Friday, 6 April 2018

Junior Company - Five Tremendous Years

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In Ernst Meisner’s Work with the Dutch National Ballet 2 Dec 2014, Ernst Meisner. the Artistic Coordinator of the Dutch National Company Junior Company, told me how that company came to be formed:
“It has been a wish of Artistic Director Ted Brandsen for a long time to have a Junior Company to bridge the gap between school and company. While Christopher Powney was Director at the National Ballet Academy and placing the school on the international map, it seemed the right time to start such a young group. I was involved in setting the Junior Company up and it has been great to have the chance to develop the way we like this venture to go together with Ted and Christopher (now Jean-Yves Esquerre) during the years. We had a great start last year, with seven of the first group actually having joined the main company now."
I was lucky enough to attend the first performance of that company at the  Stadsschouwburg theatre in Amsterdam  which I reviewed in The Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet - Stadsshouwburg Amsterdam 24 Nov 2013 25 Nov 2013.  On 15 April 2018 I am returning to the Stadsshouwburg to celebrate that company's fifth anniversary with a special performance of In the Future by the current members of the Junior Company.

According to the Dutch National Ballet's website, In the Future will be a triple bill consisting of the Napoli Suite (Pas de Six and Tarantella) by August Bournonville, Fingers in the Air, a new work by Juanjo Arques and In the Future by Hans van Manen.  it is described as "an attractive, yet daring programme for twelve dancers."  It differs from previous galas that I have seen where up to 8 new works were presented in a single evening.

Because I had been married for many years to a Sierra Leonean national who loved ballet as much as I do and knew a lot more about it, I was thrilled to learn about a young American dancer of Sierra Leonean origin.  She was already carving an enviable reputation for herself by winning the Youth America Grand Prix. her film First Position and early reviews of her performances in New York and her guest appearances in South Africa (see Michaela DePrince 4 April 2013).  When I learned that she had moved to Amsterdam my heart leapt (see No Holds Barred  4 Oct 2013).  I bought a ticket for the Junior Company's first show and booked a flight to Amsterdam.

When I eventually saw DePrince I described her as "quite simply the most exciting dancer I have seen for quite a while" but she was not the only dancer who impressed me that night. So, too, did Sho Yamada who partnered DePrince in Diana and Actaeon and all the other brilliant young people whom I saw on 24 Nov 2013 and subsequently.  On my last visit to Amsterdam just over a month ago I was overjoyed to see Yamada and Riho Sakamoto top the bill in Don Quixote (see A Day of Superlatives - Dutch National Ballet's Don Quixote 1 March 2018).

I have got to know several of those dancers.  When the outstanding young dancer and choreographer, Cristiano Principato, brought friends and colleagues from the Dutch National Ballet and other major companies to Trecate, a small town in Piedmont to raise funds for the charity Casa Alessia, I attended and reviewed their show (see From Italy with Love  1 July 2015).  The next year Principato arranged an even more ambitious programme of new choreography in Amsterdam called New Moves I was there for that too. One of the dancers who accompanied Principato to Italy was Thomas van Damme. Van Damme.  Van Damme also showed enormous talent as a choreographer in  New Moves 2017 but he also shows extraordinary talent as a film maker (see The Ballet Couple 8 Sept 2016). In that regard he reminds me so much of our own Kenneth Tindall.

If you can't make the Staddshouwburg next Sunday you get another chance to see it on 28 June 2018 at the Korzo Theatre in the Hague, The International Court, the International Criminal Court and a branch of the European Patent Office are also to be found there though only a lawyer would be interested in that kind of thing.  One of my ballet teachers danced there in The Lion King but he has now returned to Manchester.

If you miss In the Future  I recommend the opening night gala on the 8 Sept 2018 which is followed by a party a which you can meet the dancers and choreographers, Giselle, Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella and Rudi van Dantzig;s Swan LakeThere is now a direct train to Amsterdam from St Pancras and yesterday The Guardian published the Top 10 affordable hotels, hostels and B&Bs in Amsterdam.   

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