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From 4 to 28 June 2020, Amsterdam will host the 73rd edition of the Holland Festival. Associate Artist this year is American choreographer, director, writer and dancer Bill T. Jones. His new performance Deep Blue Sea, among others, will feature Jones himself dancing and, assisted by a hundred mostly local dancers, reflecting on the interaction between individual and group. Many other performances this year, such as by world star Sami Yusuf, also focus on issues of identity and connection. In addition, greats, from Pina Bausch to Miriam Makeba, will be honoured with new work, or through new interpretations of old work.

The opening performance this year is The Planet - A Lament. In this performance, made by an Indonesian/Australian team including a 15-member choir, dance and film, Indonesian director Garin Nugroho (Setan Jawa, Holland festival 2017) shows how a local disaster like a tsunami affects the whole world. Moreover, by working with communities from Indonesian Papua and East Nusa Tenggara, he brings rarely heard voices and stories to a world stage. The performance laments the unique impact of humans on their global environment. Nugroho: "Now is the time to acknowledge the trauma of our planet through the effects of climate change. Perhaps it is through the collective mourning process that we can imagine new futures.'

Associate artist Bill T. Jones: In pursuit of the we

Since 2019, part of the festival programme has come about through intensive collaboration with one or two foreign artists. This year, with Bill T. Jones, the festival has attached a versatile artist with a great track record in both classical and modern dance and performance. Having in the past focused his work on the individual, the interests and rights of sub-communities and major themes such as racism and AIDS, Jones' gaze shifts to what connects people. Referring among other things to the gospel text 'We shall overcome' and the 'We, the People' from the US Constitution, Jones calls his endeavour 'In pursuit of the we.' With this, he responds, among other things, to social and political developments in the United States, where compartmentalisation and polarisation continue to increase.

The festival features three performances by Jones himself: Curriculum - a "teaching piece for thinking dancers", Prayers of the People - a collective performance of Martin Luther King's letter from the Birmingham Jail and Deep Blue Sea - about loneliness and connection, in a spectacular set designed by architect Elizabeth Diller. To complement this, the audience will learn about the associate artist in the Associations programme through his selected, live performed work by other creators who inspire him.

Friendship, love, tolerance and understanding

The phrase "In pursuit of the we" gradually grew into a central theme that resonates in a variety of ways across much of the programming. In Transe, for instance, Iraqi-American trumpeter Amir ElSaffar (on show at the Muziekgebouw as well as on the streets of Amsterdam Nieuw-West) brings together musicians from different parts of Africa to make rousing, ritualistic tribal beli music. Sami Yusuf - labelled "Islam's Biggest Rockstar" by Time Magazine - makes his popular music from centuries-old Islamic Sufi traditions. In When Paths Meet, together with Cappella Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra, he seeks "mutual friendship, love, tolerance and understanding between people.

That tolerance and equality do not come naturally is addressed in The Just and the Blind, in which spoken word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph poignantly and poetically addresses the practice of ethnic profiling. Elaine Mitchener also pays attention to the ongoing struggle for and need for equality and justice with Vocal Classics of the Black Avant-Garde.

The way words and language can connect and divide people is explored by the theatre-makers of BOG. with the playful performance TAL. Nous pour un momentdoor Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe is about the ways in which individuals influence each other's lives. Choreographer Trajal Harrell (Porca Miseria), scenographer Jozef Wouters (INFINI 1-16), composers Ashley Fure and Simon Steen-Andersen (Together Games) and multi-talented Micha Hamel (Luistermutant 2020) explore the relationship between performer and audience in different ways.

Honours and revamped classics

Unhindered by national borders, artists worldwide reflect on the past by paying homage to their examples, or by creating a new interpretation of classical work. Pina Bausch's Sacre du Printemps will be performed in a special revival by dancers from several African countries. Also on show is common ground[s]: a new choreography by Germaine Acogny - 'the mother of contemporary African dance' - and Malou Airaudo, a former, leading member of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch.

Celebrated Malian singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré is back in the festival, performing Once Upon a Time, an Iron Rose..., an ode to South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba. Louis Andriessen, himself an old friend of the Holland Festival, pays tribute to his late friend, the recorder player and conductor Frans Brüggen, with his new composition May. Singer Alicia Hall Moran mixes Motown hits with opera classics. Classic pieces such as Op hoop van zegen and Drei Schwestern are also radically renewed by Simon Stone and Susanne Kennedy, respectively.

Context and accessibility

An extensive context programme with introductions, debates and workshops will deepen the main programme by taking a closer look at key topics and themes in the festival. This year's programme will include collaborations with Poetry Circle, Commonland, Glamcult Magazine, De Balie and Mister Motley.

The Holland Festival aims to be accessible to as many people as possible. Performances can be found at various locations throughout the city, from Internationaal Theater Amsterdam on Leidseplein to De Nieuwe Stad in Amsterdam Zuidoost and Osdorpplein in Amsterdam Nieuw-West. There is also a differentiated pricing policy. A number of performances are low-priced or free to attend.

In total, the Holland Festival presents 33 (50 including context programme) productions with 92 (108 including context programme) performances / concerts / events spread over 25 days, including 9 world premieres, 5 European premieres and 18 Dutch premieres. The festival runs from 4 to 28 June 2020. Tickets are on sale via

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