30 dancers in a new work by Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten


Het lichaam in opstand - Le corps en révolte

Emio Greco | Pieter C. Scholten
Ballet National de Marseille & ICKamsterdam

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How does a body cope with an extreme situation? How does it survive in a very minimal setting? After twenty years at the top of the international dance world, the choreographer duo Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten still have their sights set firmly on new challenges. In Extremalism they introduce two motives: the body in revolt and the body of the ballet. The movement idiom which they have developed for Emio Greco’s classically trained body over the past twenty years, will now be transferred onto the large group of dancers from the Ballet National de Marseille and ICKamsterdam. Thirty bodies reflecting on today’s big issues. Extremalism is a major European collaboration between two dance companies, the French Ballet National de Marseille and ICKamsterdam, the platform for contemporary dance in the Netherlands. Both companies are led by Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten. Extremalism will have a double premiere: after the Holland Festival, the production will open Montpellier Danse.


The international dance production Extremalism is a unique European collaboration, joining the forces of two dance companies: Ballet National de Marseille and ICKamsterdam. It is a multidisciplinary performance danced by 30 dancers – 24 from Marseille and 6 from Amsterdam – coming from two companies, each with its own specific background in ballet and contemporary dance forms. This large-scale jubilee production celebrates 20 years of collaboration by the choreography duo Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten.

What does the body do in an extreme situation? How does it survive in a minimal setting? In short, how does the body react to crisis? Through the strength of the body, Extremalism breaks away from crisis like Houdini broke free of his chains. 30 dancers, 30 bodies, 30 reflections on the present: What is the impact of hunger on a body? And of abundance? Stress? Migration? Digitization? Overpopulation? Sexualization? Privacy? Stigmatizaton of the other?

Twenty years ago, the collaboration between Greco and Scholten began with the search for a new form of dance for the classically-trained body of dancer Greco. Today they are the artistic directors of the Amsterdam’s ICKamsterdam, a platform for contemporary dance in the Netherlands, as well as of the renowned French company Ballet National de Marseille. Two motifs will be central to their work over the coming years: ‘the body in revolt’ and ‘the body of the ballet’. Borders are moved again, identities gather common denominators and bodies search for a synergy between themselves and the other.

Extremalism is the fourth production in a series based on the theme ‘the body in revolt’. In this five-part series, the body is used to chart our changing society. After earlier parts of the series, Addio alla Fine (Holland Festival, 2012), L’Etranger/ One Man Without a Cause (2013) and De Soprano’s (2014), this part approaches the theme in a new manner. With Extremalism, Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten return to the qualities that defined their earlier work: their own developed body language and ‘extremalism’ (a contraction of ‘extreme’ and ‘minimalism’). They use this to take stock of the present (OGGI) with a glance at the past (IERI) and a cautiously extended hand toward the future (DOMANI).

The monumental light sculpture Chain Reaction by artist Henk Stallinga provides the scenery Extremalism. Chain Reaction is constituted by a daisy chain of ring lamps revolving as the earth does in relation to the sun. Due to its slow revolution and the tuning of the light, the installation marks the constant passage of time, a technologically extreme sculpture in a minimalist appearance. It's the point of departure as well as the anchor point for the stage setting of the performance.

Extremalism is celebrating its double premiere both in the Netherlands, at the Holland Festival, and in France, as the opening performance of Montpellier Danse. This is Greco and Scholten’s fourth time at the Holland Festival, after Rimasto Orfano (2002), the diptych on Dante’s Divine Comedy called [purgatorio] IN VISIONE and [purgatorio] POPOPERA (2008) and the previously mentioned Addio alla Fine (2012). The present production is among the most ambitious and extensive works in their oeuvre and in terms of scale, with 30 dancers on stage in times of scarcity and cutbacks, it is a celebration of contemporary dance and the strength of the body. A shout in a time of crisis.

‘After 20 years of working together,’ say Greco and Scholten, ‘it is inevitable that we carry the past with us, but only as a perspective from which to cast a cautious eye into the future. Extremalism is not a retrospective; it is a search in progress for an equilibrium without stasis. Even after 20 years that is quite simply the motor of artistic work.’

EmioGreco PieterCScholten half breed Extreamlism half breed


Emio Greco (Brindisi, Italy; 1965) and Pieter C. Scholten (Vlaardingen, Netherlands; 1963) have worked together since 1995 in their joint search for new dance forms. Greco received his dance education at the Centre de Danse International Rosella Hightower in Cannes, and began his dance career with the Ballet Antibes Cote d’Azur. From 1993 to 1996, Greco danced in works by Jan Fabre, and from 1996 until 1998, he collaborated with Japanese choreographer Saburo Teshigawara in various productions. Scholten studied drama and initially directed theatre productions about historical characters like Oscar Wilde, Yukio Mishima and Pier Paolo Pasolini. He subsequently worked with several choreographers as a dance dramaturge. In 1995, he developed the Dance Instants, short ‘work-in-progress’ projects for choreographers and dancers. For both artists, the search for new dramaturgy of the body is an important motivating factor. Greco and Scholten created their first joint work in 1995: the solo Bianco, which became the first part of the trilogy Fra Cervello e Movimento (Between brain and movement). In that same year, they wrote a manifesto setting out seven principles of dance and the impact of that on the body and the spectator.

They founded the Emio Greco | PC dance company in 1996. After the internationally successful dance productions that Greco and Scholten created between 1996 and 2001, they shifted their perspective and that of their company to opera, music, film and other multidisciplinary directions. At the request of the Edinburgh international Festival, they directed two operas: Orfeo ed Euridice and The Assassin Tree. Together with Toneelgroep Amsterdam, they made Teorema. In 2004, a continuous project, Double Points: +, about dance, music and interactivity with contemporary Swiss composer Hanspeter Kyburz followed. These interdisciplinary excursions gave rise to the trilogy that is inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy. The first part, HELL, premiered in 2006; the second part, [purgatorio] IN VISIONE and [purgatorio] POPOPERA, followed in the Holland Festival in 2008. The final part, you PARA | DISO, premiered in 2010. The last time Greco and Scholten were at the Holland Festival was in 2012, with a return to pure dance in the site-specific project Addio alla Fine. This launched the series ‘the body in revolt’, a project followed by L’Etranger/One Man without a Cause (2013/14) and De Soprano’s (2014, in collaboration with Opera Zuid). Extremalism (2015) and Kindertotenlieder (2017) will round off ‘the body in revolt’ series.

Greco and Scholten have received various awards for their work, including the VSCD ‘Zwaan’ for most impressive dance production for ROCCO in 2011–2012, and the Prix du Syndicat de la Critique for best dance production for HELL in 2006 (Paris).

In 2009, Greco decided Scholten to gather all their creative activities, initiating the International Choreographic Arts Centre (ICKamsterdam) for this purpose. ICKamsterdam is a platform for contemporary dance grounded on three pillars: Company (the production of dance performances for the Netherlands and abroad with a basic group of six dancers), Guest Artists (the stimulation and support of new, young talents from both an artistic and a business perspective) and Academy (the transfer of knowledge in the dance field through research, debate and educational projects). The work of ICKamsterdam takes place within a local, national and international dance context. In 2013, ICKamsterdam was named City Company of Amsterdam, making it an important player in the development of international dance in Amsterdam. Besides building up a contemporary repertoire and producing shows, Greco and Scholten regularly make a relation between dance and other art forms and disciplines through ICKamsterdam. For instance, they have worked with Parisian fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier (dancers on the catwalk in the prêt-à-porter summer show in 2009). Together with the Italian perfumer Alessandro Gualtieri, they created the perfume you PARA | DISO, a unique project combining dance with scent. They also have worked with the Italian company Moleskine, taking part in the Moleskine Detour exhibition in the MoMA Design Store in Tokyo. Besides the Ballet National de Marseille, ICKamsterdam’s partners for the coming years include Theater De Meervaart (NL), Opera Zuid Maastricht (NL), Frascati Amsterdam (NL), Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam (NL) and Het Nationale Ballet (NL). ICKamsterdam is funded by the Performing Arts Fund NL (FPK), the City of Amsterdam and the Ammodo foundation.

In September 2014, Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten were appointed artistic directors of the Ballet National de Marseille (BNM). BNM is an internationally acclaimed dance company with 30 dancers that crosses the boundaries between ballet and contemporary dance in a flexible and open-minded way. The BNM was founded in 1972 by Ronald Petit (1924-2011) after a long career as dancer and influential choreographer. From its very first production, Pink Floyd Ballet, which premiered at the Palais des Sports in 1972, the company has combined classical and modern dance. The production was a great success, thanks in part to a live performance by Pink Floyd on the night of the premiere. In 1992, the BNM acquired an educational branch: the École Nationale Supérieure de Danse de Marseille, including a new building with several rehearsal spaces and an auditorium for 300 spectators. Each year, 120 dancers begin a nine-year training program here. The school is currently headed up by Daniel Hermann. Like ICKamsterdam, BNM is not only a dance company but also a ‘Centre Chorégraphique National’, a choreographic art centre focused on the development of dance. The choreographers will work on local and international collaborative efforts in Amsterdam and Marseille at the same time. During the Holland Festival, 24 dancers from Marseille will be on stage in Extremalism.

Studio Stallinga is the organisation behind Dutch designer and visual artist Henk Stallinga. Museums around the world, among them the MoMA in New York and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, have works by him in their permanent collections. The light sculpture Chain Reaction will be shown in Extremalism. The sculpture is also part of a solo exhibition that will be touring in Japan. Like so many other work by Studio Stallinga, this object manifests itself on the intersection of art and technology, of sculpture and poetry.


N.B.: Ballet National de Marseille is supported by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, the City of Marseille and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Regional Council.


The International Choreographic Arts Centre (ICKamsterdam) is a platform under the artistic direction of Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten. ICKamsterdam is the City company of dance and is supported by the Performing Arts Fund NL (FPK), the municipality of Amsterdam and EU Culture.


concept, choreography
Emio Greco | Pieter C. Scholten
30 dancers of Ballet National de Marseille and ICKamsterdam
Valgeir Sigurðsson
light sculpture
Studio Stallinga
Jesse Vanhoeck
Henk Danner
Pieter C. Scholten
Clifford Portier
ICKamsterdam, Ballet National de Marseille
Holland Festival, Montpellier Danse, Maison de la Culture d’Amiens, Napoli Teatro Festival
with the support of