Nederlands Dans Theater 2 presents Smoke and Mirrors, a varied programme consisting of 4 fascinating works. Dancers Imre van Opstal and Marne van Opstal created their first work for the company which is presented alongside choreographies by established choreographers, as well as Sol Leon and Paul Lightfoot’s first work for Nederlands Dans Theater created in 1994. This way the programme does not just give an overview of the different choreographic styles represented by the company, but also shows how choreography has changed over the years.

<i>The Grey</i> © Rahi Rezvani
The Grey
© Rahi Rezvani
In Smoke and Mirrors there is not only young dancers but also young choreographers taking the spotlight. Siblings Imre van Opstal and Marne van Opstal created the first and the longest work of the evening titled The Grey. The explanation of this piece is deep, complex and detailed, and so is their dance language. According to the programme notes the work explores ways to rethink or re-live a passage in life and the consequences of choices and actions we take. What struck me most was the expressed desire to be heard. There is a microphone hanging from the ceiling mid stage, and while one dancer tries to reach it the others try to stop her in slow motion. When she reaches it the microphone is lifted up higher and she desperately tries to climb higher on the moving mountain of dancers, her quiet whispers turning into loud screams. The way the group of dancers melts together and parts away is very smooth and beautiful. There is a lot to disover and think about in this detailed choreography, a bit too much perhaps, but this debut is certainly very promising.

After the interval there’s two short but intense choreographies, the first one being Sara by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar. The dancers are dressed in skin coloured suits, hiding all body parts and making them totally equal and unrecognizable, almost taking away everything human about them. Movement, sound and lightning stand side by side creating a strong mysterious atmosphere. As a whole the dancers look like characterless creatures, but when they fold their arms around their bodies and playback on the electronic voice of the music they show emotions of loneliness. It is hard to describe this mysterious and unusual work, but it leaves a strong impression.

Marco Goecke’s Midnight Raga is an interesting experiment with dance and music. The first part is set on traditional Indian music, but has nothing to do with Indian dance at all. Instead the choreographer uses his own characteristic dance language with fast-paced shuddering movements. Despite the huge contrast, the combination seems right. His nervous choreography somehow matches the freaky quality of the music. They both have something mysterious and give you the nervous and exciting feeling of walking through India’s bustling city streets. But the experiment does not end here. In the second part, the choreography has the exact same dance movements, but a different soundtrack: I’d rather go blind by Etta James. A different and less intense experience, but it doesn’t make the dance any less fascinating.

<i>Midnight Raga</i> © Rahi Rezvani
Midnight Raga
© Rahi Rezvani
 The evening ends with an early work by Sol Leon and Paul Lightfoot. SH-BOOM was created in 1994 for the annual dancers choreography workshop and marked the beginning of their succesful collaboration. It is an ironic work where two worlds meet: the humoristic entertainment and showbizz world (represented by men in white with characteristic overdoing facial expressions) and the dark irony of Francisco de Goya’s sketches (represented by elegant ladies in long black dresses).  The two meet in duets in which the man tries to seduce the woman and humour and irony cleverly intertwine. A nice and uplifting end of the evening, which showed us both the playful and the serious and dark side of modern dance.