I’ve been a little sick so keeping up with the blog has been somewhat difficult nonetheless it hasn’t stopped me from enjoying every waking minute of this research and study abroad. Since Germany I’ve traveled to Rotterdam, a place I had visited before during my dancing days for Holland America Line. It’s changed but it’s also remained the same.
The last time I was there I was with my friend Stacie, who’s now a mom and living in Alaska! Yes we are still incredible friends! We were roommates on board the MS Rotterdam in 2008-2009. We ended up visiting our friend Michel, from our very first contract together on board the MS Staatendam in 2004. He showed us, really briefly, around the city. See the only curse with working on board is that you’ve sometimes only got a few hours on shore then you have to be back on board to travel to the next destination.
In any case, I had been back to the Netherlands in 2010 to visit Michel again but this time in Amsterdam. We had a great time but didn’t spend very much time in Rotterdam. So this time, 2015, was a great way to see the city and travel to another city, Den Haag where I participated in the Open Studio Workshop with Nederlands Dans Theatre and saw their Up and Coming Choreographers show at the Korzo Theater with NDT2.
I’m still in awe of how friendships can last through time and space and manage to keep on keepin’ on. I love that connections can withstand millions of miles and still hold steadfast. I’m happy to say that it felt like not a second had passed and not a moment was lost.
Dancing at the workshop I met people from all over, in fact I met a graduate of Point Park University who danced with Pilobolus before moving to the Netherlands to further his dancing. The workshop was incredibly small. About 12 of us learned an excerpt from the Rat Dance in John Doe choreographed by Imre and Marne van Opstal, and premiering that very same evening. Imre van Opstal lead the workshop. No warm-up was given as previously advertised so it was 2 hours of non-stop dancing and attempting, in the choreographer-admitted short time, to get at the nitty gritty of what is female, what makes us sensual and what makes us unique. Why do we choose one way or the other? I felt privileged to be learning movement that had not yet premiered, movement that had just recently been created and fresh in the choreographers mind, oozing from the source. The outpouring of generosity from Imre van Opstal was exceptionally kind and she really asked in the last half hour that we give ourselves to the movement free ourselves from the structure and not worry about correctness, exactness, or preciseness. Instead we were to dance what we had been given with our unique movement styles as the driving force. For me, it was animalistic, with a sense of haughty rapture contrasted with affection and sensuality. I loved the movement and I craved to learn more, to understand how movement can come from such a dichotomy. It brought out in me a something I had never really actualized and I am forever grateful for the experience.
Seeing the show I was ever more grateful! The NDT2 dancers were incredible and I was flabbergasted by their sense of abandon contrasted with their directed strength and power. It was my first time seeing a live performance by the company and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience of seeing them in their hometown. I really love the concept of the Up and Coming Choreographers show having the first company members choreograph on the second company. In my opinion it adds to the community of dance creating a sense of family and support. In fact, the van Opstal family takes up 3 spots with NDT and NDT2, Imre van Opstal was recently promoted to NDT, Merne van Opstal is a current NDT dancer and Xanthe van Opstal is in NDT2. John Doe wasn’t the only performance that evening, Aliza, choreographed by former NDT company member, Idan Sharabi, also premiered.
John Doe impressed me from the onset, the man in blue speaks ever so calmly about physics and interchanges of connections, with formulas and mathematics somehow inter-related which go far beyond the capacity of understanding for the circular talking. But he does this all while moving, occasionally slow and steady with very little physicality but then with vigor and floor work that would have even the best of dancers panting. He did this without any sense of effort or tribulation. Should he move forward or back and what would those consequences be? The entire performance was anticipatory for me because I awaited the section that we learned only hours before. Still I was never distracted so as not to focus on both the movement and the story happening. I liked that the dance led itself to the audiences’ own conclusion and that force feeding wasn’t the choreographers’ goal. When the woman in red did appear she danced the choreography with her own choices of movement and her own style and in that instant I was thankful for Imre’s direction to hold true to ones own movement and individuality. The dancer was stunning and her choices were direct and powerful and that is what drove her performance.
Aliza on the other hand, elicited a question I have been asking myself for quite sometime. Am I not angry enough? Do I not have more forceful and aggressive things to say as a choreographer? I have noticed since being in Europe and seeing performances with some sort of rage that I am not entirely sure if I am as angry as I should be. Have I ever had a Picasso blue period? Am I passed my Picasso blue period? Am I living La Vie en Rose? Is that a bad thing? Is it a thing at all? I really enjoyed Aliza because it elicited these questions and more. I understand that we live in a world of oppression, anxiety, and real conflict and yet I choose to reflect the brighter things in life. That is not to say that I consciously avoid anything that has to do with rage but I’m not entirely sure I’ve tapped into that and I question whether or not this is a cultural thing or a self-preservation thing. I don’t have the answer and I’m not entirely sure its plausible to find one in the time frame of this blog nevertheless I appreciate the impact Aliza had on me and I wonder where the thoughts will take me. Dark place or not I feel that my eyes have been opened to whatever lies beneath.
If you’re interested in seeing snippets of these pieces here is the links: