Dance: Edinburgh 98 - The finest way to go Dutch

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The Independent Culture
TWO FURTHER programmes in the Edinburgh Festival's celebration of the Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen have concentrated on his affinity for intensely detailed and strongly characterised duets and solos.

They range from Couples, an extremely modern reconstruction of the conventional ballet duet form for six young dancers of the NDT2 Company, to The Old Man and Me, where the veterans Sabine Kupferberg and Gerard Lemaitre use a range of sly facial expressions or a witty finger gesture to underline their exuberantly unexpected interpretation of Stravinsky's Circus Polka, plus a pop song and an excellent Mozart Adagio.

Receiving its world premiere from Netherlands Dance Theatre at the Playhouse was Zero Hour, in which Astor Piazzolla's tangos drive four dancers including, conspicuously, NDT3's Gioconda Barbuto, to quiet self-controlled frenzy. But most gripping of all was the Dutch National Ballet's programme at the Festival Theatre of four established miniature master works, all of them piano scores.

Beethoven's music is the basis upon which three couples move Adagio Hammerklavier from silent expectancy, through contrasted moods of agitation, to a final serenity tinged with melancholy.

What a range there is from this to Twilight, where Nathalie Caris and Wim Broeckx pace wearily, and fret and grapple before Jean-Paul Vroom's sinisterly brooding industrial landscape, and then moving on to the aggressive, anarchic passions of John Cage's The Perilous Night.

Sarcasms takes its title, not only from Prokofiev's score, but also from the mood in which its two dancers (Sofiane Sylve and Jhan Magnus Johansen) challenge each other erotically, through force of movement and personality.

And in Live, with its unprecedented and unmatched mixture of stage action, immediate giant-sized video projection and recorded film, Liszt provides an ironically lyrical background against which Sabine Chaland is challenged by Henk van Dijk's camera for controlled detail of hand and foot, or a series of violent confrontations with her partner, Gael Lambiotte.

A unique, compelling and unforgettable performance of style and invention.