the little man

Space can reflect a limitation of the physical dimension in many ways, but also the mental and emotional. The confinement of space can illustrate how we struggle with our inner world or that we are occasionally put in a box by others. At the same time, this conscious restriction reflects how humanity appears to be so big and important in our own perception, when we humans are actually so small. Hence the title »The little man«. The image of the cage applies to our minds just as much as people sometimes lock themselves up in their own minds, cut off from seeing themselves, or have a limited perspective on what it means to be human, what the place in which we exist means, and why we really are here.

The work pulls inspiration from nature, from people and human complexity and from the question of what it means to be here, to live in this world and to deal with all the things that we deal with. For »The little man« it was primarily instinct and intuition. What happens on stage is not self-aware. Ideally, the dancers are in this special space, this microcosm, and we as viewers can look at them and get insight into how people deal with limitations. Like looking at something through a loupe. The piece begins and ends without the viewer feeling that, like a snapshot in time. Above all, however, it remains an open piece. We believe that many will be able to discover their own story in it. – Imre & Marne van Opstal


Choreography / Concept / Direction: Imre van Opstal & Marne van Opstal

Music: Andy Guthrie, Tomoko Sauvage, Yair Elazar Glotman & Mats Erlandsson

Costume / Set / Light Design: Imre van Opstal & Marne van Opstal

Performers: Paloma Galiana-Moscardo, Albert Galindo, Leonardo R. Cheng

Duration: 28 minutes

Premiere: National Theater Mannheim, 2022

More about National Theater Mannheim…


Indescribably good, the new work by the Dutch artist duo Imre van Opstal and Marne van Opstal for the dance ensemble of the National Theater Mannheim. With their piece “The Little Man”, the brothers and sisters not only brought what is “en vogue” in international dance, as the new dance evening is called. They also showed that they can be the future.’ – Die Reinpfalz

‘The opening piece “The little man” can also be affirmed with confidence that it is choreographically up to date. But this label would not do justice to the joint work of Imre van Opstal and Marne van Opstal (two of the four siblings who are active in stage dance). Their trio combines contemporary topicality with timeless individuality: what they say or show about the ‘little man’ remains etched in the memory. Leonardo Cheng and Albert Galindo are two of four newcomers to the Mannheim ensemble – the Dutch siblings have tailor-made moves that are both athletically and emotionally touching for their nimble physique, along with Paloma Galiana Moscardó. Caught in a barricade of wall brackets from which there is no escape, the three try it out with great individual body cinema before finding emotional common ground in a touching moment.’ –