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Opinion: 'Let Joop van den Ende take classical ballet under his wing, merge Nederlands Dans Theater, Nationale Ballet and Scapino Ballet.'

It was predictable. Now that the Culture Council has given the secretary of state a go-ahead for massive and very deep cuts in dance, the first press releases are appearing with the outraged reactions. The National Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater are aggrieved: 'How dare they grumble at the top position of both companies.'

The Dutch National Ballet calls itself an internationally renowned top company, but let's be honest, there is some question about that. This season, artistic director Ted Brandsen is showing as many as one Giselle in Goteborg, and give one proposition in Spain and two in Baden-Baden. The latter three with a modern Hans van Manen-programme. Apparently, Brandsen sees this top international position differently from the rest of the world.

No, then the comparison with Nederlands Dans Theater. Last season, the company from The Hague showed work from Bogota to Melbourne, from Bangkok to Belgrade. The idea of the Council for Culture c.q. State Secretary Halbe Zijlstra To reduce NDT to a 'South Holland' facility is as ridiculous as it is providentially thought.
But. The Culture Council's opinion is seemingly not entirely out of the blue. NDT has long lost its vanguard position. Not only because of the resignation of Jiri Kylian and the hassle surrounding their Hans van Manen repertoire; in the lack of visionary leadership lies the major problem for a decade. None of the artistic directors got the company on track.

For a long time, this was forgiven the NDT and could be put on the merits of Kylian, Van Manen and their spiritual successors Sol Leon and Paul Lightfoot, the ship floated on. The new investments (house choreographers) that were made stayed close to home: an Alexander Ekman made something along the lines of what was already known. Conservationism trumps all.

The audience was slowly, and currently in large numbers, dropping out. Visitors morose: the same 'greatest hits' again and a half-baked newcomer from their own ranks. The highlight is the announcement of the premiere of a reprise programme. For half-empty theatres. The lack of audience revenue is now also becoming a pressing problem for the company.

'New' artistic director Jim Vincent is not turning the tide. Two years ago, for instance, he announced a new concept, a differently-formed NDT3. We have heard nothing more about it, despite the oft-expressed promise that it is now really going to happen. His choice of choreographers cannot be called adventurous or cogent either. Vincent has no vision, that much is clear. Under his leadership, the empire crumbles even further. He is the one who eventually marginalises the company into a South Holland dance facility.

However, responsible for Vincent's performance is the board. Ultimately, they have to keep the company on track. And that is not happening. Administrative leadership is lacking there too. Then you can't entirely blame the Culture Council.

Enfin. What to do? Jim Vincent on the seesaw. That much is clear. Then restructure the company immediately. Merge NDT 1 and 2. Also merge with Scapino Ballet. Both companies make work that is an extension of each other: academic modern dance. In an attempt to innovate, NDT has already asked a Scapino choreographer (Marco Goecke) to create something. Together they are strong, with a new artistic director who has a clear international vision. Really select on vision beforehand, too. And while we are on the subject of mergers: add the 'modern' branch of the Dutch National Ballet. That way, Hans van Manen gets one house to live and work in.

In other words, there will be a great national company for fashionable dance. With our internationally renowned heritage that can be shown nationally and internationally. Moreover, it offers the opportunity to show new work in large venues, to attract new audiences.

And classical ballet? Transferring to people in the category Joop van den Ende. He can 'sell' fairy-tale ballets and classical pointe shoes to large audiences like no other. He can make the dancers excel in commercial quality repertoire so that theatres no longer need to 'buy in' entire Russian ensembles. Those commercial Russians, by the way, often have top dancers in house. The National Ballet could learn a thing or two from that.

Everyone happy. Money saved. Reputation, top international position maintained, innovation in the making. Don't they call something like that a win-win situation?

9 thoughts on “Opinie: ‘Laat Joop van den Ende het klassiek ballet onder zijn hoede nemen, voeg het Nederlands Dans Theater, het Nationale Ballet en het Scapino Ballet samen.’”

  1. Why do the writers responding strike such a derogatory immature tone? Ingrid van Frankenhuyzen, only states her opinion, probably to provoke a discussion within the dance world. We have no use for people who try to secure their own positions within the dance world against their better judgement, and as such try to thwart developments. Instead of looking for cooperation, debating and exchanging opinions in order to raise the situation to a higher level, the dance field shows that after 50 years the interested parties still have a lot of resentment.

    NDT was formed at that time out of dissatisfaction with the stagnant and immature policies of Sonia Gaskell (The Dutch Ballet,1959) so The National Ballet 1961 and The Dutch Dance Theatre 1959 were formed. It would be nice if the two companies could now merge into one big National Ballet, promoting modern dance and contemporary ballet. After 50 years of intensive development, both companies have entered a stagnant phase. This calls for breaking new ground! A merger is a good idea that the state secretary could take up.

    An International top company should constantly orientate itself and look out for interesting new and established choreographers of International level. Indeed, a number of small and large Dutch modern dance companies lost their International vanguard position several years ago, partly because their repertoire overlapped and the same movement idioms were applied within choreographic concepts. Nothing new, then! Disbanding a number of companies is a good method, it gives a new generation of dancers and choreographers perspective and space to develop and provide Dutch Contemporary Dance with new impulses.

  2. dick hollander

    day John, join your comment, is Maatricht 2018 taking the lead?
    ha Ingrid, had already let you know: go, baby, go

  3. john reinders

    good piece ingrid, at least you come up with a substantive proposal that is "out of the box ", too much for some poor readers (and writers) who respond. And therein lies the heart of the problem: a lack of vision, not only among boards, but often also among policymakers. The arts are thus forced to absolute zero, and are too easily butchered by lack of creativity and boldness in their relationship with the evil outside world. Windows open for new winds !

  4. Brandon O'Dell

    What a blinding perspective on dance in the Netherlands. Up front, the difference between NDT and Scapino is huge. The two companies cannot function as one. For example, Goeke will make a piece at NDT only after years of making pieces at Scapino. This example shows you the difference clearly. Scapino is a place for a young, 'upcoming' choreographer. NDT works with choreographers with an established reputation. Therefore, the companies have different reputations outside the Netherlands but also reach a completely different public within the Netherlands. Go see for yourself in the auditorium!
    Dance art is rich in the Netherlands. That is why dancers, choreographer, and dance lovers come here. It is a pity that in one fell swoop it can be destroyed. The Dutch dance level is the top. Don't let yourself be distracted by anyone's opinion.

  5. Yeah man, let's throw everything together and turn it into a typical Dutch stew: tasteless, unstructured, grey, culturally elderly food, and impossible to get down the throats of the foreign market. Speaking of subsidy, why don't we throw all newspapers and broadcasters together, while we're at it. Because yes news is news, and I guess we could do without Ingrid's 'opinion' too 🙂

  6. let's just throw everything together and turn it into a typical Dutch stew: tasteless, unstructured, grey, culturally elderly food, and impossible to force down the throats of the foreign market.

  7. That Ms Frankenhuyzen makes her money mostly outside art is just as well.
    So I would advise you, stick to your media training.

  8. What a nauseating piece. As if classical ballet automatically belongs to the inferior genre. Ingrid should have looked harder when she reviewed the National Ballet. But we also knew that when she was still writing for NRC

  9. And let Joop van den Ende expand his monopoly on Dutch arts and culture even more?
    I should hope not, otherwise the entire cultural Netherlands may dance to his corny tune....
    The TV programmes he is partly responsible for are also intolerable and show a disgustingly high level of mindlessness. Besides which, in some strange way, Van den Ende supplies extremely large numbers of board members to Buma/Stemra... this smacks of Cartelisation.

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