Pillbox

Classical reinterpretation and new horizons

The translucent screen lifts. Lean human figures emerge and morph into one fluid mass, each becoming a singular teardrop within the continuous body of motion claiming the stage of the Benedum Center, in downtown Pittsburgh. Dancers? arms rise above their heads in large sweeping movements, much like sine waves? mimicking the crescendos of Stravinksy?s Symphonie de Psaumes ? the music inspiring the seamless dance of the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT). The pulling and tugging, breaking and reforming, embracing and propelling of this unified group all evoke a sentiment of praise ? the kind of visual representation of ecstasy and suffering that Stravinsky?s symphony demands ? a praise that echoes from the heavens.

The NDT is an exceptional dance company that was founded in 1959 after a group of dancers from the traditional Het Nederlands Ballet decided to make a transition from the more traditional to the more experimental study of dance. Now the NDT consists of three companies in one, all of which impose a status of equilibrium among their various-aged dancers ? a collection of the very best from all over the world who train daily to meet the professional demands.

The night?s program consisted of two pieces by the world-renowned choreographer Jir? Kyli?n. Originally from Prague, Kyli?n has produced over 50 dances for the NDT. One of his most praised works, the Symphony of Psalms, was the night?s opener, which was followed by Click-Pause-Silence, one of his more abstract, recent works. The two-hour show concluded with a witty and humorous piece titled Walking Mad, by another renowned composer, Joahn Inger. Inger, born and trained in Stockholm, is a former NDT dancer and has established himself as an accomplished choreographer.

After the first intermission, five figures in spandex costumes of bold basic colors begin their bodily pulses within an eerie silence. Much like the experimental musical composition of Johann Sebastian Bach, the dancing of Click-Pause-Silence is of an abstract nature. The dancers contort their bodies to produce intense moments of sporadic, yet graceful movements. These vivant motions and sounds are contrasted with long pauses of complete stillness and silence. The dancers lose their identities and become mere elements of the sound, or lack thereof. A rotating mirror and television which broadcasts a micro-vision of the show provide the only scenery of this surrealist performance.

At one point, a very loud, bright, and unexpected flash erupts, blinding all watchers. After this climax, a mood of melancholy enwraps all movement and sound, as a lone female dancer is physically bent, reshaped, and abandoned by her four male counterparts. Eventually the woman vanishes, leaving only the rotating TV-set and mirror ? an unsettling emptiness and fear resonates from the mysterious coming and going of all life.

Thankfully, the last piece, which was choreographed by Inger, is of a more light-hearted nature. The set of Walking Mad consists of one long wooden fence, which bends and reshapes itself to free or entrap the dancers. The dancers? interactions with this fence, as well as with each other, establish the playful nature of the piece. Maurice Ravel?s Bol?ro for Orchestra provides the up-beat rhythm for a dance of joyous movements and comical pantomiming.

Hip-swinging men with little red pointy hats slap their thighs and evoke mischief among those on the ?right? side of the fence. The innate desire for pleasure is expressed in pelvic thrusts and played out in the dynamic hunt of one female dancer who gets wrapped up in a chase around the symbolic fence of life. Alas, it is not all fun and games, and the dance ends with the abrupt disappearance of all the merry-makers as the solitary female struggles to understand where all the joy has gone. She refuses to let go of the memory of her friends from the other side of the fence. She seems to wonder: was it all a dream?

Readjusting the eyes after the three dances performed by the NDT is very similar to waking up from a dream ? a dream where the human body is a finely tuned instrument, where movement and music are the only means of expression, and where the precise placement of the hand, the subtle arching of the head, or the slow curving of the torso are more communicative than any other language devised.

The NDT will be continuing its tour in the U.S. at the University of California Berkeley through the end of April.
The translucent screen lifts. Lean human figures emerge and morph into one fluid mass, each becoming a singular teardrop within the continuous body of motion claiming the stage of the Benedum Center, in downtown Pittsburgh. Dancers? arms rise above their heads in large sweeping movements, much like sine waves? mimicking the crescendos of Stravinksy?s Symphonie de Psaumes ? the music inspiring the seamless dance of the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT). The pulling and tugging, breaking and reforming, embracing and propelling of this unified group all evoke a sentiment of praise ? the kind of visual representation of ecstasy and suffering that Stravinsky?s symphony demands ? a praise that echoes from the heavens.

The NDT is an exceptional dance company that was founded in 1959 after a group of dancers from the traditional Het Nederlands Ballet decided to make a transition from the more traditional to the more experimental study of dance. Now the NDT consists of three companies in one, all of which impose a status of equilibrium among their various-aged dancers ? a collection of the very best from all over the world who train daily to meet the professional demands.

The night?s program consisted of two pieces by the world-renowned choreographer Jir? Kyli?n. Originally from Prague, Kyli?n has produced over 50 dances for the NDT. One of his most praised works, the Symphony of Psalms, was the night?s opener, which was followed by Click-Pause-Silence, one of his more abstract, recent works. The two-hour show concluded with a witty and humorous piece titled Walking Mad, by another renowned composer, Joahn Inger. Inger, born and trained in Stockholm, is a former NDT dancer and has established himself as an accomplished choreographer.

After the first intermission, five figures in spandex costumes of bold basic colors begin their bodily pulses within an eerie silence. Much like the experimental musical composition of Johann Sebastian Bach, the dancing of Click-Pause-Silence is of an abstract nature. The dancers contort their bodies to produce intense moments of sporadic, yet graceful movements. These vivant motions and sounds are contrasted with long pauses of complete stillness and silence. The dancers lose their identities and become mere elements of the sound, or lack thereof. A rotating mirror and television which broadcasts a micro-vision of the show provide the only scenery of this surrealist performance.

At one point, a very loud, bright, and unexpected flash erupts, blinding all watchers. After this climax, a mood of melancholy enwraps all movement and sound, as a lone female dancer is physically bent, reshaped, and abandoned by her four male counterparts. Eventually the woman vanishes, leaving only the rotating TV-set and mirror ? an unsettling emptiness and fear resonates from the mysterious coming and going of all life.

Thankfully, the last piece, which was choreographed by Inger, is of a more light-hearted nature. The set of Walking Mad consists of one long wooden fence, which bends and reshapes itself to free or entrap the dancers. The dancers? interactions with this fence, as well as with each other, establish the playful nature of the piece. Maurice Ravel?s Bol?ro for Orchestra provides the up-beat rhythm for a dance of joyous movements and comical pantomiming.

Hip-swinging men with little red pointy hats slap their thighs and evoke mischief among those on the ?right? side of the fence. The innate desire for pleasure is expressed in pelvic thrusts and played out in the dynamic hunt of one female dancer who gets wrapped up in a chase around the symbolic fence of life. Alas, it is not all fun and games, and the dance ends with the abrupt disappearance of all the merry-makers as the solitary female struggles to understand where all the joy has gone. She refuses to let go of the memory of her friends from the other side of the fence. She seems to wonder: was it all a dream?

Readjusting the eyes after the three dances performed by the NDT is very similar to waking up from a dream ? a dream where the human body is a finely tuned instrument, where movement and music are the only means of expression, and where the precise placement of the hand, the subtle arching of the head, or the slow curving of the torso are more communicative than any other language devised.

The NDT will be continuing its tour in the U.S. at the University of California Berkeley through the end of April.