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Found 6 results

  1. As in previous years I attended the opening night gala of the Dutch National Ballet on Tuesday night at the Music Theatre in Amsterdam. The gala is not just a ballet performance. It is also a party. Unlimited wine, beer, soft drinks and nibbles are included in the ticket price. They are on offer from the moment the theatre opens until well after midnight It is a very grand occasion with the gentlemen in dinner jackets and in at least one case shoes that resembled Delft china and the ladies in the most gorgeous evening attire. The gala which takes place during the first few days of September follows a pattern. The evening opens with a Grand Défilé, a march of the whole company to the polonaise from the Sleeping Beauty starting with the youngest students at the National Ballet Academy and finishing with the principals. The women sre in dazzling white classical tutus and the men in dashing tunics. Next, Ted Brandsen, the director, makes a speech which in previous years has been delivered partly in English. There then follows extracts from the current repertoire or works staged specially for the occasion. There is always a work by Hans van Manen, usually works by Rudi van Dantzig and Toer van Schayk and often ballets by the company's resident choreographers such as David Dawson, Jianjo Arques or Ernst Meisner. Also at the gala, the Alexandra Radius prize is presented by the great ballerina herself to the dancer of the year, This year's gala seemed to be shorter than previous years' with only 6 pieces all but one of which had some connection with George Balanchine. Guest artists Xander Parish and Maria Khoreva danced the Diamonds pas de deux from Balanchine's Jewels which was my favourite of the evening. Other works included a pas de deux for Conrad and Medora from which had been created by Balanchine's teacher for his students , van Manen's Trois Gnossiennes, and Balanchine's Symphony in Three Movements and Who Cares? Edo Wijnen won this year's Radius prize. A video of his work over the year shows that he was a very worthy winner. The party was excellent, especially after the dancers joined the audience in the celebrations. The company's press officer, Richard Heideman, has sent me some lovely photos of the evening which he has licensed me to post to my blog. Unfortunately he has not licensed me to upload them anywhere else. Over the next week or so I plan to exhibit them all. I start today with a glorious photo of Xander Parish and Maria Khoreva.
  2. Hi, I wondered if anyone has any experience of the Dutch National summer school? My DD has been offered a place but it's eye-wateringly expensive as accommodation is extra on top. Is it worth saving for though? Frustratingly, we have to commit before we find out about other schools so not sure what to do.
  3. Hello, I am seeking advice about the Dutch National Ballet School, specifically the summer school, where DD has been offered a place. DD is 17 and studying ballet/contemporary full time but hoping for a place in a tertiary school in Europe next year. She sees herself as more of a contemporary dancer, though she excels at ballet too. We have been told that Dutch National is more classical in character, however note the focus on Wayne McGregor's work at the summer school. Is this a school that is known to make offers from summer school? She would be travelling from Australia so the expense is considerable. Hoping someone here can advise us.
  4. Every year in the first week of September the Dutch National Ballet holds a gala at the Stopera to launch the new ballet season. It is a very grand affair. Everyone is in evening dress. Lots of local and some international celebrities attend the event. With the exception of last year, I have been coming since 2015 and each year has been better than the last. The evening opens with a grand defile - a parade starting with the first year students of the National Ballet Academy and ending with the company's principals to the strains of Aurora's wedding from The Sleeping Beauty. This year the orchestra was conducted by our very own Koen Kessels. The company's artistic director then comes on stage and welcomes the audience partly in Dutch and partly in English. There are then a number of performances some created especially for the evening and others classics from the company's repertoire. This year the gala was dedicated to the memory of Rudi van Dantzig and three of his works were danced including his the white and black acts from his Swan Lake. The Netherlands' other towering fenius, Hans van Manen, was also well represented with the performance of three of his works including his Symphony for the Dutch People which particularly impressed me. Other full length works that were dipped into were the first Dutch performance of the Flames of Paris and Neumeir's Lady of the Camelias. Of the shorter works I particularly enjoyed Ernst Meisner's Embers which was danced by Jessica Xuan and Cristiano Principato. When they danced it at Varna earlier in the year Xuan won the first prize and gold medal for her performance. I also liked Grimm which was a collaboration between the Junior Company and ISH and combined ballet with hip hop. Finally, I was glad to see Michaela DePrince back on stage after a very nasty tendon injury. Every year a prize is awarded by Alexandra Radius to the best dancer of the year.. It is usually won by a principal but this year it went to Timothy van Poucke who is one of the company's youngest dancers. They say that the best is the enemy is the good and I think there is some truth in that saying because the gala spoils me for anything else for months on end. There were quite a few Brits this year including my former ward and her little boy who are from Sierra Leone, colleagues from Powerhouse Ballet and DonQFan. I have written a fuller review in my blog if anyone is interested.
  5. It does not seem like five years ago since I saw the first performance of the Dutch National Ballet's Junior Company at the Stadsschouwburg theatre in Amsterdam. I had come to Amsterdam to see the young African-American dancer Michaela DePrince about whom I had heard a lot. When I saw her with Sho Yamada in a pas de deux from Diana and Actaeon I described her as "quite simply the most exciting dancer I have seen for quite a while". But she was not the only one to impress me. Sho Yamada who partnered her in that piece was also a thrill to watch and so in different ways were all the others. DePrince rose very quickly through the Dutch National Ballet's ranks. She entered the main company as an eleve after only a year with the Juniors. She was elevated very quickly to coryphee, grand sujet and soloist. She has written books, given masterclasses, appeared as a guest artist for companies around the world. Still in her early twenties she is probably one of the best known names in ballet. But Yamada has risen quickly too. The last time I was in Amsterdam at the end of February he danced Don Basilio in the company's Don Quixote and his Kitri was his Junior Company contemporary, Riho Sakamoto. Other contemporaries are making their mark in choreography. Cristianp Principato who entered the Junior Company in 2014 managed the whole New Moves sharing of the company's latest choreography. As I have never studied Dutch I can only make out the gist of a speech or conversation but I think the company's director, Red Brandsen, attributed the success of those artists to their time in the Junior Company in an opening speech that he delivered before the Junior Company's 5th anniversary show. If I am right, Brandsen described the Junior Company as a bridge between school and company allowing the young dancer space and time to mature. The fifth anniversary performance took place on Sunday, 15 April at the Staddschouwburg which is where I saw the company for the first time nearly 5 years ago. It is a beautiful theatre which was the National Ballet and Opera companies' home before they moved to the Stopera. The company presented a triple bill starting with extracts from Bournonville's Napoli, continuing with a new work by Juanjo Arques called Fingers in the Air for which members of the audience and cast were issued with miniature red and green torches with which we were asked to vote at various times Big Brother style and finishing off with Hans van Manen's In the Future which was a very witty but somewhat alarming piece. I have reviewed the show in Terpsichore if anyone wants to read it. During the second interval Ted Brandsen spotted me and came over to chat. He very kindly invited me to the after-show party where I was able to discuss Arques's Fingers with their creator. I asked him what would have happened had the votes gone the other way at which he smiled and assured me that was unlikely because he was able to regulate audience reaction. "Sounds a bit like Cambridge Analytica" I ventured. Again he smiled and admitted that his work might have a political dimension. I couldn't stay long as I had a flight back to Leeds early the next morning but I introduced myself to the 12 dancers who had impressed me considerably with their virtuosity and I made the acquaintance of Macro Gerris, the hip hop choreographer who had collaborated with Ernst Meisner very successfully on Narnia - The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe some years ago and who appears to have repeated that success in is latest collaboration with Meisner based on Grimms' Fairy Tales. Every show by the Junior Company has been good but I think last Sunday's was the company''s best yet. The original company has done very well but I suspect that we can expect even greater things from this season's cohort over the next few years.
  6. Photo Angela Sterling Copyright 2015 Dutch National Ballet: all rights reserved Reproduced with the kind permission of Richard Heideman (press officer) on behalf of the company I have just returned from Amsterdam where I saw the Dutch National Ballet's Cool Britannia at The Stopera. The word "stopera" is an abbreviation of the words stadhuis or town hall and opera the meaning of which is obvious. The building combines the functions of Amsterdam's town hall with the national opera house and concert hall. It was my first visit to the Stopera but I hope it will not be my last for it is a magnificent auditorium. This was a triple bill of one act ballets by three leading British choreographers: David Dawson, Christopher Wheeldon and Wayne McGregor. Dawson and Wheeldon created new ballets called Empire Noir and Concerto Concordia which I discussed elsewhere. McGregor contributed Chroma which British audiences already know. Each of those works was very different from the others. Empire Noir showcased the dancers' virtuosity. It was full of spectacular jumps, turns and lifts and looked quite exhausting. Even the dancers' entrances and exits were made at the double. Haines's score was throbbing, vibrant and incessant. I had seen Michaela DePrince and Sho Yamada in the Junior Company last year but this was the first time I had seen Casey Herd, Jozef Varga, Artur Shesterikov and James Stout about whom I had read so much. My only disappointment was missing Igone de Jongh but there was some fine dancing from Samantha Mednick, Sasha Mukhamedov, Floor Elmers and, of course. DePrince. She may only be an apprentice in the company (though I am delighted to learn that she will be elevated to coryphee next year) but she has quite a following in Amsterdam. She received particularly loud applause when she took her bow. The chap next to me rose to his feet as soon as she stepped forward. In the interval I noticed that a stand was selling her t-shirts. The only other dancer with t-shirts on offer was de Jongh. Wheeldon's Concerto Concordia was a quieter and more contemplative work. He chose Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in D Minor for his music. This is a work with sudden changes of moods could have been written for ballet. It was the first time that I had heard it and I adored it. According to the programme notes Wheeldon created the work for Anna Tsygankova and she was on stage on Saturday accompanied by Varga. They were one of two principal couples who are joined on stage from time to time by six others. The other principal couple was Victoria Ananyan and Serguei Endinian. This was the work that I enjoyed the most, probably because I liked the music. I had seen Chroma once before and remembered the sharp, angular almost robotic movements, the simple set with its large window through which dancers entered or against which they were silhouetted and the curious almost canine sniffing gestures at two points in the show. This cannot be an easy ballet to dance and I was delighted to see Nathan Brhane and Wantao Li who were in the Junior Company last year with Yamada and DePrince. It was good to see those young dancers again and great to see how far they have come in a year. They were led by Herd, Stout and Roman Artyushkin. The crowd loved this ballet and they rose to their feet as one. I like Amsterdam audiences. They see enough ballet to know what's good and what's not but they are much less stingy in their praise than Londoners. The Stopera has a massive stage. I don't know how it compares to Covent Garden's but it seems pretty cavernous to me. There's plenty of reasonably priced seating. I was in the front row of the 1st circle and was as close to the stage as I would have been in the front row of the dress circle in the Royal Opera House. My seat cost 53 euros which is less than I would have paid for the amphitheatre. There was plenty of leg room and although the house was pretty full it did not seem crowded. I was served very quickly when I queued for a drink in the first interval and I was charged less than I would pay in a theatre bar at home. The auditorium overlooks the Amstel and it is possible to step out onto a walkway in warm weather. There is a metro station almost next door and a couple of pubs and two Argentine restaurants across the street. There are flights to Schiphol from Ringway and Yeadon at a fraction of the cost of the train fare to London and hotels are generally cheaper in Amsterdam than London. I am already looking forward to my next trip back.
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