Netherlands Dans Theater

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to watch Netherlands Dans Theater perform. Based at The Hague in the Netherlands, Netherlands Dans Theater (NDT) is known for being one of the best contemporary dance companies in the world. This concert lived up to that reputation and more.
Originally, the company was founded in 1959 by Benjamin Harkavvy with the intention of breaking from the Dutch National Ballet, which is more focused on classical dance. This new company wanted to focus more on using classical ballet as a foundation for exploration and development of new ways of moving. Since their founding, NDT has grown into a powerhouse company in the dance world, featuring a main company, a second company, and various training programs for pre-professional dance students.
Today, NDT performs extensively in their home country as well as internationally. Their focus today, in the words of current artistic director Paul Lightfoot, is still “artistic creation, not just choreography.” Their main company is made up of twenty-four dances from around the world, and the world’s best choreographers strive to set work on the company. On Friday and Saturday night, Ann Arbor audiences had the opportunity to see the company perform a triple bill, with two works by NDT’s resident choreographers Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon, and a third by Crystal Pite.
Performing to a sold out Power Center audience, NDT amazed, inspired, and transcended. They were both accessible to audiences that normally watch dance and also challenging to those who are accustomed to being audience members. They embraced physical beauty and virtuosic performance qualities while telling complex narratives and portraying difficult emotions. This performance was intensely important because it showed how necessary dance is in storytelling. These artists are from all over the world, and yet they were able to convey a message to everyone in the audience—everyone speaks body. Everyone moves; therefore, everyone dances, at least a little bit. NDT’s movement was otherworldly, but their storytelling was intensely human.

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