Diverse, curious and striking, Nederlands Dans Theater 2’s 2016 Dance Consortium Tour showcases the company’s acclaimed contemporary dance repertoire. Stopping off in Edinburgh en route to Sadler’s Wells, NTD2, the junior division of the Nederlands Dans Theater, performs six pieces from its catalogue. Covering a lexicon of dance languages, each piece is stylistically and tonally different, from the comic “Sad Case” to the award-winning “Cacti”.
From the guffaws and applause reverberating through the theatre, in this respect the production certainly succeeded.
The dances are performed with a unanimous passion and conviction, but, inevitably, some resonate more than others. Regardless the show remains a must-see, if only for the talents of its perceptive young dancers. All aged between 18 and 23, this young company are surely destined for greatness.
The production’s opening, entitled “Schubert”, hooks the audience in with its expression of inhibited passion. Tumbling, dramatic lifts are complemented by music from the titular composer and Ole Schaaf’s inspired set. Moving panels, operated by unseen dancers, seamlessly fly across the stage, creating the production’s ever-changing mood.
Another highlight is “Sad Case”, in which five dancers humorously unravel to the backdrop of Spanish music and spoken word. Floppy, fast and athletic, the piece is a great platform for its performers. Other pieces demonstrate a more sensitive side to the dance troupe. “Some other Time” is imbued with jealousy and an almost vampiric sense of possession, whilst in “mutual comfort” two couples reflect and refract each other’s movements.
The most alienating part of the NTD2’s production is its insistence on being deliberately perplexing. Meaning is always intangible and, in the shorter pieces, this can irritate. That said, this sense of impalpability is evidently deliberate. The NTD2 and its choreographers are in on the joke and their dances are supposed to embody incomprehensibility.
This conceit is best epitomised in the production’s conclusion: Alexander Ekman’s “Cacti”, a knowing postmodern parody of contemporary dance’s worst excesses and the pitfalls of theatre criticism. Accompanied by the eponymous cacti plants, 16 dancers, perform Ekman’s work. The performance challenges the audience’s preconceptions, creating a hilarious, dynamic and memorable piece of movement.
The spoken word accompaniment is the disembodied voice of an arrogant critic, narrating the action. Consequently, analysing the performance in any great detail seems wrong; ultimately “Cacti” eschews analysis, aiming only to engulf and entertain its audience. From the guffaws and applause reverberating through the theatre, in this respect the production certainly succeeded. NTD2 have compiled an occasionally alienating, but always entertaining production: a worthy showcase of its dancers talents.