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Bill T Jones is larger than life. Why Holland Festival 2020 will be a lot more topical than previous editions.

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There are some people who have a voice with which you can whisper to quiet a crowd. Bill T Jones, choreographer and this year associate artist of the Holland Festival, is one such person. Apart from that beautiful, heavy and full voice, he also has a presence with which he can stop the cogs with a single hand movement. But all that would be nothing if he did not, beyond that, possess a container of life wisdom, literacy and acumen with which he can infuse any debate with life.

Not a dominant autocrat, then, this Jones, but a sage you can relate to. Emily Ansenk, the new general director of the Holland Festival, cannot imagine a better introduction to the performing arts than precisely a festival in which this man is the defining sparring partner. Jones is an erudite storyteller, someone who lives with his heart in Europe, and with his work in the US. Thus, he manages to connect the often high-minded conversations around art in Europe with the more popular American culture.


It all showed in the half-hour he was speaking. That's quite a lot, but it was felt by all present at the press conference, the moment in February when our country's most important, most prestigious festival presents its programme. We recorded it, so you can catch some of it in the podcast listen to that we recorded during the event at Amsterdam's BIMhuis, and put online shortly afterwards.

Highlights from the programme: too many to mention in short order. Fans of traditional or modern opera may be somewhat disappointed by the number of performances that can be characterised as opera. In contrast, the residents around Osdorpplein will be presented with something special: a Prayers of the People session based on all the world's religions.

Here's to hoping

For the rest, in addition to Heijermans' classic Op hoop van zegen, Oostpool's debut, with a play about the Wittgenstein family, and a Three Sisters, which promises to be something special in the vision of director Susanne Kennedy, who was educated in the Netherlands and grew up in Germany. And then so much music, movement and image that it's hard to be disappointed: this Holland Festival is going to break codes.

Reports and podcasts will appear on this site in the coming weeks and months, in which we will delve deeper into the programmes. For now, I refer to the press release from the festival itself, and the recording we made of all the speeches.

Listen here.

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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