Nederlans Dans Theater at Place des Artes

Reviews, Live Shows

200322 Nederlans Dans Theater at Place des Artes

Vladimir is mind-blowing

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pina colada cotton candy

191116 Sylvan Esso at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Moving music, delightful dancing, incredible sound

191115 Ohmme at Teragram Ballroom

Fantastically quirky

191025 Hiatus Kaiyote at Novo

Amazing music, over my head

191023 Frances Cone and Delta Rae at Bootleg

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191017 Cosmo Sheldrake at Echoplex

Great samples, less-inspiring looping

191013 Oregon Symphony premier of Andy Akiho Percussion Concerto

My new favorite piece of classical music.

191009 GoGo Penguin's Koyaanisqatsi at Regent Theater

A worthwhile addition to an iconic movie

190925 Cornelius at Echoplex

Bright lights, big music.

190726 New Original Works Festival 2019 at REDCAT

Craving a "composition"

190717 Mitski at Hollywood Palladium

How to make pop songs performative?

190614 Imogen Heap at Greek Theatre

Hide and Seek and not much else

190601 Snarky Puppy at Orpheum

So Snarky!

190319 Monterey Symphony: Sound Waves Concert IV

A drifting concert. Water Concerto anchored by Chris Lamb

190316 Miyamoto is Black Enough, at Wallis

Holy shit this was a good show!

190127 Hidaka at International Dinner 2019

Go Hidaka Taiko!

190116 Third Coast Percussion with Hubbard Street Dance

Unsure why I was unmoved

181120 Dermot Kennedy at Fonda

Solid show to adoring fans

181108 Birdtalker at Hotel Cafe

A special band, early in their career

180623 Olafur Arnalds at Cathedral Sanctuary

The power of sweet/sad melody!

180614 Dirty Projectors at El Rey Theater

Amazing quirk-pop!

180310 Miyake x UnitOne

UnitOne shines!

180224 Batare at La Mirada Theater

Laudably ambitious but scattered.

180223 QuiltCon 2018

Inspiring works, inspiring community.

180131 Kagami Kai at Asian Art Museum

Amazing mochi-making skills, frustrating calligraphy, and take-home encouragement

170416 Sigur Rós with LA Phil

Amazing concert with a few missed opportunities.

170115 A Seed: Ichi-Ryu Manbai

Overwrought concept, thin music, tragic flowers

160927 Sigur Rós at Hollywood Bowl

Amazing sound needs mixed set-list

160918 Road to Kumano: Taiko Project with Chieko Kojima

Ambitious new work!

160409 Locations and Dislocations: An Ecomusicological Conversation

thought-provoking, inspiring, exhausting

130514 Stuck Elevator was fantastic

Powerfully uneventful ending

081012 Byron's Bottled Water Operas

Welcome. Stay and think.

Nederlans Dans Theater at Place des Artes

This was one of the best concert dance performances I've ever seen.  Minh and I happened to see it on Wednesday March 11, the only free night during our composition residency in Montreal, and the night before the NDT run was cancelled due to coronavirus.  This was a good one to end on.

The performance included three pieces, Vladimir by Hofesh Shechter, The Statement by Crystal Pite, and Singulière Odyssée by Sol León and Paul Lightfoot, artistic directors of NDT.  Singulière Odyssée would have been the best thing I'd seen in any other lineup but was my least favorite here.  The staging was effective but on the verge of cliche: a man peering offstage into bright lights with his face framed by a small window in the open door, falling paper leaves at the climax.  The dancing was precise and beautiful but it felt a little predictable in comparison to the other two pieces.  Although the costumes were unisex, the choreography seemed heteronormative.  Women didn't lift men.

The Statement was more surprising and fun for me.  A large conference table at center stage provided the office-space setting and a useful prop for graceful leaps and slides.  Dancers used the edge of the solid table to abruptly stop themselves mid-movement to nice effect.  The dancers mouthed the dialogue and provided exaggerated physical expressions for a narrative played through the PA.  I appreciated the lightheartedness, and the movements were sharp and stylish enough to keep the schtick interesting for longer than one might expect.  About halfway through the piece, however, I craved more freedom in the movements' interpretation of the dialogue.  The narrative also came to feel like a too-small box.  I wanted more room to imagine for myself.

But VladimirVladimir blew my mind.  The theme for me was youthful defiance and the struggle for self.  A huge cast of dancers (15?, 20?) in miraculously complicated arrangements were sometimes frantic, sometimes methodical.  Pairs and trios amongst the crowd would support one another -- sometimes literally by carrying a limp dancer off stage and sometimes by taking weight or providing an anchor.  A climactic section had the feeling of good krump, where the dancer is filled with so much energy they might explode.  I might explode.  After the performance I remarked to Minh about the incredible complexity of the ensemble sections and she explained the "group brain" approach to choreography.  The choreographer provides images and concepts and the individual dancers work out the individual details.  I can imagine Shechter said things like, "I want something celebratory and vertical but you should always be touching two others, then slink off like you've been rejected."  Vladimir is so rich and complex I can't imagine it happening any other way.  Vladimir has raised the bar for me for what's possible in concert dance.