Music, Dance & Poetry at the FRAGILE PRESENT in The Hague

Sunny Court is one of many hidden gardens tucked away for delighted discovery here in the Hague. On a summery Saturday afternoon, in a small sunlit clearing we gathered to see an outdoor performance involving music, dance and poetry. Created during lockdown, it was aptly named The Fragile Present and involved a collaboration between two professional violinists, Matthea de  Muynck and Sophie Wedell and former NDT dancer, Alice Godfrey. The choreographer is Cora Bos-Kroese, a former NDT dancer, she now works with The Hague Conservatory, among other things.  

Drawing on the music of Belgian violinist, Eugène Ysaÿe; Polish French composer, Alexandre Tansman and Bach’s concerto for two violins, de Muynck and Wedell soon had the audience under their spell. As the sinuous sounds of the violins floated through the afternoon light, a young woman in a top hat and slightly baggy brown suit appeared slowly from behind a distant tree. Making her way, as if on a tight rope to a tree opposite she clung, koala-like to its sturdy trunk.

The words of Sky, one of Polish Nobel Prize winning poet, Wislawa Szymborska’s poems seemed perfectly chosen for the setting;  ‘

‘I should have begun with this: the sky.

A window minus sill, frame, and panes

An aperture, nothing more,

But wide open’  

As the afternoon progressed through Tansman’s sonata for two violins, so the figure in the top hat made her tentative way out of the bushes and revealed an eager, yet hesitant, joyful yet fearful soul. Someone whom many of us recognised in ourselves as we navigate the strange turbulence of life during a pandemic. Godfrey danced barefoot through the undergrowth, connected and disconnected from the earth. Later a playful tease, a timid waif but at heart a builder of the universe, to use the words of Pulitzer prize winning American poet, Mary Oliver.   

During times like these, the present in which we live does indeed seem fragile. Yet as Sophie Wedell explained to me afterwards, the joy of creating and finding others with whom to create, is one of the surest ways we have of affirming our presence on this earth and making the present a little less fragile. The performance ended, appropriately, with the words of Jewish Hungarian poet, Rose Ausländer, You’re here, still, which take on special significance in these difficult times. These three young artists, who were drawn together by the pandemic and a shared neighbourhood here in The Hague, plan to collaborate further in the future. We look forward to enjoying the fruits of their labours. Souwie Buis    3rd August 2020