Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Junior Company

Dutch National Ballet Junior Company
Photo Robin DePuy
(c) Dutch National Ballet 2014
Reproduced with kind permission of the Dutch 
National Ballet

As in the previous interview, my words are in italics and Ernst Meisner’s are in plain text.

“You had some brilliant young dancers last year. Some, such as Michaela DePrince, were already well known before they joined you. How did you recruit them?

"Michaela is indeed a very special dancer and she has now joined the main company and is already dancing nice roles, like the pas de trois in Swan Lake. I also cast her in my ballet for the Back to Bach programme and she did a fine job!

We have an open audition every year. About 700 dancers apply each year and between 100 and 150 are invited to actually come and take a class with us in Amsterdam. This is one way of recruiting. However our school is the first port of call and I prefer to get to know a dancer a bit longer and see how they work in classes over a period of time. So we always hope to get some talent that comes through our own school.

I also attend competitions like the Youth American Grand Prix and the Prix de Lausanne to scout for other talent.”

“How did you become the Junior Company's Artistic Co-ordinator?”

“Once I had heard about plans of having a Junior Company, I approached Ted Brandsen and mentioned that I was ready to make a new step in my career and wanted to focus more on choreographing, managing and teaching. All three things are part of the job.  I was offered the job a few months later.”

“What does the role of Artistic Co-ordinator involve and how does it differ from that of Artistic Director?”

“Ted Brandsen is the Artistic Director of both the main company and the Junior Company.

My job entails the daily running of the Junior Company, planning, contact with choreographers, designers, programming, rehearsing dancers, teaching class, watching shows and so much more that comes along…!
It is a very diverse job and teaches me so much every day! I work very closely together with Ted and aim to achieve his vision for the Junior Company on a daily basis.”

Tell me something about a Junior Company dancer's day - class, rehearsals, touring etc."

“A Junior Company dancer’s day is much the same as any dancer’s day in the sense that he or she will do class, rehearse and sometimes have performances or tour the Netherlands to do performances. What is different is that because there are only twelve of them. We can give them all a lot of attention and coach them individually. Not just in solos and repertoire, but also how to behave in a big company.

Three times a week they do class with the main company (to get inspired!), but the other three times we give them a separate class so we can focus on their individual needs. They also get more individual guidance from our health team and we organize special classes on whatever we feel they need to spend some more time on. Last year we even did a cooking class for the young ones! That was great!”

“It sounds a lot of fun as well as a lot of hard work. I am sure they all enjoy it.”

“Your dancers come from all over the world and not all of them speak Dutch or Flemish. Do you require recruits from other countries to master Dutch or do you allow them to use English?”

“The language in the main company and Junior Company is English. Almost everyone in Amsterdam speaks fluent English, so it isn’t difficult for foreign dancers to fit in.”

“I see that Nathan Brhane, Mert Erdin, Michaela DePrince, Wentao Li, Daniel Montero Real, Sho Yamade and Jessica Xeian are now apprentices. Are these long term appointments? Will they be invited to stay with the Company and allowed to rise as far as their talent takes them?”

“All our dancers receive one year contracts for the first four years they are with the company. Once they pass their first four years they receive what we call a permanent contract and can stay until they are 38.”

“By the way, they are all beautiful dancers and I wish each and every one of them all the best in his or her career.”

“Me too! And it is great to see them do so well already in the main company!”

“Will there be another grand opening night for the Junior Company like the one I attended last year at the Stadsschouwburg?”

“Yes on 6 Feb 2015 we will open the second season of the Junior Company officially at Stadsschouwburg again. So that promises to be a nice evening again!”

“Are there plans to tour the Netherlands and other countries? Shall we see them again in England?”

“Yes we will have about 20 performances around Holland again. They are now all on our website

I am also really pleased that our relationship with The Royal Opera House continues and we will be back at the Linbury Studio Theatre in 2015 as part of the Springboard Series Season again.”

In the next few posts I introduce each of the new members of the Junior Company.

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