Ted Brandsen (Kortenhoef, 1959) has been artistic director of Dutch National Ballet since 2003. His leadership ushered in a new heyday for the company, which now ranks among the top 10 leading ballet companies in the world. Brandsen’s initiatives include rejuvenating the full-length repertoire, introducing new world-class choreographers, distributing performances more widely throughout the Netherlands and increasing the company’s appearances at major international venues. In 2013, in collaboration with the National Ballet Academy, he initiated the foundation of the Dutch National Ballet’s Junior Company, which bridges the gap between dance training and professional practice.
Following a late start at the Scapino Dance Academy, Brandsen joined Dutch National Ballet as a dancer in 1981, where he stood out particularly in the works by contemporary choreographers. After creating various pieces for Dutch National Ballet’s annual choreographic workshop and for other companies, he stopped dancing in 1991 and started working as a freelance choreographer. His first ‘official’ work for Dutch National Ballet, Four Sections, was a great success in the same year. In the years that followed, he created work for several Dutch and international dance companies and festivals. In 1998, he was appointed artistic director of West Australian Ballet, where he created a great many ballets, including Carmen (2000, Australian Dance Award) and Pulcinella (2001).
In 2002, Brandsen was invited to return to Dutch National Ballet, initially in the position of assistant artistic director and in 2003 as artistic director. Since then, Brandsen has created Body (2004), Stealing Time (2006), Raï (2013), Replay (2014), Classical Symphony (2020) and the full-length productions Coppelia (2008) and Mata Hari (2016). Brandsen’s work is in the repertoire of many companies abroad. He is also in great demand as a jury member for awards like the prestigious Prix de Lausanne, the Fedora Prize for Ballet, the Dance Open and the international Benois de la Danse awards, which are also known as the ‘Oscars of dance’.
In 2014, Stichting Dansersfonds ’79 presented Brandsen with the Merit Award. And four years later, the Dansersfonds dedicated their twenty-first ballet gala to him, in recognition of his important work for Dutch National Ballet. In October 2019, the Mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema presented artistic director Ted Brandsen with the Amsterdam Prize for Art, in the category ‘Proven Quality’.