Dutch National Ballet presents
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Ballet of ballets
Swan Lake is often called the ‘ballet of ballets’, and no version captures the emotional eloquence of the story like this one by Rudi van Dantzig.
Like Tchaikovsky’s famous music for Swan Lake, Van Dantzig’s choreography continues to capture the hearts of each new generation. This first and only Dutch production of the ‘ballet of ballets’ has been almost unanimously hailed by critics not only as a milestone of dance history in the Netherlands but also as far surpassing most other interpretations of Swan Lake.
For his version of Swan Lake (1988), Van Dantzig mainly drew on not only Tchaikovsky’s score, but also his letters and journals, interpreting the ballet’s premise of a young man who must acquire a bride but fails as a direct reflection of the composer’s own life and supposed homosexuality.
Siegfried, Odette and Odile
In this reinterpretation of Swan Lake, the story’s male protagonist, Prince Siegfried, has more depth and character than in other versions. Odette, the White Swan, is no longer a woman transformed into a swan and held captive by an evil sorcerer, but a symbol of the purity and sincerity of Siegfried’s ideals. However, by giving in to material, sensual temptations – symbolised by Odile, the Black Swan – Siegfried betrays those ideals.
Swan Lake (1895) is one of the triad of great nineteenth-century Russian ballets, alongside The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, in which the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreographer Marius Petipa elevated both ballet music and dance to the highest level. Van Dantzig’s choreography respects the surviving parts of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s original ballet of 1895, leaving the second act and several other famous scenes – including the spectacular ‘Black Swan pas de deux’ with its 32 fouetté turns – virtually unchanged. However, his own choreography’s emphasis on the story as a human struggle gives this version a profound emotional eloquence.
Rudi van DantzigChoreographer
Few people have left such a mark on the 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.
Rudi van Dantzig (1933-2012)
If there is one word that best describes Rudi van Dantzig, it is ‘inspired’. Reserved as a child, in dance Van Dantzig found a conduit for all the feelings surrounding his experiences during the war and personal struggle with his homosexuality. For twenty years Van Dantzig was the sole artistic director of Dutch National Ballet, forging the company into a cohesive whole. His choreographies, numbering more than forty for Dutch National Ballet, testify to a strong social commitment and ongoing quest to ‘attain the unattainable’. Among his most famous works are Vier letzte Lieder, Monument voor een gestorven jongen, Onder mijne voeten and his full-length versions of the classic ballets Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake. Van Dantzig also made his name as a writer, his books including For a lost soldier, The Trail of a Comet, and Memories of Sonia Gaskell, published posthumously in 2013.
Where Petipa turned to Ivanov to help him create the original Swan Lake, Van Dantzig called on the many talents of his friend and long-time partner Toer van Schayk for his own new version. Van Schayk choreographed the colourful folk dances at Siegfried’s birthday celebration in the third act and designed the imposing sets and costumes that bring to life the ‘golden’ paintings of the seventeenth-century Dutch masters.
Rudi van Dantzig after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov
Choreography of character dances, third act
Toer van Schayk
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Set and costume design
Toer van Schayk
Het Balletorkest conducted by
Boris Gruzin (March-April)
Andrew Mogrelia (May)
Dutch Ballet Orchestra
Since its inception in 1965, the orchestra has been proud to accompany its partners, Dutch National Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater. The working method is unique in the Netherlands. Dutch Ballet Orchestra, with Matthew Rowe as principal conductor, consists of a regular core of 45 musicians, supported where necessary by highly qualified guest performers. This gives the orchestra its unique character: flexible, dynamic and high-quality.
Dutch Ballet Orchestra combines music and dance into a magical experience: from classical ballet to modern dance, and from music education to talent development. The orchestra’s mission is to create an optimal synthesis between music and dance, in order to reach dance-lovers and ballet music enthusiasts, as well as children and youngsters. The orchestra has received several international awards for its educational projects, including the Young Audiences Music Award in 2016 for Creatures, a collaborative project with dance company ISH.
Step into the world of the makers. Sit back with a drink in an informal setting and enjoy an aria or duet, a pas de deux or small ensemble, or an interview with a singer or choreographer. A varied programme, linked to a topical theme, is presented for each production.
NB: In principle, the foyer evenings are given in Dutch, but in practice the high number of international guests means that English is often spoken as well.
Mon 04 March Swan Lake
Start: 20.30 (doors open 20.00)
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: € 10, € 7,50 (Vrienden), € 5 (students)
Free for Donors, Geefkringleden of Dutch National Ballet and Patterns of Dutch National Opera & Ballet.