© Bart Hess

Hollandse School

Hans van Manen, Wubkje Kuindersma, Remi Wörtmeyer, Ernst Meisner, Rudi van Dantzig, David Dawson
Het Nationale Ballet

World repertoire from the Netherlands

The term ‘Dutch School’ is not only associated with the famous paintings from the Golden Age. Especially abroad, work by Dutch choreographers is often referred to as the Dutch School because of its specific qualities. Simplicity, clarity, musicality, but also an emotional eloquence within that simplicity, are central concepts. In Dutch National Ballet's Dutch School, you will be introduced to the work of choreographers from several generations who have either created this Dutch School or are its product. Besides ballets by Dutch Masters Hans van Manen and Rudi van Dantzig, you will see a Dutch premiere by associate artist of Dutch National Ballet David Dawson and the world premiere of a new, joint choreography by Wubkje Kuindersma, Remi Wörtmeyer and Ernst Meisner.

Background information

Grosse Fuge, Hans van Manen
A burst of energy

With Grosse Fuge, which Hans van Manen created in 1971, he immediately proved that the notion that Beethoven's music is not 'danceable' is outdated. ‘Brilliant and dazzling', ‘a burst of energy ', is what the press called recent performances of this sizzling double quartet, which to this day is one of the most frequently performed Van Manen ballets worldwide. The choreography for four men and four women consists of two parts that flow into each other, very different in character, but forming a harmonious whole. In the fugue, the tensions are complex and charged; in the cavatina, they are lyrically bypassed and resolved. In the first part, the men wear black skirts designed by Van Manen himseld, which causes their movements to be even fiercer and more aggressive. Meanwhile, the women look as if they have just stepped out of their evening dress. 

Prometheus, Wubkje Kuindersma, Ernst Meisner, Remi Wörtmeyer
Divine fire

Beethoven wrote only one ballet composition in his life: Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus, an allegorical ballet d’action commissioned by the Viennese Imperial Court in 1801. The music was a success, but apart from a short synopsis - about Prometheus stealing fire from the gods to give to two human figures - nothing of the choreography has survived. In Dutch School, Dutch National Ballet presents the premiere of a new, more abstract translation of Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus, created by three renowned young choreographers: Wubkje Kuindersma, Ernst Meisner and Remi Wörtmeyer. Following in the footsteps of Hans van Manen, Rudi van Dantzig and Toer van Schayk, who jointly created Collective Symphony in 1975, they will each take on a part of Beethoven's ballet. 

Voorbij gegaan, Rudi van Dantzig
Harmony and tenderness

When Rudi van Dantzig created Voorbij gegaan ('Gone By') for Alexandra Radius and Han Ebbelaar in 1979, the collaboration of the two dancers was of the same ‘age’ as their collaboration with Van Dantzig. During the rehearsals, Van Dantzig was therefore mainly guided by nostalgic thoughts about these two dancers, whom he had known since childhood. In his choreography, Van Dantzig follows the traditional division of the classical pas de deux. However, in Voorbij gegaan the emphasis is not on virtuosity and ostentation, but on lyrical mood expressions that primarily embody harmony and tenderness. But this does not detract from the fact that the duet makes great demands on the performers. The English ballerina Merle Park said to Radius: 'You call that a present? It's a killer!’ 

The Four Seasons, David Dawson
Virtuoso reality 

In this programme, Dutch National Ballet presents the Dutch premiere of David Dawson’s The Four Seasons, in co-production with the Semperoper Ballett. Dawson is known for demanding total dedication from his dancers in order to transport both them and the audience to a different, poetic and yet virtuoso reality. In his choreography, set to Max Richter's arrangement of Vivaldi's famous Le Quattro Stagioni, he shows snapshots of many lives that are in constant change. In his highly aesthetic movement language and in interaction with four objects that are floating in the stage space, Dawson tells his own personal story about the course of the seasons. Max Richter's sparkling composition is performed live by Dutch Ballet Orchestra.

Biographies

Hans van Manen (Nieuwer-Amstel, 1932) is resident choreographer with Dutch National Ballet and internationally recognised as one of the grand masters of contemporary ballet. Including his works for television, he has now created more than 150 ballets, which all bear his distinct signature. The great clarity in structure and refined simplicity of his choreography have earned him the nickname the ‘Mondrian of dance’. Besides being in the repertoire of Dutch National Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater (the two main performers of his works), his ballets are also danced by over ninety companies outside the Netherlands. The international stars with whom he has worked over the years include Anthony Dowell, Marcia Haydée, Natalia Makarova, Rudolf Nureyev, Ulyana Lopatkina and Diana Vishneva. Besides being a choreographer, Hans van Manen has also been active as an extremely successful photographer for ten years. His work has been published in books and shown at international exhibitions. 

Van Manen had his first ballet lessons in the late forties from Sonia Gaskell, who engaged him in her group Ballet Recital in 1951. Van Manen went on to dance with the Netherlands Opera Ballet and Roland Petit's Ballets de Paris. In 1955, he made his debut as a choreographer with Olé, Olé, la Margarita. His third creation, Feestgericht, received the State Award for Choreography. From 1960 onwards, Van Manen has worked alternately with the two main dance companies of the Netherlands. After co-directing Nederlands Dans Theater, he became a resident choreographer – first with the Dutch National Ballet (1973-1987), and then with Nederlands Dans Theater (1988-2003). Since 2005, he has held the post of resident choreographer with the Dutch National Ballet. 

To celebrate his seventy-fifth birthday in 2007, the Dutch National Ballet organised the Hans van Manen Festival, a tribute in which twenty of his works were performed by leading ensembles and artists from the Netherlands and abroad. During the festival, Hans Van Manen was made a Commander in the Order of the Netherlands Lion. In 2000, Van Manen was awarded the Erasmus Prize, and in 2013 he received the Golden Age Award. Also in 2013, he was appointed patron of the Dutch National Ballet Academy (part of the Amsterdam University of the Arts). He became a member of the Society of Arts in 2015. 

In Montpellier in 2017, in the presence of Jet Bussemaker, the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Van Manen was made a Commander in the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. One year later, he was awarded the Honorary Medal for Arts and Science of the Order of the House of Orange for his ‘enormous contribution to the arts in the Netherlands and to ballet in particular’. 

British choreographer David Dawson (1972, London, United Kingdom) is associate artist with Dutch National Ballet and one of today’s leading ballet choreographers. His creations shed new light on classical ballet technique and have been praised by critics and audiences worldwide. Dawson was a dancer with Dutch National Ballet from 1995 to 2000 and was resident choreographer with the company from 2004 to 2006. Since 2015, he has returned to the company as Artistic Associate, a position he has also held since 2000 with the Semperoper Ballett in Dresden. Previously, from 2007 to 2012, he had been resident choreographer with both Semperoper Ballett and Ballet Vlaanderen in Antwerp.

Dawson’s ballets have been performed in more than 25 countries and are in the repertoire of leading companies all over Europe and in America, Asia and Oceania, including The Royal Ballet and English National Ballet in London, Scottish Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Staatsballett Berlin, Bayerisches Staatsballett in Munich, Ballet National de Marseille, Wiener Staatsballett, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre, West Australian Ballet and Royal New Zealand Ballet. Dawson was the first British choreographer to create a work for the legendary Mariinsky Ballet in St Petersburg, Reverence, for which he received the highest Russian theatre award, the Golden Mask Award. 

In 2000, Dawson created his first large-scale work for Dutch National Ballet: A Million Kisses to My Skin. This was followed by a great many works for the company, which often received major nominations and awards. For instance, for The Grey Area (2002) he was nominated for the British Critics’ Circle National Dance Award. He also received nominations for the ‘Zwaan’ award for Most Impressive Dance Production for 00:00 (2004) and Overture (2013). For The Gentle Chapters (2006), Dawson was presented with both the Benois de la Danse Award and the Choo San Goh Award. Edo Wijnen, soloist with Dutch National Ballet, was nominated for the ‘Zwaan’ award for Most Impressive Dance Achievement for his solo role in Dawson’s Citizen Nowhere (2017) and won the Alexandra Radius Prize for the same role in 2018.

Recent creations by Dawson for Dutch National Ballet are the full-length Tristan + Isolde (2018) and Requiem (2019). The Dutch premiere of Dawson’s The Four Seasons, for which he was nominated for the Saxon Dance Prize, will take place in the Holland Festival 2021. In 2010, Dawson was also nominated for the British Critics’ Circle National Dance Award and the Benois de la Dance Award for Faun(e), which he created for English National Ballet. Besides Tristan + Isolde, his full-length works also include contemporary interpretations of Swan Lake (Scottish Ballet) and Giselle (Semperoper Ballett). 

Dawson has been a jury member of the Prix Benois de la Danse in Moscow and the Dance Open International Ballet Festival in St Petersburg. In 2019, he was given the honorary title of Artistic Patron of Junior Ballet Antwerp and that of Choreographer Laureate with the European School of Ballet in Amsterdam.

Solidarity, gender equality and human rights are important themes in the work of the Dutch choreographer Wubkje Kuindersma (born in Cameroon). She sees dance as an ‘Architecture of Hope’, as dance has the universal power to connect people. Kuindersma is Young Creative Associate with Dutch National Ballet. 

For her debut work as choreographer, Aquasomnia (2009), Kuindersma received a special award for original movement vocabulary at the choreography competition U30 in Cologne, in 2010. Her male duet Doubleyou, created for the Korzo/NDT-programme Here we live and now, received the BNG Bank Dance Award for choreographic talent, in 2016. 

In recent years, Kuindersma has created the following works for Dutch National Ballet and its Junior Company: Mangåta (2017), Two and Only (2017), Mesmer (2019), Echoes of Tomorrow (2020), Prometheus (2020/2021), Memento (2021) and – in co-production with West Australian Ballet – Architecture of Hope (2020). For his role in Kuindersma’s internationally acclaimed Two and Only, Marijn Rademaker received a nomination for the Prix Benois de la Danse. Kuindersma has been a Young Creative Associate with Dutch National Ballet since 2021. 

Kuindersma has also created work for Noverre (at Stuttgarter Ballett), Bundesjugend Ballett (directed by John Neumeier), Korzo (in collaboration with Nederlands Dans Theater), Ballett Dortmund, Hessisches Staatsballett, BalletX, West Australian Ballet, Dansk Danseteater, Ballett Landestheater Coburg, Beijing Dance Academy, the Dutch National Ballet Academy, Codarts and Philharmonie Luxembourg. 

The leading American publication Dance Magazine included Kuindersma in its ‘Top 25 to watch for 2019’, an annual list of dancers, choreographers and companies the magazine deems representative of the future of dance. In 2019, Kuindersma was nominated for the Prize of the Dutch Dance Days Maastricht, an award for young, promising talent. 

The Dutchman Ernst Meisner is an extremely versatile person. Besides being a choreographer, he has also been the artistic coordinator of Dutch National Ballet’s Junior Company since its foundation in 2013. Since 2018, he has also been the artistic director of the Dutch National Ballet Academy.

Meisner was a dancer with The Royal Ballet (2000-2010) and Dutch National Ballet (2010-2013). He already started choreographing during his career as a dancer. He created several works for The Royal Ballet’s choreographic workshop, including the duet What if, for Melissa Hamilton and Sergei Polunin, who were already very promising dancers at the time. For Dutch National Ballet, Meisner’s works included And after we were (2011), the children’s production The little big chest (2011), Saltarello (2012) and the Dutch National Canta Ballet (2012), all created during his time as a dancer with the company. 

At the beginning of 2013, he created Study in Six, to music by Jude Vaclavik, for the New York Choreographic Institute, which is affiliated to New York City Ballet. He has also done the choreography for dance films by Crystal Ballet and for Bounden, a dance game/app by GameOven Studios.

In recent years, Dutch National Ballet has presented Meisner’s creations Axiom of Choice (2014), Merge (2016), In Transit (2017), Impermanence (2018) and Prometheus (2020/2021). For his Junior Company, Meisner has created Embers (2013), Lollapalooza (2013), No Time Before Time (2016) and Largo (2020). Together with Marco Gerris from ISH Dance Collective, he has also created the imaginative, highly acclaimed hiphop-meets-ballet productions Narnia: The lion, the witch and the wardrobe (2015) and GRIMM (2018), in which the Junior Company dancers share the stage with dancers from ISH. 

The Australian dancer Remi Wörtmeyer (Adelaide) joined Dutch National Ballet in 2010 as a grand sujet and was promoted to soloist the following year. In 2013, he was appointed principal dancer. 

Remi trained at The Australian Ballet School and went on to dance with The Australian Ballet in Melbourne and with American Ballet Theatre in New York for a year. He won the Walter Burke Award in 2005 and silver at the 8th Asian Pacific International Ballet Competition in 2001. In 2013, he was honoured with the Alexandra Radius Prize. One year later, he received the Audience Award at the Dance Open Festival in St. Petersburg, and in 2016 he was elected Mr. Expressivity at the same festival. The British magazine Dance Europe mentioned him in 2017 and 2019 in its Critics’ Choice, in the category ‘Outstanding performance by a male dancer’. 

In recent years, Remi has also developed as a choreographer. He choreographed Homebody and Morning Blossoms for ODD Continent and created several pas de deux that are regularly performed at international ballet galas. In 2018, his creation You Before Me premiered at Dutch National Ballet’s annual gala. In the same year, he also choreographed a work for Ballet de Catalunya, inspired by the work of Piet Mondriaan. In June 2020, Remi created Safe Distance Ballet for a collaboration between Dutch National Ballet and G-Star RAW, with an eye-catching tutu measuring three metres in diameter, which was inspired by the one-and-a-half-metre society. Remi’s other talents include painting, sculpting and designing (ballet) costumes, and he has already held several exhibitions. 

Few people have left such a mark on Dutch National Ballet and the Dutch dance world as writer and choreographer Rudi van Dantzig (Amsterdam, 1933-2012). For twenty years Van Dantzig was the artistic leader of Dutch National Ballet and he made choreographies that demonstrated an enormous social involvement. 

He started his dancing career in 1952 with Sonia Gaskell’s company Ballet Recital, one of the forerunners of Dutch National Ballet. Following the foundation of the Dutch National Ballet in 1961, he became resident choreographer of the company, and, after having been the artistic co-director from 1965 onwards, Van Dantzig became the sole artistic director in 1971, which position he held until 1991. 

In total, Van Dantzig created over fifty ballets, often in collaboration with Toer van Schayk as set and costume designer. Some of his works are still in Dutch National Ballet’s repertoire and that of many companies abroad. Van Dantzig’s best-known works include Vier letzte Lieder, Monument for a dead boy, Onder mijne voeten and his versions of the full-length classics Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake

Rudi van Dantzig has also become a well-known author. His debut novel was For a lost soldier, which was followed by The trail of a comet, a book about his memories of Rudolf Nureyev, in 1993, and The life of Willem Arondéus. Another well-known work is Olga de Haas: a memory. Van Dantzig spent his last few years writing the book Memories of Sonia Gaskell, which was published posthumously in June 2013. 

On the occasion of his 75th birthday in 2009, Dutch National Ballet paid tribute to its former artistic leader with a programme dedicated to Van Dantzig and his work. In May 2012, the company presented a homage to Van Dantzig to mark his death on 19 January 2012. 

Since its foundation in 1965, the Dutch Ballet Orchestra has been the proud orchestral partner of Dutch National Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater. This way of working is unique in the Netherlands. Dutch Ballet Orchestra, with Matthew Rowe as its principal conductor, consists of a permanent core of 45 musicians, supported where necessary by highly qualified guest players. This gives the orchestra a unique character: flexible, dynamic and of high quality. Dutch Ballet Orchestra combines music and dance to provide an enchanting experience: from classical ballet to modern dance, from music education to talent development. An optimal synthesis between music and dance is the orchestra’s mission. The orchestra masters a rich repertoire, which includes the crown jewels of ballet history such as Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. This repertoire is always complemented by the best works of contemporary composers, selected by the leading choreographers of today. The orchestra reaches dance lovers and enthusiasts of ballet music as well as children and adolescents. The educational projects of the orchestra have won several (international) awards, including the Young Audiences Music Award in 2016 for Creatures, a collaboration with dance company ISH.

Credits

Grosse Fuge
choreography
Hans van Manen
stage design
Jean-Paul Vroom
light design
Joop Caboort
costume design
Hans van Manen
rehearsal
Ken Ossola
ballet master
Jozef Varga
Prometheus
choreography
Wubkje Kuindersma, Ernst Meisner, Remi Wörtmeyer
stage and costume design
Tatyana van Walsum
light design
Carlo Cerri
dramaturgy
Willem Bruls
video design
Alessandro Grisendi
ballet masters
Judy Maelor Thomas, Sandrine Leroy
Voorbij gegaan
choreography
Rudi van Dantzig
music
Fréderic Chopin
costumes
Joop Stokvis
lightning design
Jan Hofstra
The Four Seasons
choreography, concept
David Dawson
music
Max Richter
stage design
Eno Henze
costumes
Yukimo Takeshima
lightning design
Bert Dalhuysen
assistent choreography
Raphaël Coumes-Marquet
ballet masters
Charlotte Chapellier, Jozef Varga
musical accompaniment
Het Balletorkest
conductor
Marzio Conti
This performance was made possible with support by

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