NDT2: The Big Crying, Simple Things, Impasse

The convulsive pain of grief, a languorous classical quartet and an exuberant party piece undercut with darkness; these three pieces superbly contrast each other in mood and style, the latest offering by NDT2’s Artistic Director, Emily Molnar. This junior branch of NDT1 is famed for its athleticism, vitality and energy, not least because its dancers range from age 20-26. This production lived up to this reputation, where their confidence and talent, matched by the experimental choreography, takes your breath away.

one leaves the theatre uplifted

Marco Goecke’s The Big Crying opens the performance with a burst of flame, evoking a funeral pyre or cremation, for this piece was made after the death of his father. A darkened stage where the soloist Emmitt Cawley’s nude torso writhes, convulses and jerks to a rushing sound like a train in a tunnel, suggests the turmoil of grief sweeping through him. In the gloom, when other members of the cast join him, dressed in black with bare arms, the emphasis is on arms jerking, the hands like claws, grasping at the air, in hundreds of insectoid movements, remarkable in their precision. The intricate interlocking shapes, obsessively repeated, also suggests the physical pain of grief in an original startling way. Silent screams in open mouths are reminiscent of Francis Bacon’s art and later, female screams rip the sound-track. Tori Amos’ breathy voice in various songs is an inspired contrast to the agony on stage. The last tract REM’s Losing my Religion points to the theme that for unbelievers there is no solace in death. However, the soloist eventually quietens and is calm at the end in some kind of peace.

The second piece Simple Things is choreographed by Hans van Manen, at 89, the Grandfather of High Modernism. Launched in 2001, this is the only one of the three not in its premier year. This is a sensuous quartet where the dancers show off their classical dance skills with more abstract inflections in elegant black and silver costumes by Keso Dekker. The males, Auguste Palayer and Emmitt Cawley seem to compete, one watching the other and then pair off with the females Kenedy Kallas and Cassandra Martin in patterned, smooth pas de deux accompanied by Haydn’s piano trio No. 28 in E Major and mixed with other music on jaunty accordion.

Lastly, Johan Inger’s Impasse is a morality tale of three innocent youngsters who emerge from a house, a skillfully designed structure of neon lights, to be seduced by an exuberant party, where dancers in fancy dress, notably a silver, twinkling body suit topped with feathered headdress shows off the dancer’s sinuous body. The uplifting mood of French Lebanese Ibrahim Maalouf’s composition and jazz trumpet complements the fun, wildly energetic dance. However, as a black-speckled backdrop descends and their house shrinks, the youngsters find they cannot return to their past innocence. Despite this bleak moment it is brief and one leaves the theatre uplifted after, in Edinburgh, a standing ovation.

Reviews by Stephanie Green

Festival Theatre

NDT2: The Big Crying, Simple Things, Impasse

★★★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

In his very personal and moving piece about the fragility of life and love, Goecke’s The Big Crying, with songs by Tori Amos, energises the fiery power of 18 outstanding dancers to embrace a celebration of life.

Van Manen’s exquisite quartet, Simple Things, featuring Haydn’s Piano Trio No. 28 in E-major, is described as ‘pure dance art’, presenting a master class in simplicity.

For the finale, Johan Inger’s vibrant IMPASSE bursts onto the stage with the joyful music of French-Lebanese jazz.

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