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  • Chris O'Rourke


NDT2's Simple Things, choreography byHans Van Manen. Image by Joris-Jan Bos


Some names are synonymous with excellence. Nederlands Dans Theater 2 (NDT2) is one such name. Like their parent company NDT, technical and physical excellence, exquisite precision and near inhuman synchronicity are hallmarks of NDT2, one of the worlds premiere contemporary dance companies. Presented by Dance Consortium, NDT2 make their Irish premiere with three short works. Crafted by three different choreographers, two prove to be vibrant new pieces, with the third looking as fresh as when first created twenty-one years ago.

NDT2's The Big Crying, choreographer Marco Goecke. Image by Rahi Rezvan

Beginning with The Big Crying, choreographer Marco Goecke dives into his own personal underworld to explore living in the face of loss, speaking to the difficulties of the last two years under COVID as a consequence. Like a Shaolin monk under a midnight flame, a shirtless dancer executes a kata style sequence establishing rapid, jolting snaps coupled with interludes of fluidity, suggesting a Tai Chi master channelling energies viscerally felt. Like a waddling bird, another dancer approaches, executes a short duet of brief, almost cartoonish jerks then disappears to be replaced by another. The rhythm thus established, Goecke sets about improvising on his theme, going to painful, dark places as bodies upon bodies are shaped or distorted with snapping articulations. Creatures whose echoes of humanity highlight their pain. Cackling and bellowing intermittently follows, groupings like birds converge and disappear, words silently mouthed display their inadequacy as Udo Haberland's exquisite light drifts like moonlight through hell. A gorgeous and affecting journey, The Big Crying's sublime articulations take you to places wondrous, scary, yet hauntingly beautifully. Ending with a sole dancer under a flame, we, like them, return having been transformed.

NDT2's Simple Things, choreography byHans Van Manen. Image by Joris-Jan Bos

Synchronised perfection, articulations of excellence, and going full circle reemerge in Simple Things by Hans Van Manen from 2001, featuring four dancers forming interchangeable pas-de-deux. The quartet, two male and two female, delivering the more formal of the three pieces. If ballet's formalisim has always been susceptible to pressures from within and without, leading some to declare it a dead art form, no sooner has its death knoll been rang than it shows itself infinitely rich and open to suitable accommodations. Conserving form yet moving it forward, Van Manen's Simple Things marshals such pressures into something sublime. Transforming tensions and setting them free. Embracing tradition yet being startlingly fresh. There might be mild traces of tango, but it is unmistakably ballet.

NDT2's Impasse, choreography by Johan Inger. Image by Joris-Jan Bos

Ending the night with Impasse, Johan Inger's stunning work suggests Oklahoma or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers with its large, barn like structure from where three dancers emerge. Traces of barn dancing infuse what follows as innocence and colour become seduced by bigger, flashier, thrasher things. Their colours fading to uniform black, till all three primary dancers are finally cut off from both the world they chased and their original world. A hybrid and fusion of music and dance forms, like a civilised Hieronymus Bosch painting, depressed clowns, horse fights, and Vegas showgirls execute different movements to different rhythms, creating a complex physical cacophony. The running uphill sequence a masterpiece of simplicity and brilliance, just one of many that inform the night.

Bodies suspended in space and time; positioning, precision and footwork utterly exquisite; lithe, fluid movements imbued with a wild, sexy energy: NDT2 are simply out of this world. Crafting intangible realities into tangible physicalities, all three pieces aspire to standards beyond human, and get there. With Dublin Dance Festival 2022 on the horizon, whet your appetite with a masterclass in brilliance. Not to be missed.

NDT2, presented by Dance Consortium, runs at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre until May 3rd.

For more information, visit Bord Gáis Energy Theatre


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