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Alexander Ekman - CACTI

Nederlands Dans Theater / NDT2


Alexander Ekman



Joseph Haydn: sonate no V “Sitio” from Die sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze, Hoboken XX, 1B; Ludwig van Beethoven: string quartet no. 9 in C, Opus 59, section from: Andante con moto quasi allegretto; Franz Schubert: Presto from stringquartet Der Tod und das Mädchen, arranged for orchestra by Andy Stein and for stringquartet by Gustav Mahler; Allegro by Joseph Haydn from string quartets Opus 9, no 6 in A major

String quartet recorded by Harmen Straatman:

Tinta Smidt von Altenstadt (first violin), Saskia Viersen (second violin), David Marks (alto violin), Artur Trajko (cello)


lighting design

Tom Visser


set and costume design

Alexander Ekman



Spenser Theberge



27 minutes


on stage

 16 dancers

world premiere

25 February 2010,

Lucent Danstheater,

The Hague (NL)


full version video

click here

(password protected)

Alexander Ekman calls himself a ‘rhythm freak’, as one of his trademarks is designing contemporary soundscapes. This choreography, for which he merely used classical music, resulted in a new arrangement of Schubert’s Der Tod und das Mädchen, created together with Holland Symphonia. In addition, the dancers become the instruments for the orchestra. According to the Swede, Cacti is his most dansant piece so far. Ekman used all dancers to challenge the audience to reflect on the way in which art is perceived. In 2010 Cacti was nominated for the Swan Award, the most important Dutch dance prize.


“The audience erupts into laughter during Ekman’s subversive and highly original Cacti which satires pretentious contemporary dance while delivering movement of unparalleled synchronicity (…) eye-poppingly inventive” Daily Express

“Extremely clever” Evening Standard

“The entire company takes joyfully to the stage (…) a clever crowd pleaser” The Daily Telegraph            

“Ekman’s fizzy, mesmerizingly varied and perfectly constructed choreography is a splendid example of dance-making.” The Spectator

“A work of beguiling satirical wit and visceral physical excitement (…) Ekman turns his gleeful cast into a human orchestra that bubbles and bounces about on 16 ivory platforms until they achieve a state of dance bliss” The Times

“Cacti has a party spirit that celebrates the youthful prowess of NDT 2’s dancers” The Guardian

“Genuinely witty” Dancing Times


”Alexander Ekman thus manifests himself as an eager and exuberant talent. He is able to create strong images, make big ensembles and convincingly give absurd flashes of wit a place. His energetic idiom, moreover, is a suitable superfood for the youthful dancers, who are as eager as he is.” De Telegraaf


‘Even if Cacti  is Alexander Ekman’s most ‘dansante’ piece to date, his sense of the theatrical is still cheekily omnipresent.’ Trouw

‘The Swede, former dancer of junior division NDT II and since 2006 full-time choreographer, puts a fair dose of slapstick into his dance, with crazy attacks, grotesque grimaces and never predictable dynamics.’ Trouw


‘In Cacti the young Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman (25) ... presents his former employer with hilarious comment on the intellectual calibre of dance as High Art. He does this in a subtle manner, with a sense of humour and a feel for pace, music, energy and total picture.’ de Volkskrant

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