Netherlands Dance Theater

May 9, 2000

Nederlands Dance Theater I, II, III in Jirí Kylián’s Arcimboldo 2000.
Photo by Joris Jan Bos courtesy of NDT

Kylián Companies Come Together

Netherlands Dance Theater
Lucent Danstheater

The Hague, Netherlands

May 9?September 2, 2000

Reviewed by Helma Klooss

After twenty-five years as artistic director of Netherlands Dance Theater, Jirí Kylián considered his most important achievement building bridges between people of different backgrounds. Arcimboldo 2000 represents such bridging, and all three companies of NDT are taking part: forty-six dancers ages 18 to 63, dancing exuberantly, clowning on catwalks, running into the audience, over bridges and then onto the stage.

Kylián mixed the choreography of the 1995 occasion piece  Arcimboldo, inspired by the sixteenth-century painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo, with new parts and fragments of his sensual ballet Bella Figura and the humorous A Way Alone to make a full evening’s program.

Gérard Lemaitre opened with a mime act à la Marcel Marceau. Then he joined the other three NDT III dancers sitting at a long table laden with fruit. All the other dancers, including Kylián, bicycled around them. The overture, a romantic choreography by Kylián for eight dancers, with elegant slow and accelerating movements, was followed by women dancing up on the catwalk. The group at the table acted as a jury for five male solos. Then Sabine Kupferberg recited a long poem about tomato salad. All these scenes were hilarious, but there was more.

Three choreographers from the company, Paul Lightfoot, Johan Inger and Patrick Delcroix, added ballets, which gave the program more length and depth.

Inger started with a humorous duet between Jorma Elo and Lorraine Blouin as the sentimental music played contrastingly on. While the music of Khachaturian and Kevin Volans swelled, women in tutus entered and stood between the couple, pushing them apart. Elo slunk away. Inger?s choreography expressed humanity in its shyness, clumsiness and even its meanness.

Delcroix?s dance was for nine couples set to a stirring composition by percussionist Arthur Cune. Strong spotlights from above whirled over the dancers and made them look as if they were floating on air.

Lightfoot created a freakish solo and a duet about seduction set to a collection of traditional Scottish bagpipe music?Waulking Songs Medley.

The ensemble finished this great evening onstage, again to short pieces from Tchaikovsky and Schubert and an overhead display of thunderous fireworks.

Wildly colorful costumes for  Archimboldo, designed by Yoshiki Hishinuma (minus a lot of tops), and the splendid lighting from Michael Simon, who lit the finale?s fireworks, emphasized the evening?s festive qualities. But Kylián isn?t Kylián if he doesn?t surprise by showing the other side of life, the reverse of the fun. The ballet ended with the sound of CNN reporting conflict in Sierra Leone and Israel.