This summer, Dutch National Ballet will be celebrating Hans van Manen's 90th birthday with a festival and a tour. During the Hans van Manen Festival, the international dance world will gather to pay tribute to the grandmaster of Dutch ballet. With the Hans van Manen 90 tour - which was performed last May - the company presented three jewels from his extensive oeuvre.
The distinct Van Manen signature
For years, Hans van Manen (1932) has been a great source of inspiration to our dancers and staff, as well as to our audiences. He is internationally recognised as one of the grand masters of contemporary ballet. To date, he has created more than 150 ballets, including those he has choreographed for the television. Van Manen’s signature style and aesthetic shine through in all his choreographies, characterised as they are by clean lines, refined simplicity and an aversion to frills and frou frou. His innate musicality is revealed in all of his works, which centre on human relationships without ever being anecdotal.
Discover Hans van Manen's groundbreaking oeuvre through 3 ballets
Trois gnossiennes, to the music of the same name by composer Erik Satie, was streamed in season 20/21 as part of Hans van Manen Variations; a programme filled with Van Manen's masterpieces. At the beginning of the choreography, there is a subcutaneous tension, but the atmosphere changes gradually to one of surrender and harmony: the partners have a natural trust in each other and complement each other perfectly. Enjoy this excerpt with principals Anna Ol and James Stout.
Adagio Hammerklavier is regarded worldwide as one of the classics of twentieth-century dance. Van Manen himself calls the ballet for three couples ‘an ode to deceleration’. Inspired by an adagio from a Beethoven piano sonata, Van Manen investigates just how slow a movement can be. He once described the result as ‘a wheel that is still just moving after a push, just before it falls’.
Frank Bridge Variations
This fragment is a performance of Frank Bridge Variations that is created by Hans van Manen in 2005. It was the first work that Hans created on his return to Dutch National Ballet in 2005. It was a ‘direct hit’, according to the press. Nine contrasting miniatures – from sharp to flowing, and from passionate to melancholic – together form a unity that is as natural as it is amazing.
Did you know?
Apart from his work as a choreographer, Hans van Manen has also been incredibly successful as a photographer for ten years. His work has been published in book form and shown at international exhibitions.
This year is a festive one as it is the year that Hans van Manen will celebrate his ninetieth birthday. Various initiatives have therefore been taken to honour the grandmaster of Dutch ballet, including the Hans van Manen Festival, a documentary series, an exhibition and a book!
Hans van Manen and Erwin Olaf
The master of choreography Hans van Manen will turn 90 this July. His good friend Erwin Olaf, who is a photographer, thought this would be a good opportunity to dive into the studio with some Dutch National Ballet dancers and create a unique series of photos inspired by Hans van Manen’s work. Olaf is very adamant though that these are not ballet photographs, but an art project. The project is referred to as Dance in close-up: Hans van Manen seen by Erwin Olaf and comprises a series of stills and close-ups based on various choreographies. A five-part documentary series will give viewers an opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes look at the process behind this art project.
Erwin Olaf | © NTR
Olaf and Van Manen have been friends since 1983. For quite a while, Van Manen was a mentor to Olaf as he searched for his own style. Now almost 40 years on, both artists are renowned as masters of their craft. Van Manen left photography and went on to build an impressive oeuvre of 150 choreographic works. Erwin received much international acclaim, and his uncommissioned pieces have been hugely successful at art fairs. As for their friendship, the two men have remained close in all the years they have known each other.
Hans van Manen and Erwin Olaf | © NTR
Erwin Olaf eert Hans van Manen
The documentary series Erwin Olaf eert Hans van Manen is essentially a making-of documentary, comprising five episodes that last about 12 minutes each. Each episode focuses on a specific Van Manen ballet, presenting behind-the-scenes footage of Olaf and Van Manen discussing things, Rachel Beaujean coaching the dancers and Van Manen commenting on the photos. Viewers will also gain insight into what it takes to get the lighting and context just right.
- 5 June at 22.25
- 12 June at 22.00
- 19 June at 22.00
- 26 June at 22.00
- 3 July at 22.00
Exhibition at Gallery Ron Mandos
The art project Dance in close-up: Hans van Manen seen by Erwin Olaf will be exhibited as a special project at the Gallery Ron Mandos from 19 June onwards. It will run up to 17 July and will be curated by Tom Postma and Mihaela Radescu. This stunning collection of photographs and video art will get up close and personal with Hans van Manen's choreographies and serve as a tribute to the two men’s long-standing friendship
A book will also be published to serve as an accompaniment to this project and will be made available when the exhibition opens at the gallery. In the period spanning the 1970s to the 1990s, Hans van Manen was not just one of the world's leading choreographers – he was also an internationally celebrated photographer.
Sarcasmen - Hans van Manen | Salome Leverashvili and Timothy van Poucke | © Erwin Olaf
It was during this time that the very young budding photographer Erwin Olaf met the renowned artist, who immediately took him under his wing and introduced him to the world of fine art and studio photography. This book celebrates their forty-year friendship with a collection of photos by Olaf, who zooms in on Van Manen’s instructions when coaching the dancers – capturing these moments very precisely.
Live - Hans van Manen | Luiza Bertho | © Erwin Olaf
“Ballet inspires me. Humans are very adept at expressing themselves through the arts, but dance – especially classical modern ballet – takes this to another level. The capacity for self-expression in dance blows me away. It is so precise, so exquisite and requires such skill – I have huge respect for this art form.”
“Any photographer will tell you that a camera lens changes how you look at a person. It is very different to looking at someone directly. It's very voyeuristic. The camera allows you to do something you could never do otherwise: you get to take a close-up shot.”
Hans van Manen
Hans van Manen - Just dance the steps
In July 2022, choreographer Hans van Manen will turn 90, director Willem Aerts followed the icon of the international dance world in the run-up to this milestone. Hans van Manen's unstoppable energy is evident in every scene.
The world premiere of the documentary Hans van Manen - Just dance the steps will take place during Cinedans FEST '22 on Saturday 25 June in Eye Filmmuseum Amsterdam with Hans van Manen and Willem Aerts present.
In addition, the film will also be broadcast on Sunday 10 July at 20.20 on NPO2 in the AVROTROS programme Close Up.
Photo: Hans van Manen - Just dance the steps | Director: Willem Aerts