agencies have so much prestige. The
job of the institute is to collect and
disseminate information. initiate discussions through meetings. publications and exhibitions. and generally to spread the good word about Dutch theatre to students. foreign programmers and people like rue.
It has also been instrumental in setting tip the imminent Nieuw Eccentrics season. a major autumn offensive by nine companies from the Netherlands and Dutch-speaking Belgium. that takes in Glasgow. London. Newcastle. Manchester. Nottingham and Burnley between now and Christmas. So what's the big deal about Dutch theatre'.’ Despite occasional performances in Britain — the very wonderful Dogtroep with ('amel Gossip at Tramway in 1992. and indeed. Tramway's whole season A Touch oft/1e Dutch some time before that — Dutch theatre is pretty much an unknown quantity in the minds of audiences over here. And that's a shame because. thanks to a peculiar chain ofevents in the history of Dutch performance. the country now produces. as a matter of course. a phenomenal number of productions that are not only internationally accessible (visuals not words dominate). but also artistically innovative.
Ever since October I969 when angry theatre students began throwing tomatoes at productions they deemed to be artistically stagnant. the new wave of Dutch theatre has seen to it that
l creativity is de rigeur. 'l‘hat impulse.
teamed with a progressive and well- structur'cd funding policy in a country with an underwhelming tradition of playwriting. allowed the rules to be
. drawn up from scratch and a distinctive
performance style to be created. It‘s not true to say that audiences in the Netherlands don’t still ﬂock to the big musicals and West find—style shows, but there is also a surprisingly substantial following for work that in this country would be considered
esoteric (wrongly. of course. bttt try
telling audiences that).
In the three productions l saw (one of which. Blok and Steel‘s witty and exacting contemporary dance piece
Dark Horses. is coming to Glasgow). l
could see no unifying quality beyond the fact that each was a confident and
individual expression of the
i performers' art. And from talking to ; actors. dancers and musicians. it is clear that they are working in an
atmosphere conducive to creativity. ‘We have a strong following and we're
‘ mostly fully booked.‘ says l.erry
Breederveld of Carver (named after the American short-story writer. Raymond Carver) which is bringing True Love. a
devised study of the singles game. to Tramway on 2‘) and 30 ()ct. ‘But we don’t want to give the audiences what
they expect and with every production we try to begin from zero.‘
It would be hard to argue that Blok and Steel's Dark Horses was a
the Alibi Collective gets to grips with Manuel The Creator at Iron Thea
tre j complete departure from any other
i country‘s contemporary dance but. in
having a three-month rehearsal period
followed by a certain run of at least 50
performances. the company operates l with an enviable degree of certainty —
i a certainty that results in assured and
imaginative work. The performance. featuring choreographers Suzy Blok and Christopher Steel along with three other dancers. is based on four of the deadly sins and is a follow-up to Ange/less seen in Edinburgh last year.
Front the opening sequence in which a heart of ice melts in the glow ofa spotlight and falls drip by drip onto the nape of Suzy Blok’s neck. via a chain of plate-spinning. table-setting and
dressing-up routines. to the closing shower of rain at the curtain call. Dark 1 Horses is a free-flowing delight. "There‘s a lot ofexperiment and a lot of variety in both dance and theatre,‘ says Steel who left Britain for Holland five years ago. ‘In dance people have lots of different ideas and ways of working and I don‘t think there’s one definite style. It‘s a healthy climate for the arts in general.‘
To give a taste of what this climate can produce, there are six productions coming to Glasgow. dealing with everything from racism to surrealism. but always with an assured understanding of theatre‘s visual and physical power.
Nieaw Ifccentrics, Tramway and Tron. Glasgow. 27 Oct—3 Not:
I a 14‘
Steve Slater has a bit of a mission on. There’s a lot ofdance going on in Scotland. he says. but very few opportunities for dancers to show their work. So for the third year running Slater. who runs Paisley Arts Centre, is putting the little money he has where his mouth is, adding his distinctive programme of new work by Scottish based dance artists — Dance Break Three — to Scotland’s not so busy dance calendar.
The dance artists he’s speaking out for in 94: Anatomy; Stormy Torsos; Group N; Dawn Hartly and Arlette George have all made their mark on Scottish dance but as they know only too well. the lack of funds available can make it difﬁcult to build on that success.
‘Lets just hope someone out there has the common sense to turn the tide in 95 and make the creation of vital and new dance a priority not a minority . . .' Lots ofpeople in the dance world think it; a few come out and say it. but Slater is circulating it in print on the new Dance Break Three leaﬂet. Is he at all worried about how this spunky little soundbite will be received by the powers that be?
‘No one‘s rung me from the Arts Council in ages,’ he says with a slight smirk, ‘but there comes a point where you have to say what you think and just keep on saying it. When I do these kind of things I hope the people in other venues will see the leaﬂets and think: “We could do this." It’s almost a message to them. If we can do it. anyone can. lfjust another five venues in Scotland opened their doors to dance it would be the ﬁrst step to having a thriving dance community.’ (Ellie Carr) Dance Break Three. Paisley Arts Centre. Fri 28 0c! — Sat 5 Nov, 8pm.
The List 21 October—3 November 1994 53'