Holland Dance Festival

October 27, 2005

Sylvie Guillem, Michael Nunn, and William Trevitt in Russell Maliphant’s Broken Fall

Photo by Bill Cooper, courtesy Holland Dance Festival


Holland Dance Festival
Lucent Danstheater, Korzo Theater, The Hague, Netherlands

October 27–November 13, 2005

Reviewed by Helma Klooss


The Holland Dance Festival celebrated its 10th edition with the theme “Dance Approved.” Director Samuel Wuersten focused on virtuosity and succeeded, especially with his “Back to Basics” program.

There were more anniversaries to celebrate. Opening the festival was Netherlands Dance Theater 2, with three ballets by artistic advisor Jirí Kylián, who is marking 30 years with the company. His pièce d’occasion, Chapeau, was a present to Queen Beatrix (known for her collection of huge hats) on her silver anniversary. The 12 dancers, all dressed in golden skirts and big hats, exuberantly performed revue dances with a good dose of irony. Sabine Kupferberg (of NDT3) added extravagance with her karaoke singing of songs by Prince.

Kylián brings these young dancers (all no older than 23) to artistic highlights in two other ballets. His Indigo Rose, for nine dancers, shows a succession of three different moods. Contemporary movements to trendy house music open the piece. The duets are restrained and controlled, with huge steps and high lifts with limbs moving in rapid opposition. Next, two couples dance tender, sensual love duets, moving at different tempos to Bach harpsichord music, one slow, one fast. Arms and legs cut through the air, legs find support on shoulders, heads dive under arms. Last, speedy, erotic dancing to a John Cage score is set against a white backdrop and interwoven with the dark shadows of the dancers behind it, while close-ups of their faces are projected on a screen.

Kylián’s title for his 27’52” notes its duration. In this dark piece, a small girl dances with the tallest boy in a serious duet; a topless girl falls passionately into the arms of her partner, who holds her horizontally along his waist. A dancer disappears under the ballet floor; seconds later he is wrapped and held tight as he tries to escape. The solemn composition by Dirk Haubrich adds even more depth to this choreography.

Sylvie Guillem, well known for her virtuosity, suited the theme of the festival perfectly. With the Ballet Boyz—Michael Nunn and William Trevitt—she explored energetic, powerful movement in three dances by Russell Maliphant. The Ballet Boyz opened the evening with Torsion, walking, spinning, and running quietly in a bold, sportive way (honestly but without imagination). In contrast, in a magical solo, Two, Guillem stood in the dark with only her arms illuminated. First one arm moved, serenely and slowly, becoming faster as the second arm joined it in a blur of movement. It looked like a ritual, as if Guillem wanted to govern supernatural forces. In Broken Fall, Guillem jumped high and was caught by the Boyz, who threw her into the air repeatedly, capturing her with emphasis. Her slim body spun elegantly between the two robust dancers.

For “Back to Basics,” five choreographers created duets that showed the essence of their dance, resulting in an intimate, versatile evening. Ton Simons created Little Ease, an eight-minute duet of beauty and clarity for Alicia de Larrocha and Kim Saveus. Both stood on pointe, holding the other tenderly by one finger; as their movements became larger, they retained an intimate, tender mood.

In Conny Janssen’s compelling Lost, Yanaika Holle and Kevin Polak portrayed longing with their wide-stretched legs and arms, hands covering eyes and mouths. They moved around, then toward, then away from each other.

Michael Schumacher and Dana Caspersen created and danced 86 years. Smooth and pliable, they rolled over each other and lay on the floor holding trembling feet and hands in the air. Though not very attractive, it seemed to fit Caspersen’s description of their search for “functionalities of the esthetics, the grotesque, the human experience of wonder.”

Ed Wubbe’s Nicht Zutreffendes Streichen gives the classical duet a rough emotional edge. Nathalia Horecna reached out with her swan neck for attention or bent elegantly toward the reluctant Tadayoshi Kokeguchi in a flow of complex phrases.

In Kylián’s Black Bird, Megumi Nakamura and Ken Ossola (both former NDT dancers), wearing white pants and nothing else, moved with Zen-like sensuality. With her arms outstretched, Nakamura looked like a neglected bird. Ossola’s tenderness held back his power. Like a mythical king he lifted Nakamura, rolling her body between his legs and reaching out. The longing and melancholy in this duet was emphasized by the Gregorian music that accompanied it. See www.hollanddancefestival.com.