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Helma Klooss
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Middendorp's Another Kind of Blue Creates a Complex Mosaic of Sight and Sound in Wave

by Helma Klooss
December 21, 2021
Rijswijkse schouwburg
Generaal Spoorlaan 10
Helma Klooss is a Netherlands-based dance writer and festival organizer. More about her dance festivals can be found at www.danskaravaan.nl, www.danskaravaan-educatief.nl and www.stranddans.nl
Choreographer David Middendorp a 2014 finalist on the television show America's Got Talent, created Wave, a new program in which he further investigated how dance and technology go together. Wave asks what the impact of technology is on society and whether mathematics and physics can be used to explore the emotional side of life—After all, we use waves every day to communicate and connect.

The program consisted of five works that were made in collaboration with the company's dancers. In between each piece, Middendorp and his dancers commented on the film elements of the works.

The program on December 4, 2021, began with the work "Frequency 1". In it, two dancers in silver-blue jumpsuits and side by side, made Chladli patterns (named after German physicist/musician Ernst Chladni) in the sand, with synchronous elegant twists. These Chladni patterns arise when a surface of fine sand is vibrated. The sand collects in the places where the surface does not move and disappears where the sand moves. Beautiful mosaics are the result. Bach's solo cello concerto accompanied the dancers. The dancers were filmed from above. The film, projected as a background, showed the dancers from a different perspective, surrounded by the mosaics. It was fascinating how the phenomenon from nature unfolded so beautifully before us.

Next, dancer Richel Wieles, dressed in a very special suit, along with 12 drones, created an exciting game of question and answer in the work "Airman."

To musician Brian Fennell's (a.k.a Syml) romantic song "Fear of the water," Wieles performed a powerful dance with large arm movements and gestures. His dancing created a mysterious atmosphere. The luminous drones flying above him seemed to move independently, which had an alienating effect. They were controlled by silver-grey balls on his costume and were part of a motion capture system. By means of reflection, they corresponded with special cameras so that the computer recorded the movements of the dancer in a 3D model that directed the drones.

Next, the duet "15 Minute Universe" was danced to a beautiful composition by Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt that was played live by the harpist Astrid Haring. Against a starry sky projection as a backdrop, we followed dancers Richel Wieles and Gijs Hanegraaf in slow impressive movements. Projected images of the sea, the high tide line, and undulating water were seen on the backdrop as well as on the floor. Moments later, the dancers moved in fast rotations caused by a small board with wheels under them. The projected background images were like that of a fairytale.

While "15 Minute Universe" proved magical, I would have loved to see this ballet danced by a male and female dancer couple because it would have created more variation and tension in their bodies.

At times hand gestures can be clearer than words. A clenched fist can show anger and enthusiastic waving of them can indicate we are happy. In a sense, they are like a dance.

The ballet "Hands ON Stage" sought to tap into that form of communication. It began with a duet of two women against a projected backdrop of magnified hands. They were joined by four more dancers and the ensemble performed to music by Bob Dylan and Asaf Avidan creating a lovely and elegant piece.

It was a wise choice to put the six dancers together because the technique used in the previous ballets on the program seemed to limit the choreographic possibilities. The dancers often use the same movements.

The program closed with "Frequency 2," the follow-up to the opening work "Frequency 1," only this time with three female dancers. Between them was the heavy motor of a sand machine. It is ingenious how Middendorp created a far more complex mosaic via the use of projections and with their powerful dance in the sand, how the trio of women avoided the spinning sand motor.

Middendorp is unique among the choreographers in the Netherlands and beyond. It is nice to see how his performances have developed in his career and what great success he has had with them.
Another Kind of Blue in 'Airman'

Another Kind of Blue in "Airman"

Photo © & courtesy of Kim Vos

Another Kind of Blue in '15 Minute Universe'

Another Kind of Blue in "15 Minute Universe"

Photo © & courtesy of Kim Vos

Another Kind of Blue in 'Frequency 1'

Another Kind of Blue in "Frequency 1"

Photo © & courtesy of Kim Vos

Another Kind of Blue in 'Frequency 2'

Another Kind of Blue in "Frequency 2"

Photo © & courtesy of Kim Vos

Another Kind of Blue in 'Hands ON Stage'

Another Kind of Blue in "Hands ON Stage"

Photo © & courtesy of Kim Vos

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