Nederlands Dans Theater’s NDT 1 programme consists of 3 pieces: La Ruta, Gods and Dogs, and Figures in Extinction [1.0].

Gabriela Carrizo’s La Ruta 


I don’t even know where to begin! A road with a bus stop visited by a range of dream-like characters, each more gruesome and bizarre, “bleeding through the cracks of a dream” (Carrizo) There is a playfulness in the movement and sequencing of this piece, but as with any child’s play taken too far, there is a sinister edge. This piece is the fuel of nightmares, with one dancer scurrying across the floor in a way that made my stomach churn. The combination of lights, props, movement, and sound effects made it utterly visceral and completely disturbing! Dancers contort in ways only the dream worlds (or a horror film) would allow with seemingly no regard for the laws of physics as they move, float, jump, fall, and break before us. The speed of their movements is unfathomable, the director somehow hitting fast forward, rewind, and slow motion at will. I found myself trying to make my eyes as wide as possible, so I did not miss a moment and I felt my jaw drop twice. 

La Ruta provides a masterclass in lighting design, Tom Visser does an incredible job with the sweeping of car lights and not a movement is missed. The sound effects, a particular bone-crunching effect part way through, made me feel rather queasy. This is a full-bodied experience for the audience member and I loved it! 

Surreal, disturbing, and utterly wonderful! 

Jiri Kylian’s Gods and Dogs

© Joris-Jan Bos 

Gods and Dogs explores “the twilight zones… the border between normality and insanity, between health and sickness.” (Kylian) Contrasting with the jagged, frantic energy of the first piece there is a control and flow in the movements, a more traditional, balletic style in movement, shape, and musicality. The softness of the music, fragments of Beethoven woven throughout, is complemented by the movements and a simple bare stage with a single candle. As the piece progresses a projection of a moving creature running towards us appears and finally a beaded backdrop. The backdrop is visually stunning, the movement like water and fire, a metallic cascade that is beautiful but almost detracts from the dancers as it is mesmerising in itself.

There are some lovely moments playing with light and shadow, and a repeated motif of sliding as well as balance and control. Just at the point of flow, there is interruption, through music or movement. As a dancer’s career may be interrupted by illness or injury, there is an acknowledgement of the fragility of the body as well as its strength and endurance; the lifts are utterly beautiful. 

Figures in Extinction [1.0]


The final piece is truly moving; a collaboration between Crystal Pite and Simon McBurney exploring the impact of humanity on the planet. Subtitles take us through species and natural phenomena which have been wiped out due to climate and human interference. The staging moves in and out, framing species-like pages in a book, and then zooming to the wild. The piece incorporates music, voiceovers, nature noises, movement, and puppetry. 

At times we see individual animals, herds, and flocks, plus movements which represent flowers, bodies of water and glaciers. My favourite moments were the glacier, the golden toad, and the very first solo piece. As the piece draws to an end, the names come faster and faster with the ensemble pulsating with the relentlessness of death and destruction, and audience tears flow freely. It is a deeply moving piece of work which is perfectly executed. 

Any one of these pieces would be worth going to see, so having all 3 in one makes for a genuinely awe-inspiring evening.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

NDT 1 is on at Sadlers Wells until the 22nd April – the shows are sold out, but check back for returns here!

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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