Nederlands Dans Theater, the Cadillac of companies, to return to Israel

NDT2 dance company to return to Israel after 24 years

NDT2 dance company (photo credit: RAHI REZVANI)
NDT2 dance company
(photo credit: RAHI REZVANI)
If dance companies were cars, Nederlands Dans Theater would be a Cadillac. Or, more appropriately, a Jaguar. The 60-year-old Dutch troupe has all the dark allure of a fast automobile, along with the finesse, agility and impossibly chic aura. Young dancers whisper the three-letter NDT as an incantation, and established performers highlight the name in bold on their resumes.
The company is comprised of two bodies: NDT1 and NDT2. The latter was originally founded by legendary choreography Jiri Kylian as a training grounds for young dancers, and a feeder into the main company. In the 41 years since its establishment, NDT2 has taken on its own artistic identity. Next month, NDT2 will return to Israel after a 24-year hiatus. The troupe will perform a four-part program at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center featuring works by Sol Leon and Paul Lightfoot, Marco Goecke and Hans Van Manen. This selection tracks the rich history of the company as well as highlights the newer streams in the repertory.
NDT2 dance company. (Rahi Rezvani)NDT2 dance company. (Rahi Rezvani)
Leon and Lightfoot both came up within the halls of the NDT home in The Hague. Today, the duo are at the helm of the celebrated troupe. Lightfoot is the artistic director of both NDT1 and NDT2 as well as resident choreographer. Leon is an artistic adviser and resident choreographer.
 “We both started dancing for NDT in the mid-80s,” the pair replied in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post. “This is the house where we met, where both our personal and collective creative journeys commenced. NDT attracts a lot of creative people.”
NDT2 dance company. (Rahi Rezvani)NDT2 dance company. (Rahi Rezvani)
While dancing in the repertory of various choreographers, Leon and Lightfoot felt compelled to create their own work. “We didn’t have an agenda to become choreographers, but the fact that the choreographic opportunities began, it was just really natural for us to work together and that somehow developed without even talking about it. We were together as a couple and we both wanted to discover what it meant to be a choreographer and to be creative.”
Their explorations brought harmony as well as conflict. In fact, it was the latter that propelled them to continue their joint journey. “Opponents are the only ones who can create. Making peace with your enemy, that is the real work, the real creation. We need the other person to be ourselves. I would find it boring if we had to do it on our own,” they explained. “We sometimes wonder if we will have enough energy to say what we have to say. That’s scary sometimes. But it’s essential to us at the same time. And the creativity between two people is so much more than one person, so much more powerful. That dynamic is our breath and our heartbeat.”
NDT2 dance company. (Rahi Rezvani)NDT2 dance company. (Rahi Rezvani)
This year, Leon and Lightfoot are celebrating their twenty-fifth anniversary.
With such big roles and responsibility on their shoulders, Leon and Lightfoot find themselves juggling hats. “Right now, the biggest challenge is that I’m is both the artistic director and the house choreographer. Combining those two roles is extremely difficult. When you are creative, you are moving much more in a territory or chaos, of dreams, of exploring the unknown, whereas as a director, you need to control structures and protect people who are in that process. So trying to make the madness and controlling the madness at the same time are actually impossible to do,” said Lightfoot.
“It’s very hard. I think I can speak for both of us that when it comes to being a choreographer it’s important to be brave. You really have to abandon yourself to an idea, to a thought, and work through those things. That’s a challenge we both love. Those are the things we adore.”
The two works they will present to the Israeli audience are Sad Case and SH-BOOM!
SH-BOOM! Came to light in 1994 as part of the Dancers’ Choreography Workshop, and was the first work made by the pair. It entered the repertory of NDT1 in 2000, and that of NDT2 in 2017. Drawing inspiration from Francisco de Goya’s black and white sketches, the work revels in dichotomy. Sad Case premiered in 1998, and bears remnants from time spent in Mexico. The work is theatrical and dynamic, energetic and poignant.
NDT2 will perform at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center on May 3-6. For more information, visit