Thursday, 12 June 2014

All Het Up - Why I am a Friend of The Dutch National Ballet

Amsterdam City Hall and Opera House

I am now a Friend of the Dutch National Ballet (Het Nationale Ballet in Dutch hence the terrible pun). The National Ballet is the largest ballet company of the Netherlands and is one of the great companies of Europe. I was led to them for three very good reasons.

First, I fell in love with their Junior Company when I saw them in Amsterdam on 24 Nov 2013 (see "The Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet - Stadsshouwburg Amsterdam 24 Nov 2013" 25 Nov 2013). I had come to see the Sierra Leonean born dancer Michaela DePrince but when I saw the other 11 dancers I loved them too.

At the performance at the Staddshouwburg I saw Hans van Manen. I have been a van Manen fan for over 4 decades and I am thrilled that he has brought Concertante to Leeds (see "Tempestuous Choice - Amsterdam or Leeds?" 31 May 2014). I saw that ballet last year and loved it (see "Angelic - Northern Ballet's Mixed Bill" 9 June 2013). If you watch the video you will hear all the lovely things that van Manen has to say about Northern Ballet and its dancers. I like that.

Van Manen is one of the resident choreographers (Vaaste choreograaf) of the Dutch National Ballet. The other is Krzysztof Pastor whose Romeo and Juliet I saw last month (see "Scottish Ballet's Timeless Romeo and Juliet" 18 May 2014). Like everyone else whose mother tongue us English I was introduced to  Shakespeare almost as soon as I could talk. I remember my father chuntering
"I go, I go. Look how I go,
Swifter than arrow from the Tartar’s bow."
whenever my mother had a little job for him. And my mother's admonition "Lend me your ears" when she wanted to tick me off.  Now I know Romeo and Juliet like the back of my hand but I learned something new about the play from Pastor. The Dutch National Ballet are launching The Tempest  and I can't wait to see it. I'll miss the opening in Amsterdam because I have tickets for other shows but I am sure it will come to this country soon.

My Friends magazine arrived on Monday and though it is in Dutch an intelligent English reader can make out just about 50% without recourse to a dictionary. If you read German too then I would say 75%. There are also quite a few loan words from French and other Romance languages.   Google translate is there for the rest. It is not quite as long as "About the House" but it is more substantial than my Friends magazines from Northern and Scottish Ballets. On the front page there is a photo of a scene from Dutch Doubles. I would have seen the show just for the square tutus. The main article is a feature on that ballet with a summary of an interview with the choreographer.  Then there is a page entitled "Bits and Pieces". Though the title is in English the content is in Dutch. These are short articles the most interesting of which was that van Manen's ballets are to be performed in St Petersburg. The centre spread features Larissa Lezhnina (Lof voor Larissa) with quotations from Ted Bransen, Guillaume Graffin and others who have worked with the ballerina. On the back page there is a list of upcoming events of which the most interesting is a trip to China with the company.

So the company is worth supporting. If you want to become a Friend call Koos Schrijen on +31 20 551 8231 or send him an email.

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