Festival Dance

Nederlands Dans Theater

The Playhouse

Mary Brennan

five stars

MOMENTS pass in a breath, memories linger as if in defiance of time passing, everything is subject to change – these themes are echoed throughout the superbly orchestrated triple bill that sees Nederlands Dans Theater return to the Festival after more than a decade away.

The dancers alone are a reason to buy tickets: superb technicians, they share an unforced, expressive physicality that seems wonderfully intuitive. Meanwhile the three works, all strikingly distinct in style and content, meld into a profound and absorbing reflection of what concerns us most in life and in encroaching death. Shoot the Moon (2006), the first of two Lightfoot-Leon choreographies, plays spy-cam on two couples and a single man whose close proximity as neighbours teases at the possibilities of even closer, illicit, encounters. A rotating set holds three separate rooms: one by one they reveal the relationship tensions that surge and thrum to Philip Glass’s Tirol Concerto, with the degrees of distance between bodies, the responses to touch – a shrinking into oneself, or a melting into the other’s flesh – a beautifully observed litmus of affections.

The Missing Door (2013) is in the middle like a cat among the pigeons. Gabriela Carrizo’s bizarre, cartoonish dance-drama gets inside the head of a dying man as he spools through memories, feverishly trying to re-write a history of errors. NDT’s dancers act out his fitful mayhem in flurries of gawky comedy that unnerve even as they amuse. Finally, Stop-Motion (2014) is an exquisitely elegaic salute to the past by Lightfoot and Leon, an acknowledgement of what has gone – including their old base in The Hague – that nonetheless looks with undaunted and uplifting grace to the future. Amid swirling clouds of white dust, on a totally stripped-bare stage, the dance goes on, and our memories will linger, gratefully.

Sponsored by Baillie Gifford