BWW Reviews: Superb SUPERSTARS from Introdans a Dance Highlight of the Year
Introdans is back in South Africa this year with a programme entitled SUPERSTARS. Compiled by the company's artistic director, Roel Voorintholt, and featuring the Introdans Ensemble for Youth, SUPERSTARS showcases five key works by world class choreographers. Introdans prides itself on presenting quality works by both up-and-coming and established choreographers to a wide audience and one of the most wonderful things about SUPERSTARS is that the show offers meaningful contemporary dance that is not Fraught With Purpose. I suppose that might make the work seem less significant to those who champion agenda über alles. Nonetheless, SUPERSTARS is a superb evening of dance with an eclectic line-up that has something for everyone, including lovers of dance as well as those who accompany them to the theatre.
"Polish Pieces", choreographed by Hans van Manen, is a delightful abstract piece in which the dancers execute a series of playful combinations that shift like a living kaleidoscope. In between this delightful flurry of colour and movement - the dancers are dressed in rainbow-hued costumes that show the full magnificence of their bodies in action - are two poetic pas de deux, danced by Aymeric Aude and Alexis Geddes, and Jurriën Schobben and Elena Pampoulova. Aude and Geddes are beautifully sensual together, while Schobben and Pampoulova execute their steps in a marvellously fluid fashion, whirling through the choreography with joyful abandon.
In contrast to the bulk of "Polish Pieces", Jirí Kylián's "Evening Songs" is achingly lyrical. Choreographed to a choral composition by Dvorák, the piece manipulates three couples through a number of beautiful movement sequences, varied through the use of canon. The most classically influenced piece in the programme, "Evening Songs" is a meditation on the spirituality and expressiveness of dance. The six dancers (Geddes, Schobben and Pampoulova, along with Ruben Ameling, Merel Janssen and Giuseppe Calabrese) all shift successfully into a style where the movement is pure enough in itself to engage the audience.
It is in Mats Ek's "Pas de Danse", however, where SUPERSTARS becomes something that is truly transcendent. A nine-minute ballet built around a tragicomic central figure (brought to life in an extraordinary fashion by Aude, whose versatility in conveying style, character and emotion through his body is unmatched in the company), Ek's deft choreography and ability to convey storytelling through dance lend this piece considerable emotional clout. Joining Aude onstage are Schobben, Janssen and Jamy Schinkelshoek. Schobben once again impresses with his dexterity, while Janssen and Schinkelshoek are light-footed and playful in their delivery of the steps.
The penultimate dance of the show is a brief duet called "Anaphase". A whimsical piece created by Ohad Naharin, "Anaphase" creates its humour by juxtaposing the purposefully, but only slightly, gauche with the deliberately naïve. Vivian Sauerbreij dances opposite Schobben in this spirited little number and together they master the unpredictability of the choreography and the fine comic balance that Naharin has invested in his work.
Nacho Duato's "Simfonia India" is the powerful final dance of SUPERSTARS. Nearly 30 years old, the piece takes it inspiration from Mexican Indian rituals and is as impressive for its vitality today as it must have been in 1984. Aude delivers another stunning central performance in this piece, but excellence of the full company makes"Simfonia India" a compelling experience from start to finish.
On the whole, SUPERSTARS is a fantastic show, with top-notch choreography danced by an exuberant company, the final three members of which are Anouk Nelemans (who appeared in "Polish Pieces", Alberto Villanueva Rodriguez ("Polish Pieces" and "Sinfonia India") and Mathieu Di Scala, who would have appeared in "Polish Pieces", "Evening Songs", "Pas de Danse" and "Sinfonia India", but was unfortunately ill for the opening night performance of the show. Introdans has come to South Africa six times over the past few years and I am devastated that I did not discover them until now. Do not make the same mistake as me: catch them while you can in this brief season at the Baxter Theatre and enjoy one of the best nights of dance you will see in Cape Town this year.