As I have said before on these pages, The Hague can certainly claim to be the contemporary dance capital of mainland Europe and can rival London or New York on the world stage. Not only does it have the world class Nederlands Dans Theater but also the Korzo Theater, home to new and innovative work. These two important institutions regularly work together but it is during their annual, and enigmatically named, Here We Live and Now event that the partnership bears its ripest fruit.
The opening piece of the evening was In Between Empty Spaces by Zahira Suliman in which four dancers proposed that empty space is never truly empty and that even the tiny particles of floating dust are significant. The three girls and one boy, dressed in identical turquoise and grey costumes, worked well together, often in unison, almost like those Japanese callisthenic parks, or otherwise striking sculptural poses often involving headstands.
The second piece started with two girls, one upon the other, wearing smart red business suits slowly writing invisible words onto the grey vastness of the Korzo’s smooth concrete back wall. Wubkje Kuindersma’s Tamashii was for me the high-spot of the evening. Taking as its premise that the soul is the unifying element to a fragmented identity it explored the relationship, dependency almost, between the two dancers. The whole thing worked beautifully with a wonderful soundscape by Anthony Fiumara, utilising the fine cello playing of Diederik Smulders, the fine dramatic lighting by Peter Lemmens and, of course two outstanding performances by Christie Partelow and Aya Misaki. The huge wall constantly drew them back – “The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit. Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”* Excellent.
For the final performance of the evening, Finally a Sign of Life, the Korzo’s huge open space of a stage was stripped back even further to the bare brick side walls leaving no place to hide. Antonin Rioche’s piece had almost a biblical feel to it. As we entered the mist-filled auditorium we discovered two figures, a man and a woman, circling endlessly, wandering in a strange wonderland. Not relating to each other, and at all times distant, they were innocents abroad lost in a strange mystifying dream created by the excellent atmospheric lighting of Loes Schakenbos. Along with Katarina Vanden Wouwer, Antonin Rioche also performed the piece and really conveyed a sense of wondrous innocence.
Suddenly, about half way through, a change of tack, silence and stillness. Then birds began to sing, a church bell peeled in the distance and children played. The couple rejoiced, happiness prevailed, a moment of revelation which culminated in a huge firework display.
Much of Finally a Sign of Life was in slow, often too slow, and there were several static moments which I thought went on far too long but on the whole this was a well-conceived and enjoyable piece. Michael Hasted 21st November 2019
* Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám