Dutch National Ballet stages works by four contemporary choreographers

Poster courtesy of Dutch National Ballet

The programme is called Dancing Dutch, and with it the Dutch National Ballet presents the works of four contemporary choreographers who celebrated their first successes in the Netherlands – Czechoslovakian Jiří Kylián, Hans van Manen – the most famous of Dutch choreographers – Briton David Dawson and Ukrainian-Dutch choreographer Milena Sidorova.

Jiří Kylián, regarded as one of the greatest choreographers of our time, stages Wings of Wax – a Premiere for the Dutch National ballet – and a work of which Algemeen Dagblad wrote that it “…contains so many beautiful things that actually you should see it again straight away”. Inspired by gravity, it was based on the Greek myth of Icarus whose father Daedalus made him a set of wings from feathers and wax to escape from King Minos of Crete. Despite his father’s warning that he should not fly too close to the sun, Icarus did just that, his wings melted, and he met his end.

Although this is the first time that Dutch National Ballet is performing a work by Kylian, he was instrumental in bringing the Netherlands dance scene to international success over 30 years with his input to the Nederlands Dans Theater. Kylián has set Wings of Wax to the music of two composers from the Baroque era – Heinrich Biber’s Rosary Sonata and J S Bach’s Goldberg Variations – one from the 20th century – composer John Cage’s Meditation Music – and the third movement of contemporary composer Philip Glass’s Fifth String Quartet.

Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen is internationally recognised as one of the grand masters of contemporary ballet, having created more than 150 works, all of which are distinctive by their clarity of structure and refined simplicity. His ballets are performed the world over, by some of the most eminent and esteemed ballet companies.

His Concertante is fascinating – contrasting as it does humour with aggression – creating a dynamic tension between four male and four female dancers. In every aspect, the work demonstrates the simplicity and musicality for which van Manen’s work is known. It is set to the Petite symphonie concertante by Swiss composer Frank Martin, who spent much of his life in the Netherlands.

Anima Animus is a work by the British award-winning choreographer David Dawson who has been an Associate Artist of the Dutch National Ballet since 2015 and is also a freelance choreographer. Commissioned by San Francisco Ballet in 2018, Anima Animus is a reflection of the contrast between opposites – anima being Carl Jung’s term for the feminine part of a man’s personality, and animus being the reverse. In this ballet, Dawson responds to the differences between light and dark, humanity and architecture, the individual and the group.

He’s set the work – a premiere for Dutch National Ballet – to a violin concerto by Italian conductor, composer and pianist Ezio Bosso – Principal and Resident Conductor of the Fondazione del Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi in Trieste and Resident Conductor and Art Director of the StradivariFestival Chamber Orchestra.

The final work in the programme is Tenzij, the World Premiere of a ballet by Milena Sidorova. A Young Creative Associate of Dutch National Ballet, Milena Sidorova has created several successful works for the Company, and has set this ballet to music by Caroline Shaw, an American composer of contemporary classical music who is probably best known for the a cappella piece Partita for 8 Voices, for which she won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Among several Grammy Awards, her most recent was the 2022 award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for her Narrow Sea.

The Dutch National Ballet presents Dancing Dutch between 30th March and 9th April. Performances will take place at the Dutch National Opera & Ballet in Amsterdam, with the Dutch Ballet Orchestra conducted by Thomas Herzog. Herzog has been has been conductor of the traditional New Year’s Concert at the Basle Musiksaal since 2002, and has served as artistic director of the Basle Festival Orchestra for many years.

Further information and details of reservations can be found on the Dutch National Ballet website.

Information sourced from Dutch National Ballet programme notes

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