With a near 60-year history and a world-class reputation, Nederlands Dans Theater are no strangers to Edinburgh’s 70-year-old festival. In this week of the eclipse, the moon scans across their triple bill of dance. Shoot the Moon (2006), with its black-and-white silent-movie savvy, uses the angular, arcing, ballet-based choreography of Sol León and Paul Lightfoot (together now leading the company) to best advantage. The moon catches couples in intimate expressions of their relationships – the push and pull of staying and leaving – and a revolving set of empty rooms allows us to enter these moments.
The beauty of this piece lies in the precision that draws the multi-layered elements together. The dancers’ performances are filmed and streamed live on screens above them, mirroring their movements, to the accompaniment of Philip Glass’s Tirol Concerto for piano and orchestra. Only the intrusion of an angry shout of “I am”, by a partner lost in his thoughts, seems misplaced.
First interval over and deja vu, another room. Stark and dark. Doors and window. The couple this time look dead. Did they do each other in? A second man drags the woman away and busily mops blood from the floor. The dead man revives. We’ve moved on to The Missing Door (2013), choreographed and designed by Gabriela Carrizo, who situates her action within a dying man’s mind, where the sounds (score by Raphaëlle Latini) have the claustrophobic clank and crash of nightmare, and the action is framed comic book style. Some remarkable moves are shared among the seven players: a shimmering strobe walk, a fabulous floor bounce and most incredible of all, a repeated back bend that sends
shivers up your spine.
The evening bookends neatly with another León/Lightfoot collaboration, Stop Motion (2014). In this twilight piece, a giant video portrait hangs downstage like a Dutch old master. The subject (the choreographers’ daughter) sheds a tear and flies off into the night as a bird of prey. She is magnificent. The company below her work through elegant ghostly couplings and solos in a haze of chalk dust. But the piece seems impenetrable. NDT as ever, are thrilling to watch, but this closing piece doesn’t quite catch the moon.