_ ‘0 Formed in 1959 by a 3'; group of eighteen dancers frustrated by ‘ . the constraints ( -. i", ’ imposed on them at ’ Nederlands Ballet. NDT I has since grown to include 3| dancers aged 22—40. 5"“ 1‘3. Their ability to produce consistently challenging and innovative works saw them through initial periods of financial hardship. but if money wasn‘t forthcoming in those early years. recognition certainly was. Jiri Kylian joined them as a guest choreographer in 1973. and was appointed artistic director two years later.
aged just 28. The buzz surrounding them grew
louder during the 80s. reaching the ears of 33- year—old Australian dancer Susan l.araghy.
‘The company came out to Australia in 1986.‘ explains Laraghy. a member of N'D'f 1 since l‘)‘)(). ‘I didn‘t get to see them. but the murmur was huge. lt caused such a ripple through the dance world. Later that year I came to liurope to look around and see what interested me. I saw NUT and thought “t/Iut's what I want to do". So a couple of years later. I came over to audition.'
A steady round of classes. performances and touring mean that while the three companies are all based in the same building. they’re far from in each other‘s pockets. ‘Wc do feel very separate because we’ve all got our own schedulesf says Laraghy. ‘()ccasionally we do class together. which is nice; although it gets a bit crowded! But I think that‘s what I‘ve enjoyed most about Arr/iim/m/dn: really getting to know the other dancers. seeing each other in the mornings. wishing each other luck in the wings all those little things that bring you closer.’
Kylian had been with the main company just three years when he realised the potential for . 1 expansion. Recruited i V 3 from throughout the ‘ world. all fourteen members of this young ensemble have received classical ballet training: good grounding for the sometimes punishing itinerary at NDT. ‘lt‘s been exciting. but the schedule of performing is very intense.' says 21—year-old Amos Ben-'l‘al. "l‘he demands placed on young dancers are very high. but it‘s also a very rich experience. I‘ve met a lot of people and seen a lot of places.’
()riginally intended as a feed for the main company. with over 70‘} of the dancers in .\'l)T l germinating from its younger sibling. NDT 2 has fast become a world—class company in its own right. The technical ability and sheer athleticism of its members belies their tender years. reaching standards that your average l7—22—year-old would baulk at. Three years after joining .\'l)'f 2. Ben-'l‘al is about to say goodbye to his fellow young bloods. as he graduates up to the main company.
'l‘m going to take it gradually] says Ben- 'l'al of his future with ND'l‘ I. ‘My girlfriend will be with Nl)'l‘ 2 for the next two years and we‘ll both see what happens after that.‘ So no eyes on his progression to .\'l)T 3 just yet then'.’ 'I think it‘s a great opportunity for older dancers to perform and express themselves.‘ he says. ‘But as for me. I don‘t know how much the passion for dancing is going to stay in me. time will tell.‘
‘1 had just turned 40 when I stopped dancing with the main company.‘ says 4‘)- I ' year-old Sabine Kupferberg. ‘And [just Sabine didn‘t know what to K“ fe'befg do. I couldn‘t find a 1 real focus as satisfying as performing.‘ Such is the lot of the dancer. Years of training and performing come to an abrupt halt. as teaching and choreography replace touring and curtain calls.
Not so at .\'l)'l‘. Kupferberg joined the main company in l‘)75. and was one of their brightest stars right up to her departure in l‘)‘)(). Fortunately her lack of focus was soon brought into view when. a year later. Kylian — who also happens to be her husband — formed .\'l)'l' 3. a company of experienced dancers aged over 40.
'I consider myself very lucky. because when I first came here 1 had no idea what would happen. I wasjust learning and developing.‘ says Kupferberg. 'And I‘ll never forget a colleague telling me she‘d been dancing in the company for eight years and saying “oh my (iod I‘ll never last that longl'". 'l‘wenty-five years later she‘s still going strong. 'If you’re tired of dancing mentally. then your body will just be as tired.‘ she says. ‘If you carry on being motivated by what you are doing. then you‘ll be fine.‘
With both choreographers and dancers queuing up to work with the company. you have to wonder why no-one else has thought of it. "l‘here are many dancers over 40 that would love to continue performing and do new works as we do.‘ says Kupferberg. ‘But it needs a very strong spirit behind it and that’s not easy to find.~
2.1 fax; 2 Sop 2000 THE “ST FESTIVAL GUIDE 15