Maria Chugai, Daniel Silva, Luiza Bertha, James Stout, Elisabeth Tonev, Vito Mazzeo
Author Hans Gerritsen © 2021 Dutch National Ballet: all rights reserved
When I first took an interest in ballet as an undergraduate at St Andrews at the end of the 1960s, I subscribed to Dance and Dancers and the Dancing Times. Although both publications carried reviews and news stories from around the world, four great names seemed to dominate. Balanchine in the USA, Ashton and Macmillan here and Hans van Manen in the Netherlands. Sadly, Ashton, Balanchine and Macmillan are no more but van Manen remains with us.
On 27 and 28 Feb 2021, the Dutch National Ballet held two special matinees in his honour. They were danced in an empty theatre but screened to a worldwide audience. It was, of course, a celebration of van Manen's genius, but with two separate casts, it was a showcase of the strength and depth of one of the world's great companies..
Six works were presented:
The score is by Beethoven and I once heard someone who really should have known better that Beethoven is impossible to choreograph (see My Thoughts on Saturday Afternoon's Panel Discussion at Northern Ballet 21 June 2015). There are, it is true, not many ballets by Beethoven and it can't be easy to create dance from his music but van Manen succeeded spectacularly as indeed did Ashton with his Creatures of Prometheus in 1970. This is a challenging ballet which is why companies field their best dancers. In the London premiere, for instance, it was danced by Makarova, Mason, Penney, Wall, Eagling and Silver.