Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Double Dutch Delights

The Stopera, Home of the Dutch National Ballet
Photo: A J Haverkamp
Source Wikipedia
Creative Commons Licence

As well as seeing Mata Hari and Ballet Bubbles on Saturday and Sunday (see Ballet Bubbles 16 Feb 2016 and Brandsen's Masterpiece 14 Feb 2016) I attended a presentation on the new opera and ballet season on the 13 Feb 2016 and a tour of the Dutch National Ballet's premises the following morning. Both events were arranged for the Friends of the Dutch National Ballet.

The presentation took place on Saturday afternoon and consisted of interviews with officials from both companies and performances of scenes from the forthcoming shows.  The ballet season starts with an opening gala on 7 Sept 2016 and consists of excerpts from the company's repertoire followed by a party. I was there last year (see The best evening I have ever spent at the ballet 13 Sept 2015) and I certainly hope to be there this year.  A list of the forthcoming productions has now been published on the Dutch National Ballet's website and they include some real treats:
  • Dutch Masters to mark Toer van Schayk's 80th birthday with works by Hans van Manen and Rudi van Dantzig as well as by van Schayk himself between 14 and 25 Sept 2016;
  • Makarova's La Bayadère between the 5 Oct and 13 Nov 2016;
  • Ted Brandsen's Coppelia which was last produced in 2008 with modern decor and costumes between 10 Dec 2016 and 1 Jan 2017;
  • Made in Amsterdam with a new work by Ernst Meisner as well as ballets by Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, Krzysztof Pastor, David Dawson and others between 11 Feb  and 4 March 2017;
  • Onegin from the 29 March to 16 April 2017; and
  • Best of Ballanchine from the 2 to 20 May 2017.
Also, the Junior Company which should have some new members by next year will tour the Netherlands with Juniors Go Dutch and Ernst Meisner's The Little Big Chest.  No plans have been announced for a visit to England but we live in hope. The ballet interludes included pas de deux from the last act of La Bayadere with Anna Ol as Nikiya and Young Gyu Choi as Solor and from Apollon Musagete with Sasha Mukhamedov and Artur Shesterikov.

La Bayadere is one of my favourite ballets. I have actually had a go at the descent of the shades in class at Northern Ballet with Jean Tucker. It is not performed all that often here though I did catch the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre's production in London last summer with Denis Rodkin as Solor (see Blown Away - St Petersburg Ballet Theatre's La Bayadere 24 Aug 2015). I long to see it done by a great national company. I am now Mr Brandsen's #1 fan so there is no question of my missing his Coppelia and as I have now been Mr Meisner's #1 fan for some time wild horses won't keep me from Made in Amsterdam. The same is true of Onegin especially if Matthew Golding dances the title role as he did last year in London (see Onegin: the most enjoyable performance that I have seen at the House since Sibley and Dowell 21 Feb 2015). The airlines, railway companies and Amsterdam hoteliers will get a lot of business from me next year.

I missed the start of the Stopera tour because I had to polish off my review of Mata Hari and was then directed to the wrong place. I caught up with the crocodile in the laundry as a lady was washing the dancers' underwear and hosiery in an outside washing machine. We proceeded to the wig department where we saw some of the creations for the Moulin Rouge scene in Mata Hari, then wardrobe and shoes. We were shows a whole cabinet of pointe shoes, one for each dancer. There is a young lady of my acquaintance who makes a point of asking woman dancers the supplier of her favourite pointe shoes. "Well, Miss, I know that answer in respect of all the members of the Dutch National Ballet". We were shown the dressing rooms, gym, rehearsal studios (very like Northern Ballet's) and were actually allowed to watch the barre session of company class. All the big stars were there as well as the soloists, coryphees and corps de ballet.  I sat a few feet away from Michaela DePrince. It was she who had led me to the Junior Company and from there to HNB as I had started to follow her career even before she came to Amsterdam (see Michaela DePrince 4 April 2015).  The highlight of the tour for me was to be allowed on stage. The Stopera is a massive auditorium but the seats are arranged on levels so that everyone has a good view of the stage. From the audience's perspective the theatre is massive but from the performer's it has quite an intimate feel.

The tour finished at 13:00 and I had to get to the Meervaart theatre by 14:30. From the moment I set foot in the Stopera (minutes after the train pulled into Central Station it was wall to wall ballet. I had a lovely weekend. I just can't think of a better way of spending it. Dank U HNB!

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