Student Blog: Paris Maymester sees NDT2
May 28, 2019
Bonjour from Paris! We have just completed our first full week abroad in the beautiful city of Paris for the USC Kaufman/USC Thornton Maymester. We have finally begun to dive headfirst into our adventures, after a couple days of orientations and getting settled into our apartments. The first week, we took thousands of steps on walking tours through historical sites, attempted to speak French in cafes and ate lots of croissants! We’ve toured Versailles, walked through the Palais Royale and Sainte Chapelle and window shopped along the Champs-Elysées. On one of our first days here, we went to see NDT2 perform at the Théâtre de la Danse Chaillot and had the opportunity to speak with the director and some of the dancers afterwards. Check out Juliette Ochoa’s blog below for more about the performance:
Arrival in Paris
I was eagerly awaiting Nederlands Dans Theatre 2’s mixed rep performance showcasing works by Ekman, Goecke, and León & Lightfoot. This performance was technically and artistically impressive and engaging. I had the unique experience of running into a few of the dancers on the train the night before the performance, with my roommate. She happened to know one of the dancers from her previous training. This encounter felt serendipitous, and made me both starstruck and eager to see them perform.
The dancers did not disappoint. They somehow managed to come across as larger than life from the stage. Each of them was a technically proficient mover and mature artist. This was impressive, especially considering the fact that the dancers are all close to our age (late teens and early twenties). This realization was both inspiring and a little intimidating. As I grow older, I find myself continually looking up to phenomenal dancers and artists who are younger than myself. Suffice to say, it’s making me ready to put in the work!
I found the first piece by Alexander Ekman hypnotic and mesmerizing, with moments of counterpoint and dynamic intricacies. The choreography flowed into groovy and jazzy when Dave Brubeck’s Take Five accompanied the dancing, and later flowed into nuanced technical work. The cast of this piece was large, and the dancers occupied the whole space along with the sets. The complex visuals created opportunities to observe different aspects of the piece. I enjoyed the vignettes that utilized repetition and counterpoint; I could allow my gaze to leisurely pass across the stage and discover new things about the choreography each time.
The sets for this piece were visually stunning, especially the light at the end of a long pole. The pole, suspended horizontally, spanned a good portion of the length of the stage, and shone on the dancers throughout the piece. In some moments, the dancers onstage controlled the pole. It could also move on its own across the stage horizontally and vertically. Additionally, the rock on downstage left was particularly memorable due to the closing moment of the piece. One of the male dancers sang slowly while slumped against the rock. It was a beautiful image, and the dancer had a lovely voice.
Goecke’s technical virtuosity
The Marco Goecke piece had standout moments of technical virtuosity. However, I did not care for the pop music selections. I also felt that the costuming–long pants with sparkly fringe–distracted from the beauty and the lines of their musculature, especially as they were executing such technical work.
León and Lightfoot: balletic and brave
The Sol León and Paul Lightfoot piece was everything I had hoped for from NDT2. I thought that the ballet aesthetic in choreography showcased the dancers’ abilities, and that the intricate partnering work showcased their contemporary proficiency. The dancers of NDT2 handled very tricky partnering transitions with ease and grace. I can attest they were not easy, having just recently been exposed to these transitions while rehearsing works by Jiří Kylián and William Forsythe at USC Kaufman.
The sets in the León and Lightfoot piece were equally stunning. They added to the overall effect of the piece quite nicely. The minimalist black paneling in the start of the piece made for an intimate space for the first few pas de deuxs. The panels later opened up and exposed massive, flowing black fabric. The dance aptly increased momentum and expansion in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Overall, I was thoroughly thrilled with the performance. The wonderful opportunity to meet and have a Q&A with the ballet master of NDT2 and a few of the dancers themselves made the day even better.
After watching NDT2, I am feeling a renewed sense of inspiration and an urge to step up my own training and artistic development.