Sadler’s Wells
London

18 May 2016

Maggie Foyer

Founded in 1978, NDT2 was the first of the ‘young’ companies and are still leaders in the field. Fed by the spring of eternal youth (entry is only for those 17-22 years-old), they are bursting with vitality and also surprisingly mature.

NDT2 - Benjamin Behrends in Sol León & Paul Lightfoot's "Sad Case" Photo Tristram Kenton

NDT2 – Benjamin Behrends in Sol León & Paul Lightfoot’s “Sad Case”
Photo Tristram Kenton

The programme was a very full evening of six works from NDT choreographers old and new. The 25-year partnership of Sol Léon and Paul Lightfoot is well worth celebrating and their early work, Sad Case, anchors the first act sandwiched by two new pieces. The dancers are superb in the way they capture the physical comedy and quirky shapes, but less would have been more and extending the work didn’t benefit the balance. Schubert, which opens the evening, is a duet from Katarina van den Wouwer and Alexander Anderson. It shares the choreographic idiosyncrasies but the mood is playful, the naïve charm encapsulated in Van den Wouwer’s buttoned up blouse. Some other time is altogether darker as the lights focus down to leave a surround of mysterious darkness and the black screens, constantly on the move, re-frame the dancers. The mood is serious; elegant and intensely beautiful. In these three works, the contrast in the music choices: Schubert, mambo and Max Richter sharpens the flavours in this intriguing mix of variations on a choreographic style.   

NDT2 Edward Clug's "mutual comfort" Photo Johan Persson

NDT2 in Edward Clug’s “mutual comfort”
Photo Johan Persson

Edward Clug’s mutual comfort is cool, modern and sophisticated. Set against a textured grey backdrop and dressed in sharply designeddance wear it is complemented by the driving minimalist music of fellow Slovene, Milko Lazar. The choreography is sharp and uncluttered with a wealth of fine detail that gives significance to the movements and lightened with a touch of frivolity in the motif of nodding heads. Van den Wouwer and Anderson are joined by Alice Godfrey and Miguel Duarte in a mix and match of innovative partnering, understated and always developing along interesting lines.

With dancers of this energy and talent, Hans van Manen’s Solo has to be a winning choice. The three performers, as facets of a single man, continually up the stakes. Van Manen finds the jazz rhythms secreted in Bach’s music and the work fizzes with staccato timing, flashes of humour and virtuoso moves. Gregory Lau, Benjamin Behrends and Duarte did the honours – winner all. 

NDT2 in Alexander Ekman's "Cacti" Photo Johan Persson

NDT2 in Alexander Ekman’s “Cacti”
Photo Johan Persson

As the real world grows more insane each day, the surreal humour of Alexander Ekman seems the sensible way to go and it is not hard to fall in love with the madness of Cacti. The company fills the stage, identically dressed in oriental get-up; drumming and exercising in perfect unison and occasionally going off the rails. The highpoint is the tender and very beautiful duet with the dancers’ voice-over chatting away, ‘this part feels so weird’ and, ‘why don’t you put your face here?’ No detail of design, lighting or music is overlooked and in this, his most successful work to date, Ekman proves that you have to be seriously smart to be this seriously funny. 

NDT2 Alexander Ekman's "Cacti" Photo Johan Persson

NDT2 in Alexander Ekman’s “Cacti”
Photo Johan Persson