Stichting Dansersfonds '79, founded by renowned dance couple Alexandra Radius and Han Ebbelaar, has announced the winners of the annual Dansersfonds Prizes. This year's Merit Prize is awarded to Czech Jozef Varga, who ended his dance career with Dutch National Ballet last summer after 15 years and is now working with the company as a ballet master. The award will be presented at the Dutch Ballet Gala on Monday 14 November, which will be dedicated to Rachel Beaujean.
This year’s Dansersfonds judges – Han Ebbelaar, Alexandra Radius, Ine Rietstap, Marian Sarstädt and Karin Schnabel – said the following about Varga: ‘Jozef Varga was more than just a physically excellent dancer - he was a very powerful stage personality, modest but always very present.’
Ted Brandsen, director of the Dutch National Ballet, praised Varga as follows: ‘After a beautiful international dance career, including 15 years as a principal dancer with Dutch National Ballet, Jozef Varga has bid farewell to the stage and dedicated himself to passing on his great knowledge and experience in ballet to the next generations of dancers. Jozef is a true ‘danseur noble’, an exceptionally versatile dancer and a fantastic partner. I have always enjoyed and respected working with Jozef and greatly admire his great value to our company and to audiences in the Netherlands and abroad.’
Besides the Prize of Merit, the Dansersfonds is awarding two other prizes this year: Ellen Landa, dancer with Scapino Ballet Rotterdam, will receive the Incentive Award and the Special Prize will go to Esther Protzman, former soloist with Dutch National Ballet who has been a teacher at the dance department of the Royal Conservatoire The Hague for many years. This year, the presentation of the Dansersfonds Prizes will take place in DeLaMar in Amsterdam, during the Nederlands Balletgala on Monday 14 November, in the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix. During this gala, Jozef Varga will perform Hans van Manen's iconic Trois gnossiennes one last time, together with principal dancer Olga Smirnova.
Dedicated to Rachel Beaujean
This year's Dutch Ballet Gala is dedicated to Rachel Beaujean, associate artistic director of Dutch National Ballet. Director Ted Brandsen calls her one of our country's great ballet heroes. Brandsen: ‘The Dansersfonds Gala has been a special event in the performing arts in our country for more than 40 years, and I am extremely happy and proud that this year's gala is dedicated to Rachel Beaujean. She has played an immensely important role in the artistic development of Dutch National Ballet for many years: first as a dancer and muse of Hans van Manen, then as a ballet master and now already for almost 20 years also as coach, head of the artistic staf and later associate artistic director - my partner in the artistic direction of the company and jointly responsible for Dutch National Ballet’s flourishing. In addition, Rachel has produced several important and highly successful versions of classical ballets – Paquita, Giselle, Raymonda – which are important to our repertoire and make her unique in the international ballet world. As if that were not enough, Rachel also manages the work of Hans van Manen and oversees the worldwide distribution of his ballets. Her boundless commitment to ballet in our country is unparalleled, as is her perseverance, her creative power and her dedication to the dancers she works with. Rachel is one of our country's great ballet heroes and I am very grateful for our nearly 20-year partnership.’
Stichting Dansersfonds ‘79
When star dancers Alexandra Radius and Han Ebbelaar celebrated their 20th stage anniversary 43 years ago, the dancer couple did not want to receive gifts, but a contribution to a new fund they wanted to set up. The purpose of this fund is twofold: raising awareness for young Dutch dance talent and financially supporting dancers who had to end their dance careers for age reasons or because of persistent injuries. In the year of the founding of Stichting Dansersfonds ‘79, Radius and Ebbelaar also established the annual Dancersfonds Prizes. The Dansersfondsprijzen are now the longest-standing Dutch dance awards.
Photo: Jozef Varga accepts thunderous applause after his final performance at the Hans van Manen Festival, June 2022 | Photographer: Altin Kaftira