And what a pleasure to behold these 18 superlative young dancers are! Drawn from a variety of countries they’ve been brought together in a cohesive ensemble, capable of handling everything that’s thrown at them with ease and aplomb.
One moment they’re embodying Marco Goecke’s expressionistic study of grief in The Big Crying; the next they’re drawing harmonious, classical lines in Hans van Manen’s flowing Simple Things, only to transition seamlessly to the funky steps of Johan Inger’s Impasse.
Moodily lit by Udo Haberland to create gradations of penumbra, and set to a score of electronic noise segueing into songs by Tori Amos, The Big Crying is, in the words of choreographer Marco Goecke, a piece about parting, created soon after the death of his father.
A work for the full company, it speaks of anguish and loss with frenzied, jagged movements, elbows foremost. Nobody walks or runs, rather they scurry around and that, combined with the insistent electronic noise, creates a deep sense of unease. When Tori Amos’s eerie vocals rise over the electronic score, grief takes a softer, haunting dimension.
All this the barefoot, black-clad dancers convey cogently. I can’t say I knew exactly what was what at all times, but I was entranced throughout.
Hans van Manen is the grand old master of Dutch dance, his prolific output varied, but always characterised by harmonious classicism. Simple Things, created just over 20 years ago is a gentle, humorous piece for two men and two women.
NDT2 Simple Things. Dancers: Kenedy Kallas and Auguste Palayer. Photo: Tristram Kenton
It starts with a lighthearted contest between the two men: the small, nervy Emmitt Cawley and the tall, striking Auguste Palayer. Each dances for the other and then they dance together to upbeat accordion music, before being joined by the two women, Cassandra Martin and Kenedy Kallas. Now they dance to the crystalline notes of a medley of Haydn compositions for piano, the dancing acquiring a softer, more feminine, elegiac tone.
This is a piece you watch with a permanent smile, a piece that flows effortlessly, where the dancers create lines and images of the utmost classical purity, the lifts are light and the arabesques elongated.
The evening ends with Impasse by the Swedish choreographer Johan Inger. Three youngsters – Annika Verplancke, Austin Meiteen and Emmitt Cawley – emerge from a house, its frontage outlined by neon bars.
NDT2 Impasse. Dancers: Annika Verplancke, Austin Meiteen, Emmitt Cawley
Their dance is playful, childish almost, lulled by Ibrahim Maalouf’s jazzy score, but soon they are surrounded by a group of dancers dressed in black, hemming them in, demanding compliance. Their space narrows, as does their individuality. Peer pressure diminishes them.
The music suddenly turns into a rumba and, as if we’ve suddenly strayed into Hofesh Shechter territory, a group of manic clowns bursts in, led by a glamorous woman in a glittering unitard and a headdress of blue feathers.
Even if the questions it asks about the struggle between identity, peer pressure and loneliness are deep and pertinent, Johan Inger treats them with a light, never less than engaging touch, and the evening ends in an exuberant and uplifting mood.
|What||NDT2 triple bill, Sadler's Wells review|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
16 Feb 22 – 19 Feb 22, 19:30 Dur.: 2 hours 20 mins inc two intervals
|Price||£15-£55 (+booking fee)|
|Website||Click here to book|