Nederlands Dans Theater is dance in extremis | evaluate

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 elements contemporary, beautiful and stunning, 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 offered three items by three respective choreographers. First, La Ruta by Argentinian dance-maker Gabriela Carrizo, suggestively subtitled in this system as ‘bleeding by way of the cracks of a dream…’ The curtain lifted to disclose a desolate bus cease at night time time and a few luggage of rubbish, seen in dregs by way of 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 reduce 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 soak up the visible clues about their potential identification, 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 improve in quantity and lighting, signifying a automobile hurtling in a deadly course.

La Ruta. Picture credit score: Rahi Rezvani.

Influence and depth are instantaneous – however moderately than inflicting dying and stillness, the crash induces unrestrained, determined motion. One dancer, when hit, drops to the ground in a decent helix. Out of the blue 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, filled 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 parts; 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 hundredth piece for the corporate, in his phrases exploring ‘the twilight zones… the border between normality and madness.’ I actually received 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 turned 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, without delay a god and a canine. These three parts have been simplistic but additionally deeply visceral; a mysterious holy trinity.

There are unbelievable dance motifs all through the entire piece, however Gods and Canine sings throughout its duets. One I particularly loved featured a type 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, undoubtedly takes inspiration from Kylian’s type, ubiquitous and influential in up to date dance as it’s.

Gods and Canine is just not static, it builds. The final part is heady, each musically and choreographically. Hearty strings convey the concept time is operating 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 associate to sprout by way of, like particles connecting in house. She expenses headfirst into him; he kicks her again; the place there ought to be ache from affect there may be not, as a result of they’re so marvellously in sync. One thing exceptional about Gods and Canine is its timelessness. It defies temporal placement, and may very well be simply as convincingly in regards to the lengthy gone previous because it may the far off future. No marvel it ages so effectively. I like it.

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

The third and remaining 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. Actually, it was McBurney’s six yr previous daughter who posed the query that posed the piece; seeing {that a} once-regular chicken customer of their backyard had ceased coming, she requested, “The place has she gone, has she gone without end?” The normalisation of extinction to an extent that six yr olds comprehend it’s devastating. Because the curtain lifts I ponder, 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 by way of the agile types of NDT. Generally these dancers’ our bodies are lent a bit of 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 under 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 charm. The Pyrenean Ibex sadly turned extinct within the yr 2000, however Pite and McBurney display 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 have 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 fast hearth canon impact of them rising to look backwards over their shoulder in that particularly animalistic stance was shockingly practical. 

I have to additionally pay homage to the Spider Orchid part, the place a central lady 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 course and taking her lead, the others would briskly scurry out in her wake. Working along with gossamer-thin timing, the general impact was an identical 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 internet of Crystal Pite’s choreography!

As you’ll be able to in all probability inform, Figures in Extinction [1.0] continued neatly 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 material, the piece had a contact of lightness and pleasure that the opposite two didn’t, which I feel was right 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 likelihood to dwell on the stage at Sadler’s Wells.

That stated, I discover it not possible to match the three dances. For me, it was an evening of the sort of dance that opens your thoughts up and lets all the things 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.