Choreographer Hans van Manen will turn 89 this summer. Despite his advanced age, he can still be found at the rehearsals of his ballets as often as possible. And that happens regularly, because his ballets are very popular worldwide. The Dutch National Ballet has rehearsed a number of Van Manen's highlights in 6 weeks. With the soloists, but also with the young talents of the junior company. And always in the presence of the old maestro. This documentary is about how ballets such as Sarcasmen and Déjà vu are practiced and what is expected of the dancers.
“My dance is always about sex,” says Hans van Manen. “You shouldn't show that, but you should be. And you can only be sexy when you feel the rhythm ”.
In order to stay as close as possible to the original performances, old recordings are regularly checked together with ballet master Rachel Beaujean and even old notes are consulted. Yet Van Manen is not afraid to change details in his own ballets. "Sometimes I think things are going too slowly and I make up some more, after all, they are pieces that are on average 30 years old."
The entire rehearsal process takes place against the background of a group that is forced to operate in a bubble due to the corona crisis. The dancers, almost 80 people, are divided into groups. Each group studies a different repertoire. And because performing for the public is not an option for the time being, streaming performances are being organized. This is the only way for the dancers to stay in shape. But they are not growing this year, according to director Ted Brandsen. “In fact they stand still. And standing still for dancers means decline ”.
Following ballets on 'NPO 2 extra'
Right after Hans van Manen; from old to young, the new performances of Van Manen's classics Sarcasmen and Déjà vu can be seen on NPO 2 extra, by Dutch National Ballet. Immediately thereafter, two performances of works by Van Manen, performed by the Bayerisches Staatsballett. Black cake, a choreography on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the Nederlands Dans Theater and Concertante. We close the block with an old TV ballet from 1961: Kain and Abel. More information on the NTR press site.
Header: Hans van Manen and Rachel Beaujean with dancers Jozef Varga & Floor Eimers
Photographer: Altin Kaftira