Going Dutch

The hottest ticket in successive Edinburgh Festivals, NDT2 is back in the capital and still as fresh-faced, fit and sexy as ever. And this time the Dutch dancers want you up on stage as well.

' : Donald Hutera

hen do we perform. and when not‘." The question. wposed by Jiri Kylian. is rhetorical. Speaking by

phone from his home in The Hague. the master choreographer has a ready-made answer. ‘lt‘s really a question for all of us. I think we are performing from the moment we are born. Constantly. Performance is not jtist what you call it when people stand on a stage and do strange things. Life is performance. l'm performing for you now. because I want you write a wonderful article about Nederlands Dans Theater.‘

The latter task is no problem. Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) is recognised as one of the most attractive of large-scale liuropean dance troupes. This is thanks. in large part. to Kylian‘s generous vision as company artistic director for a quarter- ‘entury and. currently. artistic adviser.

Housed in sterling facilities in The Hague. this Dutch

company is structurally unique. ‘In large companies.‘ explains former dancer (ierald Tibbs. ‘the young usually have to wait in line to get their spot on stage. Then. after a dancer gets older.

Returning to Edinburgh for the fifth time, NDT2 brings wit, energy and emotion

there‘s less and less. It‘s different here. We have 50 dancers. and they‘re all soloists.‘

It‘s not just NDT's lack of a star system that makes it special. nor the dancers' combination of extreme musicality and superb technique. Ranging in age from late teens to the mid-(10s. they are said to comprise one big. happy ‘family‘. It‘s more accurate. however. to call NDT a three-in-one family.

There are 32 dancers in the main company. known as NDTI. Sleek and sure—footed. they're handsome movers in the prime of their careers. At the opposite end of the spectrum is NDT3. a handful of superbly seasoned performers all over the age of 40. Rather than being ptit out to pasture. they were wisely given extended leases on their stage lives.

Sandwiched in between is NDT2. Most of NDTI ‘s members have emerged from the ranks of this smaller ensemble of fourteen dancers. whose ages range from 18 to 22. Tibbs. who oversees this group. wrinkles his nose when anyone refers to

What sends audiences into the

What lends this piece its exceptional entertainment value'.’ Although Naharin stitched it together out of four pre-existing works. it feels excitineg unpredictable rather than piecemeal and old-hat. The eclectic soundtrack is deliciously heavy on kitsch. from Dean Martin‘s rendition of ‘Sway‘ to cha-cha to ‘Hava Nagila‘ and a techno version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.

The dancing is all live-wire. There‘s a thrilling section in which the entire cast sits in a wide arc of chairs. flinging themselves about in repetitions of movement passed among themselves in rippling. llame-like waves. liach dancer also appears as a soloist. strutting their stuff to the accompaniment of their own charmingly ‘confessional‘ voice-over

them as ‘iuniors~ or ‘anrentices‘. That‘s because NDT2 has monologue. - i ' stratosphere WM.

developed a distinctive identity ofits own. _ sends audiences into the

It has also cultivated a thriving popularity with Edinburgh IS one Of stratosphere is the climax. one of the Festival Theatre audiences. Fresh-faced. lit and incredibly sexy. most buo ant most buoyant pieces of audience NDT2 is poised to make its fifth appearance at the venue in as _ y participation ever. The dancers drift into many years with two programmes. The first (24 & 25 May) the stalls. each one selecting an features Kylian's ‘Sechs Tan/c‘. a humorous appropriation of d- individual to join them on stage. This Mozart‘s small suite of (ierman Dances. Taking his cue from a a" '_el:_‘ce _ kind of thing usually makes me cringe. letter the 21-year-old composer penned to a favourite cousin. Here it‘s uproarious and joyful. a case of Kylian devised what he calls ‘six seemingly nonsensical acts‘. dance as the great unilier.

The second (26 May only) programme includes ‘Dream Play‘. in ever'

which Kylian protege and dancer John lnger tackles Stravinsky‘s ‘l.e sacre du printemps‘ with dynamic grace. Occupying both bills is British~born company member Paul Lightfoot‘s two-part ‘Said and Done‘. set to Bach‘s ‘Toccata and Fugue in D-minor'. Here the masculine energy of the first half is counterbalanced by the more emotional. feminine feelings articulated in part two. But the unqualified hit of all of NDT‘s evenings at the Festival Theatre is lsraeli choreographer Ohad Naharin‘s ‘Minus 16‘. an irresistible crowd-pleaser that leaves you on such a high you just might find yourself dancing in the streets afterwards.

14 THE LIST 10AM May 2001

‘lt’s always full of surprises.‘ says Tibbs. ‘Some people say no [when asked to go tip on stage]. They [the dancers] know to go to someone else.‘ There are a few other guidelines. ‘They cannot ask anyone that they know. And they look for people in bright colours.‘ Shy spectators who book seats in the stalls. you have been warned: dress dark. If there are any exhibitionists reading this. good luck. You‘re all going to have a ball.

Nederlands Dans Theater 2, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Thu 24-Sat 26 May, 7.30pm.