NDT presents IN/WITH/IN at Amare in The Hague and on tour

Marco Goecke’s 2022 I Love You, Ghosts. Photo by and © Rahi Rezvan

I have been a fan of Nederlands Dans Theater for more years than I care to remember. I had seen them in London long before I came to live in Holland. So, the announcement of a new season is always eagerly awaited and its opening night creates a frisson of excitement which is almost tangible. Last night at The Hague’s Amare NDT opened their 2023/24 season with In/With/In – three pieces, two of which were world premières.

The performance got under way with a reprise of Marco Goecke’s 2022 I Love You, Ghosts, a rather sombre, macabre even, event with lots of black and chiaroscuro. The opening music, Harry Belafonte singing the soothing Try to Remember from the 1960 musical The Fantasticks, augured perhaps a sentimental journey, but this turned out not to be.

Goecke’s piece, as the title might suggest, turned into an almost Hitchcockian thriller with a suitable orchestral score that created tension and anticipation. There were moments when it was quite scary with the dancers screaming and uttering other vocal contortions. The appearance of an almost robotic mysterious character, added another menacing dimension. The piece was resolved when sentimentality returned to the strains of Danny Boy.

For the first of the evening’s two premières, The Point Being, the curtain slowly rose to reveal a smoke filled stage and what appeared to be an almost primitive religious ritual taking place. A lone girl moved in the shadows in what at first appeared to be a circle of rocks, but which turned out to be crouching dancers, while upstage stood a brightly lit, god-like figure. Imre and Marne van Opstal’s new work was very much a multi-disciplinary piece, enhanced by outstanding décor by the Amsterdam design team Drift and, as usual, brilliant lighting by Tom Visser. The original music by Amos Ben-Tal was an important factor in what was, for me, by far the best piece of the evening. It was mainly solo or duet work but towards the end the ensemble marching backwards and forwards, up and down in formation was thrilling.

Tao Ye’s 15 was a total ensemble piece with the . . . err . . . fifteen dancers working flat out in unison for twenty-five minutes in what must have been one of the most demanding and difficult pieces they had ever undertaken. Dressed in just baggy black Japanese style trousers they, in an ever moving unrelenting triangle configuration, never paused. With a mesmerising soundtrack by Xiao He and atmospheric lighting by Ellen Ruge the concept and presentation was breath-taking and, on the face of it, brilliant. However, at times it was quite ragged with one dancer in particular way-off the beat for most of the time.

Nevertheless, this was, as we have rightly come to expect, an out-standing evening of contemporary dance by the world class NDT.     Michael Hasted  22nd September 2023

In/With/In continues at the Amare and on tour until 10th November.