Dutch National Ballet: Metamorphosis review – exquisite dance in the dark | Dance

reAvid Dawson’s choreography sometimes seems to marvel at the beauty of the human body. Or a specific type of beauty, at least: a display of lean and wildly tilted bodies, stretched and tilted for maximum impact. Here, the breasts are lifted like triumphant gymnasts, the lines extended in concave curves, the cuffs broken like serifs on an elegant font drawn in a thin 0.2 liner.

The dancers of the Dutch National Ballet are familiar with Dawson’s methods, since the Briton trained at the Royal Ballet has been an associate artist there since 2015. It is to their honor to have fully absorbed this work, created mainly on Zoom. You marvel at the fluidity of the opening pas de deux between Anna ol and James stout. He picked up his infinitely malleable frame from the ground to fly overhead and plunge back to the ground, all in a continuous thread. Ol and Stout’s expressions follow a familiar fashion in contemporary abstract ballet: threatening eyes, the sensation of a great drawn and held breath, an object of desire or fear just out of reach. The music, Philip Glass’s Metamorphosis Piano Suite, brings the same non-specific gravity.

Metamorphosis, choreographed by David Dawson.
Metamorphosis, choreographed by David Dawson. Photography: Hans Gerritsen

In the group sections, Dawson relies on simplicity more than convolution, for the better. On a black stage, dressed in basic white, the bodies engage in modeling for the simple pleasure of unison and cannon. In the score and the choreography, the momentum hovers on a level plane until the final solo by Riho sakamoto moves things to new territory.

Sakamoto is in a slightly different mold. It’s subtle, but there’s a slightly fiery attack, just a hint of animal movement in her neck and shoulders, and more resistance in her limbs as she pulls an elongated line or does serpentine curls; all with deep strength simmering in the heart. She transforms the movement into something meaningful, while there is an opening in her face, a lifted load, a twinkle of a smile caught in the spotlight. Dawson said the play is about “finding light in the dark,” and Sakamoto skillfully embodies that metamorphosis.

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