This year’s Merit Award from Stichting Dansersfonds '79 goes to Anu Viheriäranta, stage manager and former principal with Dutch National Ballet. Following her dancing career with Dutch National Ballet, Anu retrained in the technical side of theatre to become a stage manager. According to the jury, she is receiving the Merit Award 2016 for ‘all the qualities she has demonstrated and for the courage and perseverance she has shown in continuing to serve the art of dance in the Netherlands’. This year’s Dansersfonds jury comprised Han Ebbelaar, Alexandra Radius, Ine Rietstap, Marian Sarstädt and Karin Schnabel.

Anu Viheriäranta
In 2005, the Finnish dancer Anu Viheriäranta was inspired to continue her career with Dutch National Ballet by Rudi van Dantzig and Toer van Schayk, and their respective productions of Swan Lake and Nutcracker & Mouse King. In 2010, the year in which she was awarded the Alexandra Radius Prize, she was promoted to principal. She gave her last performance as a dancer in 2013.

Ballet Gala
Anu will be presented with the award at the Ballet Gala in DeLaMar Theater, in Amsterdam, on Monday 14 November 2016, which will be attended by Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix. This year, the gala is dedicated to the set and costume designer Keso Dekker, who has been putting an important mark on the ‘look’ of Dutch and international dance for over 35 years.

Eight Dutch companies are appearing at the Dansersfonds ‘79 Ballet Gala in DeLaMar on 14 November, including Dutch National Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater, Introdans and Scapino Ballet Rotterdam. The programme includes works by choreographers such as Hans van Manen, Ted Brandsen, Ernst Meisner, Marco Goecke, Mauro Bigonzetti and Ed Wubbe. The many dancers performing at the gala include the star principals of Dutch National Ballet Igone de Jongh, Anna Tsygankova, Daniel Camargo, Jozef Varga and Artur Shesterikov.

Stichting Dansersfonds ‘79
When the star dancers Alexandra Radius and Han Ebbelaar celebrated their 20th anniversary on stage in 1979, the couple asked for contributions towards setting up a new fund, rather than presents. They had two aims for the fund: providing financial support to dancers who have to end their career for reasons of age or chronic injury, and to enable talented young dancers to measure themselves against international dance standards through a study grant or cash prize. Many people responded to the couple’s request, which led to the foundation of Dansersfonds ’79. For its activities, Dansersfonds relies on contributions from sponsors and donors, and on the proceeds from the Ballet Gala organised every year by the fund.