SEHNSUCHT © Rahi Rezvani
© Rahi Rezvani
The inseparable duo Sol Léon and Paul Lightfoot created their first work for Nederlands Dans Theater in 1989. Now – 25 years and fifty choreographies later – they are the artistic directors and artistic advisers of the company. Nederlands Dans Theater II already celebrated their jubilee with a special programme, and Nederlands Dans Theater I continues the celebrations with the internationally acclaimed double bill Sehnsucht (2009)
and Schmetterling (2010). Lightfoot and Leon's emotional contemporary
choreographic language is performed with great skill and dedication by the
NDT dancers, making it a fitting and memorable programme.

Sehnsucht opens with a young man (Silas Henriksen) crouched down on a bare stage. Behind him is a small rotating room. Within its walls
a couple (Danielle Rowe and Medhi Walerski) performs a strong duet, by turns
tender and passionate or reluctant and upset. Lightfoot and Leon reveal what is
behind the visible reality. Meanwhile the room occasionally rotates, and the
dancers skillfully adapt to the unstable set by sliding around the walls and
clutching the window-frame.

SEHNSUCHT © Rahi Rezvani
© Rahi Rezvani
At one point the woman finds herself sitting upside
down on a chair attached to the ceiling. She is craving for the world outside,
and tries to escape the room where Silas Henriksen is, waiting for her. But her
husband takes her back in, and the young man remains alone, himself still longing for
what he thinks can be found inside. The second section of the work is a large gestural dance for the ensemble. It makes for a fine display of contemporary ballet, but lacks emotional significance and it is unclear how this part is related to the first half of the choreography. Yet the energy and unison of the dancers make up for this. Not only do they display their classical background, but they also show great dedication to every single movement. Their exceptional uniformity and dramatic commitment are utterly impressive.

Schmetterling (German for butterfly) symbolises mortality and the way life and death cross each other. The central figures in this choreography are Ema Yuasa and Medhi Walerski, representing mother and son. The old lady seems absent and confused, but every now and then her face lights up in recognition when she sees her son or hears the music. Her
vulnerability is heartbreaking, but her optimism and disarming smile are warm
and sincere. Contrasting comical duets suggest all kinds of love stories

© Rahi Rezvani
Some of the vignettes on the satirical lyrics of the Magnetic Fields are rather enjoyable, but the selection is too long and seems slightly out of place.
You find yourself waiting for the moment when the piece will get back to the emotional parting of mother and son. The lady dances unrestrained to “ nothing matters when we’re
dancing ” and all cares vanish, but she is eventually stricken by fate. Ema Yuasa and Medhi Walerski make Schmetterling enduringly absorbing and compelling.

As far as choreography goes, Sehnsucht / Schmetterling is a
fine programme , but it is the high level and admirable commitment of the
dancers of Nederlands Dans Theater that make it truly intriguing.