IN THE DUTCH MOUNTAINS by NDT1 at Amare in The Hague and on tour

I once heard a German, typically schmaltzy, popular song claiming that Hamburg was a better city than Munich to visit or live in because there were no mountains to obstruct the view. The same could be said about The Netherlands of course, so the title of this work by renowned German choreographer Marco Goecke was truly intriguing. The inspiration, of course, is taken from the 1987 hit by the Dutch prog-rock band Nits – possibly the best pop/rock song ever to emanate from that country.

The NDT usually presents two or three short pieces for their shows but this was a single, full length piece which meant it was something we could really get our teeth into. It was also nice to have the Dutch Ballet Orchestra in the pit; live music makes such a difference.

The melodramatic, cinematic almost, soundtrack suited the piece wonderfully and the thunderous opening sequence foretold of things to come. In the Dutch Mountains was danced on a dimly lit stage in front of a projected backcloth with stormy skies, waving grasses and crashing seas. Both the staging and choreography had strong undertones of German Expressionism, even of old black and white films by Fritz Lang, but it also felt rather like a danced opera, Wagnerian in places. This was one of the most dramatic pieces I have seen recently from NDT.

There were some twenty eight dancers who rushed on and off, executing jerky, staccato movements of a complexity which I have seldom seen. I wonder whether those who expected to become classical ballet dancers could imagine they would become capable of such performances. There were some astonishing solos as well as tight ensemble sequences.

This was the perfect meeting of choreography, lighting and sound design. The orchestra, under the baton of guest conductor Martin Georgiev, pulled out all the stops and drove the show along like an express train. The music included Bartok, Brahms, Beggars Group with Nits’ song providing the soundtrack for the denouement.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I have just seen a great performance, be it a play, opera or concert, I feel filled up, as though I have had a wonderful meal. So it was tonight. Marco Goecke’s In the Dutch Mountains is as perfect a piece as I have seen in a long, long time. Go out of your way to see it, there is nothing to spoil the view.   Astrid Burchardt    9th February, 2023    

Photo by and © Rahi Rezvani 2023