Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Ballet's Accelerator: Crowdfunding the Junior Company's Fifth Anniversary Ballet

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Next year will be the fifth anniversary of the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company. I was fortunate enough to see one of its first public performances at the Stadsshouwburg in Amsterdam on the 24 Nov 2013 (see
The Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet - Stadsshouwburg Amsterdam 24 Nov 2013 25 Nov 2013).

The Junior Company has launched the careers of outstanding young dancers in the Dutch National Ballet and elsewhere. Of the dancers I saw in November 2013, Michaela DePrince is already a soloist, Jessica Xuan and Sho Yamada are coryphées and several others are in the corps. Although the Central School of Ballet has Ballet Central, the Northern Ballet School has Manchester City Ballet and Ballet West has a company that tours Scotland at the beginning of each year, we don't have an equivalent in the UK. In fact, off the top of my head, I can't think of another company anywhere in the world that has anything quite like the Junior Company. All the analogies that spring to mind lie outside dance.  The closest that springs to mind is the famous Y Combinator accelerator of Silicon Valley.

The analogy with Silicon Valley accelerators can be taken a stage further in that the object of such programmes is to enable the young companies to attract investment. The Junior Company has used crowdfunding in the past to train young dancers (see Crowdfunding for the Ballet 25 May 2016). Now the company is using crowdfunding to raise money for a brand new ballet.

On the Dutch giving site Voordekunst (which I guess means "For the Arts") the company is appealing for €30,000 for a new ballet by Juanjo Arques to celebrate its fifth anniversary (see Maak een ballet met de Junior Company (so like English that I am not going to insult my readers' intelligence by translating it)). The choice of choreographer is a good one because Arques has already created Blink and Fresas (Strawberries) for the young dancers.

This is a rare and possibly unique opportunity for members of the public to participate in the creative process (see "The First Ballet by the Junior Company and You"). Contributors can attend the first meeting with the artistic team at the beginning of September where they will be "brainstorming about the ballet, the music, the lighting, the costumes and the dancers." The company's website describes it as "a unique moment, as this is where the very first ideas for the ballet are conceived" and adds appealingly "you can be part of it." Contributors will also be among the first to see the costumes and to witness the rehearsals.

So far €3,045 has been raised for the project from 29 donors which is not a bad start and there are still another 33 days to go. I invite all my readers to dig deep for Juanjo Arques, Ernst Meisner and his talented young dancers. 

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