Dutch Masters is made up of four short pieces: two by Hans van Manen, and one each by Jirí Kylían and Nils Christe.
Hans van Manen’s signature style – clarity of lines, rigorous structure and meticulous attention to the music – is present in both his works: Polish Pieces, to a score by the Polish composer Górecki, and Andante to the slow movement of Mozart’s Symphony No 40.
Polish Pieces (pictured up top) is an effervescent work for 12 dancers, who storm the stage in brightly coloured unitards, sharp geometric gestures suddenly turning into perfect classical ballet positions. Ensemble gives way to smaller groupings, allegro segues into adage for a couple later joined by a second. It is exhilarating.
Andante is quite something else. A modern variation on the classical minuet denoted by Mozart’s music, this duet suggest a mystery in the woman’s knowing smile, the haughty placement of her head, and the fraction of a second delay in her response to her partner’s stretched hand. It’s a perfect example of van Manen’s versatility in the ‘ballets for two’ for which he is renowned; at nine minutes it’s a short but entirely satisfying piece.
Lieder Eines Fahrender Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) is Jirí Kylían’s translation into dance of Mahler’s haunting song cycle, sung here in a recording by the American mezzo Marilyn Horne.
Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen (c) Introdans Hans Gerritson
Designer John Macfarlane (well know to Royal Ballet audiences), created the backdrop image of a dark, rocky landscape, where a simple winding path leads to a patch of light on the horizon. Five couples dressed in sombre colours take turns to embody the music’s range of moods, from the joyful welcome to a new day, through the anguish of the third song and the final resigned acceptance of fate.
Kylían’s duets are profoundly expressive and flow in the wake of Horne’s powerful voice; now light, barely skimming the ground, later punctuated by longing stretches and lifts, resistance dovetailing into abandon as the final couple makes to follow the path.
The final work of the evening, Cantus, is one of many works created for Introdans by Nils Christe. Set to a collage of pieces by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s, it seems designed to show off the dancers at their most vibrant.
CANTUS (c) Introdans Hans Gerritsen
It starts with five women slowly dragging away a cloth that covers the entire stage to reveal seven men lying down. All 12 are dressed in dun colours, suggesting they are creatures of the earth; and their dancing, in wave like canons, trios and duets evolving in a crescendo of runs and acrobatic leaps, points towards a frenzied ritual.
It’s frankly exhausting to watch; but these wonderful, highly technical and committed dancers make short work of it. Introdans is a delightul company; and we can only hope that, unlike the last time, it doesn’t take them another ten years to return to these shores.
|What||Introdans, Dutch Masters Review|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
15 Mar 19 – 17 Mar 19, 19:45 Sun 13:00 Dur.: 1 hour and 50 mins inc one interval
|Website||Click to book via the ROH|