Elisabeth Tonev, with partner Victor Caixeta performed in Victor Gsovsky’s “Grand Pas Classique." (Photo by Christopher Duggan)
The 62-year-old Dutch National Ballet has finally made it to America’s mecca for dance – Jacob’s Pillow. And deservedly so.
Watching this handsome, versatile company performing works by the father of Dutch dance, Hans van Manen, I couldn’t help but wonder why haven’t I seen them before. They are a beautiful diverse group of dancers who are charming and able to sing in a stone-cold classical pas de deux as well as contemporary works with ease.
They even pinned down William Forsythe’s technically taxing “The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude” with ease while shattering hearts in a duet by Wubkje Kuindersma. Needless to say, I was impressed.
It was also wonderful to see more of van Manen’s work, which also made up much of the founding repertoire of the equally wonderful Nederlands Dans Theater.
The evening opened with van Manen’s “Variations for Two Couples,” a work in which two pairs take turns in a gliding, seamless mediation. To music by Benjamin Britten, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer and Astor Piazzolla, it served as a lovely warm-up, but is practical forgettable when compared to the rest of the program.
I preferred the last-minute addition to the program, van Manen’s tour-de-force “Solo,” which is actually a trio for three men dancing as soloists. The dance, to Bach’s Violin Suite, is chockful of little touches – like head wobbles, finger points and arm gestures all done while endlessly jumping and turning at top speeds. The dynamic Davi Ramos caught the eye with his striking flow that was exquisitely cutting.
The Dutch, like all good ballet companies, ensured its place as a respectable with Victor Gsovsky’s “Grand Pas Classique” from 1949. Elisabeth Tonev, with partner Victor Caixeta, amazed with her pointe work that was rock steady, precise and carefree.
Forsythe’s “Vertiginous Thrill” simply furthered the respect for this company.
Kuindersma’s “Two and Only,” with songs by Michael Benjamin, also drew in viewers with a tender, but painful expression of a splintered love. Timothy van Poucke and James Stout were divine in this punishing farewell.
The evening closed with van Manen’s dashing “5 Tangos” to more music by Piazzolla. The choreography is what won the moment here – the solo for Young Gyu Choi gushed with power while female soloist Qiam Liu challenged the macho potency of the ensemble of men.
All in all, it was a fine program that any dance lover would find something to love.
Dutch National Ballet will dance at Pillow through Sunday.