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Toer van Schayk

Choreographer, set- and costume designer

Toer van Schayk (Amsterdam, 1936) took his first ballet lessons with Iraïl Gadeskov and went on to train with Sonia Gaskell. From 1955 to 1959, he danced with Gaskell’s company, Nederlands Ballet, but interrupted his dancing career to complete his training as a sculptor at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague.

In 1965, Toer van Schayk returned to the dancing profession, joining the recently founded Dutch National Ballet, where he became a popular soloist thanks to his expressive and moving interpretations. One of his most acclaimed roles was that of the Young Man in Rudi van Dantzig’s ballet Monument for a dead boy (1965). Urged on by Van Dantzig, Van Schayk made his debut as a choreographer in 1971, with Onvoltooid verleden tijd. In 1976, he was appointed resident choreographer with Dutch National Ballet, and in this function created over thirty works, several of which were also performed by companies abroad. His most famous works include Before, during and after the party, Life (in collaboration with Van Dantzig), Landscape, 7th Symphony, Requiem and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (in collaboration with Wayne Eagling). In 1999, he also did the choreography for the musical Elisabeth, produced by Joop van den Ende.

Van Schayk is also a highly acclaimed visual artist. His autonomous work includes sculptures and paintings that have been presented in solo exhibitions in Amsterdam, Athens, London and New York. In addition, he is one of the most remarkable Dutch set and costume designers. He created the sets and costumes for nearly all the ballets by Rudi van Dantzig, as well as for his own ballets. In 2003, he designed a new production of Sir Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella for The Royal Ballet in London, which was also taken into the repertoire of the Polish National Ballet in 2010.

Although Van Schayk retired in 2011, he continues to be extremely active within Dutch National Ballet. He still rehearses his own ballets with the company and supervises his designs, and in 2009 he created the sets and costumes for the company’s new production of Giselle.

In 2011, he adapted The Nutcracker and the Mouse King for the Polish National Ballet and in 2014 he designed the costumes for Wayne Eagling’s The Sleeping Beauty with the National Ballet of Japan. In 2015 he rehearsed Rudi van Dantzig’s Swan Lake with the Hungarian National Ballet, the 7th Symphony with the Banff Center in Canada and he took the principals’ rehearsals for Van Dantzig’s Romeo and Juliet at Hong Kong Ballet. Moreover, for all these productions he also supervised the sets, costumes and lighting.

Awards:

2016 Officier in de Orde van Oranje Nassau
2012 'Zilveren Penning' (Amsterdam)
2012 Life Time Achievement Award (Benois de la Danse)
1987 Choreography Award (Amsterdam)
1979 Ridder in de Orde van Oranje Nassau