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NDT in motion: on stage, the silver screen and behind it

Being active on social media like Facebook or Twitter is now a must for any dance company. But broadcasting a dance performance (live) via 600 cinemas worldwide is no mean feat either. NDT (The Hague) has been chosen by Pathé theatres to join the illustrious list of The Metropolitan Opera (New York), The National Theatre (London) and the Bolshoi Ballet (Moscow) as a partner in high-level performing arts.

The protest group of outstanding dancers, ballet masters and management that began precariously in 1959 has grown into an institution and overflows with ambitions. 'Enjoy yourselves', wishes the artistic director Paul Lightfoot as host, presenter and interviewer at the kick-off of NDT Live on 15 November to the audience. He has to. His grants committee demands that he knows how to "deploy leadership, networking, charisma, communicative and artistic qualities" in addition to commitment and pioneering spirit. No small task. But a wonderful film deal is already in.

Young dogs 

Lightfoot gets into amicable conversation with fellow choreographer on camera Medhi Walerski. Both were on a working visit earlier in 2012 to Springdance Where I met them. They showed themselves critical of dance and seemed to set the bar high. To a compliment about the effective use of film in his work, Lightfoot explained: 'If you use film, you better get it right the first time'. With NDT Live, he seems to be reinforcing his point.

Athletic all-rounders

In every big company these days, you see athletic all-rounders. NDT, too, no longer pitches stories around dancers with limited qualities, but presents top dancers in high-level movement pieces. Programme II at NDT Live consists of Chamber By Medhi Walerski, Sweet Dreams/Sarabande by Jiri Kylián and Swan Song by Lightfoot/Léon. Although NDT Live's dance pieces can appear heavy-handed, seeing the dance performances produces internal oef's and aah's.

Benefits of dance on film

From the darkness, the camera zooms in on a beam of light where in an auditorium you would normally look at a flat stage image. The added value of film is clear from the start of the performance. Thanks to registration with seven HD cameras, close-up shots of pas de deux are effective and intimate, and group movements extra dynamic. But it is not yet a Earthflight in dance. For that, you need a director like Wim Wenders. Who, in his impressive dance film Pina the viewer between the dancers really experience dance. In addition, the disadvantages of dance on film (not hearing dancers or feeling moving air) are well-known.

Planet NDT

NDT has resolved to be less remote from audiences and by community or family projects such as Move In getting closer. By 2018, it should be a prestigious new home see to fill it with innovative, quality dance. Through NDT Live, the company therefore aims to 'make dance more accessible to new audiences'. That means reaching more audiences or better marketing less accessible dance. This is bound to come at a price. But according to the general manager of Pathé in Paris, it is worth it:

From the very first performance we saw of them (NDT), we have been captivated by this amazing company...We are therefore convinced that the talent of the amazing dancers and choreographers of this company will be discovered and embraced by a new, wide and international audience, just like by us.

Read more about programming NDT Live


Ruben Brugman

writing ex-dancerView Author posts

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