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Production

Double Bill: Silent Screen & Toss of a Dice

Company

Nederlands Dans Theatre I

Reviewer

Stephanie Burridge

Date

19/10/2008

Time

8.00pm

Place

Esplanade Theatre

Rating

*****

Double Sixes

Nederlands Dans Theatre delivered sublime dance that is worthy of a five-star rating in every way. The company was faultless in their technique and interpretation; the choreography was breathtaking in its complexity and creativity. These elements come together in this programme so that the audience became totally mesmerised by the performance. There were no distractions, no extraneous or melodramatic moments to interrupt the hypnotic flow of the overall experience.

In Silent Screen, three dancers appeared in silhouette on the stage with a projection of the sea on three screens behind them. As black-and-white oceanic footage played on the screens something incredible happened: one of the dancers appeared to simply walk into the film and disappear into the sea. Of course we then realised that there were only two dancers on stage and the other was an image, seamlessly woven into the mise en scène by Paul Lightfoot and Sol Léon, who choregraphed, designed costumes and conceptualised the film. Thematically the dance referred to the age of black-and-white silent movies where body language alone conveyed complex emotions and statements about the human condition. As the dancers performed extraordinary, original dance moves with detailed precision in front of the projection, we saw man pitted against a universe of infinite conception. The score by Phillip Glass, Glassworks (1982), popular with many a choreographer, worked well in this scenario as its rhythms built, flowed and ebbed like the images behind the dancers: a seascape, a forest in the snow, the eye of a child, a return to the sea. It was beautiful imagery and incredible dancing by the company.

In contrast, Jiri Kylián's work Toss of a Dice was oppressive and menacing. Named after the title of a poem by Frenchman Stéphane Mallarmé, it incorporated the notions of chance, coincidence and ultimately death. The dancers performed under a needle-sharp, hovering sculpture by Susumu Shingu, and danced to a new composition by Dirk Haubrich. The company began in a diagonal shaft of light wearing simple black costumes. They filled the space, repeating phrases of movement that were at first carefree then became earthbound as the ominous sculpture hovered nearer to the ground and eventually descended on them. The four stainless-steel points created interesting lighting effects behind the dancers as they spun and contorted their bodies in the vast space of the extended stage. One by one they fell as if annihilated by its power, except for a lone female dancer who toyed with it momentarily before succumbing to its force. As in the fist piece, the sense of man in a vast universe pervaded and struck a chord with the audience who became mesmerised by the dancing and the hypnotic effect of the chaotically whirling sculpture.

Over the years this company has consistently delivered imaginative, evocative and enigmatic dance theatre that touches a human chord in a way that no other dance company can. Resident choreographer Kylián has choreographed an astonishing 92 works for the company and is internationally regarded as being amongst the very best choreographers in contemporary dance. And the Lightfoot Léon combination, also resident choreographers for NDT, continue to evolve and inspire, so a double bill featuring substantial works by these artists was quite a treat for contemporary dance lovers in Singapore.


"The dancers are faultless in their technique and interpretation; the choreography is breathtaking in its complexity and creativity"

Credits

Artistic Director: Anders Hellstrõm

Dancers: Nederlands Dans Theatre I

Silent Screen: Choreographers: Paul Lightfoot and Sol León, (Lightfoot Léon)

Music: Phillip Glass

Concept film and costumes: Lightfoot Léon

Lighting design: Tom Bevoort

Toss of a Dice:
Choreographer: Jiri Kylián

Music: Dirk Haubrich

Sculpture: Susumu Shingu

Text: Stéphane Mallarmé

Lighting design: Kees Tjebbes

More Reviews by Stephanie Burridge

Ratings out of 5, based on Practitioner's Vision / Reviewer's Response: ***** = Transcendent / Rapturous;
**** = Crystal / Appreciative; *** = Transmitted / Thoughtful; ** = Vague / Unsatisfied; * = Uncommunicated / Mystified.