Nederlands Dans Theater is one of the world’s leading contemporary dance companies, with NTD2 acting as its junior division tailor made to develop young talent. With the exception of two apprentice dancers, all performers are classically trained and during their time at NTD2 are introduced to such a wealth of dance languages that it’s near impossible to picture what they can’t do.
The show itself consisted of six dances in three blocks, separated by two intervals. Set changes seemed to be the overriding reason for these intervals, which no doubt couldn’t be helped, but I have to note that the timings might have benefitted from being tweaked. The first section included dances which were as stunning and complicated as the remainder of the show, but it dragged a little in that it felt fairly long and repetitious. The quality of the performances is undeniable – their strength and stamina is mesmerising and the style of dance constantly chopping and changing which keeps things alive, yet it felt like perhaps the show was lacking in other areas.
Where this was not the case, is the final section of the show in a dance called “Cacti”. The Voiceover, lighting design, set pieces and the ensemble all worked together to bring the stage to life and began to get big laughs from the audience. Seeing the performers as people capable of taking the mystery out of their work, as they do in Cacti, was hilarious as it opened up the ability to joke about stereotypes in contemporary dance. Symbolism using movement was played upon to great effect and combined with a big change in the style and pacing of the show this hit off with the audience really well!
For Cacti alone I would recommend this show. The initial performances dragged for me, but the last couple were full of such passion and self-awareness that they were irresistible to watch. NTD2 provides a brilliant training ground for young dancers as performers, and it’s worth a watch if you ever get the chance!