Nederlands Dans Theater (4 stars)

This article is from 2017

Nederlands Dans Theater

credit: Rahi Rezvani

NDT's triple bill is an eerie celebration of being human, and a feast for the brain

Though it's the second work on the bill, The missing door, that's described in the programme as being in the vein of David Lynch, there's also something of the Twin Peaks auteur in Sol León and Paul Lightfoot's opening piece, Shoot the Moon.

The uneven domestic pairings in Shoot the Moon, spanning three houses, may be glamorous on the surface – all art nouveau wallpaper, silky dresses and suits – but every so often a comic or disturbing touch sneaks into the angular duets: feet splayed during a lift, or arms creeping stiffly upwards in a silent scream. That's before we begin to untangle the relationships criss-crossing the lives of the five characters. The woman in house number two is having an affair with the lone man in house number three. But are they both figments of the imagination of the woman in house number one? With the sullen allure of a Hopper painting, the drama unfolds to the filmic tones of Phillip Glass's Tirol Concerto.

There are more overt cinematic references in Gabriela Carrizo's The missing door – not only in the battered armchair, grubby walls and signature lampshade that give the piece its Lynchian feel. There's also a cohort of players who double as stagehands, wielding ghastly industrial spotlights at other characters, that never let us forget it's all an illusion. A man lies frozen in the throes of death, and in his dying moments hallucinates all manner of things. A woman slips from his arms mid-hug to hang stiffly from his neck. A man scrubbing blood from the floor cavorts into unhinged spins. Bodies behave as if they are held in the space between life and death, repeating loops of movement, or jerking with sudden unpredictable force. It's uncanny and electrifying.

All of this makes the last sensual, elegiac piece, Stop Motion, set to Max Richter, too pensive for the climactic slot of the finale. You can see why Lightfoot and León have chosen to programme it this way: it feels invested with emotion, featuring the couple's daughter in haunting projections, looking down on the dancers as they shift pairings, groups and trios. Halfway through, they cover one another in white dust, leaving puffs of it appearing and disappearing in the air like ghosts. But even here there are reminders of where we are. At the end, the cast strips away the back curtains and the set; the rigs lift, the lights descend. The two dancers keep duetting, absorbed, persisting in the illusion, even though we know it is make believe.

Playhouse, until 23 Aug, 7.30pm, £11–£35.

Nederlands Dans Theater

  • 4 stars

Considered by many to be the finest dance company in the world, Nederlands DansTheater has taken a radically progressive path since its founding in 1959 – and has a long history of acclaimed dance theatre shows at the International Festival. Blurring movement, theatre and exquisite stage images, NDT is a breeding ground…