The history of Dutch National Ballet
Dive into the rich history of Dutch National Ballet. This timeline provides an overview of the highlights of the company's repertoire and developments since its establishment in 1961. Get entranced by archive footage and stories from over 60 years of Dutch National Ballet.
- 112 New productions
- circa 50 World premieres
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Dutch National Ballet is founded on 31 August 1961 through a merger of the Nederlands Ballet (led by Sonia Gaskell) and the Amsterdams Ballet (led by Mascha ter Weeme), employing 89 dancers at its inception. Gaskell takes on the position of artistic director and Ter Weeme is responsible for the company’s participation in the productions by De Nederlandse Operastichting.
Thirty-six premieres in the first season
In its first season, the company adds no fewer than 36 works to its repertoire. Most of them are taken over from the Nederlands Ballet, the forerunner of Dutch National Ballet, led by Gaskell.
Rudi van Dantzig and Robert Kaesen are both appointed resident choreographers.
Gaskell immediately unfolds her ‘three-cornerstone vision’, which actually still forms the basis for Dutch National Ballet’s artistic policy today. In the first season already, the company presents a combination of excerpts from the big classical ballets, highlights of the 20th-century ballet repertoire and new creations.
The first performance takes place on 16 September in the Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam (nu ITA), where the company is housed from then on.
An eye for major talent from abroad
No fewer than five works by George Balanchine are danced in the first season (Dutch National Ballet will soon emerge as the leading custodian of the repertoire of the repertoire of the Russian-American master) and one work by Maurice Béjart.
Shortly after its foundation, the company travels to Madrid (see photo) for its first tour. In the first season, the company gives a total of 30 performances in Spain and Spanish Morocco, in addition to performances in Germany and France.
Black principal dancers
From the start, Dutch National Ballet has two black principal dancers, Sylvester Campbell and Billy Wilson; a unique situation at the time. Other black principals soon follow, including Benjamin Feliksdal (a member of the company from the start) and Raven Wilkinson.
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Mascha ter Weeme leaves
Following a long period of sick leave, Mascha ter Weeme is laid off and leaves the company. From then on, Sonia Gaskell becomes sole artistic director.
First full-length production
The first full-length production is taken into the repertoire: La Sylphide, based on the original by August Bournonville from 1836, in a version by the Danish Bournonville specialist Harold Lander.
Soviet Russian ballet style
Gaskell (of Russian origin herself) brings the Russian ballet mistress Natalia Orlovskaya to the Netherlands, believing it is important to train dancers in the Soviet Russian ballet style.
Another important addition to the repertoire (taken over from the Nederlands Ballet) is Petrushka, created by Michel Fokine in 1911 for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. It is one of the first successful examples of a narrative ballet in just one act.
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Principal dancer Marianne Hilarides has to leave the company, following a conflict with Gaskell. Hilarides is regarded as one of the most talented dancers of her generation and referred to as the first prima ballerina of Dutch origin.
One of the new works in the repertoire is Nachteiland (taken over from the Nederlands Ballet). Rudi van Dantzig makes his debut as a choreographer with this ballet in 1955.
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Olga de Haas
Olga de Haas (1944-1978) is promoted to principal dancer at the age of 19. The promising star and audience favourite goes on to become a legendary Dutch ballerina.
First Swan Lake
In March 1965, Dutch National Ballet’s first complete production of Swan Lake is premiered, in a version by the Russian choreographer Igor Belski.
Dutch National Ballet is the first Dutch company (and until 1986 the only one) to set up a severance scheme to provide financial assistance to dancers at the end of their dancing career.
The Green Table
Another important acquisition is The Green Table, the gripping ‘anti-war ballet’ by Kurt Jooss (one of the figureheads of German Ausdruckstanz).
Monument for a Dead Boy
On 19 June 1965, the premiere takes place of Rudi van Dantzig’s Monument for a Dead Boy. The ballet about budding homosexuality – a taboo at the time – gains fame for Van Dantzig. The main role is impressively interpreted by guest artist Toer van Schayk, who joins the company a year later as a soloist.
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Van Dantzig and Kaesen as artistic directors
Rudi van Dantzig and Robert Kaesen are appointed artistic directors of Dutch National Ballet, alongside Sonia Gaskell.
Dutch National Ballet dances its first Giselle, one of the oldest surviving full-length Romantic ballets (from 1841), which is still danced all over the world today. The production is rehearsed by the Russian teacher Natalia Orlovskaya.
Gaskell’s twentieth anniversary
Gaskell’s 20th anniversary as artistic director (including the forerunners of Dutch National Ballet) is celebrated with a tribute performance, where she is appointed Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau.
Two special early Balanchine ballets are acquired: Apollon Musagète (1928) and The Prodigal Son (1929), both created for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. This brings the number of Balanchine works in Dutch National Ballet’s repertoire to eight (nowadays the total is 33).
First tour outside Europe
Dutch National Ballet goes over the borders of Europe for the first time, giving 11 performances in Buenos Aires, six in Bogotá, three in Puebla (Mexico) and six in Lima.
Foundation of Dutch Ballet Orchestra
Dutch Ballet Orchestra is founded. Today, the orchestra still provides the musical accompaniment to performances by Dutch National Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater.
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Alongside musical director André Presser (associated with Dutch National Ballet since its foundation), Hans Vonk is appointed assistant conductor, remaining in the position for four years.
Romeo and Juliet
At the insistence of Sonia Gaskell, Rudi van Dantzig produces the first full-length ballet created in the Netherlands: Romeo and Juliet, based on Shakespeare’s famous love tragedy. Although Van Dantzig initially finds the task a difficult one, the ballet is to grow into one of the company’s biggest audience hits of all time.
At the end of the season, Gaskell’s preference for experiment reaches a high point according to some, and a low point according to others, with the world premiere of Koert Stuyf’s postmodern work Visibility… By Chance. Dozens of audience members walk out, fruit is thrown at the stage and one audience member even runs on stage and tears up his programme.
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Advisory position for Gaskell
At her own request, artistic director Sonia Gaskell takes up an advisory position, but leaves following an internal conflict. From then on, the company’s artistic directors are the resident choreographers Rudi van Dantzig and Robert Kaesen.
The Sleeping Beauty
Dutch National Ballet presents its first production of The Sleeping Beauty, in a very distinctive version by the Polish choreographer Conrad Drzewiecki. Just three well-known fragments of the original choreography by Marius Petipa are retained (rehearsed by Roland Casenave).
Other prominent acquisitions in this season are Michel Fokine’s fairy-tale ballet The Firebird, with a starring role for principal dancer Maria Koppers, and Ivesiana and La valse by George Balanchine.
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The Russian star dancer Rudolf Nureyev makes his first guest appearances with Dutch National Ballet, in the Grand Pas de Deux from The Nutcracker (with the French étoile Noëlla Pontois), in Giselle (with Olga de Haas) and – at his own express request – in Van Dantzig’s Monument for a Dead Boy. Nureyev’s association with Dutch National Ballet, which was to continue into the late seventies, brought international fame to the company.
This season, Dutch National Ballet dancers take part in a record number of productions by De Nederlandse Operastichting (now Dutch National Opera): Un ballo in maschera, Carmen, Hänsel und Gretel, Julius Caesar, Das Rheingold, Le rossignol and Der Zigeunerbaron.
Rudi van Dantzig is appointed Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau. Olga de Haas reaches the finals of the International Ballet Competition in Moscow and receives an honourable mention for her performance.
'Jongeren in beweging'
Under the title 'Jongeren in beweging' (Youth in Movement), the company gives its first series of performances for a young audience, performed by the young dancers of the company, who thus gain stage experience.
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Following her previous departure, an official, large-scale farewell event is held for Sonia Gaskell, whereby 'Mevrouw' – as the dancers called her – is presented with the Silver Medal of the City of Amsterdam.
The Ropes of Time
Rudi van Dantzig creates his first work for Rudolf Nureyev and dancers of the prestigious Royal Ballet in London. Three months after its premiere, the ballet, The Ropes of Time, is also premiered by Dutch National Ballet, as De touwen van de tijd.
Nureyev and Fonteyn and the first tour to London
The British prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn performs for the first time with Dutch National Ballet, as the partner of Rudolf Nureyev in Giselle. And the company appears in London for the first time – with great success – giving seven performances with Nureyev as guest artist.
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Artistic director Robert Kaesen leaves the company, initially on a temporary basis, to choreograph some shows for Bavarian television, but he does not return. He is replaced for a short while by the American teacher and choreographer Benjamin Harkarvy, who had also previously directed Nederlands Dans Theater.e.
Choreographic debut by Toer van Schayk
Urged by Van Dantzig, principal dancer and set and costume designer Toer van Schayk makes his debut as a choreographer with Onvoltooid verleden tijd. “A remarkably sound and pure work (..) clear in line and form, stripped of all superfluity, without becoming cold or sterile”, wrote dance critic Ine Rietstap in NRC Handelsblad.
Arrival of Alexandra Radius and Han Ebbelaar
At Van Dantzig’s invitation, Alexandra Radius and Han Ebbelaar join the company as principals, after dancing for two years with the renowned American Ballet Theatre. Radius had previously danced with the Nederlands Ballet, switching to Nederlands Dans Theater in 1959, where she got to know Ebbelaar. After their return from the US, they go on to become the most famous dance couple ever in the Netherlands.
Dutch National Ballet performs in Paris for the first time, at the international dance festival at Théâtre des Champs Elysées. The first evening, attended mainly by high society, leads to a scandal because of the – in the words of a shocked reporter – practically naked dancers in Van Dantzig’s Epitaaf and the completely naked ‘Apollos’ in his new creation Onderweg.
- 89 New Productions
- 58 World Premieres
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Van Dantzig sole artistic director
Following the departure of Benjamin Harkarvy, Rudi van Dantzig agrees to become sole artistic director. He holds this position for 20 years, until 1991.
First Van Manens
In October 1971, at the request of Alexandra Radius and Han Ebbelaar, the company dances its first work by Hans van Manen: the duet Vijf schetsen, created for the couple in 1966. It is followed eight months later by Van Manen’s first creation for the company, Twilight, which gains international success for Radius and Ebbelaar – and many generations of principal dancers after them. Van Manen already has more than 35 ballets to his name, mostly made for Nederlands Dans Theater. Even before the creation of his third ballet, Feestgericht, he had already received the State Prize for Choreography.
The first tour of the Soviet Union
As part of a cultural treaty with the Soviet Union concluded in 1971, Dutch National Ballet gives its first performances in Moscow, Leningrad and Riga. The total of 19 performances draw audiences of 42,500 – an unprecedently high figure at the time.
New Sleeping Beauty
Following the 1968 version of The Sleeping Beauty by Conrad Drzewiecki, the company presents a second production of The Sleeping Beauty, rehearsed by ballet master Roland Casenave, who based it on the version created in 1960 by Bronislava Nijinska and Robert Helpmann for the legendary Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas.
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Guest stars from the Bolshoi
Guest artists Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev, star dancers with the famous Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, dance the main roles in a few performances of Giselle. “The Russians excel at bringing the fairy tale to life”, wrote de Volkskrant.
Van Dantzig, Van Manen, Van Schayk
With the new works Hier rust een zomerdag and Ramifications (both by Van Dantzig), Daphnis and Chloé (Van Manen) and The Art of Saying Bye-Bye (Van Schayk, originally created for Scottish Theatre Ballet), the 'Three Van's' – an honorary title they would later be given by the foreign press – make a big mark on the repertoire of Dutch National Ballet.
For the first time, the company appoints a choreologist, Wendy Vincent Smith, who writes down the ballets using Benesh notation, a system developed especially for dance.
Training course for boys
To address the shortage of talented male dancers in the Netherlands, Dutch National Ballet starts its own training course for boys aged 15 to 19, led by ballet master Ivan Kramar. Unfortunately, the course ends after just one season, due to lack of interest.
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Hans van Manen resident choreographer
At the start of this season, Hans van Manen becomes Dutch National Ballet’s second resident choreographer, alongside artistic director Rudi van Dantzig.
The first work Van Manen creates as a resident choreographer, Adagio Hammerklavier, is an absolute hit. On tour to London, the Beethoven ballet is also a triumph for the three couples performing it: Monique Sand and Henny Jurriëns, Sonja Marchiolli and Francis Sinceretti, and Alexandra Radius and Han Ebbelaar.
Death of Gaskell
On 9 July 1974, Sonia Gaskell dies in Paris, where she has lived since leaving Dutch National Ballet. Originally from Russia, Gaskell was crucially important to the development of ballet in the Netherlands after World War II, both in her role as a ballet teacher (of many dancers who later became famous) and in her role as founder and artistic director of Ballet Recital I, Ballet Recital II, Nederlands Ballet and Dutch National Ballet, successively.
Second Swan Lake
The company presents its second production of Swan Lake, this time in a version by the Croatian ballet master Zarko Prebil. Unlike the production by Igor Belski (1965), Prebil’s version reinstates the original unhappy ending: Odette and her beloved Prince Siegfried are drowned in the waves of the lake. The sets and costumes are designed by Toer van Schayk, as is also the case for the later version by Rudi van Dantzig (1988).
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Pressing for a new theatre for opera and ballet
In a memo to its subsidisers, Dutch National Ballet urges the speeding up of the construction of a new theatre for opera and ballet. At the time, there are plans for a ‘music theatre’ on the site of the old RAI building at Ferdinand Bolstraat. It would be another 12 years before the opening of The Amsterdam Music Theatre (now Dutch National Opera & Ballet), at Waterlooplein.
La Bayadère Act III
Following a previous version from the 1963/1964 season (by Elena Chikvaidze), Dutch National Ballet presents a second version of Act III of Marius Petipa's La Bayadère, this time rehearsed by Marina Shamsheva of the Kirov Ballet (now Mariinsky Ballet). The ballet is a personal triumph for principal dancer Maria Aradi, who dances the role of Nikiya at the premiere in February 1975. “Her interpretation has set an unprecedentedly high standard for the Netherlands”, writes the Volkskrant.
Principal dancers Alexandra Radius and Han Ebbelaar are appointed Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau, on a tour to Canada (see below). Hans van Manen is awarded the Circle of Dutch Theatre Critics Prize.
On the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the city of Amsterdam, Rudi van Dantzig, Hans van Manen and Toer van Schayk are commissioned by the municipality to create their first – and only – joint work: Collective Symphony, to Stravinsky's Symphony in C. The ballet is very successful, and not just for the way it challenges ballet fans to work out who choreographed which sections. Also for the 700th anniversary, Dutch National Ballet dances David Lichine’s Graduation Ball, for six consecutive evenings at the RAI, in Amsterdam, during the MOKUM-700 event.
Tour to Brazil and Canada
The company goes on a one-month tour to Brazil (19 performances in Belo Horizonte, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro) and Canada (5 performances in Ottawa and Toronto).
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Alexandra Radius enjoys international success with Rudolf Nureyev
Principal dancer Alexandra Radius becomes one of the regular partners of the Russian star dancer Rudolf Nureyev. Their performances in the Netherlands and guest appearances abroad, particularly dancing the pas de deux from Le Corsaire and the third act of La Bayadère, receive high acclaim. With Dutch National Ballet, Van Dantzig creates Blown in a Gentle Wind for Nureyev.
Four Schumann Pieces and Metaforen
Hans van Manen creates his first work for a company abroad: Four Schumann Pieces, made for The Royal Ballet, in London, with star dancer Anthony Dowell in the main role. A few months later, the ballet has its premiere with Dutch National Ballet, with Han Ebbelaar in Dowell’s role. Another important Van Manen acquisition this season is Metaforen, originally created for Nederlands Dans Theater, in 1965. Both works are still regularly performed to great acclaim in the Netherlands and abroad.
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Toer van Schayk is appointed resident choreographer, alongside Rudi van Dantzig and Hans van Manen. In the 1970’s and 80’s, the three Van’s turn out to be an artistic gold mine. Dutch National Ballet creates an international furore with their daring contemporary creations.
The Englishman Peter Wright, director of Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet (now Birmingham Royal Ballet), creates a new production of Giselle for Dutch National Ballet. The production, with set and costume designs by Peter Farmer, goes on to become one of the big classical hits in Dutch National Ballet’s repertoire for 20 years. At the premiere in 1977, the title role is danced by Alexandra Radius with “utter poignancy”, according to Het Parool, and the newspaper deems the performance of her partner Han Ebbelaar “of an equally high standard”.
Debut in New York
In November 1976, the company makes its American debut in the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway, New York, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the United States. In the New York Times, the leading American dance critic Clive Barnes wrote, "Most national companies are very safe and play secure. The Dutch do not. They are perfectly prepared to be outrageous and do not care if they outrage (..) The company is a strong one, and its refreshingly irreverent approach to classic ballet is extraordinarily welcome."
Four Last Songs
Rudi van Dantzig makes a big impression with his new ballet Four Last Songs, set to Richard Strauss’s swan song of the same name. The work is still performed today in the Netherlands and abroad. At the world premiere, the ballet is danced – according to the press ‘with unsurpassable devotion’ – by Monique Sand and Francis Sinceretti, Valerie Valentine and Wade Walthall, Alexandra Radius and Han Ebbelaar, Sonja Marchiolli and Henny Jurriëns, and Clint Farha in the role of the Angel of Death.
In het Voetspoor van de Dans
Dutch National Ballet gives its first education programme: In het Voetspoor van de Dans (In the Footsteps of Dance), compiled by Toer van Schayk, who also presents the programme. Before the interval, there is an overview of the history of dance, presented in words, with slide and film projections and danced excerpts. After the interval, Van Dantzig’s Nachteiland and Ogenblikken and Van Manen’s Kwintet are danced in their entirety by the younger generation of dancers.
Dutch National Ballet presents its first complete programme by the Russian-American master choreographer George Balanchine. It includes Donizetti Variations, The Four Temperaments, Symphony in C and the new addition Le Tombeau de Couperin, the 15th Balanchine ballet in Dutch National Ballet’s repertoire. Later in the season, the company also acquires Capriccio (better known as Rubies), with a starring role for soloist Jeanette Vondersaar.
Johan Mittertreiner’s anniversary
Character dancer Johan Mittertreiner celebrates his 40th anniversary as a performer – an unprecedented event. At his anniversary performance, he appears in the role created for him by Toer van Schayk in his new ballet Jeux.
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Following an earlier incidental initiative, Dutch National Ballet now starts up an annual choreographic workshop, where company dancers get the chance to explore and develop their talents as a choreographer. Eight dancers/choreographers take part in the first edition.
In the autumn of 1977, Hans van Manen creates the world hit 5 Tangos. The ballet, starring principal dancers Clint Farha and Sonja Marchiolli at the premiere, is still danced by companies all over the world today. Through 5 Tangos, Van Manen also introduces the Netherlands to the music of Astor Piazzolla, king of the tango nuevo.
After previously working with Dutch National Ballet as a guest conductor, this season Adam Gatehouse is appointed as regular conductor and musical director, a position he will hold until 1988.
Ballets for Nureyev
Following The Ropes of Time and Blown in a Gentle Wind, Rudi van Dantzig creates another ballet for Rudolf Nureyev, About a Dark House. Toer van Schayk also creates a premiere work for the Russian star dancer, Faun. And Nureyev dances the main role in Hans van Manen’s Four Schumann Pieces for the first time.
Besides touring once again to New York and London (both with Nureyev as a guest artist), the company performs for the first time at the Herodes Atticus Theatre in Athens, the famous open-air theatre at the foot of the Acropolis.
The Dream, by the British choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton, who is regarded as one of the most important founders of the traditional English ballet style and technique, is the first of his ballets to be taken into Dutch National Ballet’s repertoire.
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Clint Farha promoted to principal
During a tour of the Federal Republic of Germany, the young American dancer Clint Farha replaces an injured Rudolf Nureyev, partnering Alexandra Radius in the pas de deux from Le Corsaire. Farha’s performance is so spectacular that Rudi van Dantzig promotes him to principal straight after the performance, in his dressing room.
One of the biggest crowd-pullers of the seventies is the double bill Live/Life. The six performances in the Carré Theatre draw audiences of over 7200, and when the production is revived in the 1979/1980 season, the total rises to 10,180 – divided over ten performances. The large-scale, politically engaged (and therefore linked to current events) Life, created by Rudi van Dantzig and Toer van Schayk, is never performed again. But over 40 years later, the success of Hans van Manen’s iconic video ballet Live is undiminished.
Death of Olga de Haas
On 1 September 1978, principal dancer and darling of the Dutch ballet audience, Olga de Haas, dies at the age of just 33. Her tragic death, partly due to anorexia nervosa, still stirs the emotions. Following previous publications about her by Rudi van Dantzig and Anna Aalten, the journalist Femke van Weggen wrote a new biography, in 2016, of De Haas, who gave her final, moving performance in 1975, as Juliet in Van Dantzig’s Romeo and Juliet.
Royal honour for Toer van Schayk
Choreographer and designer Toer van Schayk (who ended his dancing career in 1976) is appointed Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau.
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Rudi van Dantzig’s anniversary
Artistic director Rudi van Dantzig celebrates his 25th anniversary as a choreographer. The anniversary programme presents his debut work, Nachteiland, alongside three of his most famous ballets: Monument for a Dead Boy, Ramifications and Four Last Songs.
A Garden Unkempt
Toer van Schayk creates his second ballet for a foreign company. Following The Art of Saying Bye-Bye in 1973 (originally created for Scottish Theatre Ballet), he now makes a ballet for the Norwegian National Ballet, En gjengrud have (A garden unkempt), which also premieres with Dutch National Ballet in March 1980 as Een verwaarloosde tuin. NRC Handelsblad calls the ballet “a very important acquisition”.
Anniversary of Alexandra Radius and Han Ebbelaar
Alexandra Radius and Han Ebbelaar also celebrate their 20th anniversary as a dance couple. Many guest artists from abroad perform at two anniversary performances, for which Van Dantzig creates the duet Voorbij gegaan. On the occasion, the couple are also presented with the Silver Medal of the City of Amsterdam. Radius and Ebbelaar use the anniversary gifts from their admirers to set up the foundation Stichting Dansersfonds '79, which is still encouraging, honouring and supporting Dutch dancers today.
Dutch National Ballet gets an official Works Council, after having had a ‘Ballet Council’ since 1970 (which also included representatives from the management and the board).
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Guest artist Peter Martins
Peter Martins, star dancer (and later artistic director) of the famous New York City Ballet, appears as a guest artist on the occasion of the Dutch premiere of his ballet Sonate di Scarlatti. He dances the title role in Balanchine’s Apollon musagète, with Alexandra Radius, Jeanette Vondersaar and Joanne Zimmerman as his three muses.
The Sleeping Beauty
A milestone in Dutch National Ballet’s history is Sir Peter Wright’s Sleeping Beauty, which premieres on 2 July 1981 at the Stadsschouwburg, in Amsterdam. Costing over 600,000 guilders, it is the most expensive production the company has presented to date.
Tour to Hong Kong and Indonesia
Dutch National Ballet goes on its first Asian tour, performing in Hong Kong and Jakarta, Indonesia.
Of an entirely different order is Dutch National Ballet’s premiere of Hans van Manen’s Situation, originally created for Nederlands Dans Theater in 1970. For this work, the choreographer deliberately opts for irritating sounds – a volley of gunshots, the roar of fighter jets, the whine of mosquitos – “because”, as he said recently, “the whole ballet is about aggression and violence”.
- 124 New Productions
- 95 World Premieres
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Construction of the Music Theatre starts
On 5 July 1982, the foundation stone is laid for the new City Hall and Music Theatre (now Dutch National Opera & Ballet) at Waterlooplein, Amsterdam, based on a design by the architects Wilhelm Holzbauer (City Hall) and Cees Dam (Music Theatre). The building is still popularly known by its nickname ‘Stopera’; wrongly so, as this name refers to earlier protests against the new building called ‘Stop Opera’.
On the occasion of Dutch National Ballet’s 20th anniversary, the three resident choreographers each create a new work: Onder mijne voeten (Rudi van Dantzig), I Hate You Too, Johnny (Toer van Schayk) and the still regularly performed 'ballet for two' Sarcasmen (Hans van Manen), which was danced in inimitable style at the premiere by principal dancers Rachel Beaujean and Clint Farha.
State visit to Bonn
On 2 March 1982, Dutch National Ballet performs (as is often the case) during a state visit by Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus, this time to Bonn. At the last moment, there are changes to the programme. For instance, Hans van Manen’s Sarcasmen is cancelled, which leads to a minor commotion or myth, as the choreographer initially presumes that one scene in the ballet – where the female dancer puts her hand on the male dancer’s crotch – is deemed ‘unsuitable’ by the Royal Family.
Toer van Schayk also creates his first full-length ballet: Landscape. After Van Dantzig’s Romeo and Juliet, this is the second full-length work by a Dutch choreographer. In the kaleidoscopic, often surrealist dance spectacle, Van Schayk holds a mirror up to his audience. In a peaceful Dutch river landscape, he shows images of war, oppression, commercial science, and environmental pollution.
The company goes on its first tour of Israel, with performances in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Ein Gev.
Another important addition to the repertoire is Hans van Manen’s Grosse Fuge, originally created for Nederlands Dans Theater in 1971, when it was immediately proclaimed the “most interesting European ballet of the decade”. Today, Grosse Fuge is still one of the master choreographer’s most often performed works worldwide.
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BAM Dance Festival, New York
Dutch National Ballet performs in New York for the third time. At a dance festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), 13 performances are given (to audiences of 15,050) of an all-Dutch programme, with works by resident choreographers Rudi van Dantzig, Hans van Manen and Toer van Schayk.
"By offering a repertory consisting entirely of serious contemporary works, the Dutch have paid tribute to the intelligence of New York dancegoers, and for this they deserve great praise", writes The New York Times.
Production for small theatres in Bellevue
As an exception, Dutch National Ballet produces a programme for small theatres, presented in Theater Bellevue, in Amsterdam. For the programme, artistic director Rudi van Dantzig creates Ik hou gewoon m'n adem in, to music by Boudewijn Tarenskeen and De Gebroeders Flint.
Golden Theatre Dance Prize for Alexandra Radius
Alongside its annual theatre awards, the Dutch Association of Theatres and Concert Halls (VSCD) presents its first dance awards this season. Principal dancer Alexandra Radius receives the Golden Theatre Dance Prize for her excellent interpretation of the main role in The Sleeping Beauty.
Nijinska's Les Biches
This season, Dutch National Ballet adds its first ballet to the repertoire by Bronislava Nijinska, the sister of the legendary dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky. Nijinska created Les Biches in 1924 for Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes, when she danced the role of the hostess herself. Les Biches is taught to Dutch National Ballet by her daughter, Irina Nijinska.
George Balanchine dies at the age of 79
George Balanchine, the Russian-American master of 20th-century ballet, dies on 30 April 1983. From the year the company was founded up to the present day, his ingenious ballets have occupied a special place in Dutch National Ballet’s repertoire.
Young Stars of Dance
A new initiative is the programme Young Stars of Dance, with which Dutch National Ballet tours the Netherlands, giving upcoming young soloists the chance to gain experience in the classical and neo-classical repertoire.
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Golden Theatre Dance Prize for Clint Farha
Principal dancer Clint Farha receives the Golden Theatre Dance Prize from the VSCD, for his performances in Giselle (as Count Albrecht), Hans van Manen’s 5 Tangos and Sarcasmen, Rudi van Dantzig’s Four Last Songs and George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son.
Hans van Manen in Carré and London
A big crowd-puller this season is the Hans van Manen programme performed at Theater Carré, comprising In and Out, Adagio Hammerklavier and four of his five Pianovariaties: Sarcasmen, Trois gnossiennes, Pose and Portrait (the latter work is performed by guest dancer Pauline Daniëls, for whom Van Manen had created this solo a few months earlier).
Partnership with the Nel Roos Academy
In January 1984, a partnership agreement is signed between Dutch National Ballet and the Nel Roos Academy of Ballet (part of the Amsterdam University of the Arts and one of the forerunners of the Dutch National Ballet Academy). From now on, pupils and students of the academy take part in Dutch National Ballet’s performances, and ballet masters and dancers from the company give classes at the academy.
Exceptional new additions to the repertoire this season are Rodin, by the Soviet Russian choreographer Leonid Jakobson, inspired by the sculptures of Auguste Rodin (the press calls the ballet “a historical curiosity”), and the minimalist, repetitive Slow, heavy and blue by the American post-modern choreographer Carolyn Carlson.
"Slow, heavy and blue is like one big trip", writes Het Vrije Volk.
Head of the artistic staff
Ballet master Reuven Voremberg is appointed head of the artistic staff. Voremberg, born in Israel, joined the Nederlands Ballet in 1958 and danced with Dutch National Ballet from 1961 to 1972. He then became assistant ballet master and ballet master respectively. Voremberg remains associated with the company until 2000, for the last two years in the position of artistic advisor.
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Choreography Prize for Hans van Manen
Hans van Manen is the first recipient of the new Choreography Prize, awarded by the VSCD.
The first 'block programmes'
Up to now Dutch National Ballet has alternated the repertoire per performance, but this is the first season it presents ‘block programmes’, which comprise a series of performances of the same ballet(s).
Romeo and Juliet in Carré
Dutch National Ballet achieves record figures (audiences of 19,915) with a series of performances of Rudi van Dantzig’s Romeo and Juliet, specially adapted for performance in the round at Theater Carré. The first night is danced by Alexandra Radius ("a phenomenal interpretation of Juliet") and Henny Jurriëns (“a balanced, mature, serious interpretation”). However, most of the attention this time is directed at the young couple Jane Lord – just recently promoted to soloist – and Barry Watt.
Directie Overleg Dansgezelschappen
Dutch National Ballet is one of the founders of ‘Directie Overleg Dansgezelschappen’ (DOD), a consultative body in which another eight Dutch dance companies are represented besides Dutch National Ballet.
Want wij weten niet wat wij doen
Van Dantzig’s new, controversial ballet Want wij weten niet wat wij doen also draws great attention. The ballet includes a ‘Christ figure’, danced by Clint Farha, and a major role for the current artistic director Ted Brandsen as Adam, the first human. It sketches a bleak yet very impressive picture of how we humans deal with the world and one another.
Friends of Dutch National Ballet
Fans of Dutch National Ballet had already set up their own Friends Association in The Hague, but this season Dutch National Ballet takes the initiative of setting up its own Friends of Dutch National Ballet Foundation. From now on, the foundation publishes its own magazine several times a year and organises numerous activities for new Friends, including meet and greets, open classes and rehearsals, guided tours and trips abroad to visit ballet Meccas.
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Last season in the Stadsschouwburg
Dutch National Ballet’s 25th season is its last one in the Stadsschouwburg, in Amsterdam. On 3 April 1986, the company gives its last performance (for the time being) in the theatre, to which everyone who has worked with the company over the past 25 years is invited.
With the ambitious Bacchanten, artistic director Rudi van Dantzig underlines his preference for experiment. For this production, he invites stage director Gerardjan Rijnders to come and create a large-scale, oppressive and totally unique adaptation of Euripides' famous satirical tragedy, along with composer Boudewijn Tarenskeen and dramaturge Janine Brogt, assisted by choreographer Ted Brandsen.
Moving to the Music Theatre
On 21 April, the company moves, along with De Nederlandse Opera (now Dutch National Opera) to the Music Theatre (now Dutch National Opera & Ballet) at Waterlooplein. Both companies then have a few months to prepare for the grand opening of the theatre in September 1986.
On the occasion of leaving the Stadsschouwburg, Van Dantzig creates the male duet Afzien, for principals Han Ebbelaar and Francis Sinceretti. The latter is ending his dancing career with this performance. For the final Stadsschouwburg programme, Toer van Schayk creates his masterpiece 7th Symphony, which is awarded the VSCD Choreography Prize less than a year later. The ballet still receives standing ovations today.
Golden Theatre Dance Prize for Coleen Davis
In May 1986, principal dancer Coleen Davis receives the Golden Theatre Dance Prize at the VSCD congress in Maastricht, which is presented to her by fellow dancer Alexandra Radius.
Dutch National Ballet adds its 20th Balanchine ballet to the repertoire: Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. “A duet like a fresh spring breeze; playful, spirited, brilliant and high-speed (..) excellently danced with great bravura by Caroline Iura and Fred Berlips”, writes NRC Handelsblad.
86 / 87
Opening of the Music Theatre
The official opening of the Music Theatre takes place on 23 September 1986, attended by Queen Beatrix, Prince Claus, 13 members of the Cabinet, the full board of the City of Amsterdam and many other invitees. The joint performance by Dutch National Ballet and Dutch National Opera is broadcast live on television by the NOS. In the following weeks, various extra opening performances are given for other groups of invitees.
Zoals Orpheus and Opening
For the joint official opening performance, Toer van Schayk creates Zoals Orpheus, which forms a double bill with Otto Ketting’s Ithaka, presented by De Nederlandse Opera. Two days later, Dutch National Ballet presents its own opening programme, comprising a new work by Hans van Manen, Opening, and revivals of 7th Symphony by Van Schayk and Collective Symphony by Van Dantzig, Van Manen and Van Schayk.
Farewell performance for Han Ebbelaar
On 12 October 1986, principal dancer Han Ebbelaar ends his dancing career with Dutch National Ballet. For the occasion, he dances Hans van Manen’s Twilight – partnering his wife Alexandra Radius – and Toer van Schayk’s 7th Symphony. However, he keeps performing with Radius in the couple’s own dance programmes until May 1988. From the 1987/1989 season, Ebbelaar spends two years as associate artistic director of the company.
In April 1987, the company takes Frederick Ashton’s full-length Cinderella into the repertoire, set to the composition of the same name by Sergei Prokofiev, with sets and costumes by David Walker. The ballet quickly becomes one of Dutch National Ballet’s big audience favourites. At the premiere, the main roles are danced by soloists Jane Lord and Wim Broeckx, who at the time are actually in love in real life, which lends extra magic to their performance. “A delightful ballet classic”, in the view of Het Parool.
First New Year Gala
To close the 25th anniversary celebrations, Dutch National Ballet organises its first New Year Gala on 1 January 1987. The occasion also marks the presentation of the book 25 Years of Dutch National Ballet, compiled by Luuk Utrecht, Caroline Willems and Astrid van Leeuwen.
The photo shows 'living artwork' Fabiola, who is in flamboyant attendance at the first New Year Gala.
Departure of Hans van Manen
After 15 years as resident choreographer with Dutch National Ballet, Hans van Manen leaves the company, dissatisfied with the limited scope offered to him at the time in the programming. Before leaving, he presents one more premiere work: Symphonieën der Nederlanden (see repertoire). From 1988 to 2003, Van Manen is resident choreographer with Nederlands Dans Theater, after which he returns to Dutch National Ballet in the same position in 2005.
Amsterdam Cultural Capital of Europe
On 18 May 1987, Dutch National Ballet takes part in the opening event of Amsterdam Cultural Capital of Europe 1987. In Theater Carré, Hans van Manen’s iconic video ballet Live is presented, attended by Queen Beatrix, Prince Claus and the Ministers of Culture from various European countries. At the same time, the audience in the Music Theatre can see the ballet on a large video wall through a digital connection. Afterwards, Van Manen’s ballets Corps and Symphonieën der Nederlanden will be danced in the Music Theatre.
87 / 88
Guest programming at the Music Theatre
The opening of the Music Theatre also sees the foundation of the Guest Programming department, under the inspirational leadership of director Pieter Hofman, bringing ballet, opera and music theatre productions from all over the world to Amsterdam, between 1987 and 2009. The ball is set rolling by the famous Bolshoi Ballet from Moscow, which gives performances of the full-length ballets Raymonda and The Golden Age.
First completely Dutch Swan Lake
The first completely Dutch Swan Lake, with choreography by Rudi van Dantzig and sets and costumes by Toer van Schayk (who also choreographs the Act 3 character dances) premieres on 31 March 1988. Despite initially mixed press reviews, the production soon comes to be regarded as one of the important milestones in Dutch dance history. The headline in De Volkskrant reads, “Van Dantzig’s Swan Lake is the most beautiful to date”.
Inaugural address by Hans van Manen
On 1 November 1987, Hans van Manen gives his inaugural address as endowed professor at the Catholic Univeristy of Nijmegen. For the occasion, Dutch National Ballet performs his ballets Sarcasmen and Twilight.
The American modern choreographer Carolyn Carlson, who works in Paris, creates Shamrock, a full-length work for 34 dancers of Dutch National Ballet, to specially written music by the famous film composer Gabriel Yared. NRC Handelsblad describes the production as having, “a very subtle, clear movement style, an often poetic and almost fragile atmosphere and a marvellous power of expression in surrealist images and situations”.
Alexandra Radius appointed Officer
On the occasion of her 30th dance anniversary, principal dancer Alexandra Radius is appointed Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau.
Another striking premiere this season is Bread Dances by Édouard Lock, the figurehead of the newest dance sensation in Canada at the time: the distinctive LaLaLa Human Steps. "A sublime ballet (..) The sharpness, precision and capriciousness of the dancing borders on the incredible”, writes Trouw.
In a special NOS television documentary, Schijnbewegingen (Feints), director Piet Erkelens draws a comparison between dance and football. In the documentary, the Ajax football team is represented by Johan Cruijff and Marco van Basten, and Dutch National Ballet by Rudi van Dantzig and Clint Farha. During the filming period, Cruijff also visits some rehearsals and performances by Dutch National Ballet, whereby he remarks that “dancers work much harder than footballers”.
88 / 89
Henny Jurriëns and Judith James
On 9 April 1989, former principal dancer Henny Jurriëns and former soloist Judith James are killed in a car crash in Canada, where they have lived since 1986. Their three-year-old daughter Isa survives the accident. The news devastates the Dutch dance world. On 4 May 1989, Dutch National Ballet holds a commemorative event for the couple, at the Stadsschouwburg, in Amsterdam.
An audience favourite right from the start is Maguy Marin’s Groosland, also known as the ‘fatties ballet’, due to the costumes by Casanova, which make the dancers appear naked and grossly overweight. “A delightful, cleverly constructed work with a candid playfulness seldom seen in dance any more”, writes NRC Handelsblad.
Shower of prizes
At the annual VSCD Theatre Gala, former principal dancer Han Ebbelaar receives the Golden Theatre Dance Prize. The VSCD Choreography Prize goes to Rudi van Dantzig, in honour of his Swan Lake. At the Dutch National Ballet’s New Year Gala, on 1 January 1989, dancer Coleen Davis receives the first Alexandra Radius Prize from the Friends of Dutch National Ballet Foundation.
Sleeping Beauty in the Music Theatre for the first time
In March 1989, Sir Peter Wright’s The Sleeping Beauty has its first performance in the Music Theatre (now Dutch National Opera & Ballet). The choreographer and the designer Philip Prowse adapt their 1981 production for the much larger stage dimensions of the new theatre.
Taiwan and Canada
Dutch National Ballet gives its first performances in Taiwan. Five performances of Sir Peter Wright’s Giselle are given in the capital city Taipei. The company also provides the ‘reciprocal entertainment’ during a state visit to Canada by Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus, performing Van Manen’s Adagio Hammerklavier and Van Dantzig’s Four Last Songs.
Dutch National Ballet Academy
In 1988, following a merger between the Nel Roos Academy for Ballet and the Scapino Dance Academy, in 1987, the merged Classical Ballet School is rechristened the Dutch National Ballet Academy, with Erna Droog as its first artistic director.
89 / 90
Departure of, and royal honour for Alexandra Radius
On 20 June 1990, principal dancer Alexandra Radius leaves Dutch National Ballet, at the age of nearly 48, which is exceptionally high for a ballet dancer. At her farewell performance, she dances Michel Fokine’s famous solo The Dying Swan, the balcony pas de deux from Rudi van Dantzig’s Romeo and Juliet and Hans van Manen’s De maan in de trapeze (from 1959) and Corps.
The most important premiere this season is Toer van Schayk’s Requiem, set to Mozart’s music of the same name. The first run of performances is accompanied by the Nederlands Theaterkoor and four vocal soloists, alongside Dutch Ballet Orchestra.
Straight after the premiere, Anton Koolhaas writes in Vrij Nederland that the work is “a major acquisition for Dutch National Ballet”.
Principal dancer Joanne Zimmerman also says farewell to the stage after 18 years with the company. In the latter years of her career, she was an unsurpassed Carabosse in Sir Peter Wright’s Sleeping Beauty, besides her interpretations of major roles in the works of Rudi van Dantzig, Toer van Schayk and George Balanchine. In 1991, Dansersfonds '79 honours her achievements by presenting her with its Merit Award.
Second tour to Greece
At the end of the season, Dutch National Ballet performs for the second time at the Herodes Atticus open-air theatre, at the foot of the Acropolis, in Athens. Performances include works by Van Dantzig, Van Manen, Van Schayk and Balanchine.
90 / 91
Wayne Eagling appointed advisor
Ahead of his appointment as artistic director, the Canadian dancer Wayne Eagling is appointed artistic advisor. At the time, Eagling is still with The Royal Ballet in London, at the end of his impressive career as a principal dancer.
William Forsythe's Artifact
On the occasion of the 1991 Holland Festival, Dutch National Ballet presents part 2 of Artifact, the company’s first work by William Forsythe, one of the greatest dance innovators of the 20th century. Two years later, the company adds the complete ballet to its repertoire. Algemeen Dagblad describes the work as “masterly, overwhelming and impalpable”.
Silver wedding of Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus
On 11 May 1991, Dutch National Ballet dances Rudi van Dantzig’s Four Last Songs, Hans van Manen’s Corps and Toer van Schayk’s duet The Chimera of LA on the occasion of the silver wedding of Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus. The performance is broadcast live on television by the NOS.
Pyrrhische Dansen IV and Les Noces
In the same edition of the Holland Festival, the company also dances the world premiere of Pyrrhische Dansen IV (the fourth part of a series of works by Van Schayk) and the Dutch premiere of Bronislava Nijinska's masterpiece Les Noces.
Golden Theatre Dance Prize for Alan Land
This season, principal dancer Alan Land receives the Golden Theatre Dance Prize from the VSCD, for his interpretations of the leading male roles in Giselle, Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake, among others.
Farewell performance for Rudi van Dantzig
On 5 July 1991, Rudi van Dantzig leaves his position as artistic director of Dutch National Ballet. On the occasion, he is appointed Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau, and the same title is awarded to managing director Anton Gerritsen, who has been with the company for 25 years. Van Dantzig remains with Dutch National Ballet as resident choreographer until 1994.
Romeo and Juliet in London
Following Van Dantzig’s farewell performance in the Netherlands, Dutch National Ballet gives six performances of his masterpiece Romeo and Juliet at the London Coliseum. The first night is attended by Princess Sarah Windsor-Ferguson, Duchess of York (as she was at the time). The renowned British dance critic John Percival writes in The Times, "Rudi van Dantzig's production of the Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet is probably the most clear and logical I have ever seen in its dramatic detail and development."
- 151 New productions
- 125 World premieres
91 / 92
Wayne Eagling starts as artistic director
The Canadian dancer and choreographer Wayne Eagling (1950), former principal dancer with The Royal Ballet in London, succeeds Rudi van Dantzig as artistic director of Dutch National Ballet at the start of the 1991/1992 season. In the following years, Eagling raises the standard of the company even further, through his emphasis on technical perfection.
After creating several works for the annual choreographic workshop and doing the choreography for Gerardjan Rijnders' Bacchanten, Ted Brandsen (artistic director of Dutch National Ballet since 2003) choreographs his first autonomous work for Dutch National Ballet’s regular programme. His Four Sections, to the music of the same name by Steve Reich, is received with great enthusiasm.
On 1 January 1991, the Canadian star dancers Evelyn Hart and Rex Harrington dance the main roles in Rudi van Dantzig’s Romeo and Juliet, at Dutch National Ballet’s annual New Year Gala. “Juliet’s emotions were portrayed with a fervour and depth that is rarely seen, and Romeo left no wish unfulfilled as a dance partner and lover”, writes De Telegraaf about their performance.
Touch your coolness to my fevered brow
One of the first new names that Wayne Eagling introduces is Ashley Page. The British choreographer, known in his homeland as 'The Royal Maverick' because of his rebellious works, creates Touch your coolness to my fevered brow. Algemeen Dagblad calls it “a splendid piece”, in which he “transports the viewer to a surrealist fairground filled with secret fantasies”.
For a Lost Soldier
Director Roeland Kerbosch makes a film of Rudi van Dantzig’s award-winning, autobiographical debut novel, For a Lost Soldier, about his memories of the winter of starvation in 1944/1945, which he spent in Friesland.
92 / 93
New management structure and joint education department
After the boards of Dutch National Ballet and De Nederlandse Opera merged in 1991 to form the foundation board of the Music Theatre (now Dutch National Opera & Ballet), from October 1992 the management of the theatre now comprises the directors of both companies. Along with the three assistant directors of the Theatre Organisation, Technical Organisation and Guest Programming departments, from now on they form the Music Theatre team of directors. From this season on, the organisation also has a joint Education Department, led by Liesbeth Osse.
Programme in the round
Dutch National Ballet gives its first performance in the round in the Music Theatre. On a stage built in front of the proscenium, the company dances Maguy Marin’s Groosland and Hans van Manen’s Situation, as well as the first work created for the company’s regular programme by dancer/choreographer Krzysztof Pastor: Shostakovich Chamber Symphony, which has a large cast.
Merit Award for Karin Schnabel
In 1992, Dansersfonds '79 honours principal dancer Karin Schnabel with the Merit Award. Schnabel, who joined the group in 1974, made her debut as Juliet in Rudi van Dantzig’s Romeo and Juliet at the age of 20 and went on to dance the leading roles in Giselle, Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty, among other ballets. For The Sleeping Beauty, she received personal coaching in London from Sir Peter Wright.
Christmas with Stravinsky
Christmas with Stravinsky is the first large-scale Stravinsky programme presented by Dutch National Ballet in the winter of 1992/1993. The programme includes revivals of three masterpieces from the repertoire of the famous Ballets Russes initiated by impresario Serge Diaghilev: Petrushka (1911) by Michel Fokine, Les Noces (1923) by Bronislava Nijinska and Apollon musagète (1928) by George Balanchine.
Dutch National Ballet dances Diversion of Angels, its first work by Martha Graham, the ‘mother of American modern dance’. It is the first classically trained company worldwide to dance a Graham work. “Graham’s portrayal of the sublimating power of love was wonderfully cast (..) Eagling’s wish for more Graham classics is fully justified”, writes Trouw.
First ballets by Wayne Eagling
Artistic director Wayne Eagling creates his first work for Dutch National Ballet: Ruins of Time. It is a melancholy ballet, inspired by the death of star dancer Rudolf Nureyev (on 6 January 1993) and by 'all those who died before their time'. Later in the season, Dutch National Ballet gives its first performance of Eagling’s Frankenstein, created in 1985 for The Royal Ballet.
93 / 94
Golden Theatre Dance Prize for Rachel Beaujean
In October 1993, soloist Rachel Beaujean is awarded the Golden Theatre Dance Prize by the VSCD. The jury praises her for her ability to dance a variety of styles equally well and for her strong stage presence, whether she is dancing a solo or in a group, stating, “She once said herself that the key to her dancing was willpower and conviction. To that we can add dedication and devotion.”
Complete Artifact in the repertoire
Following Dutch National Ballet’s presentation of the second part of William Forsythe’s Artifact, in 1991, this season the company takes the complete masterpiece into its repertoire. The world premiere of the piece, by Ballett Frankfurt in 1984, ‘came as a bombshell’. NRC Handelsblad writes about the premiere by Dutch National Ballet, “Re-watching Artifact confirmed Forsythe’s unique position in the choreographic landscape. The richness of variation and the way he strips sections to the bone and crafts them into new shapes remain overwhelming, as does his suggestive and bewildering theatrical mastery.”
Rudi van Dantzig leaves the position of resident choreographer
At the end of the 1993/1994 season, Dutch National Ballet says farewell to Rudi van Dantzig, who had stayed on as resident choreographer after leaving the position of artistic director in 1991. For the occasion, the company dances a tribute programme, comprising his debut work Nachteiland and the world premieres of Van Dantzig’s Pleisterplaats and Toer van Schayk’s De omkeerbaarheid van roest, as well as Collective Symphony by Van Dantzig, Van Manen and Van Schayk.
94 / 95
Lisbon Cultural Capital of Europe
A highlight of this season is Dutch National Ballet’s appearance at the event Lisbon Cultural Capital of Europe, in 1994. William Forsythe’s Artifact gets an enthusiastic reception at three sold-out performances at the Centro Cultural de Bélem.
Two programmes in Carré
In October 1994, Dutch National Ballet presents two programmes in Theater Carré. The first comprises the world premiere of Even the Angels fall… by the rising French-Algerian choreographer Redha Benteifour, in combination with Hans van Manen’s iconic video ballet Live. The second comprises the world premiere of Toer van Schayk’s full-length Amphitheater, in which he “summarises forty years of artistry in dance”, according to Trouw.
Ted Brandsen’s Blue Field
The world premiere of Ted Brandsen’s new creation Blue Field takes place on 23 February 1995 in Amsterdam. In May 1995, Dutch National Ballet performs it in San Francisco at the United We Dance Festival, organised by San Francisco Ballet to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.
The most controversial premiere this season is Jan Fabre’s full-length Quando la terra si rimette in movimento, to music by the Polish composer Eugeniusz Knapik. Opinions about this creation are very divided, ranging from "Fabre creates a furore with this dance work – you could call it an exercise – but it remains powerfully beautiful” to “The main conclusion is that Fabre is not a choreographer (..) At a slow, monotonous tempo, the dancers hop and slide over the stage in changing formations”.
Golden Theatre Dance Prize for Jeanette Vondersaar
The VSCD awards the Golden Theatre Dance Prize 1994 to principal dancer Jeanette Vondersaar. “She has remarkable technique and enormous energy. Her inner drive and sensual, temperamental presence make her a powerful female soloist”, states the jury. This season, Vondersaar also receives the Alexandra Radius Prize from the Friends of Dutch National Ballet.
Stars exchange Kirov Ballet for Dutch National Ballet
This season, the Dutch National Ballet’s principal dancer ranks are swelled by the addition of two former stars of the famous Kirov Ballet (now Mariinsky Ballet), Larissa Lezhnina and Alexander Gouliaev. On a tour to Amsterdam in 1992, the dancers were spotted at a rehearsal by artistic director Wayne Eagling, who offered them a contract on the spot.
95 / 96
Boris de Leeuw promoted to principal
At the start of the 1995/1996 season, the 23-year-old Boris de Leeuw is promoted to principal dancer, as the first Dutch male dancer to join that rank since Henny Jurriëns. He is also the youngest Dutch principal dancer with Dutch National Ballet since its foundation in 1961. Only Olga de Haas was younger (aged 19) when she was promoted to principal in 1964. In January 1996, De Leeuw is presented with the Alexandra Radius Prize, after already receiving the Incentive Award from Stichting Dansersfonds '79 in 1993.
Awards for Marieke Simons and Rachel Beaujean
The 25-year-old Marieke Simons, coryphée with Dutch National Ballet, receives the Golden Theatre Dance Prize from the VSCD. The jury calls her “an extremely versatile dancer, who practises her profession with technical perfection and great vitality”. This season, soloist Rachel Beaujean receives the Merit Award from Stichting Dansersfonds '79.
The first non-Western dance in the Music Theatre
From this season on, the Music Theatre’s Guest Programming department, led by Pieter Hofman, also brings many non-Western productions to the Netherlands. The ball is set rolling in April 1996 by the Indonesian Ensemble of the Kraton Surakarta.
96 / 97
Rachel Beaujean ends her dancing career
Soloist Rachel Beaujean gives her last performance on 19 June 1997. Twenty years after joining Dutch National Ballet, she swaps the stage for a position as ballet mistress (she is now associate artistic director of the company). As one of Hans van Manen’s most important muses for many years, her farewell performance is Sarcasmen, Van Manen’s iconic ‘ballet for two’, which she has danced with Clint Farha on numerous occasions, in the Netherlands and abroad.
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King
The world premiere of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, a completely Dutch interpretation of the ballet by artistic director Wayne Eagling and resident choreographer and designer Toer van Schayk, takes place on 13 December 1996.
A new Van Manen again at last
For the first time since Hans van Manen’s departure in 1987, Dutch National Ballet once again presents a new work by the Netherlands’ most celebrated choreographer: Three Pieces for HET. The ballet is received with great enthusiasm, with high praise for dancers Sofiane Sylve and Gaël Lambiotte – who were then still grand sujet and coryphée, respectively.
For the fourth time, Dutch National Ballet dances a piece set to music by The Rolling Stones. Following Visibility… By Chance by Koert Stuyf (1967), and Spoef (1968) and You can't always get what you want (1970) by Robert Kaesen, this season the company adds Rooster to its repertoire; a work by the British choreographer Christopher Bruce. “Dutch National Ballet is going down the macho route (..) Rooster is an uncomplicated, purely entertaining piece”, writes de Volkskrant.
After last season’s performances by the American Martha Graham Dance Company, as part of the Guest Programming, this season Dutch National Ballet adds another two works to its repertoire by the ‘high priestess of modern dance’: Embattled Garden and Lamentation. In 1999, they are followed by Acts of Light and Errand into the Maze.
97 / 98
Prizes for Valerie Valentine and Caroline Sayo Iura
The American principal dancers Valerie Valentine and Caroline Sayo Iura both receive awards. Valentine, who has danced with Dutch National Ballet since 1973, receives the Golden Theatre Dance Prize from the VSCD for her whole oeuvre. Iura, who joined the company in 1978, receives the Merit Award from Dansersfonds '79. The jury calls her “a small ballerina who can fill the whole space with her presence”.
Programmes dedicated to Balanchine, Van Manen and Van Schayk
This season, besides a programme of three works by George Balanchine (Apollon Musagète, Serenade and Concerto Barocco), Dutch National Ballet gives its first full Hans van Manen programme for a long while, comprising his hit ballets Metaforen, 5 Tangos and Trois gnossiennes, and his most recent creation for the company Three Pieces for HET.
Dancer Alexander Money-Kyrle dies following a fall during a stage rehearsal
On 18 March 1998, during a stage rehearsal of Romeo and Juliet, the British dancer Alexander Money-Kyrle has a terrible fall. Two days later, he dies from his injuries. A memorial service for him, attended by his family, is given later at the Moses and Aaron Church.
98 / 99
Success for Van Manen in Edinburgh
In August 1998, the famous Edinburgh Festival pays tribute to master choreographer Hans van Manen with an extensive retrospective. Dutch National Ballet presents two programmes dedicated to his work, and Nederlands Dans Theater is also a guest, presenting the world premiere of Manen’s Zero Hour. At the festival, Van Manen is presented with the Archangel, the Edinburgh Festival Critics' Award, in honour of his whole oeuvre.
To open the season, in September 1998, Dutch National Ballet presents a programme of works by three female American choreographers. New to the repertoire are three creations by Doris Humphrey, all made around 1930, and Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room from 1986. The programme is completed by Carolyn Carlson’s Slow, heavy and blue (in Dutch National Ballet’s repertoire since 1984).
Clint Farha says farewell
After dancing with Dutch National Ballet for 26 years, principal dancer Clint Farha puts an end to his dancing career. All the national newspapers underline his great importance to the company, particularly in the works by resident choreographers Rudi van Dantzig, Hans van Manen and Toer van Schayk.
In February 1999, Wayne Eagling and Toer van Schayk present their second joint full-length production: Magic Flute, based on Mozart’s famous opera Die Zauberflöte. Whereas their production of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King was an overwhelming success, most critics were thoroughly disappointed by Magic Flute.
Merit Award for Wim Broeckx
This season, Dansersfonds '79 presents its annual Merit Award to principal dancer Wim Broeckx, who joined Dutch National Ballet in 1982. The jury praises his “technical ability, mature artistic interpretation of many roles, infectious dance passion and evident concern for his colleagues”.
Debut work by David Dawson
Following previous works for the choreographic workshop, the British dancer David Dawson creates his first ballet for Dutch National Ballet’s regular programme: Psychic Whack, to music by Thom Willems. “A dynamic, dazzling and abstract dance piece (..) a succession of snappy (pointe work) combinations, with continuous strong accents and legs shooting up around the ears”, writes Algemeen Dagblad.
99 / 00
Artifact in Edinburgh and Brazil
For the second year in a row, Dutch National Ballet is a guest at the Edinburgh Festival, this time performing William Forsythe’s Artifact. "(..) it's a journey we willingly, and often wonderingly, undergo and its pleasure is compounded by Dutch National Ballet who perform with an entranced intelligence that makes the work seem very much their own", writes The Guardian. Later in the season, the company also performs Artifact in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. In the latter city, special children’s performances are given, whereby the children are first taught some of the movements performed in the ballet by the ‘mud woman’.
In February and March 2000, Dutch National Ballet presents a Stravinsky Festival of two programmes, comprising Apollon musagète, Symphony in Three Movements and Violin Concerto by George Balanchine, Les Noces by Bronislava Nijinska and the world premieres of Wayne Eagling’s Sacre du Printemps and Krzysztof Pastor’s Do not go gentle....
Farewell performance for Coleen Davis
On 9 May 2000, principal dancer Coleen Davis leaves Dutch National Ballet, after dancing with the company for over 23 years. She gives her farewell performance in Theater Carré, where she dances the ballet that launched her career 21 years earlier: Live by Hans van Manen. At the time, De Volkskrant wrote, “The performance by the youthful Coleen Davis (19) saw the birth of a star who creates an experience of rare, poignant beauty.” One week before her farewell performance, Davis receives the Merit Award from Dansersfonds '79.
Van Manen in Carré again
Once again, Dutch National Ballet joins forces with Theater Carré. In May 2000, they present a Hans van Manen programme in the round at Carré, comprising Live, Trois gnossiennes, Dutch National Ballet’s premiere of Black Cake and the world premiere of Bach Pieces. About the latter work, Trouw writes, “Together, the four dancers create a sublime, sensual harmony (..) In this harmony, they savour the fruits ripened by Van Manen over 45 seasons, with breathtaking virtuosity.”
A Million Kisses to my Skin
In June 2000, Dutch National Ballet presents a Bach programme. Besides the second part of Artifact, it comprises the world premieres of Krzysztof Pastor’s In Light and Shadow and David Dawson’s A Million Kisses to my Skin. Dawson’s creation – which coincides with his departure from the company as a dancer – results in his international breakthrough. The ballet is still danced by companies all over the world today, including Semperoper Ballett, Wiener Staatsballett, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Singapore Dance Theater and - in 2022 - Tokyo Ballet.
In April and May 2000, Dutch National Ballet collaborates with Dansgroep Krisztina de Châtel and dance company LeineRoebana on the first edition of the Dance Combination, an initiative to introduce new audiences to Dutch dance through a wide variety of performances. The programme is presented in 25 theatres (mostly small ones) in the Netherlands.
Access All Areas
The season closes with Access All Areas, for which Dutch National Ballet collaborates with Slagwerk Den Haag. The audience are led to the stage over a gangway that is raised, where choreography by Redha Benteifour and Ashley Page is performed at various places on stage and behind it. The reviews of the production are quite critical. For instance, Trouw writes, “In 85 absolutely dreadful minutes, Dutch National Ballet rivals Holiday on Ice or the MGM Hollywood studios.”
00 / 01
Erasmus Prize for Hans van Manen
On 3 November 2000, choreographer Hans van Manen is presented with the prestigious Erasmus Prize, by Prince Bernhard. By awarding him the prize, the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation is also honouring Dutch dance as a whole. The foundation calls Van Manen “an influential and inspiring artist, who is of inestimable value to the world of dance and to dance in the world”. At the presentation ceremony at the Royal Palace on Dam Square, Van Manen expresses strong criticism of the government’s address, in which he thinks dance comes off badly.
New version of La Sylphide
Following Harold Lander’s version in the 1962/1963 season, Dutch National Ballet presents August Bournonville’s La Sylphide for the second time. It is one of the earliest surviving ballets, dating from 1832. This time, the company presents a version by Bournonville expert Dinna Bjørn, who also comes to rehearse the ballet. Toer van Schayk designs the new sets and costumes.
Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Hans van Manen’s Live
In May 2001, Dutch National Ballet gives six performances at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London. Divided over two programmes, the company dances works by George Balanchine, Krzysztof Pastor and various ballets by Hans van Manen, whereby Live is the closing ballet in each programme. A few months later, Live is nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award.
Dancer/resident choreographer Krzysztof Pastor creates his first full-length ballet, Kurt Weill, set to a collage of compositions by the German composer. De Volkskrant writes, "Pastor and Weill provide a whole evening of dance pleasure (..) Dance, images, music and singing combine seamlessly in this Gesamtkunstwerk." In 2002, the production is nominated in three categories for a Prix Benois de la Danse, also known as the ‘Oscar of Dance’.
State visit to Russia
On 6 June 2001, Dutch National Ballet provides the ‘reciprocal entertainment’ during a state visit by Queen Beatrix to Russia. Performing in the presence of President Putin at the Maly Theatre in Moscow, the company dances the second part of William Forsythe’s Artifact, Hans van Manen’s Adagio Hammerklavier and the fourth part of George Balanchine’s Brahms Schönberg Quartet.
First schools’ matinee in the Music Theatre
At the initiative of artistic director Wayne Eagling, the first schools’ matinee is given in the Music Theatre (now Dutch National Opera & Ballet) on 9 October 2000. The performance is an abridged version of The Sleeping Beauty, presented by Yvon Jaspers. It is still an experiment (attended by around 500 schoolchildren), but from now primary school pupils in Amsterdam and the rest of North Holland are regularly treated to specially adapted versions of the great ballet classics. For instance, on 14 September 2001, a performance of Sir Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella is given to 1000 children, presented by Kasper van Kooten.
Reuven Voremberg retires
This season Reuven Voremberg retires, after working with Dutch National Ballet for over 40 years – first as a dancer, then as a ballet master and finally as head of the artistic staff. The Balanchine programme presented by the company in September 2000 is dedicated to him, and on the opening night Voremberg is appointed Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau.
Dansersfonds prizes for Jane Lord and Krzysztof Pastor
On 1 November 2000, principal dancer Jane Lord receives the Merit Award from Dansersfonds '79. The presentation is made shortly after her farewell performance, in which she performs the role of the Lilac Fairy in Sir Peter Wright’s Sleeping Beauty. Krzysztof Pastor receives the Choreography Prize (awarded only once by the fund).
- 152 New productions
- 114 World premieres
01 / 02
On 31 August 2001, Dutch National Ballet celebrates its fortieth anniversary with a festive gala in the Music Theatre (now Dutch National Opera & Ballet), attended by Queen Beatrix. Especially for the occasion, Hans van Manen creates a work for dancers Sofiane Sylve and Viacheslav Samodurov, Andante Festivo, a “glittering duet filled with bickering undertones”.
Two new Forsythes in the repertoire
One day after its premiere of The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, Dutch National Ballet also adds Forsythe’s Approximate Sonata to the repertoire. Forsythe created both pieces in 1996 for Ballett Frankfurt, of which he was director. "This ballet is no game of measured steps, but rather an eruption of physical power play and courage, from which sparks fly”, writes Trouw about the first work.
Ted Brandsen appointed associate artistic director and resident choreographer
After four years as director of West Australian Ballet, in Perth, Ted Brandsen returns to Dutch National Ballet. From 1981 to 1991, Brandsen was a dancer with the company, where he also choreographed his first ballets. On 1 January 2002, he is appointed associate artistic director and resident choreographer.
John Cranko's Onegin
For the first time, Dutch National Ballet dances John Cranko's famous ballet epic Onegin (created in 1965 for Stuttgarter Ballett), based on the novel of the same name in verse form by Alexander Pushkin. "Onegin has much to delight the eye and move the romantic heart (..) Nathalie Caris was a modest, very credible Tatiana, and she was truly excellent in the big final duet, where she gave a tremendous interpretation of the rending passion of a woman who has to keep her emotions under control”, writes NRC Handelsblad.
Cinderella on tour
At the beginning of 2002, Dutch National Ballet dances three performances of Sir Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella in Dijon, France. It is the first time in almost ten years that the company has presented a full-length production outside the Netherlands. The success of the performances leads to various invitations from other French cities.
The first work by Jerome Robbins
This season, Dutch National Ballet adds The Cage to its repertoire; the company’s first work by the American choreographer Jerome Robbins (known for West Side Story and his creations for New York City Ballet).
Performance at the Arena on the eve of the royal wedding
On the eve of the wedding of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Máxima Zorreguieta – which takes place on 2 February 2002 – Dutch National Ballet dances a duet from Maguy Marin’s Groosland, at the Arena, in Amsterdam. It forms part of a television programme broadcast live on the occasion of the wedding.
In February 2002, Dutch National Ballet devotes a programme to the composer Louis Andriessen. Hans van Manen’s Symphonieën der Nederlanden is accompanied by two premiere works: Tao by Krzysztof Pastor and Slag by the celebrated contemporary choreographer Krisztina de Châtel, who is making her debut with the company.
Awards for Francis Sinceretti and Sonja Marchiolli
Francis Sinceretti, who was a principal dancer with Dutch National Ballet from 1971 to 1986, receives the Golden Theatre Dance Prize from the VSCD. Ballet mistress and former principal dancer Sonja Marchiolli receives the Merit Award from Dansersfonds '79.
02 / 03
Ted Brandsen succeeds Wayne Eagling
On 1 July 2003, Ted Brandsen (1954) succeeds Wayne Eagling as artistic director, following his appointment as associate artistic director in January 2002. In the years that follow, Brandsen innovates the repertoire of full-length ballets, introduces prominent new choreographers and ensures a greater distribution of performances throughout the Netherlands.
For the programme New Amsterdam, in 2002, David Dawson and Ted Brandsen created The Grey Area and Light Journey, respectively. Dawson’s piece – his third creation for the company – is nominated for the British Critics’ Circle National Dance Award.
Krzysztof Pastor appointed resident choreographer
At the beginning of 2003, Krzysztof Pastor (1956) is appointed resident choreographer, a position he will hold until 2017. Pastor was a dancer with Dutch National Ballet from 1985 to 1995, and he created his first works in the company’s choreographic workshops.
On 12 February 2003, Ted Brandsen’s hit production Carmen has its Dutch premiere. Brandsen created the ballet in 1999 for West Australian Ballet. The production received the Australian Dance Award and was shown on Australian television.