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Why Conny Janssen Danst will win this year. Dance award nominees Swans 2019 announced.

The nominations for the 2019 Swans have been announced. Here is my annual prediction of who will win one.

Spoiler alert. This year, it will be a cautious prediction. Even though in past years I was not far off (sometimes absolutely right) with guessing the winners, now with the dancers you have to choose from superlatives: 'shows she is amazingly believable'; 'phenomenally styled'; and 'peerlessly inventive and original dancer' (so says the jury report on three different dancers).

These are the nominated dancers:

  • Adi Amit for her role in BROOS by Conny Janssen Danst
  • Chloé Albaret for her role in Start to Finish by Nederlands Dans Theater 1
  • Redouan Ait Chitt for his role in REDO by Shailesh Bahoran/ Illusionary Rockaz Company

These are the most impressive dance productions:

  • The Way You Sound Tonight, choreography: Arno Schuitemaker
  • Black Memories by AYA, Tafel van Vijf and BackBone, concept, direction and choreography: Herman van Baar, Wies Bloemen and Alida Dors
  • Take Root by Nederlands Dans Theater 1, choreography: Imre van Opstal and Marne van Opstal

What stands out?

The big absentees: The Dutch National Ballet, Introdans and Scapino Ballet Rotterdam. Once upon a time when these dance awards were created in 1983 (they were then called the Golden and Silver Theatre Dance Awards), the winners were alternating between the Dutch National Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater. The title 'Swan' also suited a ballet award well. That has now changed. Small productions and dancers in smaller productions are nominated more often. This is not only because of the beautiful dance, but also because of the jury. That decides who qualifies for a Swan.

This is the jury in 2019

Rob van Steen (chairman), director Theatres Tilburg, Leo Spreksel, former artistic director Korzo, dramaturg/advisor, Violien Vocks, programmer Parkstad Limburg Theatres, Brigitte De Goeij, De Goeij Culture and Affairs, Jasper Weck, marketing & programming Theater de Veste, Swantje Schäuble, dancer/publicity De Châtel sur Place, Judith Blankenberg, programmer Grand Theater Groningen and Marcelle Schots, dance critic.

Korzo, Theater de Veste and De Châtel sur Place are not the biggest venues in the Netherlands. Also absent is a programmer from a National Opera & Ballet or the Zuiderstrandtheater. That provides opportunities for dancers and productions that were previously less featured. Progress, in other words. (Except that the jury is still made up of members with a fairly white skin colour).

Possible winners (the tentative prediction)

Last year Guido Dutilh of NDT2 already won a Swan and became The Hidden Floor of NDT1 nominated. Also nominated in 2018 was Gil Gomes Leal for his part in a work by Shailesh Bahoran. Remains Adi Amit. From Conny Janssen Danst. If a company falls short in the annals of the Swans it is Conny though. A deserved winner!

A performance about the impact of colonialism with a mix of urban, modern and traditional African dance, fits well into this zeitgeist. However, awarding a single Swan to three companies (AYA, Table of Five and BackBone) is a bit trickier. Remains The Way You Sound Tonight By Arno Schuitemaker. Also deserved for this choreographer who has been impressing for quite some time!

Will my prediction come true? No idea. The winners of the dance awards of the VSCD are traditionally announced during the festival the Dutch Dance Days.


Artistic director and choreographer Conny Janssen on the nomination: 'Adi Amit is a wonderful dancer who has greatly inspired me from the beginning of our collaboration. She is dedicated, artistically intelligent and has great storytelling power in her body. Adi dances with abandon and every fibre in her body dances with her. With this inspiration, she knows how to touch me and the audience. BROOS is close to our skin. Adi's 2-year-old daughter Asif and my 91-year-old mother were our personal inspirations. It is a fantastic tribute to Adi that she has been nominated for a Swan for her role in BROOS'.


(Photo above: BROOS by Conny Janssen Danst with dancer Adi Amit, by Andreas Terlaak).

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Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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