The Nederlands Dans Theater Nuance
By Leah Maclean
“If people open themselves up to experiencing and allowing certain feelings, I think people could get inspired,” says Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) dancer, Myrthe van Opstal (Holland).
For the first time ever the esteemed contemporary dance company are on our shores for a spectacular season in Auckland (29 June-2 July). The acclaimed company bring four works to the Auckland programme: Safe as Houses (Choreography by Sol Leon & Paul Lightfoot), Woke Up Blind (Choreography by Marco Goecke), The Statement (Choreography by Crystal Pite) and Stop-Motion (Choreography by Sol Leon & Paul Lightfoot).
NDT dancers Myrthe and Sarah Reynolds (Ireland) are thrilled to be touring to New Zealand with a programme they feel reflects the quality and diversity of the company. “There’s something to find for every spectator. In different kinds of atmospheres, physical outlets, music, costume and staging,” explains Myrthe. “All the different works show a different side of reality. Like turning a page in a newspaper, it’s like seeing different aspects of life each with its beautiful and darker sides. And the beauty of it is that every single audience member interprets images and feelings differently, which makes it a completely personal experience.”
Recognised as one of the most prolific and innovative dance companies in the world, NDT boasts 600 works since its inception in 1959 and its dancers, who come from all corners of the world, are known for their versatility, physicality and refined technique. “Because the company has such a range of repertory the dancers need to be extremely skilled technically as well as be able to conform from one style to the next,” explains Jon Bond (USA) who is in his first season with NDT. “The contemporary world of dance is ever changing. I believe it takes a very open and versatile artist who is willing to throw themselves into the work, in order to stay consistent with the times and avenues that dance has and continues to explore.”
The multi-national company has 27 dancers, aged between 24-41, as well as a second company (NDT2) for younger, recently classically trained dancers typically aged between 18-24. Sarah describes the group as quite eclectic, especially given the nature of the company’s varying works, for example: the kookiness and theatrics of Sol Leon and Paul Lightfoot next to the concise and isolated work of Crystal Pite. “Mentally, I think you’ve got to be tough,” says Sarah. “It’s a gruelling schedule albeit with a late state. The diversity of repertoire plus creations means we’re changing hats all the time!”
A day for an NDT dancer starts at 11am with a group ballet class taught by an in-house ballet master or guest and then from 12:30 till 5:45 the company spend the day in the studio rehearsing and or creating works, sometimes running between different choreographers/rehearsals. “We are lucky that we get to work with many different choreographers. And just like in any artistic process, every individual choreographer or dancer has their own way of approaching a creation,” explains Sarah.
Nederlands Dans Theater will wow first time New Zealand audiences with their finesse, magic and imagination, as well as teach 25 dance professionals and 25 dance students in special NDT repertory workshops. “For many of us it’s exciting to travel to the other side of the globe and share our dancing to an audience that we haven’t met yet,” says Myrthe. “I’m curious to see how the audience will react because every corner of the planet values art differently. And secretly the nerd inside me just loves going to the country where Lord of the Rings was shot!”