Nothing matters when we are dancing

Nothing matters when we are dancing

Robert Tanitch reviews Nederlands Dans Theater 1 at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London EC1

Sol Leon and Paul Lightfoot, resident choreographers of Nederands Dans Theater, have been working together since 1989. The double-bill they have brought to London is a showcase for them.

Sehnsucht (premiered in 2009) is a German word that literally means longing or a kind of intense missing. A couple interact in a constantly rotating cube room. The rotating cube is more involving than anything Parvevaneh Scharafall and Medhi Walkerski actually have to do, without losing their balance as ceilings and walls turn and become floors.

Outside the cube a very tall blond young man (Silas Henriksen), with very long legs, rivets attention. What his exact relationship is to those inside is not clear. He is joined by a chorus of topless male and female dancers who dance with tremendous vigour to Beethoven’s dramatic Symphony No 5.

There is action on stage throughout the interval, confusing the audience as to whether they are meant to stay or go and have a drink.

Schmetterling (premiered in 2010) is the German word for Butterfly. Solos, couples and trios go through different relationships, reacting in a frenetic and sometimes funny way to ironic folk songs by the Indie rock band The Magnetic Fields and Max Richter.  The dancers, both men and women, wear black ugly skirts and berets. The movement is jagged and exaggerated and much given to splayed splits.  Mouths are liable to gape and mumble.

There is what might be described as a Tina Bausch moment in the charming response to the song, Nothing Matters When We Are Dancing. An enormous panoramic photograph of the magnificent Death Valley, under a brooding sky, appears behind the dancers on a huge curtain which fills the whole back wall; and then it is drawn and there is absolute darkness.

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