Dance Theatre 1, Sadlers Wells, 18 June 2002"
 
   Sadlers was packed with an unusually glitzy crowd for the opening night of NDT1’s short season there. There’s always been an image that ballet is the one that attracts the corporate crowd, with modern dance being much more the preserve of individual dance lovers rather than the suits. Not at Sadlers last night – indeed their presence there, in a smaller theatre, was even more noticeable than it would be at the ROH . (Pina Bausch earlier this year attracted the same type of crowd.) The generous sponsorship was even reflected in a speech from the stage from Sadler’s manager.

But anyway, back to the dance. Plus points of the night: NDT1’s fabulous dancers. They looked in tremendous shape, and had a very winning combination of power, accuracy and control. It’s not just that they have energy and athleticism: they are just as good at slow, subtle and controlled movements as the fast and furious ones. They can stand still and still command your attention. Every move has a beautifully finished quality to it. Definitely a class act. Even if all the choreography might not be to your taste, the dancers still impress. Minus points: the programme is very short, just three pieces (some as short as 20 minutes), padded out with some long intervals, and perhaps rather uneven in quality. The programme doesn’t have any photos of the dancers so it’s difficult to identify individuals – a pity.

The works were all relatively recent: Kylian’s Bella Figura, Paul Lightfoot’s Speak for Yourself and Johan Inger’s Walking Mad. All three have had work shown here before – NDT2 has toured here regularly, and all the NDT companies have featured regularly at the Edinburgh Festival. Kylian works are in Rambert’s repertoire.

Bella Figura is from 1995, for five women and four men, who appear for most of the time in small groups of two or three. The white floor surface for this was deliberately made to facilitate sliding, and the dancers had remarkable skill in controlling their momentum. The skimming over the surface and twirling of the women were occasionally reminiscent of ice dancing – probably not a very PC comparison. But just as in ice dance the lifts were all low, no higher than the shoulder, but very inventive. The work was set to a patchwork of musical fragments and showed a similar variety in its dance language and its costuming. A madly manic section made the dancers appear as if a group of animated out of control clockwork dolls, heighten by the curtains closing around them as if in a puppet show. This was then followed by an abrupt change to all dancers in long red skirts with their torsos bare – formal and grave, like a series of pagan priestesses. Not altogether satisfying as a coherent whole, but still possessing some fascinating moments.

Paul Lightfoot’s previous works had been quirky and odd but compelling. Speak for Yourself was perhaps not so convincing. It opens with one solo dancer who has a smoke canister strapped to his back: as he dances, the smoke swirls and forms its own shapes. Later, after being joined by more dancers, the stage is drenched with rain, and the dancers dance and slide though the puddles it produces. The lighting effects through the smoke and rain are effective, but the design and the effects maybe tend to overpower the dance itself (they certainly left the corporate crowd somewhat open mouthed). The dance itself seemed heavily influenced by Kylian here ( more dancers walking slowly towards the backcloth into which they disappear) and less individual and distinctive. The women were particularly fine in this (Shirley Essenboom, Sol Leon, Nancy Euverink).

On the other hand, I was much more impressed by Johan Inger’s Walking Mad than I had been by his earlier work. Here the design was a strong element, but quite distinctly part of the work, integrated into it. The set is a long wooden fence, with door through which dancers appear or disappear, or climb over: if flexes, bends, collapses to become a platform for dancing on. When I saw this work was set to Bolero I winced inwardly: how was anyone going to make anything to this without falling into melodrama or cliché. But Inger has made a warm and unexpectedly funny work with some curious little skirmishes in the battle of the sexes taking place – madcap chases and quirky manoeuvrings. I was less convinced of the final passage, to different music, a more angst-ridden duet, but the previous section was entertaining and inventive. Again, a really polished and professional performance by the dancers, met with a fond reception by the audience.



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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Netherlands Dance Theatre 1, Sadlers Wells, 18 June 2002 Bruceadmin 20-06-02 1
     RE: Netherlands Dance Theatre 1, Sadlers Wells, 18 June 2002 Robert 21-06-02 2
         RE: Netherlands Dance Theatre 1, Sadlers Wells, 18 June 2002 Bruceadmin 21-06-02 3
             RE: Netherlands Dance Theatre 1, Sadlers Wells, 18 June 2002 Lynette H 21-06-02 4
                 RE: Netherlands Dance Theatre 1, Sadlers Wells, 22 June 200... Brendan McCarthymoderator 24-06-02 5
                     RE: Netherlands Dance Theatre 1, Sadlers Wells, 22 June 200... alison 24-06-02 6

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Bruceadmin

20-06-02, 06:26 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Netherlands Dance Theatre 1, Sadlers Wells, 18 June 2002"
In response to message #0
 
   Thanks Lynette - here are my thoughts - now off to read what you and the others thought!...

NDT 1 at Sadler's Wells

Beautiful strong dazzling dancers, some of the very best you are likely to see anywhere, coupled with interesting production ideas should result in a night of dance bliss you'd have thought. At the NDT opening night many seemed to find it so but somehow I came away feeling a little deflated by the strange quirky sameness of all the work and movement vocabulary. Most strange indeed because on previous sightings I've generally felt excited on seeing them.

If you have never seen NDT you really ought to - the dancers' technique at all levels is just as exacting as anything you will see in a world-class ballet company at Principal/Senior Soloist levels for example. The opening piece, Bella Figura, by Jiri Kylian perhaps best displays their technique which is so sharp, precise and controlled. They can deliver a toe to milimetere accuracy after traversing 30ft and spinning a couple of dozen times. I was particularly transfixed when one of the dancers assumed a seated position in mid air, her partner holding her waist and spinning her around and around and yet the position was absolutely held as if she were steel - certainly not made of flesh and blood. Later feet did an odd angled bourree - it lasted a second or two but the sound was like a machine gun and the toes a blur. The dancers' strength also showed in slow sections of dance that I think all three pieces on the programme used. Slow motion movement is so difficult and yet they do it as if it were an everyday occurrence.

Bella Figura has a Baroque feel, fiery braziers, some incomprehensible Kylian notes ("A journey in time, light and space, addressing the ambiguity of aesthetics, performances and dreams...") and girls that go topless. Not much of it makes sense but the choreography displays the dancers well and included a mock fight or two.

Paul Lightfoot, an NDT dancer and choreographer, has been noted for his quirky, fun productions in the past and Speak For Yourself was at first no different with a dancer having smoke jetting from the top of his head for the first 10 minutes. The programme note quotes Tao Te Ching (yes the very same), talks of gentle rain, and appropriately after a while it does indeed rain. At first you think it might be sand but eventually the mist forms puddles through which the dancers slide and perform other movements mainly denied them normally. It's rather beautiful with water flicking about, but the movement is pretty much more Kylian and was not so differentiated from the first piece.

Walking Mad by Johan Inger is to Ravel's Bolero. "Our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness" (Socrates) is the programme note and the dancers caper around a moving wooden fence that folds, splits, falls over and secretly opens. It's a mad house (or wall) and hard to make sense of, though there is amusement at joke head gear and what the wall might do... but the movement vocabulary remains resolutely like the first piece. With the thunderous end to Bolero you think it's run its course but instead there is an Arvo Part piano piece to continue on. If you like mad picket fences this extension might clearly be seventh heaven. On the other hand if you don't...

Overall the theme of the night seemed to be madness and to thank for bringing these excellent dancers over we have W&S Transition Management who were given the biggest plug I think I've ever heard by (an un-mad) Ian Albery. Perhaps the 'synergy' of which W&S speak in the programme's foreward could help NDT plot a broader choreographic range then was shown here on this ocasion? But see NDT for the dancers.


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Robert

21-06-02, 03:15 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Netherlands Dance Theatre 1, Sadlers Wells, 18 June 2002"
In response to message #1
 
   For all the fuss and a speech from the stage, you did not say who the sponsors were? Not Bra manufacturers I presume!


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Bruceadmin

21-06-02, 03:50 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Netherlands Dance Theatre 1, Sadlers Wells, 18 June 2002"
In response to message #2
 
   >For all the fuss and a
>speech from the stage, you
>did not say who the
>sponsors were? Not Bra manufacturers
>I presume!


W&S Transition Management



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Lynette H

21-06-02, 04:54 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Netherlands Dance Theatre 1, Sadlers Wells, 18 June 2002"
In response to message #3
 
   Clement Crisp's review in the FT is particularly scathing - and very funny. I particularly liked the bit on Bella Figura - "topless dancing illuminated by flames from what may be a couple of out-of-control barbeques (a matter of braziers but not brassičres)."


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

24-06-02, 10:18 AM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Netherlands Dance Theatre 1, Sadlers Wells, 22 June 2002"
In response to message #4
 
   LAST EDITED ON 24-06-02 AT 10:24 AM (GMT)

NDT richly deserved the scorn heaped by the London critics on this programme. It was a wretched evening, made the more depressing by the realisation that these were quite superb dancers being asked to perform intellectually bankrupt material.

I lost interest very early on during Kylian's Bella Figura. The 'Stabat Mater' text is engraved on the heart of anyone who has had my upbringing. Stabat Mater dolorosa/Iuxta crucem lacrimosa/Dum pendebat Filius. You may want to show this text, to disparage it, to argue with it. You do not use it as muzak, as Kylian did. It set the tone for the entire evening, which was characterised by a witless dialogue between dance and music. Nor was the witlessness limited to the relationship between the ballets and their music. The choreography was banal and repetitive. A few more evening like this would really make one question whether dance is a respectable art form.

If you missed it, count yourself lucky.


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alison

24-06-02, 01:39 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Netherlands Dance Theatre 1, Sadlers Wells, 22 June 2002"
In response to message #5
 
   Sounds as though it was a good job I was ill *last* week, then, Brendan . I'd have been devastated if it'd been this week and I'd had to miss Alvin Ailey. (Enjoy, everyone who's going!)


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