5★★★★★ by Introdans at Zuiderstrand Theater in The Hague.

Five pieces, one show. The four pieces before intermission happen quickly while being drastically different in tone. Every new choreography feels like a gift, a little surprise.

While an opera by Gustave Charpentier sets the tone for the piece Unfold by choreographer Robert Battle, Les Bourgeois by Jacques Brel accompanies a choreography of the same name by Ben van Cauwenbergh moments later. The audience has no choice but to keep up and shift gears.

Introdans’ 5★★★★★ breaks convention continuously. The effect? A subtle humour. The absurdity of Les Bourgeois is heightened by the pieces preceding it and people hesitantly, awkwardly giggle at the immensely literal interpretation of Brel’s lyrics and the unexpected theatricality Vincenzo Turiano dances with.

Even the way the dancers are introduced feels both out of place and justified. A film by Inge Theunissen is shown after the first piece and depicts each dancer in rehearsal clothing. Their interaction with the camera is flirtatious, inviting. It takes a moment to introduce 20 cast members, but the process is enjoyable. The film is a piece in itself, a 6th bonus.

The show has a childlike charm. It’s endearing and unfixed. The final piece, the grand finale so to say, is no exception. “Loin” by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui begins with presenting all dancers in a sophisticated version of what can perhaps best be described as a playground handshake. The section ends with all dancers lying face down on stage, showing just how varied and colourful their costumes are. It all seems to refer to innocent times.

Not long after, however, the audience is shaken yet again. When dancer Nienke Wind starts speaking, it becomes clear this innocence is foregone.

She tells a story of a tour in China, addressing a meddling of culture and a need to adjust to other norms. While seemingly honest, the tone is sarcastic and maybe dismissive. The show borrows a non-Western aesthetic for its decor and different languages are used.

Somehow, this borrowing lacks a certain respectful kindness. It is unclear whose opinions are presented. In fact, it’s unclear what exactly is being communicated. A pervading sense of humour allows for a lightness to remain, making it easy to forget the strangeness of some of what happens on stage. Everyone becomes complicit.

You will leave Introdans’ 5★★★★★ with a range of unanswered questions, but you will also be in awe.    Malou den Dekker  9th June 2018