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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.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the Gala last week in Amsterdam.  The Dutch certainly know how to throw a party!  The show started with the Grand Defile quite literally the whole company on stage for a stunning few minutes set to Tchaikovsky Sleeping Beauty music.  See for yourself!



Thereafter followed a mixture of excerpts from the forthcoming season rep and other pieces.  I was completely impressed by the standard of dance and breadth of talent at DNB.  It was lovely to see the return from maternity leave of Anna Tsygankova and return from injury of Michaela de Prince who danced a solo called Portrait (below). 

Michaela de Prince in black dress takes a bow


Among the classical dance my favourites were the black and white Swan Lake pdds, from the Rudi Van Dantzig production, and the Flames of Paris pdd.  In the latter, Young Gyu Choi and Aya Okumura  provided the fireworks 🙂




Anna Ol and Artur Shesterikov gave a lovely performance of the Act 2 Swan Lake pdd which gave the corps de ballet a chance to showcase their work as well.



In the Swan Lake Act 3 pdd, Maia Makhateli, as Odile, whipped off the most amazing set of fouettes which rounded the evening off perfectly.  I am a huge fan of Maia and she was wonderful in this excerpt, partnered by Daniel Camargo.  Fittingly this pdd was the finale to the show(below). 


Of the modern pieces the Junior Company were just amazing in Grimm choreographed by Ernst Meisner and Marco Gerris, which was a really lovely take on the Grimm Fairytales - I loved seeing the 7 dwarfs ballet dance and hip hop their way through their routine.  It was like nothing else I have seen before and very enjoyable!  I also very much enjoyed In The Future, by Hans Van Manen, which utilised colour with movement in a fascinating way by the costumes being green to the front and red to the back.  Really simple but very effective. 


There were lots of other highlights for me - too many to mention - but I wanted to share some thoughts and photos of this lovely evening.


The Black Tie Gala Evening ended with golden ticker tape and huge applause. 



It was absolutely delightful to see everyone in the audience dressed to the 9s which made it a very special evening!  My Mum said it took her back to her youth when everyone dressed up for the theatre...how times change.

DonQ Fan 


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