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Dutch National Ballet continue their streaming programme with a weekend of performances of some of Hans Van Manen’s most famous works, being the resident choreographer, the dancers perfectly capture his style and wear his works well.


The highlights of the mixed bill were the first two works. The afternoon begins with ‘Adagio Hammerklavier’, a piece I had seen performed by ENB a few years ago which didn’t strike me then, however this performance buzzed with an underlying urgency. The dancers were hungry and didn’t just go through Van Manen’s angular motions but also found that essential underlying emotion and restraint.


Next the iconic Pas de Deux ‘Sarcasmen’. In this case the performers went with a more humorous interpretation. Jozef Varga’s adolescent petulant charm was the perfect foil to Floor Eimers’ easygoing yet in control demeanour. Rachel Beaujean- who provided commentary throughout the programme- explained that every couple brings their own interpretation to the dynamic of these characters, this couple certainly brought a fresh interpretation which I prefer to the overly stoic style of some other couples. Eimers is definitely a star on the rise, and after the retirement of two of the prominent Dutch dancers of the company she could well be principal material. 


The evening also consisted of the earthy ‘Deja Vu’ danced with great athleticism and power by Young Gyu Choi and Erica Horwood. The melancholic ‘Trois Gnossiennes’ with a featherlight Anna Ol. But by ‘Two Pieces for HET’ and ‘Variations for Two Couples’, I felt a bit tired of the Van Manen style. They’re both also great pieces, but it is true that an evening of Van Manen can be a repetitive experience (funnily this criticism of him recycling movements was the inspiration behind the title of ‘Deja Vu). In ‘Variations’ - the final piece - one almost senses a retrospect of Van Manen’s works before, elements of ‘Solo’, ‘Five Tangos’, and even ‘Adagio Hammerklavier’. He shows us all the flavours he’s got, it’s not many but nevertheless delicious. 


There’s one more stream tomorrow, I’d definitely recommend the programme to those who are willing to get a thorough reading on all things Van Manen. It’s also another great chance to see the world class dancers of the company, HET have been providing us with a brilliant variety of works and live performances, which is not only culturally enriching but brilliant exposure for their dancers.

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This was really good.  I watched the first of the two casts which was almost entirely principals and top soloists.  Impressive.   

I’ve watched most of this company’s streamed shows during the pandemic, and it’s one I would hope will continue providing online access even once theatres re-open.  

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