14 Oct - 7 Nov 2021


Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Auditorium

Running time

2:10, incl. 1 intermission


Not available

Mata Hari

The iconic dancer and spy

The impressive and compelling Mata Hari is one Dutch National Ballet’s recent hit productions. To create this work, director and choreographer Ted Brandsen, along with a prominent artistic team, delved into the turbulent life of the Dutch dancer and spy Mata Hari. Like a ‘Lady Gaga of her time’, the eccentric woman from Friesland kept reinventing herself.

Like a ‘Lady Gaga of her time’, she kept reinventing herself

Over a hundred years ago, Margaretha Geertruida Zelle (Mata Hari’s real name) grew to become an internationally celebrated dancer. She was a star who wrapped all men around her little finger, but she was also a strong, individual woman, who was later accused of being a double agent and was executed in 1917. Her life had fascinated Ted Brandsen for years, mainly because of her ability to continually transform herself. As a young girl, wife, dancer, diva and spy, she threw herself into life and never gave up, despite the many setbacks she faced.


Exotic sensation

Together with librettist Janine Brogt, Brandsen developed a scenario that brings Zelle’s story to life in flamboyant, cinematic scenes. Act 1 sketches her youth and her unhappy marriage to officer Rudolphe MacLeod, which ended following the death of their two-year-old son. Thrown upon her own resources, Zelle leaves for Paris, where she creates a new version of herself as the exotic dancer Mata Hari. Her performances cause a sensation. In Act 2, which takes place on the eve of World War I, her success wanes and circumstances force her to offer her services as a spy – with fatal consequences.


Artistic team

The British composer Tarik O’Regan wrote the driving, rhythmic music for Mata Hari; a composition that encompasses her whole life, as it were. Through ingenious scene changes, the sets by the acclaimed designers’ duo Clement & Sanôu transform the stage into a succession of different locations. François-Noël Cherpin designed over three hundred costumes, which give a wonderful impression of the variety of cultures, circles and fashions in Mata Hari’s life.


Choreography  Ted Brandsen
Music  Tarik O’Regan

Musical accompaniment  Dutch National Ballet Orchestra conducted by Matthew Rowe

Watch the trailer

Mata Hari
Rave reviews
In the media
15 October

Power woman Mata Hari in dazzling costume drama by Dutch National Ballet.

15 October

François-Noël Cherpin's partially extravagant historic costumes and Clement & Sanôu's imaginative and functional stage design provided the ideal setting for an emotional evening of high quality dancing.

15 October

What strikes one immediately is the speed with which the story is told. The scenery is ingenious. You hardly notice how quickly the scenes are changed.

15 October

Anna Tsygankova danced the choreography of Mata Hari, (...) with unearthly ease, but impressed not only with her incredibly elegant body control and technique, but also captivated her audience from the very first moment with her fascinating expressive drama

6 February

The libretto is very strong, the costumes are a feast for the eyes, the choreography is simply beautiful and the musical composition supports Mata Hari’s emotional journey through life.

20 October

Ted Brandsen masterfully turns his ballet into a story which not only shows the most important events in Mata Hari’s life but also puts emphasis on Mata Hari as a person. It is not just a biography but an emotional journey of great depth with character development.

8 February

Eternal fame for Mata Hari.

31 May

Seductive study of an irresistible woman -  ... Ted Brandsen explores the misunderstood Mata Hari in a very fine ballet that is a window on a moment of dance history as well as the plight of a woman trying to survive outside society’s norms

Behind the scenes of Mata Hari

Behind the scenes of Mata Hari

Mata Hari - podcast part 1

In this (Dutch) podcast, Lin van Ellinckhuijsen speaks with Ted Brandsen, Janine Brogt and Tarik O'Regan. They talk about the transition from Marghareta to Mata Hari, making choices, colonialism, mythologising, survival and the creation of a musical translation of the libretto.

Mata Hari - podcast part 1

By: Lin van Ellinckhuijsen

Mata Hari - podcast part 2

In this (Dutch) podcast, Lin van Ellinckhuijsen speaks with Floor Eimers, Timothy van Poucke and Martin ten Kortenaar. The three young soloists give their vision of the roles they dance and share their great enthusiasm for a full-length ballet (almost) after corona time.

Mata Hari - podcast part 2

By: Lin van Ellinckhuijsen

Mata Hari - podcast part 3

In this (English) podcast Lin van Ellinckhuijsen speaks with principal Anna Tsygankova, who also danced the world premiere of Mata Hari in 2016. In this interview she talks about the creation and rehearsal process, the essence of dance for her and coaching a new, talented generation.

Mata Hari - podcast part 3

By: Lin van Ellinckhuijsen

Anna Tsygankova

‘I am so grateful to be able to dance this role’

Principal dancer Anna Tsygankova:
“Mata Hari was an enchanting woman, who lived according to her own rules. I’m so grateful to be able to dance this role at this moment in my life. I, too, have had some difficult times and I know how richly varied life is. I can draw onthis experience to interpret my role. Very intuitively, I try to ‘see’ how Mata Hari would behave or feel in certain situations.”

In the annual Critics' Choice - by the leading dance magazine Dance Europe - for the 2020-2021 international dance season, Anna Tsygankova has been nominated in the 'Dancer of the Year' category. You can cast your vote until 1 November. Click on the link below for more information on the nomination and how to vote.

Cast of soloists

Follow the link below to see which soloists will dance in the various performances of Mata Hari. 

Please note! Soloist line-ups are always subject to change.

Mata Hari
Mata Hari
Mata Hari
Mata Hari
Het Balletorkest

Dutch Ballet Orchestra

conducted by Matthew Rowe

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

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.

More about Dutch Ballet Orchestra

lees meer
Mata Hari

‘Mata Hari concocted her own imaginary life and created her own reality’

Read more
Mata Hari

‘After each setback, she rose from the ashes like a phoenix’

Read more
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