Holland Dance Festival

February 4, 1998

Amos Ben-Tal & Sintaro O-uel of the Netherlands Dance Theater in Sad Case, choreographed by Paul Lightfoot.
Photo by Joris Jan Bos.

Holland Dance Festival
Lucent Danstheater, Theater aan het Spui,

Korzo Theater, The Hague

February 4-21, 1998

Reviewed by Helma Klooss

The sixth Holland Dance Festival was dedicated to the artists who actually bring a choreographer’s ideas to life: the dancers. The diversity of programs chosen by festival director Samuel Wuersten was impressive, ranging from one featuring French ballerina Sylvie Guillem (the opening-night headliner) to American hip-hopper Rennie Harris to the three troupes of the Netherlands Dance Theater. A special symposium organized by the International Organization for the Transition of Professional Dancers was held during the festival’s opening weekend, further signaling this year’s emphasis.

Amsterdam’s Galili Dance featured Pauline Daniels, Beppie Blankert, Ton Lutgerink, and the 87-year-old Hans Snoek in Itzik Galili’s Through Nana’s Eyes, a humorous piece performed on a benefit program dedicated to Career Transition Program for Dancers. The members of Netherlands Dance Theater 3, aged forty to sixty-five, didn’t seem in need of such a program when seen in A Way A Lone, created by Jirí Kylián for Sabine Kupferberg, Gary Chryst, and Gérard Lemaitre. Kylián ‘s witty and sophisticated choreography is mixed with film fragments of the same movements on a large screen.

Former NDT dancer Nacho Duato, now the director of Spain’s Compañía Nacional de Danza, returned to The Hague for the NDT 1 premiere of Self, a dark-sided, lyrical, and serene work. Livnära, choreographed by Johan Inger for the same program, is lighter in nature with its leaps combining funny swaying legs and rigid upper bodies.

Several performances were initiated by choreographers in collaboration with the dancers. The result in Proxy, by choreographer Paul Selwyn Norton and the remarkable dancers Michael Schumacher and Vitor Garcia, proved particularly interesting. Dancer-choreographer Regina van Berkel showed herself a virtuoso in her Come un bel dì di Maggio. The beginning, portraying a cry without sound, set the tone of the piece.

Totally different, but again a very personal choice, was dancer-choreographer Joachim Sabaté’s production of the dance-opera A Taste of Glamour, made for four dancing countertenors. The themes of pride and defeat are seen in different centuries, from the ancient Roman court of Caligula to the last days of Marilyn Monroe. Since breathing techniques for singing and dancing are different, it is remarkable what the four men were able to do.

Anne Affourtit was Sabaté’s female counterpart. She initiated two festival performances, Ocho and Grip, the latter with Dutch singer Mathilde Santing with choreography by Schumacher and Norton. Although there is a story line, much of the interest of the piece was in the interaction of pure modern dance with the music. Ocho was created by Affourtit with tango teacher Martine Berghuijs and modern dancers Bennie Bartels and Dries van der Post. (Claudia Cordega was responsible for the two real tangos in the performance.) The passion, jealousy, and sexual impact of the tango are translated into a mix of modern dance with tango steps and vocabulary. Bartels and Affourtit are more seductive and make bigger movements, while Post and Berghuijs move with more restraint, tenderly and subtly. Preparations for dancing at tango salons–like the fitting of the high-heeled shoe–are nicely interwoven into the choreography.