Nederlands Dans Theater is dance in extremis | evaluation

Phrases by Bengi-Sue Sirin.

Wednesday nineteenth April was a really thrilling night time for me. I’ve put Nederlands Dans Theater on a pedestal ever since I found them on YouTube as a dance-mad teenager. Gods and Dogs was considered one of my most considered movies. Their dancers are able to nearly something, their choreography is in equal components recent, gorgeous and surprising, and their tone has a selected edge to it. So the chance to see them carry out, lastly, was thrilling. It wasn’t simply an thrilling night time for me – opening night time at Sadler’s Wells was packed, bustling with dance followers and critics and even well-known dancers (one other dream of mine got here true bumping into Marcelino Sambe from the Royal Ballet on his night time off!) The sense of ‘Occasion’ was rife.

The night introduced three items by three respective choreographers. First, La Ruta by Argentinian dance-maker Gabriela Carrizo, suggestively subtitled in this system as ‘bleeding via the cracks of a dream…’ The curtain lifted to disclose a desolate bus cease at night time time and a few baggage of rubbish, seen in dregs via the haze of smoke. All through La Ruta, varied peculiar characters strategy the bus cease on night-time journeys someplace unknown. The twist: most of them have their journey minimize brief by the thwacking Doppler impact of a dashing automobile. It’s greater than only a piece about hit and runs, although. La Ruta is characterised by the Doppler impact, in tempo and in shock issue. As every particular person or group enters the stage, the pacing is sluggish and cavernous, giving us time to absorb the visible clues about their attainable id, to mull over the sinister tone of a bus cease in the midst of the night time. Then comes the crash; that rapid cone-shaped enhance in quantity and lighting, signifying a automobile hurtling in a deadly route.

La Ruta. Picture credit score: Rahi Rezvani.

Impression and depth are instantaneous – however reasonably than inflicting dying and stillness, the crash induces unrestrained, determined motion. One dancer, when hit, drops to the ground in a good helix. Instantly she releases like a literal sprung coil, into backwards corkscrew spirals so forceful that I scribble ‘seizure-like.’ She is sort of a fish out of water, uncooked and anguished however on the similar time magnetic – it places me in thoughts of the portraits of Egon Schiele, stuffed with rage and defiant magnificence. The music at this level appears like a noticed violin, subverting the aesthetic of magnificence in a parallel approach to the dancing. La Ruta jogs my memory of one thing very particular. The realm of cultural theorist Mark Fisher, night time bus journeys house to South London suburbs at 4am, with sounds of ‘damaged glass crack[ing] underfoot.’ Certainly, like Fisher’s description, the NDT dancers appear ‘like wounded or mutilated angels: angels whose wings have been clipped, or who’ve been trapped or betrayed.’ It’s a post-apocalyptic, Ballardian world with builders, seagulls and Nick Cave lookalikes that some have described as extra bodily theatre than dance, however that for me, is dance in extremis, to cite Fisher, ‘dance after the rave.’ La Ruta ties collectively all these in extremis components; JG Ballard’s Crash, Mark Fisher, Schiele… I can’t assume that I’ve seen a dance piece coming from this particular darkish place earlier than, and I prefer it.

I used to be very grateful for the interval to course of La Ruta, and likewise to gear up for seeing Gods and Canine. The favored piece was first choreographed in 2008 by NDT’s chief helmsman, the now retired Jiri Kylian. It was Kylian’s one centesimal piece for the corporate, in his phrases exploring ‘the twilight zones… the border between normality and madness.’ I actually acquired a way of the dualities that he describes. One channel was the sparse but luxurious set, at occasions a shiny black backdrop with cleverly positioned lighting, at different factors large chocolate-box gold beaded curtains from ceiling to ground. The set grew to become a approach to personify the blurring of borders, as dancers disappeared beneath the backdrop a la The Truman Present. An enormous black canine loomed in the direction of us in sluggish movement, directly a god and a canine. These three components have been simplistic but additionally deeply visceral; a mysterious holy trinity.

There are improbable dance motifs all through the entire piece, however Gods and Canine sings throughout its duets. One I particularly loved featured a kind of nearly serendipitous working collectively of two our bodies, whereby a feminine dancer sprint-crawled backwards seemingly nowhere, and a male dancer manoeuvred ahead seemingly nowhere, they usually slotted into each other completely, unexpected. As I watch I consider Wayne McGregor’s Chroma, which though it was choreographed earlier in 2006, positively takes inspiration from Kylian’s model, ubiquitous and influential in up to date dance as it’s.

Gods and Canine isn’t static, it builds. The final part is heady, each musically and choreographically. Hearty strings convey the concept that time is working out, creeping away from us ominously. A duet so frenetic that the dancers appear to transcend their our bodies totally, changing into androgynous shapes that can not be pinned down. One dancer creates hoops together with his limbs for his companion to sprout via, like particles connecting in area. She prices headfirst into him; he kicks her again; the place there needs to be ache from influence there’s not, as a result of they’re so marvellously in sync. One thing outstanding about Gods and Canine is its timelessness. It defies temporal placement, and could possibly be simply as convincingly in regards to the lengthy gone previous because it may the far off future. No marvel it ages so nicely. I find it irresistible.

Figures in Extinction [1.0]. Picture by Joris-Jan Bos.

The third and closing piece of the night is Figures in Extinction [1.0], a collaboration between much-loved Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite and English theatre director Simon McBurney. For the 2 creatives the local weather disaster is a shared inspiration. In actual fact, it was McBurney’s six 12 months previous daughter who posed the query that posed the piece; seeing {that a} once-regular fowl customer of their backyard had ceased coming, she requested, “The place has she gone, has she gone endlessly?” The normalisation of extinction to an extent that six 12 months olds comprehend it’s devastating. Because the curtain lifts I’m wondering, will this be the bleakest of all?

Avoiding a story construction is a technique Pite ensures Figures in Extinction [1.0] doesn’t really feel as if it spirals into hopelessness. As a substitute, the premise is a sequence of vignettes, every specializing in a selected extinct/endangered species or landform and bringing it to life via the agile types of NDT. Typically these dancers’ our bodies are lent just a little assist by the occasional props of fossil stays, equivalent to the enormous tusk-horns of the Pyrenean Ibex in vignette primary. The dancer locations them, tentacle-like, onto his arms, making a silhouette that makes me assume concurrently of bugs, reptiles and issues that lurk deep beneath the ocean’s floor. He twists in whorls with the quiet calm of a martial arts sensei, and I can simply really feel that everyone is captivated by such energy and style. The Pyrenean Ibex sadly grew to become extinct within the 12 months 2000, however Pite and McBurney show that it by no means misplaced its magnificence.

It’s actually tough to decide on just some vignettes to put in writing about as a result of they have been all breathtaking, however I really feel I need to point out the tribute to the South Selkirk Caribou Herd. Right here, energy lay in numbers; the entire NDT solid assembled in herd formation in opposition to a Neolithic-esque backdrop, lit by a black and orange nightfall sky, was one thing I’ll always remember. They really embodied the caribou, with their undulating, downwards shoulders and heavy centre of gravity. A speedy hearth canon impact of them rising to look backwards over their shoulder in that particularly animalistic stance was shockingly life like. 

I need to additionally pay homage to the Spider Orchid part, the place a central girl dancer was symmetrically ensconced by 4 outer dancers, one by every of her limbs. There could have been 5 dancers however they moved as only one spider-being. The central dancer would jut or jerk in a route and taking her lead, the others would briskly scurry out in her wake. Working along with gossamer-thin timing, the general impact was similar to a spiderous motion. One thing particular about this piece is the best way it dances on the creativeness, bringing the pure world to life so cannily on human our bodies. We’re all flies within the net of Crystal Pite’s choreography!

As you possibly can most likely inform, Figures in Extinction [1.0] continued well on from the prior two items the theme of dance-after-the-abyss, the gloriously post-apocalyptic really feel of the night time. However regardless of its heavy subject material, the piece had a contact of lightness and pleasure that the opposite two didn’t, which I believe was all the way down to the flicker of wit on present within the massive group ensembles. As I described, animals have been summoned up out of nowhere earlier than our eyes, given one other probability to dwell on the stage at Sadler’s Wells.

That mentioned, I discover it unimaginable to match the three dances. For me, it was an evening of the sort of dance that opens your thoughts up and lets every thing in, the darkness and the sunshine. The NDT firm dancers transported us someplace very particular – not Holland, however a realm of metaphor and motion. Dance in extremis, to the farthest reaches of the physique’s potential and the thoughts’s creativeness.