This week, Cape Town and the Baxter Theater are privileged to welcome back the acclaimed Netherlands-based company, Introdans, with their latest production, Wonderland. They offer up a punchy, powerful programme that includes the works of many European choreographers such as Ton Wiggers, Barcelona native Cayetano Soto and world-renowned Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen. Alongside these, Introdans also perform three explosive short works by Robert Battle – the Artistic Director for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, who many will remember had a critically-acclaimed tour to South Africa in 2015.
The tone of the evening is set with Wiggers’ Het Debat which has a playful quality in its question and answer format, but is also very dramatic in its sharp, gestural embodiment of the percussive music. Despite being quite static, it nonetheless fills the stage and auditorium with a pulsating energy that brings the audience to attention and finishes far too quickly. Fortunately you aren’t left wanting too long as Battle’s Three begins with two male dancers in tight blue hot pants, uninhibitedly ‘grooving’ and body rolling to some beatboxing. And, yes, it is as comical as it sounds. The piece continues into a trio – also very musically driven – with some lovely staccato moments and an impressive athletic display by the dancers. Admittedly, I couldn’t help but wish for more of the ‘grooving’.
Music propels the movement and ideas behind all of the evening’s works, including the two high intensity solos and the highlight, Malasangre. Soto’s choreography is sassy and tenacious, showing off not only the dancers’ strong technique, but their dynamism and charisma as well. The movement quality is very stylized – melding sinuous and sensual with power and drama – paralleled in the way that the clean, monochrome costumes and dark stage are juxtaposed against the flamboyant cuban songs of La Lupe.
A brilliantly constructed work, the sexual undertones and quirky transitions are complimented by striking costumes and fantastic lighting design. It is a stand out not only from this programme, but for 2017 as a whole. The second half consists of van Manen’s Black Cake, hearkening back to more formal, neo-classical choreography with intricate partnering and clean lines. Yet it is the tongue-in-cheek humour that gives this piece an edge as the champagne kicks in and the chic, poised party-goers start to show their true colours.
With a very funny and somehow nostalgic ending to the show, Wonderland delights the audience with the skill and prowess of 12 versatile dancers performing in no less than six different pieces, each with a playful theme that has us chuckling and in high spirits throughout.
Introdans’ show, Wonderland, is on at the Baxter Theatre until 9 September 2017.