Richard Lutz watches a Dutch troupe kick off a 3 week dance festival in Birmingham.
Nice touch to launch a month of dance in the city with a piece that gloriously takes the mick out of pretentious art criticism. Nederlands Dans Theatre 2 ended opening night with an item called Cacti, a sharp satirical pinprick to the balloon of artistic mumble jumbo.
The `18 strong company used the whole of the Birmingham Hippodrome stage to move to music by Schubert, Haydn and Beethoven. Using a mock serious BBC-ish narrative that knocks the stuffing out of any post-doctorate academic theory about the post modern wave, it lets us know that sometimes it is best to simply watch dancers move to music and forget it actually might mean something.
It was a funny blow against the world of pompous bombast that can accompany any work whether on screen, stage or canvas- including sometimes, I have to say, some of NDT2’s own programme notes.
A cute interlude in this segment was a duo who danced to a track of their own internal thoughts as they tried to figure out their present movements, their next movements and why they are doing what the choreographer has them doing. It is simply funny and… funny in modern dance, when done well, is always great fun.
This opening night also included a bittersweet tribute to Van Morrison with a fluid 28 minute piece taking in a wide range of his songbook. The highlight was The Way Young Lovers Do where the troupe, aged between 18 and 23, re-creates the madness and gawkiness and the inchoate passion of young love. Even crusty old Van would have loved it.
NDT2 performs again on Wednesday 4th May. The International Dance Festival Birmingham itself carries on for another 3 weeks. For the full festival programme, visit idfb.co.uk