Part of the opening scene of TING, the performance celebrating Scapino Ballet's 70's birthday, looks like the aftermath of a truly epic party. People scattered across the stage in disarray: slumped over each other, propped up against a chair, draped over a stool. It's a party like those you see in cartoons and think you'd never attend. Until you see the performance.

© Joris Jan Bos
© Joris Jan Bos

There is no point in describing artistic director's Ed Wubbe's ideas in too much detail, for we can summarize it by saying that he took the very concept of celebration quite literally. Like all really great performances, this show mesmerizes throughout. It spans a gamut of emotions, is quite touching in the beginning, and makes wondrous uses of the space and a revolving round stage. It's thighslappingly bizarre at other times. There are some – and viewers of the show will forgive the pun – truly hair-raising acrobatics, there is an unforgettably well coordinated dinner table scene and there is an artistically fully justified overuse of hats, a tricycle and glittery costumes. Mischa van Leeuwen and Bonnie Doets' experiences add character and commandattention. The talented acrobats of Codarts are seamlessly integrated.

One reason for the tight performance is the score of the 'worldfamous in the Netherlands' band The Nits. Their music, spanning over four decades,  could fit a Quentin Tarentino, Pedro Almodovar or David Lynch movie just as well in its upbeat moments. All three musicians look like the latter mentioned director, smiling from ear to ear as they sing their songs from one of the galleries around the stage. Wubbe whips the music, acrobatics and dance into a compelling evening that pinpoints what Scapino is good at; combining various performing arts into accessible new ways. If you like more sober dance with some piano music, this is not for you and could be a llittle overwhelming. This is really a 'show', as good as they come.

© Hans Gerritsen
© Hans Gerritsen
The oldest major Dutc dance company, Scapino started out as a traveling troupe in 1945, performing with and for children. The reach of the company, in their hometown (now Rotterdam) and more generally to a large public is second to none in the country. Here, the show takes place amidst gas containers on the edge of the harbour of Rotterdam in a fully graffitied industrial complex (with a great restaurant). It is a good choice for a family or company night out, and equally fitted for those dance lovers who like not to know what to expect from a performance. Hats off, and on, and off again for this worthy celebration.

*****