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Subject: "NDT Mixed Bill at Sadler's Weels" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #62
Reading Topic #62
Bruce Madmin

15-06-99, 10:38 PM (GMT)
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"NDT Mixed Bill at Sadler's Weels"
   Nederlands Dans Theatre (NDT) have at last made it to London and their reward may not have been a packed house, but a very happy house by the end of the evening, and a standing ovation. It wasn't one of those rare occasions where people just shoot up having witnessed something so amazing they couldn't possibly do anything else, but rather a measured and progressive affair, as people reflected on a singularly good evening's entertainment. On the recent showing NDT deserve packed houses far more than ever White Oak does.

The NDT programme seemed particularly well-judged starting with some drama/passion going through abstract dance to quirky fun movement and ending with some dancing for the Lord - whatever Lord you subscribe to of course. The evening opened with the more earthbound and sultry delights of Hans van Manen's Fantasia. Three boys and three girls react in various combinations - as peer groups through to couples who love, squabble and assert themselves. Underlying it all is a powerful feeling that, come what may, the sexes are attractive to one another and you can't get away from it. Every van Manen step and movement seems to be suffused with a sultriness that it is hard to resist and lulls and embraces the viewer as well.

Aside from the choreography the other thing that you first notice is the dancers and general 'bigness' of the company. They are not all big by any manner of means but on average they are taller and the girls particularly have strong torsos. Nobody looks wrong or, heaven forbid, fat but none of them are the type you would want to bump into on a dark night! It underlines again just what different rep and schools can do to bodies. NDT have amazing strength and turn of speed.

Falling Angels is danced to the sound of four drummers and composed by the minimalist Steve Reich. Kylian's choreography and the music is physically breathtaking as the tempo builds from short staccato moves and poses that mimic short drum rolls, through to more fluid movement that plays around with the complex rhythms and phase changes that are created when the drummers really get going. The stage seemed to be full of girls, sometimes acting in unison, sometimes alone, but it's a real shock to check the numbers and see that only 8 dancers were involved. A mesmerising abstract piece.

The UK premiere of Paul Lightfoot's Shangri-la followed the interval. Having recently seen another piece of Lightfoot (Skew-whiff) on NDT2, it came as a surprise that the same sense of mad quirkiness could be sustained and oh so enjoyably too. Can it really be that paradise on earth is to be found in 9 people playing with a tree trunk?!

There seems to be a tremendous sense of purpose, almost like some great biblical epic is being played out. But the lead is not not so much Charlton Heston as Dot Cotton - though played with a little less gravity perhaps. I've now come to the position where I really can't wait to see another piece of Lightfoot and it would be terrific if the RB were to grab Shangri-la and put it direct on the main stage. Everybody would love it I'm sure.

The last piece - Symphony of Psalms - was not perhaps my cup of tea. It's Kylian being serious to some religious Stravinsky. The programme does its best to make the dance relevant "It is more a lament for an imperfect and disunited world in which the suffering and uncertainty of each individual are in ironic dialogue with Stravinsky's religious score". Well perhaps, but I found the choreography neither interestingly abstract or thrilling, nor devastatingly illustrative of the human condition. But I was not so enamoured of Bintley's religious extravaganza The Protecting Veil either, though I know many who are deeply moved by such pieces.

But three out of four on a night is just fine with me and what lovely, lovely dancers. They deserved their ovation and I very much hope that like NDT2, the main company become much more frequent visitors to the UK.

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  Beg, borrow or steal a ticket Stuart Sweeney 16-06-99 1
     RE: Beg, borrow or steal a ticket Eugene Merrett 16-06-99 2
         RE: Beg, borrow or steal a ticket EM 16-06-99 3
         RE: 30 ticket price Stuart Sweeney 16-06-99 4
             RE: 30 ticket price eugene merrett 16-06-99 5

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Stuart Sweeney

16-06-99, 08:22 AM (GMT)
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1. "Beg, borrow or steal a ticket"
In response to message #0
   The second night of the NDT week at Sadler's Wells was full and all the pieces received rapturous applause. The high spot for me, from an evening of stellar quality, was Kylian's 'Symphony of Psalms', which is one of the most beautiful and exquisitely crafted dance works I can remember. It's probably best seen from the 1st or 2nd Circle to appreciate the vision of the ever-changing formations.

If you can go, DO! The choreographic range is wide and the ensemble dancing throughout as good as anything you are likely to see this year and maybe any year.

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Eugene Merrett

16-06-99, 01:26 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Beg, borrow or steal a ticket"
In response to message #1
   I really liked all the works performed except perhaps Shangri-la1 But the real highlight was Different Drummer. It was the only work that was like nothing like I had ever seen. It is really is remniscent of the paintings of humans found in caves from the pre-historic times. That I enjoyed it was surprising as it was the one work i was dreading because the modernist music! It is with Seranade and the Goldberg Variations the best thing I have seen this year!

Symphony is Psalms is one of the very few religous works I really like so i was delighted with seeing it set to dance! It was very moving but I could not quite see the link between the music and the dance (except at the end)! It was visually stunning all the same with superb backdrops.

Just one other point - I thought it was kind of expensive at 30 given the fact that there was no live music except the 4 drummers! Even the piano solos were taped! And this is a very highly subsidised company I suspect.

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16-06-99, 01:28 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Beg, borrow or steal a ticket"
In response to message #2
   Sorry I meant Falling Angel not Different Drummer!

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Stuart Sweeney

16-06-99, 02:56 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: 30 ticket price"
In response to message #2
   Supply and demand rules I guess. But bearing in mind that they are one of the most highly regarded dance companies in the world and are highly sought after, I would have thought that a 30 price was justified. Given the quality, I would have paid more if needed. In any case, it was sold out on Tuesday and as word spreads, I'm sure this will be the case for other evenings.

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eugene merrett

16-06-99, 03:24 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: 30 ticket price"
In response to message #4
   I think this trip is going to make money for the company!

Much as I believe in supply and demand I have never believed that it should apply to the arts - otherwise we would get wall to wall Swan Lakes, Nutcrackers, La Traviatas etc.

It is however surprising that the NDT theatre sells out when the PNB failed to. I wonder if the SF Ballet which has more of a name (everyone has heared of San Francisco) will do better.

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