In short

While Johann Sebastian Bach never wrote music specifically for the dance, he did incorporate many dance forms into his suites:  Sarabande, Allemande, Gavotte, Menuet, and even a Polonaise. These and many of his other compositions are extremely danceable because of the clear rhythmic structure, the musical richness, the emotional layers and the timeless vitality.  As many choreographers know, 'Bach swings’. In Back to Bach, our resident and regular guest choreographers Hans van Manen, Krzysztof Pastor, David Dawson and Ernst Meisner demonstrate just how true that is.

Hans van Manen

Resident choreographer

Hans van Manen has succeeded in bringing modern ballet – as a combination of classical ballet and modern dance and movement techniques – to a wide audience.

Krzysztof Pastor

Resident choreographer

Krzysztof Pastor (1956, Gdansk, Poland) has been resident choreographer with Dutch National Ballet since 2003. He combines this function with his position as director of Polski Balet Narodowy, the Polish National Ballet, since 2009, and has been working at the Lithuanian National Ballet in the same function since 2011.

Ernst Meisner

Choreographer and artistic coordinator Junior Company

Ernst Meisner is choreographer and since 2013 the artistic coordinator of Dutch National Ballet’s Junior Company. He danced with The Royal Ballet and Dutch National Ballet.

David Dawson

Associate Artist

David Dawson (1972, London, United Kingdom) was resident choreographer with Dutch National Ballet from 2004 to 2006. Since 2015, he has held the position of ‘artistic associate’ with the company.


Visible music
With Fantasia Hans van Manen adds an already existing work to the repertoire of Dutch National Ballet – a repertoire that contains numbers of many of wonderful ballets by this master choreographer. One of those is Solo, based on the music of Bach’s First Partita for Solo Violin. Here’s what one of the dancers had to say about that piece: “Hans doesn’t use Bach. He feels Bach. He has made many of the details, nuances and passages that are hidden within the score more visible."


Axiom of choice

The world-premiere Axiom of choice in this programme is from Ernst Meisner, former Dutch National Ballet dancer and now working as choreographer and artistic coordinator of the Junior Company. He is a young, promising creator with a huge affinity for baroque music.


In Light and Shadow

Breathtakingly fragile
Pastor’s In Light and Shadow opens with a breathtakingly fragile duet based on an aria from the celebrated Goldberg Variations. Against a backdrop of sloping panels with light apetures, eighteen dancers follow each other onstage dressed in a colourful assortment of historical costumes, to the accompaniment of Bach’s Third Orchestral Suite (Ouverture, Air, Gavotte, Bourree en Gigue).


A Million Kisses to my Skin

Heavenly dance set to divine tones of lightness and joy
In this virtuosic creation, Dawson allowed himself to be inspired by the lightness and joy resounding throughout Bach’s music. Based on the Piano Concerto in D minor (BWV 1052), Dawson incorporates the pure classical ballet technique (“but with a few tweaks and stretches”) into a heavenly, space filling choreography.  It’s as if he wants to show that the possibilities of the human body are unlimited – that it can always go even higher, even farther, even faster, even more extreme.



In Light and Shadow:
Aria from Goldbergvariations and Third Orchestral Suite.

Axiom of choice (world première)
Concert for hobo en violin, c-minor (BWV 1060); Choral overture (BWV 639).

Choral overture (Ich ruf’ zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ), BVW 639; Prelude in a minor (Fantasie), BWV 922; Choral arrangement (Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland), BWV 659

A Million Kisses to my Skin:
Piano Concerto in D minor (BWV 1052).

Dutch Ballet Orchestra conducted by Ermanno Florio.
In the Back to Bach-tour, the orchestra will be conducted by Ben Pope.

Dutch Ballet Orchestra, formerly known as Holland Symfonia, is the regular orchestra partner of Dutch National Ballet. The orchestra brings together music and dance into a magical experience: from classical ballet to modern dance, from music education to talent development. Het Balletorkest is conducted by chief conductor Matthew Rowe, and consists of 45 musicians, supported by highly qualified guest performers when necessary. This is what makes the orchestra flexible, dynamic and adept. Dutch Ballet Orchestra is an orchestra with personality, driven by one mission: to stir people with music.

Benjamin Pope (conductor tour)
Benjamin Pope (Great-Britain) graduated from Oxford University and the Royal College of Music in London. Pope led orchestras around the world, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Concert Orchestra. As a guest conductor, he worked with among others The Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet and English National Ballet. He is a much sought after composer and orchestrator for film and television music.


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