by Joyce Roodnat, journalist
choreography: fALLING ANGELS by Jiří Kylián
“My friend, a ballet dancer, told me Nederlands Dans Theater has no ranks and therefore no principle ‘star’ dancers. Although, she said it slightly differently and talked about En-Dee-Tee. Which I thought was some kind of exotic twist on ‘One, Two, Three’ as the wellspring of all music, of all dance, of all wisdom. Of everything.
I don’t recall what ballets we saw together during that time, but I do remember thinking I wanted to see En- Dee-Tee all the time.
And while En-Dee-Tee may not have had ranks, I solved that ‘problem’ for them. Between all the dancers there was one girl who… yes, what did she do? She did exactly what she had to do, together with the other dancers. But I only had eyes for her. Sabine Kupferberg. What I saw was a dancer who challenged the choreography instead of the other way around. A star – a lightning bolt.
I was bowled over by her every time, but she really blew me away in Silent Cries. She was dancing in a state of feverish anxiety, locked behind glass. I saw a woman who was trying to erase her own mirror image. Her pain settled in my heart.
1989: a band of angels is whipped into a frenzy by Steve Reich’s insistent drums. They are caught in their recklessness by Jiří Kylián, the choreographer with a thousand tricks up his sleeve who confirms what I always expected as a child but never dared to say out loud: angels are women.
Fabulous women who are fearless. Fear of flying? Not them. Flying is sex, flying is freedom, flying is the risk of falling… that above all, but it doesn’t matter: the angels keep trying, getting into mad antics, all at a breakneck speed. They see the comedy in their tragedy, no one can take that away from them. There are eight angels altogether, and Sabine Kupferberg is one of them. She disappears into the hive and becomes one of them, sure. And yet, and yet, and yet… She is thé angel.”