Tuesday, 21 July 2015

British Friends of the Dutch National Ballet

Yesterday Ernst Meisner was the guest of the London Ballet Circle. Meetings of the Circle are conducted under something like the Chatham House Rule so I can't tell you who was present or what was said at the meeting but I don't think I would breach the Rule by discussing what happened immediately before and immediately after the meeting.

Before the meeting members of the audience were asked how many had attended the Junior Company's season at the Linbury in June and the Dutch National Ballet's Cinderella earlier this month. In each case a forest of hands arose indicating the enormous affection that British ballet goers have for the Company and indeed for Ernst personally.

As I was about to leave the venue a gentleman introduced himself to me as a friend of Ernst. He told me that Ernst had told him about this blog and my support for the company and that he would like to set up a British chapter of the Friends of the Dutch National Ballet on the lines of the American Friends of Covent Garden.  Of course, everyone on Team Terpsichore thought that this was a great idea and I volunteered to write about it.

The first thing to note is that there is already an organization called the Friends of the Dutch National Ballet (Vrienden van Het Nationale Ballet) and I have been a member of it for just over a year. Subs are 50 euros a year and members get a magazine in Dutch several times a year as well as opportunities to attend overseas tours and special events. Dutch is not a language that is taught in British schools but it is so closely related to English and German that an educated and intelligent English speaker can easily get the gist of most of the articles. I think anyone on the UK who wishes to support the Dutch National Ballet should be encouraged to join the Friends as a first step.

But there is no reason why British Friends should not form a sub-group within the organization. We could, for example, arrange group tours to the Stopera, hold meetings when one of the principals or choreographers visits the UK, translate particularly interesting articles from the magazine into English and perhaps provide some additional practical and financial support of our own. The London Ballet Circle has recently raised funds to send a student from the English National Ballet School to the Amsterdam summer school. We could do the same for another student or possible provide a scholarship for a student at the National Ballet Academy in Amsterdam to come here.

I hope that any British support group would link the National Ballet to the whole UK and not just London. Just before Sapphire I met Kenneth Tindall who told me that he admired the Dutch National Ballet and particularly the Junior Company and that he looked forward to working with some of its dancers one day. That is exactly the sort of collaboration that a British supporters group could facilitate. It would be great if we could bring some talented young dancers from the Netherlands to Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow and Newport as well as London and vice versa.

If anyone wants to run with this idea please contact me through this blog, Facebook or twitter and let's see what we can do.

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