Opera ballet

The Dutch National Ballet brings creativity to the fore at the National Opera Ballet Amsterdam

What defines the Dutch school of ballet is not centuries of history or a distinctive training style, but an enviable choreographic lineage. Born in the 20th century with artists like Hans van Manen, it has been wisely supported in recent years by the Dutch National Ballet, which celebrates it this winter with “Made in Amsterdam”.

Its two programs put creativity at the forefront, with eight ballets new or created over the past 12 years. The first evening was quintessentially Dutch in mood and aesthetics, culminating in a masterpiece by Van Manen, Frank Bridge Variations. Its cerebral musicality and deliberate sense of architecture, with mature relationships simmering just below the abstract surface, shaped Dutch ballet, and young choreographers are now inspired by it.

Dutch National Ballet in ‘Homo Ludens’ © Hans Gerritsen

Juanjo Arqués, who danced with the company until 2012, opened the proceedings with a breakthrough, Homo Luden. In this creation, he plays abstract games with an urgent flute concerto by French composer Marc-André Dalbavie. In the lead role, virtuoso Young Gyu Choi led the flautist (Sarah Ouakrat) and five couples like a puppeteer – before transforming himself into a puppet. The dancers, appearing and disappearing on swings, engaged in a tense dialogue with the orchestra, and it is heartening to see choreographers tackling the complex music of living composers.

Ernst Meisner, former Dutch soloist of the Royal Ballet in London, modeled his own creation, In transit, from an eponymous score by Amsterdam-based composer Joey Roukens, full of texture and variety. The interaction between group and individuals was correspondingly sophisticated and showed promising craftsmanship on Meisner’s part.

‘In Transit’ by Ernst Meisner © Hans Gerritsen

The second program “Made in Amsterdam” focused on Dutch National Ballet’s collaborations with international choreographers. by Alexei Ratmansky Memory of a dear placea miniature gem steeped in Russian soul, has been relaunched for the first time since 2012. Christopher Wheeldon’s Concerto Concorde approached Poulenc’s Concerto for two pianos and orchestra, much appreciated by choreographers in recent times. The central pas de deux, danced by Anna Ol and Jozef Varga, is a staging of melting elegance, but the work as a whole does not erase the memory of Liam Scarlett’s attempt, Asphodel meadows.

David Dawson, one of the Dutch National Ballet’s resident choreographers, provided the third creation of the weekend. citizen nowherefreely inspired by The little Prince, is a 23-minute solo for Edo Wijnen, who weaves his way through Dawson’s circular choreography with astonishing momentum. However, the play and its score commissioned by Szymon Brzóska lacked a strong dramatic arc.

Pastor Krzysztof Moving rooms, a work of sustained sculptural tension danced in constantly moving squares of light, completed the line-up. The Schnittke and Górecki concertos selected by Pastor completed a musical overview on both programs, refreshing in its quality and vividly contrasted by the orchestra. It is a welcome initiative on the part of the Dutch National Ballet, with a choreography which is enriched by it.

Until March 4, operaballet.nl

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‘Moving Rooms’ by Krzysztof Pastor © Hans Gerritsen