NDT 1 at SW on Thursday had the audience in a roar at the end of Kylian's 'Falling Angels' and 'Symphony of Psalms' and also Paul Lightfoot's deliciously quirky and funny 'Shangri-la'.
They opened, though, with Hans van Manen's 'Fantasia' to Bach music, which did nothing much for either me or the audience. Decent choreography of course, but there was an unmistakeable element of 'seen it all before'.
Kylian's 'Fallen Angels' to Steve Reich's 'Drumming' score performed by four drummers (sorry, 'percussionists') hammering away at the side of the stage was a thrilling oddity. Kylian had eight women in sleek, chic black bathing suits (designer: Joke Visser) performing ritualistic movements which sometimes matched the score, sometimes didn't. Two women appeared to be having some sort of boxing match; a woman pulled out the front of her bathing suit as if miming pregnancy, but then repeated the gesture several times and, most thrillingly, the assembled women, on their knees, shuffled rythmically backwards to the exact beat of the drums. Memorably, the piece ended with all eight women supine on the stage, their kness are arms raised with feet and hands cocked, like puppies begging for attention. All credit to the four percussionsits (who deservedly took a stage call with the dancers) for maintaining the tension of Reich's piece.
After the interval came Paul Lightfoot's funfest 'Shangri-la'. The curtain rises on a stunning, set, the left of which seems to be a mysterious forest with tall trees through which a chap with a dazzling halo is creeping and the right of which is a dark path converging on a bright light. Gradually, a line of dancers appears from the apex of the convergence, men and women alike dressed in beige. Thereafer, they haul about a large log, sometimes raising it above their heads, sometimes swinging underneath it. And here's the daft thing about Lightfoot's piece (to Rimskykorskov and 'anon' music) the chaps keep grasping their privates! (er...their own, that is) ...not of course that I notice these things...but it was excellent fun. I loved the girl who bashed her head against the log and then reeled backwards.
Finally, Kylians's moving 'Symphony of Psalms'. This made me cry, because I adore Stravinsky's religious choral music (if you've ever seen Nijinska's sublime 'Les Noces' you would undersand why). Kylian has his dancers stand in line three sides on to the stage, their backs to the audience in an unmistakeably Magrittish fashion - a haunting vision. A couple dance while the others face away from them. There is one stunning movement where the women, held on their partners' shoulders, are slid to the ground in a 'ripple', the whole having the effect of a curtain being pulled (it is these surprise movements which, to me, bring choreography alive). No doubt the music and the voices (recorded) added to the huge emotional impact of 'Symphony', but that ino no way detracted from Kylian's distinguished input.
The dancers were all superb, but I find it impossible to name any one of them, except perhaps for Fiona Lummis in the first piece, if only because she was the only British dancer in the company and she got the loudest cheers! All in all, this was one of the most ejoyable dance evenings I've had so far this year.