wed 17/08/2022

Sehnsucht/Schmetterling, Nederlands Dans Theater 1, Sadler's Wells | reviews, news & interviews

Sehnsucht/Schmetterling, Nederlands Dans Theater 1, Sadler's Wells

Sehnsucht/Schmetterling, Nederlands Dans Theater 1, Sadler's Wells

NDT1 deliver another fine display of contemporary ballet

The NDT1 dancers luxuriate in the abstract classical style

No one could accuse Nederlands Danse Theater choreographers Sol Leon and Paul Lightfoot for thinking inside of the box.

And yet that's exactly where they've placed their dancers in the opening piece, Sehnsucht, of this impressive Sadler's Wells program.

A couple - Medhi Walerski and Parvaneh Sharafali - dance together, by turns tender and embracing or pained and wistful. As their relationship plays out, so the world spins madly on, which sees the rooms tilting and slowly rotating so that up becomes down. The dancers slide gracefully around the walls, hang off window ledges, sit on chairs perpendicular to the floor and balance as the surface beneath them shifts every so often. Parvaneh Scharafali, Silas Henriksen and Medhi Walerski in Sol Leon and Paul Lightfoot's Sehnsucht

The pull of gravity does not throw them into disarray - their duet is tight, together, strong. Their actions seem to be controlled by a pale figure (Silas Henriksen), a sinewy fellow, lithe and fluid who moves like a magician rolling a crystal ball over his body and in the surrounding space.

The full company enter to perform in archetypal NDT1 unison. We see sporadic solos, long lines of dancers, bare breasted women and men in black puffy trousers, their movements apposing syrupy stretches and small, quick kinesics. It is a fabulous display of abstract, gestural contemporary ballet, but although the concept is impressive the overall effect lacks emotional resonance.

Henriksen stays on the stage as lights come up and the audience leaves the auditorium. When they return, dancers are already moving in front of the curtain. It's somewhat unsettling as confusion ripples through the theatre - is there a fault with the lighting? Or is this a conceptual twist leading into the second Leon and Lightfoot work, Schmetterling?

Things come alive in the series of energetic solos made for a compelling playlist from The Magnetic Fields album, 69 Love Songs. A little old lady explores memories, looking back at pockets of time, fanciful characters and surreal events, before taking in the view of a beautiful photographed horizon, created by Rahi Rezvani.

Walerski steals the show with his awesome stage presence. The maturity to his character combined with solid technique makes him a real joy to watch. He dances with gravitas, remarkable strength and an air of quiet authority that draws the eye.

The company take on more dramatic roles in the second half. Amusing characters, camp and comical emerge, but still the dancers manage to make their ungainly, gangly movements seem somehow elegant and expressive. The sections are slightly more haphazard in terms of structure - each dancer gets to show their solo in succession between atypical duet work with inverted feet atop stretched high legs, and a splayed sideways split in the lifts.

The company finale is celebratory and upbeat, full of energy and joy as the music blares out "nothing matters when we're dancing" before the main character has her final curtain, that stunning landscape, drawn from her as we watch.

The two pieces together hold something very different, both choreographically and musically. The concept, design and pure theatricality in both shows that NDT1 is a company offering European modern dance at its best.

Walerski steals the show with his awesome stage presence. The maturity to his character combined with solid technique makes him a real joy to watch.


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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