Introdans’s ‘Heavenly’ is Nothing Short of Miraculous

Written by Steve Ha
Introdans in Messiah by Ed Wubbe
Photo by Hans Gerritsen
Closing out the 2011-12 Season of the University of Washington’s World Dance series was an honor bestowed upon Introdans, a modern ballet troupe hailing from the Netherlands. Starting their three day run on May 10, 2012, Introdans brought their program entitled Heavenly (or Hemels, in Dutch) to Meany Hall, featuring the choreography of Nils Christe, Gisela Rocha, and Ed Wubbe. Though classical ballet can often struggle to find a voice in contemporary themes, Heavenly reassured those centuries old steps can find new life when properly utilized.
The merging of ballet and modern dance is often precarious, as dancers who find their strengths in one genre over another are easily exposed; but the company members of Introdans showed proficiency in both, and, more importantly, excelled in achieving the delicate balance between them, as if to say that contemporary ballet is in fact its own classification. Christe’s Fünf Gedichte, set to Richard Wagner’s “Wesendonk Lieder” opened the program in gossamer fashion. A barely clad Zachary Chant began the piece with a lyrical solo as a divine, celestial presence that never ceased motion, the smoothness with which he moved a most remarkable quality, like unraveling a bolt of silk of infinite length. Divided into “poems,” several pas de deuxfollowed with dancers in simple, but elegant unitards in rich colors, each couple embodying the enigmatic transition between life and death. Soft and serene, Fünf Gedichte showed elegance, simplicity, and a marvelous musicality.
Introdans in Paradise? by Gisela Rocha
Photo by Hans Gerritsen
Rocha’s Paradise?, a large ensemble piece, could not have been any more different. Punctuated by sharp angles and dynamism, Paradise? at times was an ether of bravura technique, in fast pirouettes and effervescent jumps, but masked with a sense of earthiness. The arabesque penchée, an iconic move in ballet where a dancer lifts one leg to the back and tilts forward, took on new meaning when one of the performers practically exploded into that shape, then held it in perfect stillness, frozen in time with her partner. Rocha’s choreography was both clean and efficient, but showed great complexity in layers. Though difficult to discern the inclusion of certain moments, watching Paradise? could be likened to observing several parallel universes at once—there were moments of humanity, and others less so but not entirely alien, having their familiarities that were enough to inspire nostalgia, but altered to fit within the context of the work. A dancer’s ethereal rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” highlighted the piece, her vocal talents equal to that of her dancing.
Introdans in Messiah by Ed Wubbe 
Photo by Hans Gerritsen
Following an intermission, Wubbe’s ensemble piece Messiah served as the finale. Stripped of color, Messiah had the dancers dressed head to toe in black (and later some in white), including a couple of dancers working en pointe (which, unfortunately, was made less visible by the costumes, the all black stage, and the shoes themselves which had been dyed black as well), all choreographed to selections from Georg Friedrich Händel’s work of the same name. Still in line with the overlying theme of spirituality in Heavenly, Messiah presented a much more muted tone, grounded in subtleties. Although Messiah had a somewhat duller texture compared to the other two dances, the finesse and strength of conception were still evident, and its inclusion in the program certainly brings to light the versatility of the dancers. There are occasions when in aiming for versatility a dance company will settle for mediocrity, or worse, lose a sense of identity and cohesiveness, but this was far from the case for Introdans. Somehow, they manage to be in tune with their limits—without having any.
As the UW World Series draws to an end, two performances of Introdans’s Heavenly remain, May 11–12, 2012 at Meany Hall. For ticket information, visit: http://www.meany.org/tickets/?prod=4784
For more information on Introdans and its members, please visit their website: http://www.introdans.nl/en/index1.asp?p=1