I am always keen to see productions by, or involving, the Nederlands Dans Theater, one of the leading contemporary dance companies in the world. In this co-production with the Korzo Theater, Czech choreographer and former NDT dancer, Jiří Pokorný has created three interlocking pieces under the umbrella title of The Little Great People.
I have seen a couple of his short pieces already which I loved, especially his Walking in Colours but this is Pokorný’s first full-length piece which he states was inspired by his fascination for the contradictions in human nature and its existence. Shouldn’t be short of material there then.
Although billed as separate pieces the three, essentially duets, are clearly connected and have a lot in common. First up was Albedo which is, apparently, a scientific term about measuring the influence of solar radiation. Nicely danced by Erika Poletto and Aya Degani this started off as a cat’s cradle embrace, gradually weaving ever-changing patterns and shapes. This exercise in give and take was enhanced by some excellent, ever-changing lighting by Loes Schakenbos. The atmospheric soundscape by Davidson Jaconello was underlying all the pieces, conjuring up wind and rain.
With the surreptitious appearance of two more dancers, Albedo gradually and seamlessly morphed into the second piece, Milieu, which explored a moment in time with the two dancers, Sarah Reynolds and Dominic Santia, struggling to communicate with garbled speech through covered mouths. The ever-present soundscape was augmented by a nice bit of piano in the form of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op.2 No1 Il Adago.
The final segment, And, followed a rather long interval which I thought rather broke up the rhythm and continuity of the evening. For me, this was by far the best piece in The Little Great People. Although described as portraying the polarity of the male/female relationship in which the protagonists find the meaning of their interconnection, I found And to be rather confrontational. Visually this segment was stunning with the grid of lights lowered above the stage. The use of shadows against the Korzo’s vast concrete back wall enhanced the dramatic effect and tension as the storm-laden soundscape became more intense. Beautifully danced by Carolina Mancuso and Kenta Kojiri, who was the star of the show, And was certainly the high-spot of the piece. At the end, all six dances appeared together for the final dénouement.
Overall this was a substantial body of work for which Jiří Pokorný should be pleased. The dancing, lighting and sound were excellent but I found the costumes, not for the first time in productions at the Korzo and elsewhere, disappointing. The ubiquitous, seemingly de rigueur, uninspired uniform of drab colourless dark tops, ill-fitting black trousers and black woolly socks add nothing to the visual impact of a piece and certainly do nothing to complement, or enhance awareness of, the dancers’ bodies. I am not advocating that all dance should be in tutus and body-hugging tights but a little imagination and care would go a very long way. Michael Hasted 13th April 2019
The Little Great People continues on tour until 28th May.