[Dance Review] A Dazzling Constellation of Bodies

NDT2

An Evening of Five Works

Nederlands Dans Theater 2

9 October 2015

Esplanade Theatre

9–10 October 2015

The youth wing of Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) graces the Esplanade stage again with five fresh works which premiered within the last five years.

The programme opens with Schubert and Some Other Time by Sol León and Paul Lightfoot. In Schubert, the choreographic duo mirrors the motifs of the music by creating motifs of angular and flowing actions that extend throughout the pas de deux. While it is an exploration of love, it refuses to fall into extremities. What unfolds is a meditative rumination of love that is enhanced by the beautiful lines and perfect control of the dancers.

Despite the monochromatic set design of Some Other Time, León and Lightfoot colour their dance with various movement vocabularies such as mime, contemporary, and ballet. The dancers are tasked to embody the feelings of oppression and breaking free set against screens being pushed around the stage which adds another layer of movement. The dancers showed superb versatility and flexibility as they coalesce into a constellation of bodies. At times, it is hard to pick out which represents oppression and which freedom because—apart from being too transfixed by the dancers—what constitutes either sometimes depend on one’s perspective.

Sharon Eyal’s and Gai Behar’s Sara opened the second segment as several dancers appear in nude tights while pulsating to trippy music. The set up consists of one girl mouthing the words of a song while the others forming a series of pseudo-tableaus but each dancer repeats a particular action like a cog in a machine. This is interspersed with synchronised movement sequences.  It is surprisingly wonderful that Eyal mentions that “[i]t springs from the subconscious, but is very humane at the same time” because there is a primal quality that emanates from the piece. Sara eludes any intellectual interpretation but there is a sense of it coming from a deep place in oneself that is seldom the focus of introspection.

To be able to seek and achieve mutual comfort requires a great deal of interaction. Edward Clug’s Mutual Comfort is like a physics experiment of how one body reacts when it comes into contact with another. The dancers handle the technical demands with aplomb and the crispness of their lines is something to behold. This piece presents the facets of human interaction at its most beautiful.

NDT 2 pulled out all the stops to ensure that the show ends with a bang. Cue dazzling lights, sixteen dancers, synchronised movement sequences, and baroque music at its most dramatic. These elements come together to form an extravagant presentation of…

Cacti.

An earlier review of this piece says that Alexander Ekman’s ability to be genuinely funny through the medium of dance is an achievement. Unfortunately, that sentiment is myopic. Ekman’s genius lies in the ability to satirise one’s art form and yet the audience will still takes what he is doing seriously after having a good laugh. Cacti is a riot of fun which showcases not only the physical abilities of the dancers, but their creativity as well. The voiceovers which include a monologue expounding on a supposedly profound fact and the running commentary of the silliness of the dance moves show how the production elements can really enhance the dance. More importantly, it also boasts of the dancers’ non-kinetic talents.

Rather than just being a showcase of five recent works, NDT 2 offers an exposition of the potentials of contemporary dance and the human body. One can only hope they formulate their next exposition as soon as possible.

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