Magazine article The Spectator

Dance Succulent Pleasures

Magazine article The Spectator

Dance Succulent Pleasures

Article excerpt

Nederlands Dans Theater 2 Sadler's Wells It was about time a dance-maker exacted revenge on dance academics. In Alexander Ekman's 2010 Cacti, a voiceover explains the alleged semantics of the choreography by resorting to theoretical cliches and the known modes of that mental self-pleasuring that many academics indulge in. As the vacuously pompous words bear little or no relation to the quirky actions, the contrast between the taped voice and the dancing becomes explosively comic. Later on, recorded voices are also used to let viewers peep into the minds of two dancers performing a duet, humorously highlighting the kind of artistically detached thinking performers frequently engage in while dancing.

As stated by the voiceover in the first half of the work, this is all very postmodern, but it is postmodernism that ridicules postmodernism in a way that is cleverly refined and never predictable. As someone who has been working in dance academia for the past 15 years, I almost choked with laughter. I was not alone, though: one does not need to be an academic to enjoy Cacti, as there is more to it than just a refined satirical solution. Ekman's fizzy, mesmerisingly varied and perfectly constructed choreography is a splendid example of dance-making.

As such, it provides a unique vehicle for the superbly talented dancers of Nederlands Dans Theater 2 - the 'all young' company (17 to 23 years old) spawned in 1978 by Nederlands Dans Theater 1, which was created in 1959.

Cacti was a more-than-ideal conclusion of a triple bill that showed how, many years after the creation of the main company, whatever is produced under the Nederlands Dans Theater label is always first-class. For some such explosive fun might have seemed to be slightly at odds with what is believed to be the company's traditional aesthetic. …

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