NDT 1 dances THE HOLE in the NDT Black Box at Amare in The Hague

Well, this was something very special. Ohad Naharin’s masterwork for Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv was never expected to see the light of day again after its original production in 2013. It was thought logistically too demanding and technically too difficult to mount elsewhere. Not for the Nederlands Dans Theater.

Within the Amare’s Black Box alternative/rehearsal space a new theatre has been built for this performance. The nine-sided room has a nine-sided raised platform in the middle on which most of the action is performed by nine male dancers of NDT1. Against each wall, behind the nine blocks of audience, are nine girl dancers who augment and complement what is happening on the stage. They are like statues, Greek caryatids even. Above the stage is a metal grid which also becomes part of the action. For the most part the nine male dancer move in unison around the stage, going through various sequences like a well-oiled machine, the precision synchronization never failing. This was up close and personal; being only two meters from the stage you could hear the breathing and smell the sweat. With the strictly regimented, often symmetrical and repetitive choreography there were moments when I was put in mind of the sequential photographic studies by Eadweard Muybridge or even the work of M C Escher.

The ever-changing soundscape included music ranging from Ennio Morricone to François Couperin. There was one sequence when the counting one to four on the soundtrack was taken up by the dancers, alternating between the boys and the girls, becoming like a dual, each group trying to outshout the other.

In the later stages the girls left their stations around the room, slowly appearing, slithering like snakes, on the metal grill above the stage. They occasionally dropped, hanging for a moment, before pulling themselves up again.  This was very much an ensemble piece but there was one beautiful sequence towards the end when one of the girls actually landed on stage to perform a splendid duet with one of the boys.

The climax of The Hole is truly spectacular but to fully describe it would be to spoil it for those who are yet to see the show – however I will tease you by saying it involves hundreds of tiny explosions from miniscule bombs that fall like hail stones onto the stage. Needless to say, I recommend that you buy a ticket and discover for yourself not only the thrilling climax, but this extraordinary piece of theatre as a whole – excuse the pun. This production was a huge artistic, and no doubt financial, commitment by NDT but well worth every Euro and every second.   Michael Hasted     23rd June 2023

Photo by and © Rahi Rezvani