Sudden and Suspended by NDT2 at Amare in The Hague

NDT2 is secondary to the main Nederlands Dans Theater company. It was created to bring on young dancers and “to acquaint [them] with a lexicon of dance languages. Working together with diverse creators provides the dancers with the opportunity to learn to react quickly to different dance languages, techniques and working methods”. However, one should not get the impression that NDT2 is in any way secondary in talent or creativity. This, if there was any doubt, was established last night with the final production of its season, three short pieces collectively called Sudden and Suspended.

Fathoms, by Tiffany Tregarthen and David Raymond, was an extraordinary piece and one of the best I have seen from either company recently. The curtain rose to three suspended figures writhing and tumbling in the darkness, their arms outstretched like a spinning crucifixion. As the lights came up we were presented with a stage inhabited by a single dancer and lots chairs – chairs that seemed to have a life of their own as they twisted and turned, gradually disappearing into the darkness. The dancers, more or less the entire company, inhabited what might have been a post-apocalyptic world, tormented zombies destined to live in the shadows. It was a sort of Night of the Living Dead meets Eugene Ionesco. The chairs were ever-present, but were they the dancers’ penance or salvation . . . ?

The astounding lighting by James Proudfoot played a vital part throughout but for the final sequence it was truly breathtaking. Spotlights were raised and lowered, their beams crisscrossing in the smoke to form huge monochrome Cubist images. Amazing.

Also premiering, Edward Clug’s Cluster was an altogether different affair – a much warmer, friendlier and often humourous business. The six dancers all dressed identically worked brilliantly together, their silky smoothness defying the often small staccato moves. A lot of it was like a Sixties dance craze with swaying hips and gyrating arms often producing the effect of a human kaleidoscope. The centre of attraction was a giant dancer, built more like a prize fight or circus strong man, an idea enforced by the final tableaux when he formed the base of a human pyramid.

Humour played an even greater part in Johan Inger’s Impasse. It was premiered in March 2020 shortly before the first lockdown and its scheduled run consequently cancelled, hence its revival.

There was something very rural American about the first sequence, rather like the Andrew Wyeth painting Christina’s World depicting a girl sitting on a grassy slope, contemplating a distant farm.

Three innocent youngsters danced in front of simple barn-like timber building. Their idyll was soon disrupted by the emergence from the building of six black-clad dancers who moved to a completely different tune, gradually inducting the three into their ranks. The building was replaced by a slightly smaller one and things got even wilder with the arrival of a circus or cabaret troupe complete with clowns and burlesque dancers. As the building was again reduced in size it all became one big party with any trace of innocence obliterated – or was it? As a painted front cloth, depicting what looked like a landslide or a rock fall, very slowly descended on the stage our three friends managed to extricate themselves from the bawdy revelry and contemplated the now tiny house – their innocence returned but tarnished and diminished.

Three first class pieces that demonstrate that NDT2 should in no way be considered a second fiddle to NDT1. Excellent stuff.   Michael Hasted   22nd April 2022

Photo by and © Rahi Rezvani