Nederlands Dans Theater 1 at Sadler's Wells, review: from Rear Window to boardroom thriller
Nederlands Dans Theater has long had a reputation as one of the world’s most progressive and revered companies, and this troupe of 28 impress with their skill, athleticism and dynamic partnering.
For this varied programme at Sadler’s, two pieces came from the archive of Sol León and Paul Lightfoot, the house choreographers. The first, Shoot the Moon, resembled a silent movie that blended the surrealism of David Lynch with the voyeurish feel of Rear Window. Performed to music by Philip Glass, and against a revolving set of empty, wallpapered rooms, it gave an unsettling glimpse into three couples’ love lives whose proximity as neighbours teased at the possibility of illicit encounters. As tensions surged, they climbed the walls like Fred Astaire. The dancers weren’t the only ones wide-eyed and open-mouthed when one of them flung himself through a window.
Stop-Motion, León and Lightfoot’s second piece, also stirred the emotions. Above the stage, a screen hung with film footage of Saura, the couple’s daughter, which then transformed into a bird in flight. Amid clouds of chalk dust, seven dancers met, gathered and came apart, painting a poetic picture of rebirth.
Much less successful was Marco Goecke’s Woke Up Blind, a response to the music of Jeff Buckley. It was uncomfortable, and in no way a credit to Buckley’s other-worldly grace.
It was Crystal Pite, associate choreographer, who gave the NDT dancers the material to stretch themselves. The Statement is an eerie mime act that plays out like a corporate thriller. A script by Jonathon Young for four voices takes on themes of politics and hierarchy in a boardroom. Four dancers in suits pin each other to the table in a power play of negotiation after an unnamed department fuels conflict in another country. There were some surprising comic moments as the characters swagger and imitate their jargon-fuelled voice-overs. As the conflict comes to a head, their performances gather menace. Behind the simplicity of their steps lies great complexity and depth.
Until tomorrow. Tickets: 020 7863 8000; sadlerswells.com