Review: Nederlands Dans Theater 2 @ Birmingham Hippodrome

One of the best things about festivals is you’re bound to see something new. I’d never seen Netherlands Dans Theatre 2 before but I’m delighted to report they’re simply sensational with a repertoire full of marvellous things beyond anything I’d ever previously imagined.

Nederlands Dans Theater 2

Nederlands Dans Theater 2

At the start of the evening at the International Dance Festival Birmingham I had the sneaking suspicion they were taking themselves a bit seriously (well modern dance can get a bit like that) but experience has taught me to stick with it and the pay-off here was that this richly rewarding evening just kept on getting better and better.

If their first offering – I New Then – about relationships, eternal triangles etc to the music of Van Morrison seemed a bit of a well-worn track it was clear their mission was to celebrate the extraordinary in ordinary everyday human movement, becoming touchingly poignant as its deflated heroic postures began to explore modern life, warts, disappointments and all.

But it was with their second piece Mutual Comfort where they really started to grab my attention as its dancers twitched, flicked and jerked in an arresting and slightly unsettling way that seemed to completely rewrite the lexicon of dance movement.

Their next offering Solo turned out to be a seven-minute high-paced work set to Bach’s violin Partita portraying a man reviewing his place in the world. The twist was it’s so fast-paced it needs three dancers to perform, taking turns with the unspeakably speedy movements. Endlessly inventive, the result was dizzying, even breathtaking.

But their final piece, Cacti, mixing nude-suited dancers with what can only be described as dangerous looking potted cactus plants was genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, its hypnotic zen-like strangeness inexhaustibly clever, full of jaw-dropping surprises and frankly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen on a stage, ending the evening on an unforgettably high note.

They’re young, they’re slick, they’re amazingly accomplished and they’re very very funny. This spectacular celebration of life makes a fabulous opening, full of newness, for IDFB 2016. Wow!