A 'Heavenly' intro to Introdans troupe at UW World Series
Seattle gets a fine introduction to Dutch dance troupe Introdans, with "Heavenly" at Meany Hall. Through May 12, 2012.
Seattle Times arts writer
Introdans8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Meany Hall, University of Washington, Seattle; $20-$42 (206-543-4880 or www.uwworldseries.org).
Dance review |
From its opening solo to its closing choral image, "Heavenly" — a triptych of loosely theme-related dances by choreographers Nils Christe, Gisela Rocha and Ed Wubbe — made it clear that Dutch dance troupe Introdans has strength, elegance and savvy to spare.
Founded in 1971, Introdans is counted as one of the Netherlands' three major dance companies alongside Nederlands Dans Theater and the Dutch National Ballet. On its first visit to the U.S., it's making stops only in New York and Seattle. The question has to be: Why did they take so long to get here?
"Heavenly" opens with Christe's "Fünf Gedichte," performed to a recording of Wagner's "Wesendonck-Lieder." The songs set five feverishly romantic nature poems to music, but Christe dispenses with the poems' titles in the program notes, as if to use only the moody lift of the music itself as the springboard for his subject matter: romantic love.
Zachary Chant, the marvelous soloist in the first song, is the piece's animating spirit, guiding a series of couples through duets that seem to unfold in a place where geometric precision and charged emotions meet. Each male-female pairing boasts a lithe refinement, with Mara Hulspas and Rubén Ventoso Sanromán especially impressive (he catches her in midair as if she were weightless flotsam).
The lovers don't always seem to recognize Chant's Cupidlike role. But as he strolls offstage at the end, one dancer, in a witty touch, glances his way as if thinking: Oh, he's the one who fired the arrow that got me.
Rocha's "Paradise?" — as its question implies — is a more complicated affair. It's a crowded, starkly lit place where 15 dancers don't, at first, connect. Gradually, in time to Michael Sauter's propulsive, changeable score, they fall into the duets, trios and other ephemeral alignments. There's a touch of Jerome Robbins in their moves, especially in the swaggering grace of the males.
"Paradise?" starts to drift when Hulspas, singing a deconstructed version of "Over the Rainbow," sets dancers around her into action that varies from agitation to merriment. But later it intensifies. The ranks of lights overhead begin to ripple and sway as though a whole world is being destabilized (Mark Truebridge's touch). Spotlight moments for specific pairings of dancers keep on coming (Albert Garrell Buñuel and Jorge Pérez Martínez are knockouts).
The culmination is a sublime tap-dance number by Rashaen Arts that's as close to heaven as dance can get.
Wubbe's "Messiah," set to Handel, mines a more courtly vein of pairings and trios, conducted on a tighter tether. It plays with scrims and silhouettes, arched limbs and billowing fabrics. Just a little chilly in its beauty, it builds to a kind of rapture as Hulspas, Arts, Pérez Martinez and Chant all deliver stellar moments. Laurent Drousie has a real airy-silky dash, too.
After poised passage upon poised passage, "Messiah" ends on a moment of release: a completely new kind of movement that, in the context of this dance, feels as right as it is unexpected.
Michael Upchurch: firstname.lastname@example.org