Pastor dances with Shakespeare in large-scale dance spectacle

The Tempest

World premiere

Het Nationale Ballet, Krzysztof Pastor

You are looking at a performance from our archive

Magic is in the air in this world premiere by the Dutch National Ballet. Resident choreographer Krzysztof Pastor has created a new, large-scale evening programme inspired by Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, which tells the story of the Duke Prospero who employs his magical powers to unleash a powerful storm and wreak his revenge on those who had exiled him. After Sheherazadein 2009, Pastor renews his collaboration with the Iranian-American photographer, film maker and video artist Shirin Neshat. The score is a mix of traditional music and compositions by baroque composer Henry Purcell and Shakespeare’s contemporary Thomas Tallis.

Background information

For the 2014 Holland Festival, Dutch National Ballet presents a new production made by resident choreographer Krzysztof Pastor, freely inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest. For this performance, Pastor worked together with the celebrated Iranian visual artists Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari. Shirin Neshat is renown worldwide for her poetic depictions with which she calls attention to the position of women. She was named “Artist of the Decade” by The Huffington Post in 2010.

Shakespeare’s magic
Pastor’s world premiere will not be be a literal representation of Shakespeare’s play. He will use elements and characters from the story, but for him it is more about the magic hidden within the theatrical text.


The story
The Tempest was first performed in 1611. The title refers to the storm caused by Prospero, the Duke of Milan. He is seeking to use the storm to get revenge – on the one side against his brother Antonio, and on the other hand against Alonso, the King of Naples. The two have banished him to an island, expecting him to be lost at sea. For twelve long years on the island, Prospero devotes himself to perfecting the art of magic. Then he takes control like a powerful director who’s pulling all the strings – the other characters are nothing more than marionettes under his power.


For The Tempest, Pastor and Neshat will use compositions by Henry Purcell, Thomas Tallis, Robert Johnson, Matthew Locke and Michel van der Aa, as well as traditional Iranian music. The musical accompaniment is provided by Holland Symfonia, conducted by Matthew Rowe. With: Dave ten Kate (countertenor) and daf-player and actor Abbas Bakhtiari.



Every performance of National Opera & Ballet is preceded by an introductory talk. Learn more, enjoy more. The introduction begins 45 minutes before curtain and is held in the foyer of the second balcony. The introduction is free of charge to everyone attending the performance, and amplification is used to enhance audibility. Several days prior to the premiere, the introduction will be made available digitally as a podcast. Check the performance page of the production in question to see if the podcast has already been made available.


After his training at the National School of Ballet in Gdansk, Krzysztof Pastor (1956, Gdansk, Poland) started his career as a dancer at the Dance Theatre in Poznan and the Grand Theatre in Lodz. In 1983, Pastor became a soloist with the Ballet de l'Opéra de Lyon (France). From 1985 until 1995 he danced with  the Dutch National Ballet. Pastor staged his first choreography in 1986. In 1992 he was asked to design his first main programme for the Dutch National Ballet, the Shostakovich Chamber Symphony. Since, he has created more than fifty ballets. His ballet Kurt Weil (2001) was nominated in three categories for the Benois de la Danse. In 2003, Pastor was appointed resident choreographer at the National Ballet. As well as his work for the Dutch National Ballet, he also created ballets for various prestigious companies in Europe, America, Asia and Australia. In March 2009, Pastor was appointed director of the Polish National Ballet, combining this post with his duties as resident choreographer at the Dutch National Ballet.

Prizes: 1995, Golden Choreography Prize at the International Ballet Competition Helsinki (Finland) for Detail IV; 2000, Medal of Merit, Polish Ministry of Culture; 2000, Choreography Prize, Dansersfonds '79; 2011, Gloria Artist Gold Medal (Poland).

Over the past 50 years, the Dutch National Ballet has evolved into one of the world's foremost ballet companies, and occupies a leading position in the cultural scene of the Netherlands. With a unique and wide repertoire, a tradition of innovation and around 80 dancers and the Junior Company from all over the world, the company is one of the major players in the Dutch cultural landscape – and well beyond. It is by far the largest dance company in the Netherlands.
The Dutch National Ballet performs ballet at the very highest level: from classical to contemporary, from narrative to abstract, and from their own repertoire to international works. The company operates between tradition and innovation, combining respect and love for classical ballet knowledge handed down from generation to generation with an impassioned curiosity about new ways of experiencing dance. Ballet in all its manifestations, from historical works to brand-new creations – that is what the Dutch National Ballet stands for.


Krzysztof Pastor
Henry Purcell, Thomas Tallis, Iranian traditional music
set design, video
Shirin Neshat, Shoja Azari
Willem Bruls
Set- and lighting design
Jean Kalman
costume design
Tatyana van Walsum
music advice
Jan Pieter Koch
musical accompaniment
Holland Symfonia
musical direction
Matthew Rowe
performed by
Dancers Dutch National Ballet
Dutch National Ballet
Polish National Ballet, Teatr Wielki - Opera Narodowa

This performance was made possible with support by