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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.
I am very grateful to Janet McNulty for permission to link this article to my post in Terpsichore. Yesterday the outstanding young dancer Michaela DePrince gave a masterclass at Danceworks' studios in Balderton Street. The general manager of Danceworks, Lesley Osman, very kindly sent me some lovely photos of the class with permission to reproduce them in my blog. She also arranged for one of the students, Ciara Sturrock, to write an account of her experience of that class. I have incorporated both into an article entitled Michaela's Masterclass which you can read at http://jelterps.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/michaelas-masterclass.html I am very grateful to both Lesley and Ciara for those materials, I saw DePrince in Cool Britannia on 27 June 2015 and reviewed the show in Dutch National Ballet's Cool Britannia. I look forward to seeing her dance in Wheeldon's Cinderella on Saturday and at the opening gala of the Dutch ballet season in Amsterdam on 8 Sept.