Post Script © Rahi Rezvani
Post Script
© Rahi Rezvani
Proffered as a ‘launch-pad’ for young dancers and cutting-edge choreographers the Nederlands Dans Theatre II was welcomed with a full-house at their only UK performance last thursday at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre. Even before the audience has settled itself the curtain rises and Post Script has begun. The first notes of Philip Glass’s hypnotic score set for solo violin and piano splits the stage into a light versus shade relationship. Post Script, choreographed by the Nederlands Dans Theatre’s “house-choreographers” Sol Léon and Paul Lightfoot, reworks the concept of ‘reading between the lines’. It is hard not to be drawn to the literal meaning of the piece’s title ‘Post Script’. Immediately I find myself thinking of the urgent after thought at the end of a letter. Léon and Lightfoot work dynamically with the linguistic template of call and response. Dancers invert their angles in a series of meditative side arabesques and then suddenly are consumed with haste, rushing to meet each other through a frenetic pas-de-trois and a series of architectural duets. The bare-chested brevity of the initial pas-de-trois is exhilarating and there is no denying the marvelous mechanics of the dancers that are all between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three, their limbs slice and fold through the air like ornate origami.

Post Script © Rahi Rezvani
Post Script
© Rahi Rezvani

Balanced between the rolling phrases of Glass’s music – whose music score is backlit not unlike the text accompanying a museum exhibit along the left hand side of the stage – the dancers carve out a dynamic alphabet of shapes as the violinist works her way upstage following the illuminated score. Post Script could be seen as the most mature of Nederlands Dans Theatre II’s program in that it utilises very clear choreographic forms and structures, however, the piece’s wonderful musicality and minimalist aesthetic give the choreography a real infectious freshness and verve.

Léon and Lightfoot’s second work of the night Shutters Shut makes happy stage fellows of poetry and dance in an appetizer-length duet to Gertrude Stein’s poem If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso. Performed in front of the black curtain, Shutters Shut runs like a witty sentence along the edge of the stage. For every one of Stein’s crisp resonating words the dancers provide an accompanying gesture or phrase. This repetition turns the two dancers into a pair of ‘poem-jesters’ vering playfully into the grotesque as does their ghostly white skin and painted red lips.

Sara © Rahi Rezvani
Sara
© Rahi Rezvani
 Sara by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar continues the absurdist humor of Shutters Shut as the dancers emerge in an amoeba-like formation dressed in gold unitards. Like some parody of what the 1980’s might think the year 2000 would look like – or if the godfathers of techno, Kraftwork, had ever had backing dancers – the ensemble of dancers pulse and undulate to the melancholic electronic music of Ori Lichnik. One dancer stands apart from the group, her posture bent over and broken, like some Emo-giselle crouched awkwardly under a stream of yellow light. Her face contorts as she lip syncs to Lichnik’s lyrics in an exaggerated comical manner. The dancers take it in turns to step out of the ensemble, their gestures a mixture of underwater body ripples and staccato twitches. It is not clear at first whether the humour is completely intentional (the programme notes suggest not), however the audience cannot help themselves and soon a wave of giggles erupts as the dancers become even more consumed with idiosyncratic quirks.

Sara © Rahi Rezvani
Sara
© Rahi Rezvani
The final piece of the night, Johan Inger’s I New Then, set to the music of Van Morrison almost succeeds as a fusion of sentimental summer lovin’ and a celebration of the teenage oddball. Unfortunately, Morrison’s overwhelmingly nostalgic soundtrack threatens to undermine any moments of real emotional truth between the dancers as does the rather confusing set design – also conceived by Inger – which can only be described as a bamboo forest made of steel poles. Chuck Jones, who plays the awkward social underdog looking on as Irme Van Opstal and Fernando Troya fulfill the cliché ‘first love’ tryst, is the most memorable aspect of the piece which hosts the entire company on stage and transcends the banal narrative structure with excellent comic timing.

There is great deal to satiate the appetite in the Nederlands Dans Theatre II’ s compilation of choreographic works, and the company of dancers are all exquisite technicians – Irme Van Opstal is particularly charismatic – however both Sara and I New Then feel rather rushed artistically – not quite rising to the tenacity of their performers or Léon and Lightfoot’s more developed works. In saying that, the post-performance chatter suggested, as did the whooping applause after the curtain fell, that the audience was elated by what they had seen, and perhaps that is best critic of all.