The Birmingham Dance Festival takes wing with a triple bill of modern pieces from Nederlands Dans Theater, an organisation noted for its dedication to contemporary dance in all its shape and forms, from the odd to the incomprehensible, with some less alarming dance segments in between.
I New Then (the misspelling is deliberate and is by Johan Inger who created the piece) had, at least for this reviewer, elements of the kind of loneliness you find in Jack Kerouac’s celebrated autobiography On The Road.
Two boys meet near a kind of shrubbery of steel poles. They spin around, one of them produces a cacophony of strange cries, a couple half undress in the shrubbery and then the huge stage space is filled with busy stereotypes hustling and bustling, to represent (maybe) frantic urban life.
The taped music was by Van Morrisson and others and the various sound formations were frequently pleasant.
Quite correctly this piece, like all the rest of the programme was totally abstract leaving the viewer free to make up his or her own mind what I New Then is all about. Quite frankly I didn’t have a clue, but whatever the logic, the dancers were superb.
Hans Manen’s fast-moving piece Solo was made for three males and is a lovely fusion of fast-moving choreography from a master choreographer and music from a genius, namely Johann Sebastian Bach. How could such a fusion of talent go wrong?
Well, it didn’t, the three males in tights and single-colour tops, were superb, whizzing round the stage (and clearly needing its size) at speed and at the same time giving out a mood of exhilarating light and elegance. Solo was, to my mind, an truly fine example of what this company can achieve when it sets aside incomprehensible silliness for a moment.
In Cacti Alexander Ekman filled the stage with portable rostrums, dancers in flesh-coloured leotards and some amusing, tongue-in-cheek ponderously-spoken guff about art and its ability to coalesce with primitive native efforts. The spoken word in dance is always uncomfortable, and this piece left no recall.
Programme change at the weekend.