Hans van Manen
Frank Martin – Petite symphonie concertante (1945)*
Ryoko Kondo
Jet Sprenkels
Goska Isphording
Set and costume design and decoration of the costumes
Keso Dekker
Lighting design
Joop Caboort
Ballet masters
Rachel Beaujean
Larissa Lezhnina

World premiere
13 January 1994, Nederlands Dans Theater, Lucent Danstheater, The Hague

Premiere at Dutch National Ballet
17 March 2009, Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Amsterdam

circa 21 minutes

*Music Published / Licensed by: © Universal Edition, Wenen / Albersen Verhuur B.V., ’s-Gravenhage


World premiere

Milena Sidorova
Caroline Shaw – Entr’acte, version for string orchestra (2014)
Costume design
François-Noël Cherpin
Lighting design
Wijnand van der Horst
Musical advice
Jan Pieter Koch
Ballet masters
Michele Jimenez
Judy Maelor Thomas

World premiere at Dutch National Ballet
30 March 2024, Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Amsterdam

circa 11 minutes

Wings of Wax

Jiří Kylián
Music (on tape)
Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber – Mystery (Rosary) Sonata: Passacaglia for solo violin (1676), performed by Gabriela Demeterová*
John Cage – Prelude for Meditation, for prepared piano (1944)**
Philip Glass – Movement III from String Quartet No. 5(1991)***
Johann Sebastian Bach – Goldberg Variations BWV 988: Variatio 25, Adagio, in G-minor (1741)****, arranged for string trio by Dmitry Sitkovetsky, performed by Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Gérard Caussé and Mischa Maisky*****
Set and lighting design
Michael Simon
Costume design
Joke Visser
Technical supervision (set and lighting)
Joost Biegelaar
Elke Schepers
Stefan Żeromski
Ballet masters
Guillaume Graffin
Judy Maelor Thomas

World premiere
23 January 1997, Nederlands Dans Theater, Lucent Danstheater, The Hague

Premiere at Dutch National Ballet
30 March 2024, Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Amsterdam

circa 20 minutes

* 1996 SUPRAPHON a.s.
** Published / Licensed by: © Editions Peter, Londen
*** © 1991 Dunvagen Music Publishers Inc. Used by Permission
**** Published / Licensed by: © G. Schirmer Inc., New York / Albersen Verhuur B.V., ‘s-Gravenhage
***** Courtesy of NAXOS Deutschland –


David Dawson
Ezio Bosso – Violin Concerto No. 1 (2017)*
Violin solo
Hebe Mensinga
Set design
John Otto
Costume design
Yumiko Takeshima
Lighting design
James F. Ingalls
Rebecca Gladstone
Christiane Marchant
Alessandra Pasquali
Ballet master
Jozef Varga

World premiere
21 April 2018, San Francisco Ballet, War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco

Premiere at Dutch National Ballet
30 March 2024, Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Amsterdam

circa 27 minutes

* Music Published / Licensed by: ©Buxus Edizioni, Milan / Albersen Verhuur B.V., ‘s-Gravenhage

Musical accompaniment
Dutch Ballet Orchestra, conducted by Thomas Herzog
Sets, stagecraft, lighting and sound
Technical Department of Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Production manager
Joshua de Kuyper
Stage managers
Kees Prince
Wolfgang Tietze
Production supervisor
Mark van Trigt
First carpenters
Edwin Rijs
Peter Brem
Lighting managers
Angela Leuthold
Mark Berghoef
Lighting supervisor
Wijnand van der Horst
Sound engineer
Ramón Schoones
Costume production Tenzij
Costume Workshop of Dutch National Ballet
Costume production Concertante
Nelly van de Velden
Costume production Wings of Wax
Hermien Hollander
Costume production ANIMA ANIMUS
Atelier Martine Douma
Assistant costume production
Eddie Grundy
First dresser
Andrei Brejs
Lin van Ellinckhuijsen
Mirjam Midderham

Total duration
circa 2 hours and 10 minutes, including 2 intervals

Milena Sidorova, Connie Vowles en Jessica Xuan – repetitie Tenzij (2024)

Milena Sidorova on Tenzij

Originality, innovation and risks are hallmarks of the style of Ukrainian-Dutch choreographer Milena Sidorova. In her most recent work, Tenzij, she is once again incorporating elements that are new both to herself and to the dancers of Dutch National Ballet. Sidorova says, “I use the classical ballet idiom in which Dutch National Ballet excels, but also add elements that the dancers are not yet familiar with. So alongside physical flexibility, they also need to have mental flexibility and to trust the process. When you try out new things in the studio, they don’t always work out right away. But it’s precisely that initial struggle that often leads to the most beautiful results.”

‘A dance of life’

Sidorova describes Tenzij as a ‘dance of life’. The ballet sketches the paths of two women with a shared past. Two male partners symbolise the choices these women have made throughout their lives and the consequences of these choices – for themselves and for the friendship they once had. Sidorova says, “When making a new choice, you always come up against ‘what if…’ and ‘unless…’. It was mainly ‘unless’ (tenzij – ed.) that intrigued me, because what follows that word always gets in the way of something else.” Tenzij is Sidorova’s first work with a Dutch title. “For me, the Dutch word ‘tenzij’ has a slightly different and deeper meaning, with a bit more of a negative connotation than the English word ‘unless’. So it’s a better fit for the nostalgic feeling I want to express with this work.”

Unexpected twists

After previously using a composition by Caroline Shaw for Bloom, a piece she choreographed in 2023 for the Junior Company, Sidorova chose another work by the American composer for Tenzij. “The way that Caroline Shaw composes is how I want to choreograph. Her music is full of unexpected twists and really makes the listener feel something. Through my choreography, I hope to surprise and touch people in the same way.”

Text: Rosalie Overing
Translation: Susan Pond

Leo Hepler, Jessica Xuan, Connie Vowles en Koyo Yamamoto - repetitie Tenzij (2024)
Leo Hepler, Jessica Xuan, Connie Vowles and Koyo Yamamoto - rehearsal Tenzij (2024) | Photo: Altin Kaftira


For some ballets, it can be difficult to find that one challenging and inspiring composition, but for Concertante Hans van Manen more or less bumped into Frank Martin’s Petite symphonie concertante. He was struck by the wonderful variety in the music, the compelling character that makes certain choices inevitable and the persistent rhythm. “As Balanchine said: rhythm is the ‘floor’ of dance”.

Something’s brewing, something’s bubbling

Van Manen created Concertante for eight juniors of Nederlands Dans Theater 2. The way he introduces the dancers one by one at the beginning of the ballet arose logically, says Van Manen, from the slow, beautifully even opening section of the music. Afterwards, the choreography unfolds in a timeless beauty of group sections, trios and duets, which follow one another in a surprising yet completely logical way.

Human relationships form the overarching theme of all Van Manen ballets. According to the master choreographer, there’s always something going on between the people. In the case of Concertante, this involves a thriller-like suspense: something’s brewing, something’s bubbling, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Van Manen says, “However much people love one another, you never know what the other person is thinking. You try to take account of them, but before you know it you’ve got it wrong again”.

This fact also lies at the heart of the two charged duets Van Manen incorporated in Concertante. Inspired by the music, Van Manen knew immediately that they had to be totally different. Yet however great the contrast – the first one taut and measured, and the second quite aggressive – “they both betray the idea that the certainty is not mutual”. This is also down to the music, which he says may appear romantic, but actually isn’t. “Not that the melody deliberately goes the wrong way, but it has something that makes it impossible to imagine a happy ending.”

Text: Astrid van Leeuwen
Translation: Susan Pond

Jakob Feyferlik, Joseph Massarelli, Daniel Robert Silva, Floor Eimers en Edo Wijnen – Concertante (2022)
Jakob Feyferlik, Joseph Massarelli, Daniel Robert Silva, Floor Eimers and Edo Wijnen – Concertante (2022) | Photo: Altin Kaftira
Riho Sakamoto en Victor Caixeta – repetitie Wings of Wax (2024)

Interview with choreographer Jiří Kylián on Wings of Wax

In Dancing Dutch, Dutch National Ballet is dancing its first ever ballet by Jiří Kylián, the master choreographer originally from Czechoslovakia, whose work defined the identity of Nederlands Dans Theater for over thirty years. Wings of Wax is one of the most internationally sought-after works in Kylián’s oeuvre, and is acclaimed by critics for its complexity and inventiveness: ‘It is captivating from start to finish’.

‘The greatest beauty may be concealed within darkness’

It was written in the stars that this would happen one day, says Jiří Kylián jokingly. “Years ago, Nederlands Dans Theater danced Wings of Wax in The Amsterdam Music Theatre (now Dutch National Opera & Ballet). I was watching from the wings, next to some dancers from Dutch National Ballet, and I heard one of them say, ‘Actually, we should dance this work’.” 

And now that’s come about, to Kylián’s great delight. “In my time as artistic director of Nederlands Dans Theater, it wasn’t possible. I thought it was important for the two biggest dance companies of the Netherlands to each have their own identity. But now that Nederlands Dans Theater is going in a new direction, under Emily Molnar, that objection no longer stands. Who knows, maybe Wings of Wax will be the first step towards a more intensive collaboration between Dutch National Ballet and myself.”

Rising above everyday monotony

Kylián created Wings of Wax in 1997 for eight dancers of NDT 1, set to an exciting music collage, ranging from Baroque to Philip Glass, with one of Bach’s Goldberg Variations as the impressive ‘finale’. The starting point for the ballet was the realisation that classically trained dancers are continually defying gravity. “They jump and turn, the men lift the women above their heads, and the women balance on pointe. For a layman, it’s probably absurd and totally unreal, but for dancers – and for those who admire them – it’s a way of rising above everyday monotony.”

In a spiritual sense, says Kylián, you could even say that we’re all engaged in a constant battle with gravity. “We try to steer clear of the weighty thoughts that drag us down. We associate everything that’s up above, in the heavens, with light and positivity, and everything that’s underground seems to be related to hell and damnation.” In fact, that’s all nonsense of course, but that eternal quest for the heights, towards the light, is simply ingrained in us. And as so beautifully articulated by the Czech philosopher, theologian and pedagogue – and good friend of Rembrandt – Jan Amos Comenius: ‘Light never makes way for darkness, but darkness always makes way for light’.”

Fascinating game of appearing and disappearing

But what if you turned around that idea of heaven and hell, of light and darkness? This question gave Kylián the idea for the wonderful scenery with a tree hanging upside down (created in collaboration with designer Michael Simon), below which – or above which, depending on your viewpoint – the dancers fly around, as it were, in a fascinating game of appearing and disappearing. “Because what is above and what is below?”, asks Kylián. “It’s the roots of the tree that do the work, and without them no branches, leaves and blossom would grow. So the inside, or what you don’t see, is actually more important than what you do see. In other words, the greatest beauty may be concealed within darkness.”

Kira Hilli en Semyon Velichko – repetitie Wings of Wax (2024)
Kira Hilli and Semyon Velichko – rehearsal Wings of Wax (2024) | Photo: Altin Kaftira
Kira Hilli en Semyon Velichko – repetitie Wings of Wax (2024)
Kira Hilli and Semyon Velichko – rehearsal Wings of Wax (2024) | Photo: Altin Kaftira

Here, too, Kylián sees a relationship to the dancing profession. “As a dancer, you have to be able to show your inner self, with all its darkness, on stage. Otherwise there’s no point to what you’re doing. In that sense, a dancer is actually a captive of their own body, with a strong will to break free and exhibit themself as an ‘artwork’.”

Icarus’ wings of wax

The title of Kylián’s ballet, Wings of Wax, refers to the well-known myth of Icarus, who was imprisoned with his father Daedalus in the notorious ‘Laborintus’. To escape, Daedalus constructed a wooden framework for big wings made of bird feathers, which he attached with beeswax. He warned Icarus not to get too near the sun, but in his enthusiasm Icarus became reckless and flew too high, causing the wax to melt and plunging Icarus into the sea. “It’s a metaphor”, says Kylián, “for the boundless ambition of mankind, who always wants to reach yet higher and achieve still more.”

Pieter Bruegel the Elder was also inspired by this Greek myth for his painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, from 1558. Kylián says, “What I find so beautiful and poetic about this work is that Bruegel, too, turns everything around. Nearly everyone knows the disconcerting story of Icarus, but on Bruegel’s painting it’s merely a detail (you can just make out Icarus’ thrashing leg sticking out of the water – ed.). In the foreground, you see a farmer ploughing a piece of land with his horse. It’s as if Bruegel wants to say, ‘The fact that my family has food on the table today is far more important than that whole myth’. Or else, despite all the suffering, everyday life just goes on.”

Not a second too early, but not a beat too late either

The ‘fantastic dancers’ of Dutch National Ballet, as Kylián calls them, will have no problem with the technical performance of Wings of Wax. “Wings of Wax is one of my pieces where classical ballet technique forms a strong basis for the choreography, so it’s very accessible for them. But in the end, of course, it’s not about that pointed foot or that high jump. What’s important is that the dancers take ownership of the piece and express their own personality in it, so that you see eight unique individuals on stage.” At the same time, the ballet requires extreme musicality. “It needs great precision. You can’t be one second too early, but neither can you be one beat too late. Well, you can be almost too late, but not quite. Like in jazz music, it has to be exactly in the groove.”

Another person

Kylián says that rehearsing Wings of Wax again is as much of an adventure for him as for the dancers. “Also because Dutch National Ballet is a classical company, with very different dancers than Nederlands Dans Theater. So as a choreographer, you get to discover your work in a totally new way. You have to analyse why you once made certain choices, which is often incredibly interesting. In addition, I was 50 when I created Wings of Wax, and now I’m 77. I was another person at the time, so now I see and understand my work in a whole new light.”

Text: Astrid van Leeuwen
Translation: Susan Pond

Stefan Żeromski en Aurélie Cayla (NDT1) − Wings of Wax (2006)

Michael Simon about the set and lighting designs for Wings of Wax

Stuttgart, New York, The Hague, Tokyo. No random topographical list, but rather a succession of cities that inevitably led to the tree that hangs upside down in Jiří Kylián’s Wings of Wax. Set and lighting designer Michael Simon says, “It’s a symbol of nature – conceived in a city where nature was hardly to be seen. But then upside down. Crazy, isn’t it?”

(Un)naturally upside down

It began with Stuttgart, where Simon studied set design (with Jürgen Rose, designer for choreographer John Cranko). But it was also the city where Jiří Kylián began his career as a choreographer and where William Forsythe was resident choreographer with Stuttgart Ballet at the time. Simon says, “Although I met Forsythe in New York, where I spent six months – still during my studies – working on various productions. He saw one of them and asked me if I’d like to collaborate on a piece for Nederlands Dans Theater. It was a success, so Kylián also got to see my work. My first collaboration with him was on NDT’s production for the opening of the Lucent Danstheater (where Amare is situated today – ed.), in The Hague, in 1987. Which is funny, incidentally, as I also designed the sets for the opening production by Pierre Audi, the director of Dutch National Opera.”

No furniture

But to return to dance. “Yes, because although I’ve done a lot for opera as well, it was the dance productions that played a pivotal role in my visual development. Particularly working with choreographers like Kylián and Forsythe, who aren’t trying to present a Giselle or tell another fixed story, gives me the scope to ask open questions. What do you think would look good? What would you like to see? That creates opportunities for designing freely, and for freedom of creativity in both interpretation and inspiration. Anyway, I often find my inspiration in the dancers, who are always searching for the relationship of their body to the music, the space and one another. So right from the start of my career, I thought it was important that the sets and lighting mixed comfortably with this relationship. In traditional stage design, you just define a space in which something takes place, but this sort of dance requires a different approach. I don’t want a room with furniture, but a space in which there’s a relationship between movements, melodies and my objects.”

Ancient… Japan?

This was also the starting point for Wings of Wax – assuming that the average living room doesn’t have a tree hanging upside down in it. The initial idea for the designs for this ballet, which is inspired by the myth of Icarus, arose in very different surroundings to those of Ancient Greece. “In 1993, Kylián and I went to Japan with NDT, and the tour included Tokyo. Nowadays, there are other cities that are just as jam-packed, but at the time I was overwhelmed by the fact of how little nature there was in that immense city. No green, only grey: there was nothing but motorways, buildings and traffic lights. In reaction, a tree suddenly popped into my head. If it wasn’t to be found outdoors, then maybe we should bring it indoors, into the theatre. We first expressed this train of thought in Perfect Conception for The Tokyo Ballet, but in 1997 we brought back a similar tree design for Wings of Wax.”

Fatal overconfidence

Nowadays, there are considerably more trees to be found in Tokyo. Yet it’s remarkable that the 1997 design has actually gained expressive power today. 

Nina Tonoli en Jan Spunda – repetitie Wings of Wax (2024)
Nina Tonoli and Jan Spunda – rehearsal Wings of Wax (2024) | Photo: Altin Kaftira

“Over those twenty-odd years, ‘nature’ has become an increasingly hot topic. Back then, the tree already raised the question of how mankind related to nature, just as in the myth after which Wings of Wax is named. Daedalus thought he could defy nature – gravity – by making wings, but his attempt proved fatal to his son. It’s a typically human trait to think like Daedalus and Icarus; to imagine we can manipulate everything – just as I did, a Western designer who got the idea of planting a tree in a theatre in the nature-deprived city of Tokyo. So the fact that for Wings of Wax we eventually brought a tree indoors (albeit a fake one), and then hung it upside down to boot, was – and still is – a perfect example of how we humans think we can control nature, and once again it highlights this relationship between mankind and nature.”

Time’s up

During Wings of Wax, a white spotlight circles on the tree, lighting up the floor rather than the object itself. “As a student, I discovered that you can make scenery not just with materials – which are expensive and I couldn’t afford – but also with simple lights, which didn’t have to illuminate objects you also had to put on stage, but could fill a space themselves. In addition, this circling spotlight represents the passing of time; our time for rescuing nature is elapsing as well. Even after so many years, this design is still a sign of the times. Although I’m happy it’s now being seen in a city that’s a lot greener.”

Text: Lune Visser
Translation: Susan Pond

Edo Wijnen, Riho Sakamoto en Constantine Allen – repetitie ANIMA ANIMUS (2024)


The British choreographer David Dawson created ANIMA ANIMUS in 2018 for San Francisco Ballet. An instant success, it has since been performed on tour in London, New York and Washington DC, and has already been taken into the repertoires of The National Ballet of Canada and Balletto del Teatro alla Scala in Milan.

Between extremes and opposites

Based on Dawson’s distinctive contemporary interpretation of classical ballet technique, ANIMA ANIMUS explores Carl Gustav Jung’s concept of 'anima' (the subconscious female aspect of the male psyche) and 'animus' (the subconscious male aspect of the female psyche). Inspired by this concept – which, however, is disrupted in his ballet – Dawson explores the fluid space between extremes and opposites: between technical virtuosity and lyrical poetry, between humanity and architecture, and between form and emotion. To Ezio Bosso’s Violin Concerto No. 1 – a piece of music that is also filled with contrasts – Dawson sets the dancers powering across the stage, thereby revealing both the unity of the group and the power of the individual. He sends his dancers skyward, yet expects them to remain grounded as well. While they float and glide through the complex moves that make them appear as untethered as angels, they must also retain a weight, form and substance that goes far beyond the light, elevated aesthetics of classical ballet. 

David Dawson says, “Creating ANIMA ANIMUS gave me an opportunity to return to my own abstract way of working and move away from the narrative work I’d been making in the preceding years. It was a chance to look again at pure dance for the sake of pure dance, and to see where I could try to bring the classical form forward. In ANIMA ANIMUS, we’re looking at the idea of opposition and at what lies between the extremes, and trying to discover how much we can share, where we can be the same and where we can be different.”

“Ezio Bosso’s Violin Concerto No. 1, or ‘Esoconcerto’, is a composition that looks to the past and the future at the same time. There are moments when I listen and feel comforted by what I think I know, but then the music suddenly surprises me and becomes very unconventional. This pushed me to create something beautiful but with a sharp edge to it. It’s a very fast and dynamic work, very graphic in its own way, yet also very open. And it has a physically emotional virtuosity that makes it something human.”

Riho Sakamoto – repetitie ANIMA ANIMUS (2024)
Riho Sakamoto – rehearsal ANIMA ANIMUS (2024) | Photo: Altin Kaftira

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