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L.A. Dance project at @hollandfestival: falling in love with dance, if only for an evening

Holland Festival Holland Festival

Benjamin Millepied is a glamour boy who conquers everything in his path: from actress Natalie Portman to the Paris Opera ballet. In reality, after the premiere in Amsterdam, the Frenchman looks like a weary lover with responsibilities. Here is evidently someone who is passionate and dedicated to his craft. This is reflected on stage. L.A. Dance Project makes you fall in love with dance the French way, if only for an evening.

The dance triptych starts with Reflections from Millepied, to music by David Lang. A playful barefoot study of movement in relation to the other. The dance material is a refreshing reset From classical ballet to a new vocabulary without ballast. Sporty-looking women and athletic-built men grow into their dancing and fully engage. Standout is a solo by virtuoso Charlie Hodges. Once the manly lyrics of Barbara Kruger on the backdrop changes from STAY to GO, starting an evocative pas de deux for 2 men on the ground. A short statement perhaps. As in a fledgling relationship, in Reflections the emotions are still light in nature. That changes after the break.

Audience as artist

Winterbranch Is a provocation by dance guru Merce Cunningham. With the carelessness of a genius, he keeps dancers and audience on screeching, crunching sounds (2 Sounds by La Monte Young) trapped in darkness. Occasionally redeemed by the light of swinging headlights designed by pop-art precursor Robert Rauschenberg. In this exciting theatrical performance, dancers occasionally use Cunningham techniques: balancing on one leg with upper body in a tilt, suddenly iconic dance poses and unmerciful kneeling on the floor. A passing, colourful santen stall breaks the night and audience members walking away are unwittingly artists themselves. Opening the door to the outside adds light to the play. Cunningham will smile delightedly in dance heaven.

Ominously lyrical

'Interesting architecture.' William Forsythe thereby rationalising his choice of the velvety smooth  Jesus' blood never failed me yet by Gavin Bryars. The homeless person with childlike faith and the God to whom he preaches his song in toothless chant are probably beyond the choreographer's grasp. Yet despite the piece's connection to the loss of Forsythe's second wife, there is no criticism. On the contrary. Quintett is a walhalla for dance lovers. A continuous series of harmonious solutions of reaching out and collapsing; running and abruptly stopping; yearning and relativising and accelerated movement in hushed moments. By now, the five dancers feel intimately familiar and show a passionate ode to infinite drive for life. It's hard to say goodbye to sublime dance.

Flexible collective

A huge stage lamp on the stage still projected images at previous performances of Quintett, Forsythe at L.A. Dance Project felt that was no longer necessary. So what do we do with that lamp, one wondered. 'I like to leave it for the unanswered question,' said the choreographer. L.A. Dance Project offers many opportunities creatively. More than the 1,500-strong Paris Opera institute where Millepied becomes ballet director. After moving to France, the young choreographer says he will continue to support the Los Angeles-based artist collective.

Good to know
Still to be seen on 3 June during Holland Festival

Ruben Brugman

writing ex-dancerView Author posts

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