GRUPO SPORTIVO by Introdans at Holland Dance Festival 2020

Phew, nearly missed this one. I normally check the time of the show I am to review mid-afternoon, but checked this one the night before which was lucky as it had a three o’clock start, which I wasn’t expecting.

This was entirely appropriate for Grupo Sportivo because traditionally sport and live music are what Sunday afternoons are for in The Netherlands. Appropriate because the Arnhem-based Introdans’s piece is all about sport. The name of the piece is a nod to the band of the same name, one of the few Dutch bands to have international success.

Billed as a family show – couldn’t see why – the show consisted of the company of twelve presenting six shortish, some very short, pieces. What they lacked in quantity they made up for in quality.

There are lots of comparisons to be made between dance and sport. Both demand physical strength and agility, both demand sophisticated techniques and high levels of dedication and concentration. All were apparent in Grupo Sportivo.

First up was a Conny Janssen piece, Moving Target, from 1992. The display of strength from the three gymnast guys had the audience gasping. Stripped to the waste and hanging upside down on some sort of pseudo parallel bars, it was almost like a circus trapeze act and just as breath-taking.

Next five girls from the company in little black skirts and different tight black tops were sort of cheer leaders in Squad by Jorge Pérez Martínez.

I really enjoyed Three by Robert Battle. To an incredible beat box percussive soundtrack from Art of Noise, Les Tambours du Bronx et al three guys, wearing blue knickers and vests, took it in turns to go through a series of energetic callisthenics and enthusiastic work outs.

Robert Battle also created the next piece, Takademe in 1999 for a solo male dancer.

The piece before the interval was the shortest at only three minutes but for me was the highlight of the afternoon. Freistoss by Roberto Scafati was a brilliantly observed and executed pastiche of a free kick. Done entirely in slow motion to a totally incongruous soundtrack of Charles Aznavour singing Sur ma Vie, the six dancers acted out a football set piece in front of the goal. They had all the clichés, all the mannerism. Brilliant. It was a pity that it didn’t go into extra time or have a penalty shoot-out. I felt I was robbed.

The finale was Eight Head by Daniel Ezralow which was first performed in Tel Aviv in 1988. We were in a stadium with a row of bleachers, as our American friends call them, at the back. Two teams, one in black, the other in white take each other on in various undefined contests. The wooden structures are moved around providing different platforms and environments. For the climax they all marched round, up and down the steps like in an Escher picture. Real precision stuff which was faultlessly performed by the five boys and three girls to, for the most part, to an incessant Phillip Glass (of course) percussion piece.

Introdans’s Grupo Sortivo was an original and clever idea for a programme of contemporary dance and one that worked exceptionally well. Excellent    Michael Hasted    26th January 2020

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