Saturday, 31 October 2020

The Finale - Dutch National Ballet;s "Dancing Apart Together"

Standard YouTube Licence

Dutch National Ballet Dancing Apart Together Music Theatre, Amsterdam, 20 Sep 2020 14:00

Ib her review, Dutch National Ballet - "Dancing Apart Together", Yvonne Charlton described the show's finale:
"Extending the stage by moving the side curtains and the backcloth, Anna Tsygankova appeared in the centre. Slowly all the other dancers joined her coming from between the stage lightings filling the whole stage with social distance. A sublime grand finale with the whole ensemble of the National Ballet and the Junior Company."

It must have been a wonderful moment.

Happily, I have just found a video of that scene and it seems to have been every bit as impressive as the scene that Yvonne described.   Listen to that applause.   It's deafening.  Yet the auditorium was only a quarter full.  It represents the affection in which Amsterdam - indeed the whole world - holds that magnificent company.

Friday, 23 October 2020

KNT's Day of Dance Tomorrow

The Dear Old Dancehouse

One of the highlights of my year is KNT's Day of Dance.  It offers a chance to train with some of the best teachers and performers in the business.  Last year, for example, I took classes with   Alex Hallas of Bale Cymru and  Jane Tucker of Northern Ballet Academy.

Another Day of Dance will take place tomorrow and I regret to say that I only learned of it a few minutes ago when I tried to check in your some online classes for the coming week. According to KNT's Class Manager app, the following are available:

  • 11:00 - 12:30 Beginner/Pre-Intermediate Ballet 
  • 11:00 - 12:30 Intermediate/Advanced Contemporary 
  • 13:00 - 14:30 Intermediate/Advanced Ballet
  • 13:00 - 14:30 Pre-Intermediate Contemporary 
  • 19:00 - 20:30 Beginner/Pre-Intermediate Ballet 
  • 19:00 - 20:30 Beginner/Pre-Intermediate Contemporary
  • 20:30 - 22:00 Intermediate/Advanced Ballet  
  • 20:30 - 22:00 Intermediate/Advanced Contemporary 
All the classes for tomorrow's Day of Dance are priced at £10.

Sadly it won't be quite the same as last year because we are exiled from the Dear Old Dancehouse as a result of the public health emergency but we shall still have excellent teaching.  Above all, we can still wave at each other over Zoom even if we can no longer embrace.

Plagues don't last forever.  There is every chance that medicine will eradicate or at least contain this virus as it has done with so many other infections.   One day this horrible scourge will be nothing more than a horrible memory.  I wish everyone a great weekend.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Dutch National Ballet - "Dancing Apart Together"

Anna Ol
(c) 2020 Hans Gerritsen

Dutch National Ballet Dancing Apart Together Music Theatre, Amsterdam, 20 Sep 2020 14:00


I visited the Dutch National Ballet on the afternoon of Sunday 20 Sept 2020 for a very special programme.  It was my first visit since the coronavirus lockdown in March.

It was not quite the same as before. Instead of having a full audience of about 1,600, only 400 were allowed for each performance. But at least we were back as an audience.  That gave us a very special feeling. We were quite emotional.  It felt very safe. The front of house staff made sure we kept our distance from each other.

The programme was called Dancing Apart Together.   It consisted of 12 different pieces by 9 different choreographers.   Each of those pieces was, in the words of Ted Brandsen, “connected by a number of central questions." Those questions were:  How do we experience togetherness? How do we do it from a distance? And how important is physical contact for us individually? Each of those choreographers gave his or her take on those themes thereby showing how he or she dealt with lockdown.

The programme was as follows:

1. The Dying Swan by Mikhail Fokine;
2. Romanian Folk Dances a new work by Ted Brandsen;
3. Kaddish another new work by Ted Brandsen;
4. Manoeuvre a new work by Juanjo Arqués;
5. L’Autre Côté a new work by Sedrig Verwoert;
6. Reset a new work by Milena Sidorova;
7. On the Nature of Daylight by David Dawson;
8. Largo a new work by Ernst Meisner;
9. Quasicystal a new work by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa;
10. Solo by Hans van Manen;
11. Slot one more new work by Ted Brandsen, and
12  Frolicsome Finale yet another new work by new Ted Brandsen.

The Dying Swan
(c) 2020 Hans Gerritsen

The show began with the Dying Swan beautifully performed by Anna Ol.  Her movements represented not only dying but also the resurrection of the phoenix.  An analogy which was drawn byTed Brandsen. A solo full of loneliness and sadness would be followed by a new beginning symbolized by eight new pieces created by present-day choreographers.

Romanuan Folk Dances
(c) 2020 Michel Schnater

Brandsen's Romanian Folk Dances was a lively and joyful ballet for 16 dancers (8 men and 8 women).  They formed a lot the forms of circles. Circles can be a symbol of emptiness, the infinity and of the absolute freedom, bound by nothing but the are also a symbol of safety and connected with love, energy and power. 

Romanian Folk Dances
(c) 2020 Michel Schnater

All those aspects were represented in the piece.

(c) 2020 Hans Gerritsen 


There then followed a duet, Kaddish, danced by Jessica Xuan and Semyon Velichko based on a prayer from the Jewish liturgy. For me, it was about believing in yourself and believing in each other.  Intense and soft. A beautiful contrast with the Romanian folk dances.

(c) 2020 Hans Gerritsen 

For me, the next piece, Manoeuvre, stayed in this intense and soft feeling. However, this was danced by 8 men.  Through their masculinity, they showed their intensive and sensitive feelings. Now and then you got the feeling of being in a slow-motion movie.

L'Autre Côté
(x) 2020 Hans Gerritsen

The next work was L'Autre Côté by Sedrig Verwoert.  To be honest, I had never seen a piece from this choreographer before.   Here he challenged the cast of 10 to come out of their current comfort zone into the new “future” without losing mutual trust.   This was well chosen and I hope to see more from this choreographer in the future.

(c) 2020 Hans Gerritsen

In Milena Sidorova's Reset, we were thrown back to the time before lockdown.  The artists were dancing as they did in the “old days” close together, albeit briefly, and then suddenly realizing the need to keep their distance.  They made you think:  What is freedom?  What are restrictions?  What are obstacles?

On the Nature of Daylight
(c) 2020 Hans Gerritsen

The duet On the Nature of Daylight made me feel how very precious and delicate is true love between two persons.   It was performed beautifully by Anna Tsygankova and Constantine Allen.

(c) 2020 Hans Gerritsen

The introduction of this season’s new Junior Company has had to be put “on hold” for the duration.  This was the first opportunity for the public to see them.  Ernst Meisner's Largo showed them off to best advantage as individuals and as an ensemble.  The dancers formed a single line from which they emerged in ones or twos to display their virtuosity.  A promising new generation.

(c) Hans Gerritsen

Quasicrystal consisted of intense duets by 4 couples showing extreme sorrow and pain that people inflict upon themselves.

(c) 2020 Michel Scgnater

Solo is one of van Maanen’s great works.  It was danced by 3 totally different strong male dancers: Remi Wortmeyer, Edo Wijnen and Young Gyu Choi.  What a joy to watch this at a time of holding back. Each of their solos was full of spirit and fire. Finishing all 3 together on stage by challenging each other in a good way. It was like watching a play battle between them.

Frolicsome Finale 
(c) 2020 Hans Gerritsen

With Frolicsome, we came to the end of the show. 

And as the name stated and using the words of Ted Brandsen: Dancing Apart Together concluded with a subdued and contemplative ending, signalling the return to the core of the dancer’s existence.

Extending the stage by moving the side curtains and the backcloth, Anna Tsygankova appeared in the centre. Slowly all the other dancers joined her coming from between the stage lightings filling the whole stage with social distance.  A sublime grand finale with the whole ensemble of the National Ballet and 
the Junior Company.

Throughout the performance, you saw the emotions in all the dancers.  They all excelled.  I couldn't say that any of them eclipsed the others.   However, all the individual and different pieces in a way came together to create one ballet. 

The costumes, the music from an orchestra consisting entirely of strings and of course the choreography came together to create an excellent and emotionally charged programme.

I am already looking forward to my next visit to see Back to Ballet.