UNBOXING BALLET at het Spui, part of the CADANCE FESTIVAL in The Hague

Last night’s performance by the Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet provided an inspiring window onto the up and coming talent that will soon grace international stages. Unboxing Ballet, as the name suggests, included both classical ballet and a variety of more modern dance performances. Although the initial excerpts from the classical ballet, ‘Paquita’ were competently accomplished, the  real magic of the evening began with four choreographed pieces of modern dance.  Each one was a small masterpiece of performance, choreography, and costume design.

What got you here

Inspired by Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, the dancers were accompanied by extracts from the audio book and a diverse array of music fragments. Created by Brazilian dancer and choreographer, Daniela Cardim, six young dancers brought the subtle irony of Bryson’s words to life with a youthful playfulness that belied the technical polish and faultless timing of their performance.

Mesmer

Drawn from the verb, to mesmerize, Dutch choreographer, Wubkje Kuindersma, explained that  rather than follow a traditional narrative approach, this piece aimed to capture the ability of the universe to mesmerize. Wearing shimmering silver and platinum coloured costumes, nine young stars mesmerized with their syncopated, staccato steps symbolic of the way in which light refracts and pulses when seen from a great distance.  The music by Anthony Flumara, A sort of Homecoming, further reinforced notions of time, distance and space.  

Withdrawn  

Created by Ukrainian-born dancer and choreographer, Milena Sidorova, this piece focused on the increasing isolation resulting from our ever-deepening love affair with the virtual world. Captured beautifully with the use of small white, wrist lights, to represent smart phones, the darkened theatre became a hollow space in which all twelve members of the Junior Company moved in hypnotised union with eyes for only the small white lights of their phones. A particularly skilfully crafted duet captured beautifully the struggle experienced by two people who try to come together in spite of the powerful pull of these small, hand-held devices.

Fuse

In clear contrast, Fuse by Charlotte Edmonds of the Royal Ballet, invited the audience to embrace the importance of finding ways to overcome borders, cultural divisions and other barriers to understanding. Involving only three dancers, Kira Hilli’s performance was especially noteworthy for its  power, grace and faultless timing. The clarity and simplicity of a performance involving the odd number of three, raised questions about exclusion and inclusion and the shifting balance of power and alliances. Music by Armand Amar – Dam in China and Paddy Fields provided a combination of both classical and traditional sounds that further enhanced the ritualistic aspects of this powerful piece.  

Each year, the Junior Company holds auditions for just twelve young dancers to join their ranks.  Many will go on to the Dutch National Ballet or abroad  to other national ballet companies. These dancers come from all corners of the globe and yet they are united in their passion, dedication and extraordinary talent for dance. Last night’s wonderful performance was testimony to this.      Souwie Buis    1st February 2019  

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