Livestream from Zuiderstrand Theatre, The Hague
April 20, 2021
We haven’t said enough, from NDT 2, is a welcome programme. The two works, by veteran NDT choreographers, are not premieres but performances of works cut short by the pandemic and richly deserving of further viewings.
Marco Goecke’s distinctive style of movement, incessant and frenetic, is adapted and finds resonance in The Big Crying. The work marks a milestone, the passing of the choreographer’s father, and Goecke tells it in his personal dance dialect, now focused to laser-sharp clarity. He finds in the dark night of the soul, the moment when movement goes beyond words. The emotion in the keening body, mouth stretched open in a silent cry, the light catching the strain of muscles and sinews creates one of those rare experiences when the viewer feels as one with the performer in a timeless second. Equally amazing was the potency that managed to reach across the digital divide.
The work shows death as part of life. While the intensity doesn’t abate, the mood lightens at times and throughout there is group empathy, the long-term knowledge between people who have shared joy and grief and understand when a touch or glance is all that is needed.
The structure bears the hallmark of supreme craftmanship as moods shift seamlessly through the changes from the songs of Tori Amos to the harsh rasping of the sound score. The abilities of the nineteen dancers seem to know no bounds. Feet skim the floor and arms flash through staccato gestures with eyewatering speed and clarity. It is a work that will reward many viewings and brings something of the power of healing that great art possesses.
In IMPASSE, Johan Inger evokes a different but important concept, the power of peer pressure to stifle individuality and difference. He spells it out graphically as personal freedom is overwhelmed first by acculturation to slick high-tech and then beguiled by commercial glitter. The simple set, a neon outline of the house, initially a human size home, shrinks to a doll’s house as the piles of peripheral stuff that swamps our modern world blocks out what is truly precious.
The opening trio, danced by two men and a woman in ordinary street clothes, is articulated in the warm and appealing dance that is the hallmark of much of Inger’s choreography. Although he draws on a richer vocabulary, he reveals himself as heir to the expressionism that Mats Ek brought to contemporary dance. In simple gestures, like a hand reaching out in the darkness to touch another, there is the direct honesty of unadulterated body language.
The heat is turned up by the arrival of sophisticated black clad dancers and the vibrancy of Ibrahim Maalouf’s jazz trumpet. The NDT2 dancers again prove their versatility in the witty fast-moving dance. The dancers so obviously enjoyed the final shindig dressed in sequins and feathers that it rather proved the point that trashy novelty trumps just being nice. Sadly, the message is more entertaining than frightening. C’est la vie!