From Pina Bausch to Beyoncé; chairs have always been a beloved prop in dance works. Introdans even dedicates a whole programme to them. In So You Think You Can Stoelendans four choreographers show different ways of using them. Although only slightly coherent, it makes for a nice common thread in this cheerful and accessible performance full of modern movements, colourful projections, noise and, inevitably, chairs.

Introdans in Angel Rodriguez's <i>Nine Words</i> © Hans Gerritsen
Introdans in Angel Rodriguez's Nine Words
© Hans Gerritsen

So You Think You Can Stoelendans refers to both the famous tv show and the Dutch word for the game Musical Chairs. The thematic programme is performed by the youth ensemble of Introdans and it is suitable for young audiences, though not composed exclusively for them. More than once I caught myself secretly enjoying their programmes more than I do regular dance performances, and looking around me in the audience it seems that I am no exception. The reason is simple: the colourful, imaginative and always amusing choreographies are devised by world renowned choreographers and were often performed earlier with an adult audience in mind, but their humour and expressiveness make them more appealing to younger viewers. So You Think You Can Stoelendans is no exception, the uplifting and fantastical dancing entertaining for both the young and the old.

The programme opens with Nine Words by Angel Rodriguez. It starts with a rather cute scene with two dancers on a chair, shyly looking in each other's direction and moving their chairs closer together until the awkwardness kicks in and they rush to opposite ends of the stage again. The dance itself is characterized by high extensions and fast energetic steps.

Introdans in David Middendorp's <i>Painting</i> © Hans Gerritsen
Introdans in David Middendorp's Painting
© Hans Gerritsen
It sure holds our attention, just like the final scene does with a group of dancers creaming together and a bunch of letters falling on the stage from above. It's an entertaining but confusing end to a lighthearted, well performed choreography about love and growing up.

David Middendorp always knows how to surprise with his innovative and colourful creations in which modern dance and technology come together, and Painting is no exception. It starts with a dancer sitting on a chair – be it only a projected one on a screen – who climbs into the painting on the wall. The painting leaks out of the wall and the dancer suddenly finds himself in another world and accompanied by a female dancer. The animation slowly gets more important and complicated until it fullfills the main role in this performance. Especially interesting is the use of space and the change of perspective, with the dancers walking in and out of the scenery, a perspective that changes from the wall to the floor and which changes the dancers' positions along with it.

The chair madness in continued with Alexander Ekman's Whim. A group of dancers armed with – yes – chairs stream out on stage and overwhelm the only soloist on the stage. The choreography is an interesting mix of chaos and precision. The straight lines of chairs create order, but the busy choreography and the dancers talking over each other destroy it. Nice is the combination of modern dance and Vivaldi's violins. It's a piece of contrasts; order and disorder, and the individual versus the group, but one without much depth.

Introdans in Alexander Ekman's <i>Whim</i> © Hans Gerritsen
Introdans in Alexander Ekman's Whim
© Hans Gerritsen
The programme ends with Purple Fools by Mauro de Candia. It is a parody on a high society party night, with moody creatures wearing the same dresses, big hairdo's and pale faces not particularly enjoying themselves. The men chase the women, presenting them paper flowers, but the women continously turn them down, trying to make a fool of the other but all the while making a fool of themselves. The effects with powder coming out of the hairdo's and the continous moody expressions are enough to get some laughs, and some slapstick completes the fun, but it is not enough to captivate me for the full lenght of the work.

So You Think You Can Stoelendans has a clear theme and varied choreographies, yet little about it is coherent. It is not very innovative, nor profound, but it is a nice programme, and it was appealing to its target audience.