The Nederlands Dans Theater’s second company, NDT2, was created as a feeder for the main company, to encourage and bring on young new talent. It has now established itself almost as an equal to NDT1 with no discernible difference either in production values or talent. This was confirmed last at the Zuiderstrand Theater night by the premiere of their current work, Standalone. Although only one of the four pieces was new there was, as always, a vitality and freshness to the show.
First up was Postscript created in 2005 by two mainstays of NDT, Sol León and Paul Lightfoot. This was a piece of criticism-defying elegance and simplicity. Performed to music of the ubiquitous Philip Glass and set in a black box, the first part had three dancers dressed only in loose white trousers, dancing to live music by a lone violinist. Her music was pasted on the side wall along which she slowly moved as the piece progressed. The second part, accompanied by an onstage pianist, involved three more dancers, this time in black and included an immaculately conceived and executed duet.
The second piece, George & Zalman by Ohad Naharin, was danced to Fűr Alina by the only ever-so-slightly less ubiquitous Arvo Pärt, with the addition of text/lyrics by Charles Bukowski, nicely spoken by Bobby Jene Smith. The five girls in little black dresses were in a sort of loop and each time they went round, another line of increasingly provocative text was added, rather like Groundhog Day.
Its companion piece, Black Milk, merged seamlessly into it with hardly a pause. Also staged by Rachael Osborne and Ian Robinson, this involved five boys wearing only dhoti-type skirts. Paul Smadbeck’s music was a lot more vigorous but in a strange way perfectly complemented George & Zalman.
The world première of Johan Inger’s Impasse was a wonderful kaleidoscope of images and influences which had a very American feel to it. On a bare black stage with the illuminated outline of a building at the back, the opening was clearly an homage to Andrew Wyeth’s wonderfully evocative painting Christina’s World and the romantic dance with the young girl and her two suitors was very Oklahoma. In fact, the choreography for Impasse was very Broadway musical and became even more so when the innocent young trio were interrupted by six jazzy intruders dressed in black. And if that wasn’t enough, a group of carnival revellers burst onto the scene. It had gone from tranquil Andrew Wyeth to frenetic James Ensor. So much fun were they all having that they refused to stop partying, daring the curtain to descend upon them. Finally, the three youngsters were left alone in front of the curtain, the building shrunk to the size of a doll’s house and all innocence lost. Great stuff.
Standalone represented another faultless production from The Nederlands Dans Theater. That’s the thing with NDT, they never disappoint. Miss it at your peril. Michael Hasted 29th February 2020