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There is still romance in the Royal Conservatory of Dance's dance performance. But for how long?

Amare hosted for the first time the final performances of one of the new residents of The Hague's cultural colossus: the dance department of the Royal Conservatoire. What stands out?

Beyond the pandemic

Just last year, in the old conservatory, a maximum of 50 visitors could attend the final performance, wearing mouth guards and with two seats apart. Last Sunday, the new dance theatre in Amare was completely packed. Parents from faraway countries were even present, while in 2021 dance students in our little chilly country had to survive with only online contact with family abroad. This end-of-season performance thus provided the ultimate outlet for everyone.

Life in classical ballet

In parts from La Sylphide Set to music by Norwegian Herman Severin Løvenskiold, the Flower festival in Genzano to music by Danes Edvard Helsted and H.S. Paulli, and the hit piece Defile on the Piet Hein Rhapsody by Peter van Anrooy, that outlet is put to good use. Ballet, of course, is pure showing off. Showing the best side of yourself, demonstrating your technique and, if possible, giving free rein to your sense of mastery and interpretation. 

And not by yourself. How about a beautifully made-up dancer who comes up to you with a radiant smile, bathed in theatre light, because she needs you as a partner and you can give her the confidence that things will work out with that dance together. You experience golden moments on such a course and that's what makes it so romantic. Marching along sturdily as a boy, dancing a small solo as an aspiring ballerina or all rushing to a final pose in the aforementioned Defile. That does make children's hearts beat. Even in the world dance components such as Spanish or Slovak dances lots of excitement, passion and zest for life. But then contemporary dance pokes its head around the corner.

Mood indigo

As of now, the stage image is black and the dancers move in semi-darkness in a lit centre circle in choreography by Michael Shumacher, Edward Clug, and Paxton Ricketts, among others. It seems as if the future is uncertain and everyone is cautiously trying to hold on to each other, or seek support in contact with the ground in floor work. I can think all that but the students feel like a fish out of water in this dance. They can be completely themselves and feel taken seriously as a person. They don't have to show the best side of themselves, quite the contrary. Nobody stands out above the rest, there are no spun-out relationships but the group is there for each other. 

At least three of the modern pieces I saw in the Sunday matinee line-up could so be booked into a touring performance across the country. (That is exactly the intention of the Dance Ensemble of the conservatoire). Especially the first excerpt from Indigo Rose by Jiří Kylián in which two couples move fast or slow in contrast to each other like velvety sculptures. Is it because Valentina Scaglia is such a good repetiteur, did she choose the best dancers, do the dancers want to put extra effort into this work, or is the choreography just perfect? I don't know but this looked very mature.

Amai Amare

The new Amare itself also says something about the world we live in. Characterful, colourful, creative and a playful use of space: that was the previous dance theatre. However, the municipality of The Hague took it behind the barn and, enfin, now an elegant yet businesslike, efficient and massive building has taken its place. You have to look for romance there; it is the decoration on the front screen and the loge-like entrances to the auditorium that still leave something to the imagination. It is to be hoped that Amare will also gain colour and life and that a great choreographer will find inspiration for an optimistic future here. It seems that one in Amsterdam turned 90 this week.

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Ruben Brugman

writing ex-dancerView Author posts

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