NDT’s current offering, Raw Are the Roots, is slightly unusual in that it brings together choreographers who run their own companies. Israeli’s Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar have led their company L-E-V for ten years as well as regularly working for top companies around the world. For NDT, they created the world premieres Sara, Bedroom Folk, Feelings and Salt Womb, which was awarded the Swan for best dance production in 2016.
German Felix Landerer also runs his own prize-winning company, Landerer & Co. He has previously worked in The Hague, creating The Whys and Wherefores Are Elusive for NDT2. I Contain Multitudes marks his first work for NDT1 and forms the first half of Raw Are the Roots.
Inspired by Walt Whitman’s 1855 poem Song of Myself, I Contain Multitudes explores the place and function of the individual in society. It takes place before a huge angular structure that put me in mind of Rotterdam Central railway station. In fact, the eleven dancers scurrying backwards and forwards confirmed this impression of a station concourse. However, this seeming randomness slowly metamorphosed with the dancers drawn, like in a magnetic field, into a swirling vortex. Christof Littmann’s original music did much to enhance the proceedings, utilising some very satisfying seat-rattling bass. The piece was lit entirely by a dozen overhead neon tubes (LEDs, in fact, that could change colour), enhancing the impression that this was some cold, impersonal public space in which individuals struggled to assert themselves.
Eyal and Behar’s new work Jakie was also very much an ensemble piece. Well matched with Landerer’s I Contain Multitudes, the action also takes place in a large, impersonal and formidable space. The dimly lit stage was like a vast underground cavern with the dancers huddled together, moving in a haphazard unison. Virtually naked in their flesh-coloured leotards they seemed a vulnerable group with individuals seldom daring to venture far from the pack. Alon Cohen’s lighting, although static, did much to create the atmosphere and again the music included some bone-shaking bass, inexorably and physically drawing the audience into the performance.
Raw Are the Roots was a very pleasing show of two perfectly matched pieces by inspired and original choreographers immaculately performed by dancers of NDT1. Michael HASTED at Amare in The Hague, 1st June 2023
Photo by and © Rahi Rezvani