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Subject: "NDT 1, Sadler's Wells, 14/6/99" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #66
Reading Topic #66

16-06-99, 02:16 PM (GMT)
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"NDT 1, Sadler's Wells, 14/6/99"
   Surprisingly enough, given the popularity of and frequent visits to Britain by NDT II, the junior company, this is the first visit to London by Netherlands Dans Theater 1 under Kylianís leadership. Even odder when you think how many Kylian pieces there are in the repertoire of other companies like Rambert. But itís good to have them here at last. NDT 1are in residence at Sadlerís Wells for just a few days until 17th June, and they look in great form. The programme includes four works from the companyís choreographers van Manen, Kylian, and Paul Lightfoot. Although each does have their own distinct characteristics, there is an appealing unity of style about the whole programme, and about the company in general. The dancers, although they include many different physical types, really do look like a company, a very tightly knit unit. Itís quite difficult to credit individuals in many of the works - there are no photos in the programme, which doesnít help - but in part this is because there are no stars: they all reach the same high standard.

The opening work was van Manenís Fantasia, made in 1993, a spare and restrained work for three couples, set to Bach. As ever with van Manen, even though a work may be plotless, you are always aware of the human issues : in each duet, you can see a relationship - taut, troubled , or lyrical. It is generally rather subdued and meditative in tone. The final duet was rather sombre, but very beautifully done.

Kylianís Falling Angels was quite a contrast. Set to Steve Reichís Drumming , played live by four drummers down in the stalls, it was probably the most popular item of the evening. The eight women of the cast all remain on stage for the entire work. This is fiercely energetic and forceful stuff which just stops short of being brutal. Thereís an elemental force about it that at times evokes some primitive ritual. It was good to see dancers who looked like real women rather than stick insects tearing into this with real power. On the opening night there was a slight delay before Falling Angels, because of technical problems with the lighting. Fortunately these were sorted: the lighting (by Joop Caboort) is excellent, tightly coupled to the work, defining spaces for the dancers, and it is impossible to imagine it without the support and framework the lighting gives. Itís very much a group work with no leading role, though each dancer gets her turn in the spotlight.

Paul Lightfootís Shangri-La was an altogether more light-hearted and quirky experience. The central feature is a very large pole, clutched, lifted, and otherwise manipulated by nine dancers. Sometimes a few break free from it for a series of solos or duets - very fluid and bendy, quite unlike the stomping forcefulness of the previous piece. It was quite a shock to check the cast list and realise that some of these rubber-limbed creatures were the same dancers. Lightfoot clearly shows the influence of both van Manen (in some of the male / female confrontations) and Kylian, but has a wayward off-centredness that seems all his own. I thought it was quite daffy and charming, and oddly touching at times, though others thought it was a mite overlong and repetitive.

The final item was another Kylian work, Symphony of Psalms, originally made in 1978, to Stravinsky. Like most of the other works on the programme, all the dancers (eight couples in this case) remained on stage throughout the work. I think I was beginning to tire a little of this as an approach by this point - I was beginning to yearn for a little more diversity. No complaints about the dancers though. This was a return to the rather cool and sombre atmosphere of the opening work, with a general air of regret and a very long slow ending as the dancers retreat step by step into the darkness. Although there were some wonderful moments in this, I wasnít perhaps as convinced by this as some of the other works. It felt like a much longer work than the others, although the timing given is only 27 minutes. I suspect it should have made rather more of an emotional impact than it did - perhaps I was looking for a more upbeat closer. It was extremely popular with the audience, who gave the company a rapturous reception. I hope they come back again soon.

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