Due to the busy schedule of Dutch National Ballet, there were fewer choreographers available this year's New Moves programme, the try-out choreographies by company dancers. The short programme left the audience refreshed with the enthusiasm and the love of dance the portrayed.

Melissa Chapski, Priscylla Gallo and Yvonne Slingerland in <i>Lights on</i> © Michel Schnater
Melissa Chapski, Priscylla Gallo and Yvonne Slingerland in Lights on
© Michel Schnater

The evening kicked off with Bastiaan Stoop’s short Lights On: three women in black evening dresses on high flat heels who – though constrained by their shoes – manage to accurately move through and in front of the audience reaching their arms to the sky in a flamenco-like style to music by Nicholas Robert Thayer (his piano-driven Fimbulvinter). And although the composition is named after the great winter that will come before Ragnarök (Götterdämmerung), a wave of positive cheerfulness swept through the audience. The piece, a recording by Setareh Nafisi is well worth listening to and Melissa Chapski, Priscylla Gallo and Yvonne Slingerland's moves are effortless.

The second piece was also by Stoop. Word er maar moe van loosely translates to “Get tired of it”. Stoop uses impeccable lighting for this piece, eight moving spots on the stage provide constantly changing functional, playful light to the confident dancer. Pascal Johnson, moving like a modern day James Bond, cheerfully manages to avoid the light 95% of the time. Both lighting and dancing are clearly choreographed. Stoop more often than not comes up with quirky ideas that turn into watchable, fun pieces. This choreography is titillating because of the combination of Carlos Gardel’s famous Por una Cabeza (from the movie Scent of a Woman, played on a recording by Itzhak Perlman) with an entirely tango-less agile modern ballet.

Pascal Johnson in <i>Word er maar moe van</i> © Michel Schnater
Pascal Johnson in Word er maar moe van
© Michel Schnater

Vida is an uplifting, at times dangerous-looking work by Yvonne Slingerland and Michele Esposito because of its lifts and drops. It’s a fast pas de deux with a lot of traditional ballet vocabulary. Set to the song El cant del ocells by Sìlvia Pérez Cruz and Raül Fernandez Miró (lots of classical guitar), it speaks of the energy of a great relationship.

Continuing the high energy vibe of the evening, Olivia Lecomte’s Hom(m)e is about a man showing up for life, willing to commit and dare, unwilling to stay in the bleachers. This is stated with a famous Roosevelt quote in the booklet and amply demonstrated before us. It was confidently danced by a proud, technically strong Daniel Robert Silva, who dances to exhaustion, proving the point of the piece and “leaving it all on the stage” in current vernacular.

Associate artist Peter Leung’s Affinity is totally different. It is an entirely modern, well-rounded dance piece in which both the man and the woman lead. A study in closeness, set to Nicholas Rober Thayer’s Aureole (with Melissa Delgado on violin), it’s an earthy, tactile piece.

The Flower Duet with Giovanni Adriano Princic is a nice and balanced ‘duet’ of a man with an imaginary flower (set to Délibes' Flower Duet) by Cristiano Principato. Princic, an imposing figure with a slightly aikido style outfit and grand movements, executes with calm, controlled energy.

Michele Esposito in <i>Double Violin</i> © Michel Schnater
Michele Esposito in Double Violin
© Michel Schnater

The final piece of this short evening was a virtuoso danced by Michele Esposito that discusses choices of paths in life, symbolised by literally different projected paths on the stage that the dancer performed on. Fast paced an interesting with difficult moves, it was a worthy closure.

The pieces ranged from initial ideas to full-fledged works with clear storylines and fluid sequences. They were all performed with great energy and were highly entertaining. It’s a pity there were so few pieces this evening, as the audience was clearly up for more. Hopefully next year planning will allow for more dancers – and especially more female choreographers – to participate.