RIDCC at FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE at Kunsthal, Rotterdam

Breathe With Me a Moment. Photo by Ton van Til

In the past five years, despite the pandemic, the Rotterdam International Dance Duet Competition – the RIDCC – has become one of the most important dates on the dance calendar, not only in The Netherlands but around the world. Rotterdam Kunsthal’s initiative to create Friday Night LIVE on the third Friday of the month was a brilliant idea. So, when the two came together it was guaranteed to be something special.

The Kunsthal was packed – all the galleries were open so, if you hadn’t seen them already you could view the Ai Weiwei and the other exhibitions. There were guided tours if you wanted them, or you could wander round in between or on your way to the dozen dance events mounted by RIDCC. The ground floor restaurant/bar was a vibrating disco with moody lighting and loud music provided by DJ Shug La Sheedah. It was probably the best event in town last night – five hours of dance, art and partying.

The evening proper got underway at 17.30 in Hal 1, the main ground floor gallery with Mermaids by Derek Cayla from France which was performed in the 2019 RIDCC. Belgian Danielle Huyghe’s Out of the Blue was seen in the 2021 event and for Friday Night LIVE she performed Into the Blue, both works based on the choreographer’s own experience with insomnia and extensive research.

Or Marin’s Breathe With Me a Moment which had been brought over from Israel specially for this event, was, for me, the high spot of the evening. Two young men wearing only black briefs (they often do it naked) were locked together in a passionate embrace joined at the mouth, like Siamese twins, by a harmonica (I hesitate to use the word “organ” as in mouth organ . . .). Now, it must be said their harmonica playing was not very tuneful but they did manage to dance and play mouth-to-mouth without missing a beat. Breathe With Me a Moment participated in last year’s RIDCC where Or Marin won the Partner Award of the MiR Dance Company Gelsenkirchen.

Sarah Baltzinger and Isaiah Wilson with their Megastructure were the victors of last year’s RIDCC. In addition to many Partner Awards, they won RIDCC’s main prize, the XL Production Award worth €100,000. Sarah Baltzinger and Isaiah Wilson’s piece was very much back to basics with no décor or music/soundscape. There were strong elements of comedy involving a lot of wobbly leg contortions.

In addition to the four live performances there were lots of other things happening. Throughout the evening the award-winning dance film Don’t Kiss .mov directed by choreographer Fabio Liberti and filmmaker Carl Olsson could be seen in the Kunsthal’s auditorium. The eight minute film shows the magnetic tension between two men, entwined in a kiss and in some ways was similar to Breathe With Me a Moment.

On one of the landings upstairs there was a small exhibition showing four photographs by Mark David of former RIDCC participants. Since the second edition of RIDCC, Mr David has been responsible for creating the annual campaign image.

And you would have noticed some strange figures wandering slowly and silently around the Kunsthal. Dressed from head to toe in red and black overalls, their heads encased in shiny helmets, it was hard to tell if they were astronauts, aliens or forlorn bikers. Maciej Kuźmiński’s Transience is a site-specific living installation: visitors from the future or from another world move in the contemporary urban environment. The peripatetic installation was first seen in the public areas of Theater Rotterdam during last year’s RIDCC.

Although we have been following Maya Roest and Mischa van Leeuwen’s RIDCC since its inception, this was the first time we had been to Friday Night LIVE at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam. And, as I said, it’s probably the best and most stimulating party in town on the third Friday of every month.

The 2024 RIDCC runs from 20th to 22nd June at Theatre Rotterdam. More information here