Monday, July 22, 2019

World-class acts not far from home

Dec 24. 2018
Multi-national dancers with the NDT1 performed four diverse works by four international choreographers at the recent da:ns festival. (Photo/Bernie Ng/Esplanadetheatres on the Bay)
Multi-national dancers with the NDT1 performed four diverse works by four international choreographers at the recent da:ns festival. (Photo/Bernie Ng/Esplanadetheatres on the Bay)
Facebook Twitter

By Pawit Mahasarinand
Special to The Nation
Singapore

15,815 Viewed

A well-balanced quadruple bill programme meets all the da:ns audience’s expectations

AS PART of the Esplanade—Theatres on the Bay’s annual “da:ns festival’s” centre-stage programme, the main company of The Hague-based Nederlands Dans Theatre (NDT1) made a rare visit to our region, the first in more than a decade. Just as with my previous experiences with their works, I was reminded that a dance work is not only about choreography and dancers’ skills; other elements, like set, costume, lighting and music or sound, are also, if not equally, important. In others words, it needs to be theatrical to work its full effect. I also observed that members of the company looked more diverse than before.

Multi-national dancers with the NDT1 performed four diverse works by four international choreographers at the recent da:ns festival. (Photo/Bernie Ng/Esplanadetheatres on the Bay)

NDT’s artistic director Paul Lightfoot and his co-choreographer and wife Sol Leon’s “Shoot the Moon” started the evening on a high note. To Philip Glass’s music, five dancers told relationship stories in three rooms set on a revolving stage, accompanied by a screen onto which close-up live video images were projected. The audience not only witnessed them but also felt their emotions and related them to what has happened in our lives.

Photo/Bernie Ng/Esplanadetheatres on the Bay

 

After an intermission, seven dancers performed “Woke Up Blind” by German choreographer Marco Goecke. While the piece was set to two very contrasting songs by Jeff Buckley – the soulful “You and I” and the rapid “The Way Young Lovers Do” – the dancers fit right into both, much as if it were the same song, showing both their skills and virtuosity.

Then came the evening’s most delightful surprise – Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite’s “The Statement”, in which music was replaced by a sound recording of Jonathan Young’s one-act play of the same title. 

Photo/Bernie Ng/Esplanadetheatres on the Bay

 

In a keenly lit corporate office setting, four dancers who really know how to act became characters with larger-than-life gestures and the play, which is about a power struggle, was a special treat for the eyes and at times hilarious. 

After another intermission, Lightfoot and Leon’s “Stop-Motion” sent the audience home with smiles. With the video of their daughter playing on a large screen downstage left, this personal tale addressed the connection and merging of past, present and future to the accompaniment of Max Richter’s melancholic music. 

Photo/Bernie Ng/Esplanadetheatres on the Bay

 

It’s noteworthy that while the house on both evenings was not full to capacity, the audience, both from Singapore and overseas, was enthusiastic and included among more 

 than a few spectators who had watched exactly the same quadruple programme presented at London’s Sadler’s Wells a few months earlier. This perhaps proves that producers and presenters shouldn’t always assume that Southeast Asian audiences only want to watch classical ballet on the grand stage. After all, it’s 2018, and, in this Internet era, we know what our European counterparts are watching and we’d like to see some of that here too.

The writer’s trip was fully supported by CultureLink. Special thanks to Goh Ching Lee, James Tay, Hoo Kuan Cien and Isabelle Yee.

 

In celebration of the Chinese new year, Esplanade will host the annual “Huayi—Chinese Festival of Arts” from February 15-24, with dance, theatre and music from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the host country. Highlights include Beijing Li Liuyi Theatre Studio’s “Hamlet”, M.O.V.E. Theatre’s music theatre “Dear John” and Khalil Fong’s concert.

For more details, visit www.Esplanade.com.

Keep track of NDT at www.ndt.nl.

 

Tags:
Facebook Twitter
More in Lifestyle
Editor’s Picks
Top News