Dutch dance troupe seeking inspiration from Taoism

Zhu Ying
As part of the Shanghai International Arts Festival, Nederlands Dans Theater 1 is coming back to rebuild the culture connection with local fans. 
Zhu Ying

After its last performance wowed Shanghai audiences three years ago, the Nederlands Dans Theater 1 is coming back to the Shanghai Grand Theater on November 3-5.

NDT 1, led by artistic director Paul Lightfoot and artistic consultant Sol Leon, will present six works by five choreographers during their three days of performances.

They are "Safe as Houses,” “In the Event,” “Shoot the Moon,” “Shutters Shut,” “Woke up Blind” and a new creation by Edward Clug which just premiered in The Hague in September. Chinese dancer Wang Jianhui, a member of NDT 1, will perform.

It is part of the Buick Master Series at the Shanghai Grand Theater, as well as the 19th Shanghai International Arts Festival. The tickets sold out far in advance, but extra seats have been put on.

Visiting Shanghai for the first time, Lightfoot was fascinated by the theater and the culture of the city.

“Shanghai obviously is enriched by not only the traditional but also the creative culture which brought us here,” said Lightfoot. 

“With so many natural and man-made disasters going on around the world, it may remind us of the need for art and culture in our life,” said Lightfoot.

With dancers from 22 nationalities, it has always been important for NDT 1 to present the varied cultures of the world.

Founded in 1959, the troupe gained unprecedented recognition and success with the help of its second artistic director Jiri Kylian known for his pioneering exploration in dance.

To keep the productions creative and innovative, Kylian insisted the theater not present his creations for a certain period of time after he resigned in 1999.

Appointed in 2011, Lightfoot attaches much importance to “theater” for the NDT creations. He believes the works should not be restricted to dance.

Three of the six works to be presented are co-created by Lightfoot and Leon: “Safe as Houses,” “Shoot the Moon” and “Shutter Shuts.”

“Safe as Houses,” according to Leon, is inspired by the Chinese philosophical work  “I-Ching” (“The Book of Changes”), which reflects the interconnection between the physical environment and the soul.

“When I was a little girl living in Spain, I was deeply influenced by the poetry of Taoism,” she said.

“It is very beautiful as it is about the relationship between the nature and society. You can read destiny from it. For me, it is very abstract and the content is full of the element of change. It is so beautiful and clever.”

What attracts Leon most about the book is that its philosophy is about the space of silence, while dance is a kind of art that needs no language.

“'Safe as House’ speaks a language that everybody can catch on to and comment on,” said Leon. “I do not mind that people find it hard to understand the dance.

“But I feel that the people in Shanghai may appreciate it, probably due to its  cultural roots."

Performance details

Date: November 3-5, 7:15pm

Venue: Shanghai Grand Theater

Address: 300 People’s Ave

Tickets: 80-680 yuan

Tel: 400-106-8686

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