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Dutch National Ballet, Junior Company


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May I mention a project that excites me very much?

 

The Dutch National Ballet and its ballet school have gathered 12 outstanding dancers from around the world including Michaela dePrince who was featured in First Position and given them performing experience by forming a company ("the Junior Company") to tour the Netherlands.  I made a special trip to Amsterdam on 24 Nov to see them at the Stadsshouwburg which is a lovely theatre, an opera house in miniature. Here is my review of that performance http://jelterps.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/the-junior-company-in-perforance.html

 

That was only the third standing ovation I have ever seen, the others being Ashton's retirement gala in 1969 and Northern's Midsummer Night's Dream in Leeds a few weeks ago.

 

Incidentally, the Junior Company's artistic director, Ernst Meisner, is part of the creative team for a new app called Bounden which a small software house in Utrecht is developing. Here is an article on that project http://jelterps.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/bounden-something-that-appeals-to-my.html

 

I have written a lot of articles about the Junior Company in general and dePrince in particular. She and Sho Yamada danced the pas de deux from Diana and Acteon at the Netherlands tribute to Mr Mandela. This article also embeds clips from the ballets that I saw in Amsterdam. http://jelterps.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/dutch-national-ballet-junior-company.html

 

Merry Christmas to one and all by the way. 

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Thankyou Terpsichore ......also glad to see you're having a go yourself (on the Doing Dance thread)

 

I only know Michaela dePrince from the film First Position. But haven't seen any clips of her dancing since then.

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Here are some very short clips of dePrince which I have embedded in my posts:

 

http://jelterps.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/michaela-deprince.html

 

http://jelterps.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/the-dutch-national-ballet-junior.html

 

http://jelterps.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/dutch-national-ballet-junior-company.html

 

You can also visit her website at http://www.michaeladeprince.com/ but none of those films do this remarkable young dancer justice. She is much more impressive in real life. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Visitors to this thread may like to look at Capybara's post in Ballet / Dance news & information about the Junior Company's visit to the Linbury on 28 and 29 May.

 

I mentioned it to several of my fellow students in the Over 55 class at Northern Ballet this morning.

 

Maybe we can hire a bus and have a singsong all the way down to Covent Garden and back.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ernst Meisner and the Junior Company are developing a dance app for smart phones called Bounded. I discussed it in two articles one of which I published just before Christmas and the other 5 minutes ago. Here are the two articles with slight amendments:

 

"I am often consulted by start-ups with bright ideas for games and other applications in my practice as an intellectual property and technology lawyer. Over the years I have seen some amazing projects. But I have never seen one that I like as much as Bounden.  This is an app that appeals to my love of dance as well as my love of technology.  It is being developed by a small company in Utrecht in the Netherlands called Game Oven. Its creative team includes not just programmers and graphic designers but Ernst Meisner, one of my favourite dancers and choreographers.

All I know about this project is in this film so I shall leave it to the team to introduce themselves and their product.  All I will add to it is that Meisner says that he will involve the Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet of which he is artistic director. Now I have seen that company dance in Amsterdam and it is impressive.  

 

On 12 Oct 2013 Dave Wilson wrote "Engaging Generation Y in ballet – thoughts and ideas" in his Dave Tries Ballet blog. The article suggested ways of attracting the young to ballet.  It is a very thoughtful article and I endorse it though I regret to say that I am no longer young. However, I now have an extra suggestion. If Bounden lives up to its promise this game could be the biggest attraction.  I have already tweeted Dave about this game.

Let's see what happens."

 

Here is my second article:

 

"Just before Christmas I mentioned Bounden, a project by Game Oven, a Dutch games developer to create a dance game for smart phones. This project appealed not only to my love of ballet but also to my interest in technology. As I noted in my previous article, Hans Meisner and the magnificent Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet, of which he is the artistic director, are participating in this project.

Game Oven and the Dutch National Ballet have just released another video showing how the game works. The idea is to get a ball into the cross hairs of the screen and in order to achieve that object the person holding the phone has to follow a prescribed path. That is to say he or she has to dance.

Although I believe that the idea is to create a work of art I believe that the app could be a tool in dance education.  For example, I tend to wobble like a jelly in arabesque and my pirouettes are terrible. That is because it is not easy for me to find the point of balance in my fat, old body.  Properly programmed I think it could help me find that point of balance and through repeated use train me in time to reach that point instinctively.  I am sure that ballet teachers could find plenty of other uses for the tool.

In one of recent classes in Huddersfield two young women were recording the movements of each student. I think they must have been learning Benesh notation and I am sure that my clumsiness gave them a lot to laugh about. However, it got me thinking aboutBounden. If the movement of the ball on the screen follows a path that has been choreographed by Meisner it should surely be possible to reverse the process: that is say digitize the movements of a dancer's body and convert them into points of the stave. If I am right it could also be a tool for dancers, choreologists and choreographers.  In Scottish Ballet's programme for Cinderella Christopher Hampson wrote how he dreads the first day of the creation of a ballet. Well, maybe the technology behind Bounded could make his life easier.

I am something of a fan of the Junior Company and made a special trip to Amsterdam for their opening night. Meisner has brought twelve of the world's most talented young da. If there are still tickets left do yourself a favour and buy one. I will be there on the 29 May 2014 clapping and cheering as I did in Amsterdam. Only the third time in my life that I have seen a standing ovation for a ballet."

 

You can see the two videos on the home page of Game Oven's website.

Edited by terpsichore
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As I understand it from Meisner's video it the Junior Company is a rolling two year programme. At the end of the year the second year dancers will move on and a fresh lot of new dancers will enter the company. I think everyone in the Junior Company is supposed to have an opportunity to dance with the National Ballet during the programme.

 

Meisner sounds such a nice chap don't you think.

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I wonder what the terms and conditions are for the junior company? I'm not sure why junior companies are needed? It just seems like an extension of training. I know people say it gives them performing experience but surely that's something that should be done in the 3 years of training that is paid for previously?

 

I worry that we are following the American path of 'junior companies' prior to audition for the main company - often these positions don't pay a living wage and just postpone the start of one's career for another two years with no guarantees.

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Ribbons, I understand your point, but have to say that even the best young ballet graduates gain a massive maturity and edge once they are out of the school environment and have the opportunity to join company class, perform with the pro's etc. It is a very different world and one that I think would be extremely difficult to try and recreate at school. I think that these Junior Companies are a good idea, a bridge between school and work and a great opportunity for those not offered full time contracts with a professional company straight out of school. The wages (in the cases that I am aware of, although of course may not be the same for all) are not bad at all for an 18 year old.

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  • 3 months later...

I saw the company this evening. I feel that it is pretty ambitious to present a famous pdd and gala piece (Swan Lake and Diana and Acteon) that are usually danced by principals and very experienced dancers and, for me, they didn't quite come off, particularly the latter. I also felt that the filmed explanations of the ballets were misjudged at this performance which would be attended largely by knowledgeable balletgoers, dancers etc. I enjoyed Kwintett and the pieces by Erst Meisner and George Williamson the most and felt that these pieces showed the dancers at their best. The standout dancer for me was Wentao Li, and Nancy Burer was very winsome in Kwintet.

 

I've been thinking about the benefits of a junior company. It does give the dancers an opportunity to dance soloist and even principal roles but I wonder whether the best graduates will always go straight into a company, or the main company where there is a junior company. As far as I can tell, the junior company dancers all get a year in the corps of the main company (replacing the existing 'aspirants') after two years in the junior company but I don't know whether they are likely to be given a permanent contract after this. The competition for even the junior company is fierce: 3 dancers were selected from 700 applicants of whom 120 were called to audition, and several of the dancers are international prize winners.

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Interesting comment, Bruce.  I wonder - am I alone - or has anyone else been struck by - or pondered - how GLASS PIECES-like DGV is?  Perhaps in some ways Wheeldon meant that work as a homage to Robbins; he who was so instrumental/influential in his own career.  I can certainly hear the influence of Glass in the score.  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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One more thing: the costumes for the two modern pieces were pretty ugly, which did spoil the look of the pieces for me. DNB are not, of course, alone in having unattractive costumes. Why not have plain, well cut leotards with some non-fussy detail for the Williamson piece? The leotards for the piece which Scarlett choreographed for MCB and which was later performed by the RB (I can't immediately remember its name) are the kind of thing I'm thinking of.

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Was at the dress rehearsal yesterday (for the second galf of the bill) - and here are a couple of photos from that. Jolly good it was too - saw the full bill last night which was very enjoyable - wish I was going again tonight to be honest!
 
14316637623_c15f7df2b0_z.jpg
DNB Juniors - Kwintet: Daniel Cooke, Wentao Li, Nancy Burer, Thomas van Damme, Nathan Brhane
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 
14294481252_372ec4e5e5_z.jpg
DNB Juniors - Dawn Dances: artists of the company
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Set from DanceTabs: Dutch National Ballet Junior Company (mixed bill)
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Some more pictures from this delightful visit by the Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet. It was good to see Michelle there looking great.

 

Dutch%2BNational%2BBallet%2B-%2BJunior%2

 

Nancy Burer, Thomas Van Damme and Daniel Cooke in Hans van Manen's Kwintet 

 

Dutch+National+Ballet+-+Junior+Company_6

 

Nancy Berer, Wentao Li and company in George Williamson's Dawn Dances 
 
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Personally I think I preferred the second act of the Dutch National Ballet's Junior Company performance in the LIndbury to the first which was largely dominated by an abundance of smaller (largely out of context) party pieces which can-all-too-easily flow over to a lumpen 'showcase-itus'.  Overall I thought Nancy Burer illustrated a comprehensively winning charisma; Michaela Deprince - replete with her radiant but not overbearing smile - the strongest jump among the women (and certainly Wentao Li from without the ranks of the men) and Nathan Brhane the best capacity in partnering.  Nureyev said that you should judge any dancer by the precision of their entrechats and here there was much generalisation throughout. The film clips preceding each element were a bit too studied for my taste (as opposed to those, say, of ENB - both being as they are created by film makers who had been/are dancers).  All too frequently here the Dutch National Ballet Youth Company's artists - framed in their oh, so carefully observed expanse - looked to be in too obvious a search for their auto-cue.  Focus - in terms of the evening itself - was a tad better - certainly more relaxed and sharp - when the fare itself was permitted to hold a more substantial flow.  There was a confident cleanliness in the winning anticipatory line of Hans van Manen;s careful celebration of Mozart's musical build in KWINTET which itself led to what for me was the standout element, i.e., the well-placed/paced DAWN DANCES choreographed by George Williamson in celebration of the musical muscularity/diversity of Judd Greenstein's enervating score; one allowing the dancers to shine as a whole according to their combined and individual lights.  For me DAWN DANCES conspicuously wove the most effective spell.  Suddenly one began to get a sense of the potential which lies behind and beneath the purpose of this young company's horizon.         

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Interesting comment, Bruce.  I wonder - am I alone - or has anyone else been struck by - or pondered - how GLASS PIECES-like DGV is?  Perhaps in some ways Wheeldon meant that work as a homage to Robbins; he who was so instrumental/influential in his own career.  I can certainly hear the influence of Glass in the score.  

 

Love Glass Pieces but never felt a particular musical or choreographic link to DGV I have to say. All creatives are influenced by others and sometimes we see connections strongly and sometimes less so. I think Wheeldon is his own man these days, but too early to tell where George Williamson is yet. Certainly Dawn Dances, like DGV, is a great celebration and sends us home happy with life and the wonderful efforts of dancers.

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There is a promotional video on YouTube (the one dated 20 March 2014) which shows excerpts from all the pieces danced at the Linbury. With the exception of the ballerina in Kwintet, all the dancers seem to be the same as the ones which I saw on Wednesday evening.

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There is a promotional video on YouTube (the one dated 20 March 2014) which shows excerpts from all the pieces danced at the Linbury. With the exception of the ballerina in Kwintet, all the dancers seem to be the same as the ones which I saw on Wednesday evening.

 

 

All the pieces, but sadly not in their musical context.

Edited by Bruce
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