Heart's Labyrinth © Rahi Rezvani
Heart's Labyrinth
© Rahi Rezvani
The evening starts as a lone woman (Aram Hasler) descends from a high invisible staircase and steps through a door that is also a mirror. She opens a dance performance that Jiří Kylián called Heart's Labyrinth. To beautiful music of Weber, Schoenberg and Dvořák (Notturno in B Major for strings), four couples and groups explore relationships. The first three dancers are two men and a woman who is unable to chose between her two suitors. The second couple (a wonderful Sarah Reynolds and Garen Scribner) are close without being very intimate. A group of four with one woman (a fast Ema Yuasa) at one point forms a beautiful pietá-like shape. She and the previous two women always return to the mirror, as if to ask if this is really their heart's desire. Kylián here shows his massive dance vocabulary. One is drawn into this piece that was choreographed in 1984 but lost nothing of its relevance. Meanwhile the NDT dancers perform the technically difficult moves with ease, presence and without breaking a sweat. As the last couple arrives, I sense a palpable hunger for intimacy, for connection, and Kylián responds: his ability to create this hunger is masterful. Danielle Rowe, in a wonderful silk orange dress, and Brett Conway close Heart's Labyrinth with a truly romantic, beautiful, long pas de deux in which Rowe seems to fly happily like a kite on a summer's day.

Hello Earth © Rahi Rezvani
Hello Earth
© Rahi Rezvani

Goecke's (1973) piece Hello Earth is totally different, and uncomfortable at times but not without beauty. In shaky and daring moves, dancers circle like crows around a large circle of white wool. They twist and turn up this dust, this earth, as they go about their daily lives on our planet. It's not easy, pretty or stylish – Hello Earth is a piece of heavy physical theatre. One of the dancers starts with moves that make me think of Jim Carrey, while another reminded me of La Linea, the brilliant italian cartoon of a man made out of a single line. Happy snickering from the audience ensues. Cesar Faria Fernandes hunch-walks with phenomal control, while growling loudly and ostensibly, quoting lines from the bible book Ezekiel: 'Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me...' Lines made popular with movie-goers by Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction. Here they serve as a reminder that threatening, ugly creatures on stage – and in life – can in fact be desperately searching for support. Hello Earth creates empathy for all people, even with their ugly sides.

Stop-Motion © Rahi Rezvani
Stop-Motion
© Rahi Rezvani

The last dance of the evening, Stop-Motion, is a new masterpiece by choreography couple Paul Lightfoot and Sol León, (Lightfoot is also the director of Netherlands Dance Theatre). Danced with straight lines and breathtaking skill to music by Max Richter. Waves of beautiful choreography shoot out over the audience. Its themes are longing and life in serving of Love in its many forms. It is hard work for the dancers, as halfway through the performance they plough their way through a field of chalk in the middle of the stage. The dancing by Prince Credell and others gives a whole new light to the moves. Dancers Jorge Nozal and Marne van Opstal deserve mentioning for their strong presence and performance in a field of dancers that has no weak spot. Projections of a falling man and a girl in 19th century dress seem to express vulnerability and the need to protect. The evening ends with Danielle Rowe and Roger Van der Poel dancing all over the front of the stage. Rowe seems to fall apart and quivers several times, very ill and in need of help. She is picked up and comforted by Van der Poel in a way that soothes not only her but that consoles the audience. The stage is laid bare by the rest of the dancers as they move the curtains aside, and only the couple remains. They end in a beautiful pose that embodies the title Stop-Motion. A short moment of silence follows the performance before the audience erupts in applause.

NDT has put together an evening that is worth watching several times. For its last piece alone, Programme III is utterly unmissable. The show is now in the last week of it's Dutch tour.